RNLI celebrating 200 years saving lives at sea

by Alison O'Hanlon
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As part of the RNLI’s 200th anniversary, the charity has created a unique and exciting exhibition that looks at the Institution’s history on the island while also encouraging a new generation of lifesavers to come onboard.

The first venue for the exhibition is the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire, county Dublin where visitors can see it until Saturday 27th July, when it will move to Belfast. 

Dun Laoghaire volunteer James Traynor

When the RNLI put together a programme for the charity’s 200th anniversary, one of the key events planned was an exhibition highlighting the lifesaving work of generations of volunteers, which would honour the Institution’s incredible history while also looking to the future. In bringing those plans to fruition, the RNLI worked with a Cork based team Mirador Media Ltd who brought the vision to life in a very exciting way. Using sustainable materials, historical images and up to the minute virtual reality technology, visitors are invited to step into the yellow wellies of an RNLI volunteer and learn what it means to launch a lifeboat in all weathers to save a life.

The sounds of the lifeboat pager along with the crew getting into their kit form a background to the exhibition where visitors can listen to some of the interviews that formed the RNLI’s 200 voices podcast, sit on a real lifeboat seat and wear a special VR headset that puts them right in the centre of the action on the high seas. Also included are stunning images which capture everyday life in the charity, along with accounts of the some of the most famous callouts carried out by lifeboat crews in Ireland. 

RNLI Head of Ireland Anna Classon said, ‘We are thrilled to finally share this wonderful exhibition with the public and there is no better venue than the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire to launch it. Situated across the road from a lifeboat station and largely staffed by volunteers, it was the perfect location for us to begin this journey. As a charity with a 200-year history we have a rich archive of images and stories from which to curate an exhibition, but we also wanted to keep an eye to the future and on innovations in technology, which I’m pleased to say we have successfully done. I’d urge people to visit the exhibition and see it for themselves. I hope some may even be inspired to volunteer for the charity after seeing it.’

Dun Laoghaire volunteer Laura Jackson

Declan Traynor, Manager of the National Maritime Museum added, ‘We are very honoured to be chosen by the RNLI to be the first venue to host their 200-anniversary exhibition.  There is huge interest from the public in the maritime sector and we are always looking to bring in new faces to the museum.  Once through the door, people are always stunned at what is on their doorstep and we are delighted to work with the RNLI on bringing this exhibition to life for their 200th anniversary. On a personal note, my own son is a lifeboat volunteer, so this means a lot to us in Dun Laoghaire.’

The RNLI 200th exhibition will be in the National Maritime Museum until 27th of July  www.mariner.ie before it moves to a venue in Belfast city centre.

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