Arranmore RNLI spanning generations

THE Arranmore RNLI crew have two new members continuing a long tradition of families on the island helping to save lives at sea.

The two newest recruits to the island’s all weather lifeboat are Joseph John O’Donnell (JJ) aged 18 and Brian Proctor who have two uncles, a father, and brother already in the service to show them the ropes.

JJ’s uncles, John and Michael McHugh are already seasoned volunteers on the lifeboat.


John joined the crew more than 40 years ago.

He then left to work as a tunnel tiger but joined again when he returned permanently to the island.

He is currently serving as relief mechanic and is now in training for his coxswain’s ticket.

Michael better known as Mickey Dubh joined the crew two years ago having retired from the island’s fire service.

He is also a volunteer driver with the voluntary ambulance service on Arranmore.

He trained as an electrician while living in America and is currently employed in the Community Centre and is a kayak instructor with Cumann na mBad on Arranmore.

JJ is in his final year of second level education at Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada and hopes to train to become a woodwork teacher.


“I love the sea and I’m involved in swimming, kayaking, lifesaving and all sea-faring activities and I suppose it was inevitable that the next step was joining the RNLI,” JJ said this week.

His uncle John spoke of the importance of continuing the vital life saving service from the island with Arranmore lifeboat on station since 1883.

“The training involved gives the crew life skills which they can carry with them throughout their lives and is also a great experience in building team work,” he said.

He received an £8 cheque as a gratuity for his first ever call out and has kept it uncashed, as a memento of that day more than 40 years ago.

Brian Proctor junior (23), has followed his Dad Brian senior, brother Martin and uncle Anthony onto the crew.

Brian has just graduated from the ATU, Galway with a Bachelors Degree in Sports and Exercise and plans to undertake a Masters in teaching and learning.

His father, Brian senior, has been on the crew for over forty years and like John Mc Hugh was a tunnel tiger until his return to Arranmore.

Brian said that having both his sons on the crew was a source of great pride to him.

“Being islanders I think we have the sea in our veins, no matter which direction we look the sea is all around us. We are very privileged to have the lifeboat here and it is great to see the tradition of volunteering being continued down the generations in families,” he said.

Both John and Brian senior have been on many call outs on the lifeboat, some calls where they saved lives and others with sad outcomes.

Like many lifeboat crews they are reluctant to talk about the lives lost to the sea.

Arranmore RNLI press officer, Nora Flanagan paid tribute to all lifeboat crews and especially the Arranmore lifeboat, which she volunteered on for many years.

“I am so privileged to be part of this lifeboat station and want to tell the story of how these families are always contributing to the welfare of the whole community on both land and sea. We usually refer to the volunteers who serve on the lifeboats as ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’ but I believe they are truly extraordinary people doing the most extraordinary things helping to save lives at sea, on lakes and on land. Thank you all for your selfless dedication,” she added.

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