RNLI lifeboats had another busy year in 2011, with almost 1,000 calls for help, according to the charity's annual launch statistics.

Howth RNLI lifeboat station in Dublin was the busiest coastal station, launching to 48 requests for help and bringing 60 people to safety.

They were followed by Crosshaven RNLI in Cork, who launched 46 times and assisted 43 people.

Enniskillen, one of two inland RNLI lifeboat stations which operates bases on both Upper and Lower Lough Erne, launched 52 times and brought 46 people to safety.

There were 905 people rescued over the course of the year by volunteer lifeboat crews.

The busiest month for rescues was July, with 155 launches, followed by August with 124 calls for assistance.

Over a third of the RNLI's callouts were carried out in darkness.

The statistics show that launches to vessels suffering machinery failure still account for the largest number of callouts at 187.

This was followed by vessels reported to be in trouble at 78, with 74 grounded and 73 capsizing.

RNLI Deputy Divisional Inspector Gareth Morrison said: "The work of the volunteer lifeboat crews could not be made possible without the generosity of the public who in difficult times continue to support Irish lifeboat crews."