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66 Hours - The Kilmore lifeboat

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

After the photographic description of the journey taken by the Helen Blake, your attention is drawn to The Sisters; the Kilmore lifeboat. These brave men ventured out onto the raging sea on the evening of the 20th and only returned to their lifeboat station when it became too dark for them to consider a rescue. At first light on the 21st they rowed for a considerable time into the wind and against the current in an attempt to assist their colleagues and friends. This proved futile however, and they had to return to the station. Later that morning they made another attempt and succeeded in getting to within a half a mile of the islands. On seeing two other lifeboats on scene and taking account of the sea conditions, the cox pragmatically decided to abandon their rescue attempt.

The route of The Sisters

The cox of the Kilmore boat, John Kehoe gave an account of his and his crews efforts to reach the Keeraghs at the inquest. It was reported in The People Newspaper -

John Kehoe, cox of the Kilmore lifeboat, said he received news on the 20th of February, that the Fethard lifeboat had gone on service. About 4.45 he received a message that the Fethard lifeboat had disappeared. They launched their boat and proceeded for the Keeragh Islands. They failed to locate the wreck as it got very dark, and the sea heavy. They got back to Kilmore at 9 o’clock that night, and the crew remained standing by all night. At daylight on the 21st, they started again, but could not get around the Forlorn Point owing to heavy seas. They returned to the quay and made another start at 9.30 a.m. On the latter occasion they got within half a mile of the wreck, but could not approach owing to the state of the sea. They lay off the wreck for about an hour, but the sea was getting worse all the time; they came to the conclusion that they could do no good, and returned, using the ‘drague’ anchor on the way back. For the safety of the lifeboat she was housed that night. On the morning of the 22nd he saw Commander Holmes RN (RNLI Chief Inspector) and the Hon. Sec. At that time the Dunmore lifeboat was at Fethard, and the Wexford tug and Wexford lifeboat to windward of the wreck, and it was decided that they need not launch their lifeboat that day.

Commander Holmes said that he could corroborate the cox’s statement . They could do no more than they did.

- ‘The People’ 1914

I have described the journeys of the lifeboats involved in the rescue with landscape photographs taken from the shore. It is my intention that by seeing these images of the locations where this unimaginable story unfolded; I can turn the abstraction of events from another generation into something a reader can conceive of and envisage today.

St Patricks Bridge - a causeway adjacent to Kilmore Quay.

The crew of The Sisters

John Kehoe - Coxswain

Peter Brien

John Walsh

Nicholas Wickham

Matthew Wickham

Richard Wickham

Richard Rochford

Philip Walsh

James O’Flaherty

James Hayes

Nicholas Cousins

William Blake

Walter Power

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