ONE of West Cork’s longest serving Lifeboat crew members has retired after 44 years of service.
Mícheál Hurley stepped down on Sunday, having first served with Courtmacsherry Harbour Lifeboat in 1977.
His service included 22 years as station mechanic and he has spent the past 11 years as a voluntary station coxswain and crewman.
He also served as a relief coxswain across the UK, including in the Shetlands, if required.
He told The Echo: “My last duty away was to the Isle of Mull in February of last year. I was barely home when the lockdown came in.”
He says his time with Courtmacsherry Lifeboat “was a fantastic blast”, during which he met many different people.
And he said: “The time flew. It was mostly brilliant.” He recalls: “The highlight was getting a new boat in Courtmacsherry in 1995. It was the first new boat since 1931.”
A tribute to him on the Facebook page of the Courtmacsherry Harbour Lifeboat said: “Over a lifetime of service, he has visited all the 238 RNLI Lifeboat Stations in the UK, along with those in Ireland and the experienced gained has stood him well in his far flung Engineering Work duties from the Suez Canal in Egypt, to the highlands of Scotland and the lowlands of Skibbereen. Always looking for the solution rather than the problem, he has also been a great fundraising volunteer and former Education Officer at our Station.”
He featured on a recording of the Lifeboat anthem Home from the Sea with Phil Coulter, and he also penned a history of the Courtmacsherry lifeboat in 1995, to coincide with the arrival of the new lifeboat for the area.
The tribute added: “He has been out in mountainous seas and terrible conditions down through the decades and many are alive today because crewmen like Mícheál are always on call 365 days a year, to help others in distress.”
It also said: “The night spent at sea in search for a missing pleasure boat in atrocious conditions off the Seven Heads on the 19th December 1981 will long remain in his mind, as his comrade crew members of the Penlee RNLI Lifeboat in Cornwall lost their lives that very night on a callout in similar conditions.”