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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 11 November, 2019

This Louth village is trying to save an almost 110-year-old lifeboat

The General R Dudley Blake served as a lifeboat in Blackrock Boathouse in Co Louth.

AN ONLINE CROWDFUNDING campaign has been launched to save a lifeboat from a service which rescued 84 lives between the years of 1858 and 1935.

The Blackrock Tourism and Development Group is seeking the support of the Co Louth community to save the General R Dudley Blake lifeboat and bring it back to its original home in Blackrock from its current resting place in Co Wexford.

dudley-nowandthen2 The General R Dudley Blake lifeboat Source: The Blackrock Tourism and Development Group

The group plans to fully restore the boat and make it a possible centrepiece in a future museum in Blackrock. However, it will cost bring it from its current home in New Ross to Blackrock in Co Louth.

The General R Dudley Blake lifeboat was commissioned in 1909 for the RNLI for £892 in the Thames Iron Works in London. The General R Dudley Blake served as a lifeboat in Blackrock Boathouse in Co Louth until 1935.

In 1935, the Blackrock station shut down, as motorboats at Newcastle, Co Down and Clogherhead being deemed able to cope with casualties in Dundalk Bay and its approaches.

The lifeboat was subsequently moved to Limerick in 1938, where it took on a new life as a lobster boat. Nine years later, the General R Dudley Blake lifeboat changed its role again and became a vessel for fishing tours. It was then transferred to Howth under the ownership of the Cyril Doyle family, where it was renamed St Therese.

In 1994, the lifeboat made a brief return for a two-day trip from Howth to its former home port of Blackrock.

Finally, in 2006, the lifeboat was decommissioned from being a ferry and a pleasure vessel and was brought ashore in Kildare. It was later moved to seaside storage in Wexford close to Loftus Hall in 2014.

Crowdfunding campaign

Speaking of the campaign to bring the General R Dudley Blake lifeboat back to Blackrock, chairperson of the Blackrock Tourism and Development Group, Aine Corcoran, said: “It’s an exciting but massive project. This boat has had an amazing journey through time and is of significant historical importance to the people of Blackrock.

We feel a duty to acquire and protect this boat on behalf of current and future generations and will be looking for support from everyone to make this happen.

“Otherwise, this 110-year-old boat will just crumble to dust and will be lost to time forever.”

The group has secured a location for the boat to be housed and restored, with thanks to the Vallely family. However, the cost of its transport back to Wexford must be covered first.

The online crowdfunding campaign has been launched here and donations can be made locally in Blackrock.

A deadline of the end of June has been set for the boat’s return and the group has said that preparations are underway to give it the welcome home it deserves.

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