Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Author David Carroll pictured in Dun Laoghaire’s National Maritime Museum beside a model, built by his Uncle Jim (JJ) Carroll of Dunleary 11, the last Kingstown Lifeboat (1914-1919) which relied solely on oars and sails. Photo: Patrick Dowling (Rock Photography)

WRITING a book is akin to running a marathon given the satisfaction that awaits beyond the finish line in both instances.

David Carroll, author of ‘Dauntless Courage’, the definitive history of the Dunmore East Lifeboat, is justly drawing solace from seeing a noble idea become an authoritative work.

And while many a first-time marathon runner has been known to gasp out “never again” in the hours after such a run, only to lace up for many more 26-milers thereafter, David’s debut book is likely to be his one and only.

“Well, I’m 73,” he told me with a grin from his Dublin home. “After all, I’m in the departure lounge!” As for his magnum opus, which will be officially launched online tonight (Wednesday), there was little concealing David’s pride in seeing it through to edited, bound and printed form.

“I was a bit nervous about taking it on,” he said. “It was certainly a step up from writing a few thousand-word blogs about Dunmore for Andrew (Doherty’s ‘Tides and Tales’ website). Surely, at least this is what I thought when I was first asked to take it on, there’d be someone better qualified in the Waterford area to write it but I gave it a go and here we are, two years later, having never previously written a book, and now it’s done. Having ‘dauntless’ in the title of the book was very fitting!”

David, the only child of Dun Laoghaire natives Desmond and Freda Carroll, was brought up in Dunmore where his father (a captain) served as Harbour Master from 1947 to 1969.

“I was six months old when my parents moved to Dunmore,” said David, “so as far as I’m concerned, that’s where I’m from.”

He continued: “An Uncle of mine, my father’s brother, Stan (JS) Carroll, was the Waterford City Engineer and he had a huge interest in history; he was prominent in what was then called the Old Waterford Society – and he lived opposite De La Salle College in ‘Ardán’ one of the red brick houses on the corner towards Newtown. It was quite the coincidence that two brothers from Dublin came to work in Waterford at moreoreless the same time while all the rest of the family were in Dublin.”

Educated in the Mercy Convent in Dunmore (“the big building up from the harbour”), St Declan’s Boys’ School and De La Salle College where he was a boarder for four years, David’s first job was at Waterford Flour Mills (Odlums).

“A lot of people thought I’d go to sea, just like my father. But when the time came, for whatever reason I didn’t go and I got a job in the laboratory in the Flour Mills. By the time I left school, I’d been away at boarding school for four years and at the end of that time, I was looking forward to catching up with all the day pupils, socialising, going to dances and so on. If I’d gone to sea, I’d have missed all that so that idea pretty much slipped away. Now I’d say that was a big regret to my father who’d have had ambitions that I’d have gone into Irish Shipping – but I’ve always had an interest in boats – I sailed and rowed in and out of Dunmore quite a lot. But when my father died in 1969 (David was then aged 22), my mother and I moved back to Dublin and I transferred into an Odlums job up there. But over the years, I never lost touch with Waterford and Dunmore and I really reconnected with Waterford once I’d retired.”

Married to Pauline, with whom he has three sons, Gareth, Kenny (a dual Irish cricket and hockey international, having played in the 2007 Cricket World Cup) and Derek, a piece David sent to Andrew Doherty detailing his Dunmore childhood ultimately inspired ‘Dauntless Courage’.

“Andrew reckoned I must have had other memories I could write about so he enthusiastically pushed me towards doing more research about maritime history in Dunmore and that led to a second blog. And then in 2017, Brendan Dunne (brother of the late poet, Sean Dunne) gave a history of the Dunmore Lifeboat which we came down to sit in on it and that really kickstarted all of this; Brendan later asked me would I write the full history of the lifeboat and here we are.”

The hardback book, which David finished in May, is a considerable tome, weighing in at almost 400 pages, requiring a crew of its own to navigate its publication route.

“The committee that’s driven this book – including Brendan, Neville Murphy (of the Dunmore East RNLI) and Christine Rossiter – have been so committed to this, they really took ownership of it and they’ve been incredible. The RNLI are 100 per cent behind it and having their support has proven invaluable. And I can’t say enough about the phenomenal level of sponsorship we’ve received from businesses in Dunmore and Waterford; without that backing, we’d probably have been looking at a paperback that would have been half the size of what we’ve ended up with. It really is a super end product, way beyond my wildest dreams and hopefully it’s going to be a major fundraiser for the Dunmore East RNLI’s fundraising branch.”

‘Dauntless Courage’ is not only a brilliantly researched tribute to Dunmore’s Lifeboat crews of past and present but is surely as deep and affectionate an imprint as anyone reared in the village has ever committed to print. Fair winds and following seas to its avuncular author.

To order the book, visit or email [email protected]. To book a free ticket for tonight’s launch, visit

Comments are closed.

Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

More Waterford News

More by this Journalist