RNLI video tells the story of the Daunt Rescue off Ballycotton considered one of the most demanding RNLI rescues ever

RNLI video tells the story of the Daunt Rescue off Ballycotton considered one of the most demanding RNLI rescues ever
The crew of the Ballycotton lifeboat "Mary Stanford" pictured after their rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship in February 1936. Left to right, Michael Coffey Walsh, Thomas Sliney, John Lane Walsh, John Shea Sliney, Patrick Sliney, Tom Flavin Walsh, Willie Sliney. Every member of the crew was awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals for bravery.

The RNLI has produced a new video marking the anniversary of Daunt Rock rescue, off the Cork coast in 1936.

The rescue carried out by the Ballycotton Lifeboat crew, was called “one of the most demanding RNLI rescues ever.”

This depiction of the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Lightship by the Ballycotton lifeboat RNLB Mary Stanford is an oil painting by B. F. Gribble
This depiction of the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Lightship by the Ballycotton lifeboat RNLB Mary Stanford is an oil painting by B. F. Gribble

The video briefly explains the events of the day at Ballycotton, coupled with an image montage of drawings and photographs pertaining to the incident.

On Friday, February 7 1936, a strong south-east gale with rain and snow hit Ballycotton. By the 10th the storm had developed into a hurricane; the Midleton News reported that “stones, some a ton in weight, were being torn from the quay and flung about like sugar lumps,” and waves sprayed over the 60m tall lighthouse. 

The next morning at 8am an SOS was received from the Lightship The Comet, carrying a crew of eight.

 

Ballycotton was on a trade route to the Americas, and has a history of successful rescues since at least 1825.

Coxswain Patrick Sliney, without waiting for orders, got in action. The Comet had broken from its moorings and was drifting about on its anchor without engine power. The crew of six rescuers departed aboard the lifeboat Mary Stanford and Sliney tried towing the Comet.

The Mary Stanford Lifeboat at Ballycotton.
The Mary Stanford Lifeboat at Ballycotton.

However, the heavy waves of the storm were too strong, and the steel cable used for towing attempts snapped. After retrieving a stronger one from Cobh, a fog had developed and the rescuers realised the storm was worsening, dragging the Comet to the notoriously dangerous Daunt Rock.

Coxswain Sliney decided the only option was to go alongside the Comet and help its crew jump onto the Mary Stanford. Once alongside, the rescue took six attempts, with the final two Comet crew so exhausted they had to be dragged on board by the rescuers.

Mary Stanford with Ballycotton crew following their return from the famous Daunt Rock rescue in February 1936. This photo appeared in the Cork Examiner, 15.2.1936. Crew consisted of 5 Slineys and 2 Walshes. Supplied by Brendan O'Driscoll
Mary Stanford with Ballycotton crew following their return from the famous Daunt Rock rescue in February 1936. This photo appeared in the Cork Examiner, 15.2.1936. Crew consisted of 5 Slineys and 2 Walshes. Supplied by Brendan O'Driscoll

Sliney and his men then dropped the Comet’s crew off at Cobh at 11PM and sailed back to Ballycotton. The ordeal meant the rescuers had spent 49 hours at sea, 25 of them without food, and only three hours sleep.

Sliney won a gold medal for his bravery, and the rest of the crew won silver and bronze medals. The Mary Stanford was recovered from the Dublin Grand Canal and restored in 2014. It is currently on display in Ballycotton.

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