THE oldest surviving McLaren steam engine in the world was back in action to help fundraise for the RNLI last weekend.
Enthusiast Rory Nagle lovingly restored the 1878 Leeds built engine – known as Old Mac – and took it on a drive through the popular tourist town of Kinsale to raise much-needed funds for the local lifeboat service.
The voluntary Kinsale RNLI’s funds were depleting because of Covid-19 restrictions so Rory’s and Old Mac’s special mission last weekend was a welcome boost for the service.
Assisted by two young helpers, local lads Frank Sullivan and Billy Twomey Rory went on a tour of the town on board Old Mac, which consumes half a tonne of coal and many gallons of water on every expedition.
Despite the poor weather over the weekend they raised donations of €440 from members of the public eager to have their photographs taken alongside the historic engine.
Rory said: “The RNLI have been on duty throughout lockdown and are there day and night when we need them. It’s a pleasure to be able to do something for people that really deserve support, especially at this difficult time.
“I believe that we all need to remember the people that look after us.’
Photographs of Rory’s expedition were widely shared on social media, leading to the rounding up of the sum raised to €500.
John Farley, a Kinsale man who has been living in San Francisco for the past 30 years, donated the necessary money.
John said: “I always hit the lifeboat boxes when I’m home, but I didn’t make it back this year, so this makes up for it.
“The lifeboat lads rescued my sister, my niece Rachel and me off the Old Head about eight or nine years ago when our engine died. I also know Rory well and he’s a great guy, so this is a good opportunity to show my support.”
Tricia Tyson, Kinsale RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer said: “This is not the first time Rory has raised funds for us.
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“Last year he took part in the Celtic Steamers run from Baltimore to Kinsale, a spectacular cavalcade of vintage engines that raised over €5,000 for the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea.
“We also appreciate all the hard work of Billy and Frank who helped him both days, and the generosity of the public who filled the buckets. The RNLI relies on the support of the public, and that is one thing that is never lacking in Kinsale.”
Earlier this week, Cork was hit by flooding due to torrential rain. Parts of Kinsale were impassable as a result. A status yellow rain warning was in place as Met Eireann warning of up to 50mm of rainfall.