Photo 1: A black and white image of the obverse side of the Ireland Medal.


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A History of The Lifesaving Foundation’s Ireland Medal & Its Recipients

By John Connolly

Abstract 

The Ireland Medal was introduced in 2004 as a joint project between the Irish Lifesaving Foundation and The Royal Life Saving Society Republic of Ireland Branch (RLSS IRELAND) to mark the centenary of the RLSS branch (1904-2004) and the birth of The Irish Lifesaving Foundation as a legally independent charity in 2003. The Foundation had originated as an RLSS IRELAND sub-committee (Connolly, 2012). The guilded medal is 50 millimeters in diameter and 4 millimeters thick, is manufactured by Lee Brothers of Dublin, Ireland. It is awarded annually ‘to an Irish person or organization or to a person of Irish descent in recognition of an exceptional contribution to saving lives from drowning’ and has been awarded 11 times. The medal has a high status within world lifesaving circles due to the quality of medal recipients, often generates valuable publicity for lifesaving, and frequently draws attention to hidden or overlooked aspects of drowning. 

Key words: lifesaving, lifeguarding, Ireland Medal, drowning, The Lifesaving Foundation. 

In 2003 The Irish Lifesaving Foundation, having originated as a sub-committee of The Royal Life Saving Society Republic of Ireland Branch (RLSS IRELAND), decided to mark the centenary of Royal Life Saving Society activity in Ireland by way of introducing a special medal recognizing exceptional contributions to saving lives from drowning. The award, to be presented in 2004, would also be used to publicize the Foundation’s incorporation as a fully independent Irish charity. The medal would be awarded ‘to an Irish person or organization or to a person of Irish descent in recognition of an exceptional contribution to saving lives from drowning’. Following much consideration a gilded medal 50 millimeters in diameter and 4 millimeters thick, manufactured by Lee brothers, Dublin, Ireland, was chosen. The medal obverse has an image of a swimmer towing a drowning casualty (Photo 1). The reverse is blank to facilitate the engraving of a recipient’s name and the year received. 

 

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