Aran Islands RNLI has officially opened its new shop and visitor experience on Inis Mór, raising vital funds for the charity that saves lives at sea.
The sun came out for the grand opening, with the honour of cutting the ribbon falling to mother and daughter, Margaret Gill and Lena O’Connell.
Both RNLI volunteers, Margaret is Treasurer of the Aran Islands fundraising branch with almost 40 years of service to the charity, while Lena is the station Lifeboat Press Officer and a fundraiser.
The new shop is located next to the Aran Islands lifeboat station at Kilronan Pier while the Visitor Experience is inside the boathall.
The shop offers a wide range of RNLI branded goods, including clothing and accessories, toys and stationery.
It is expected to open seven days a week during the tourist season from Easter through to autumn and will coincide with the ferry timings to and from the island.
The Visitor Experience makes use of the large number of images and information about the station’s lifeboats, including memorable milestones, awards and rescue stories.
The opening brought out a group of locals and visitors, with music provided by well-known musician Locko Cullen and a delicious buffet lunch laid on by Teach Nan Phaidí.
Aran Islands RNLI station mechanic Máirtín Eoin Coyne was MC for the event, and Lifeboat Operations Manager Michael T. Hernon welcomed people to the opening.
He thanked the dedicated volunteers who have supported the lifeboat station and fundraising for nearly a century.
RNLI Regional Engagement Manager Daniel Curran also acknowledged the huge amount of people who had made the opening possible.
RNLI Head of Region, Anna Classon, whose own grandfather was a member of An Garda Síochána stationed on the island, and who made Inis Mór a home for her mother and uncles for many years, gave her speech in Irish and paid tribute to the lifeboat and island communities who support the RNLI in their lifesaving work.
“This community, with the support of the RNLI, has been serving those in trouble on the sea for many years,” said Anna.
!It has a been a selfless tradition, with a history of bravery, volunteering, and kindness to strangers. Thank you for joining the RNLI in the bravest of endeavours, to put others before yourselves, in whatever role you play.
“I congratulate all involved with this lovely new shop and visitor experience and hope you welcome many people across the threshold in the years to come.”
After conducting the official ribbon cutting with her daughter Lena, Aran Islands RNLI Treasurer Margaret Gill said that they are so thrilled to have our new shop and visitor experience on Inis Mór.
She said that there is an incredible history of lifeboating and lifesaving on this island and a group of committed volunteers that support it.
“There are tales of rescues and brave deeds going back generations and it’s lovely to have somewhere for visitors and locals to take a minute, look around the exhibits, and learn a bit about our history.
“They can also visit our shop when they have finished and buy a little memento of their trip to the island or an early Christmas card. As a charity the RNLI relies on the generosity of the pubic and we are so grateful for that ongoing support.”