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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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NZ man visits Arklow RNLI after crew save his grandfather’s life in 1897

James Murphy was dramatically rescued at 9.45am on 28 March 1897, while four other crewmen, including his father and uncle, drowned.

Greg Murphy with Arklow RNLI lifeboat crew (l-r) Michael Fitzgerald, Liam O’Neill and Aidan Downey.
Greg Murphy with Arklow RNLI lifeboat crew (l-r) Michael Fitzgerald, Liam O’Neill and Aidan Downey.
Image: RNLI/Arklow

Greg Murphy with Arklow RNLI lifeboat crew (l-r) Michael Fitzgerald, Liam O’Neill and Aidan Downey. (Image: RNLI/Arklow)

A NEW ZEALAND man has paid a visit to Arklow RNLI after the lifeboat crew – 116 years ago – saved his grandfather’s life.

Back in 1897, James Murphy was just a teenager when the boat he was in ran a ground in torrential rain and he had to be rescued by the Arklow RNLI lifeboat crew.

When the visited, Greg Murphy and his wife Anne heard about the dramatic details of his grandfather’s rescue, which began at 9.45am on 28 March 1897.

The story goes that James Murphy was on the schooner Express with his father, uncle and two crew, en route to Wexford from Dublin, when in strong winds and driving rain the vessel grounded off Arklow. The skipper was washed overboard and lost.

The Arklow lifeboat, Frances and Charlotte, a pulling and sailing lifeboat, was launched and the lifeboat crew rowed through breaking seas to reach the stricken vessel.

The hull of the boat was under water when the lifeboat neared and four crew members, including James, were clinging to the side.

Arklow RNLI lifeboat station with self-righter lifeboat circa 1880. (Pic: RNLI/Arklow)

In difficult conditions the lifeboat crew cast a line and secured it to the boat with the plan to get the men to fasten themselves to the rope together and jump overboard. However, it is not known whether they did not hear or understand the instructions but they only tied James to the rope and lowered him into the water.

He was hauled toward the lifeboat but there was not enough slack to get him onboard and the lifeboat crew shouted to the men to let him go or he would drown. They did so and the lifeboat crew recovered the boy onboard almost lifeless.

Tragically the stranded men went under with the boat. The lifeboat crew tried to recover them but were unsuccessful.

Greg’s grandfather James was the only one to survive and sometime later, the family relocated to New Zealand.

Visiting the lifeboat station over a century later with his wife Anne, Greg thanked Arklow RNLI as without them, he would never have exited:

On behalf of myself and my very large family back in New Zealand I want to say thank you for what you do.

Without the bravery of the men of the Arklow lifeboat back in 1897 myself and my family simply would not exist.

Read: Luca the dog rescued after falling 200ft down a cliff edge>
More: “Be alert and sensible” on the beach, warns the RNLI>

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About the author:

Amy Croffey

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