IN an outstanding demonstration of community and voluntary spirit, several hundred people turned out for the official launch of the Foynes and District Search and Rescue Unit.
The unit’s 30-plus members, led by a committee of twelve, are now equipped to carry out search and rescue from their new base close to the old swimming pool in Foynes along a 20-mile stretch of shoreline on both sides of the Shannon.
Foynes and District Search and Rescue was first established in July 2009 – spurred on, according to founding member Oliver Moran by the previous summer’s disastrous flooding in Newcastle West, when people were being rescued by tractors and front loaders.
The need was there also to provide a rapid-response service to complement the search and rescue services based at Ballybunion and Limerick, he explained.
The Estuary is a very busy commercial waterway, said Enda Moynihan who is, along with Mr Moran and others, a director of the unit. “There are a lot of hazards.” In addition, a lot of leisure craft use the river, particularly around Foynes.
But to make the unit a reality required a lot of hard work and fund-raising – with over €40,000 being raised locally through various activities. This was boosted by a grant of almost €27,000 from West Limerick Resources.
“People said it would take five or six years,” Oliver Moran said. But the challenge was met in just 28 months – despite starting in “the worst possible economic climate.”
*A full version of this story was published in the print edition of Limerick Leader, dated October 1, 2011