Since BISRA was established in 1987, we’ve saved over 37 people from life-threatening situations. We’ve also recovered the bodies of 9 victims who were tragically lost in fatal incidents, enabling their families to lay their relatives to rest with dignity. It’s not a pleasant task, but our highly trained crews are on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and everyone else who uses the waters of Bantry Bay – whether for business or pleasure – has the comfort of knowing that they can rely on a rapid, professional response if they are ever unfortunate enough to need help themselves.
Most of us take it for granted that appropriate help will be provided when we dial 999, but not many of us give a thought about the dedication of the volunteers who provide the lifeboat service. Unlike other emergency services, our lifeboat is almost entirely funded locally. So all the money required to operate an emergency service like this has to come from the fundraising activities of the associations themselves. The crews are volunteers who give their free time generously – not only when answering emergency calls, but while taking part in the weekly training exercises that keep them in a constant state of readiness for the time that they need to respond to the pager alarm.
A Service to be proud of BISRA has come a long way since the first lifeboat was commissioned in 1987. From humble beginnings – an inflatable boat housed in an old container in the corner of Reenrour facing the strand – BISRA has evolved into a highly professional service with modern facilities and equipment, including the “St. Brendan” – an all-weather Atlantic 21 Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) licensed for operation around the clock.
The service provided by BISRA is a tribute to the dedication of the volunteers who have put thousands of hours into building a facility which is one of the most modern to be found anywhere in Ireland. But it’s also a tribute to the people of Bantry and the surrounding area who have so generously funded this important work, and without whom none of this would have been possible.