After 35 years with the RNLI and more than 1,000 callouts from the Aran Islands, volunteer mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin is hanging up his wrench.
One of the longest serving volunteers with the Aran Islands RNLI, Johnny first joined up as a teenager in 1984, having just turned 17.
He was inspired to volunteer by the tradition of the same in his family. He grew up watching his father, also a lifeboat volunteer, respond to his pager and go to the aid of those in difficulty at sea.
Having completed his secondary education on Inis Mór, Johnny went on to do a block laying course and worked in the building trade for a time while continuing to serve as a volunteer crew member on the station’s all-weather lifeboat.
In 1987, he became the emergency mechanic for Aran Islands RNLI and then in 1993 he became the station’s full-time mechanic.
Paying tribute to Johnny this week, Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said “Johnny has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Aran Islands for more than three decades and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedicated service throughout that time.
“His job as full-time mechanic ensured the operational effectiveness of the station through the operation, maintenance and repair of the lifeboat and its associated machinery and equipment.
“As he embarks on a new chapter, we want to thank him and wish him every good health and happiness.”
Throughout his decades with the charity, Johnny has seen a significant evolution in the technology employed in the RNLI, from the Barrett class lifeboat through to the current Severn class all-weather lifeboat.
The many updates to the technology on those lifeboats has helped to saves lives among the people of the Aran Islands and the greater community served by the lifeboat station.
With more than 1,000 callouts under his belt, and the rare 30-year Long Service Award from the RNLI recognising his selflessness, courage and commitment, Johnny said it was hard to pick one rescue that stood out.
But his abiding memories of his time with the charity will be of “any call where we brought a person or people home to their families. That was always a good call”.
Michael Hernon, Aran Islands Operations Manager added “Over the years Johnny would have experienced all types of call outs and braved all sorts of weather and challenges at sea to help those in need.
“All at Aran Islands RNLI would like to wish Johnny the very best for the coming years and thank him for his years of service.”