he fact that there’s been a Ferns family member – and, at one point, four at the same time – in Greystones’ Irish Coast Guards since 1952 speaks volumes about the kind of stock we’re dealing with here.
It’s all Derek Ferns’ fault, of course. Not content with running the finest haberdashery in town – think Fishers with a few noughts taken off the price – Derek volunteered for the town’s Irish Coast Guards some 64 years ago.
Naturally, his children soon followed, with John, Niall, Isaac and Joyce all signing up to save our souls out there on the Irish Sea.
This afternoon, as John gets ready to walk out the old coast guard station doors down at the cove for the very last time, we took a stroll through his many years of service there, his young son, Jack, happily in tow.
With hopes of a new, bigger, stronger, faster, safer station over at the new harbour currently being negotiated, it was a chance too to see this old beauty before she might just be retired. The very first Irish Coast Guard station in Greystones was built in 1821, up in Blacklion, when there was hardly a house or a horse & cart in your way as you rattled down to the sea. Later, in 1843, the station moved to Kenmare Terrace, along Trafalgar Road, before relocating in 1872 to what is now the Garda station.
For John, this current cottage-sized HQ beside that Garda station is like a home away from home. You only have to look at the walls in the back office to realise that – photographs jumping back decades, charting the lifeline of those who came together to save many a life off the coast of Greystones. We copied just a few of them below…
As John reminisced about those years, and about those who went before him, and who will follow – Dermot Macauley will be the new Officer in Charge – you could see Jack was hanging on his dad’s every word.
Something tells me it won’t be too long before another generation of Ferns will be out there on the waves, making Greystones a safer place to live…