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Clifden RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew in western Connemara were tasked just after 11am on Sunday morning (7 July) by the Irish Coast Guard to assist a casualty on the island of Inishbofin.

The Shannon class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher was launched under coxswain James Mullen, with John Mullen, Alan Kearney and Andy Bell as crew.

Arriving at the island, the lifeboat crew made their way to the casualty and carried out a comprehensive casualty care assessment on the individual.

The person was then transported to the airstrip on the island and handed over to the coastguard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 for further treatment in hospital.

Having completed the operation, the all-weather lifeboat crew joined with Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat crew and 40 other boats who were escorting the late John Burke from Cleggan Pier to his final resting place on Inishbofin.

Speaking about the call-out, Mullen said: “My thanks to all involved in today’s shout, as always we had great cooperation and assistance from the community in Inishbofin, and I also wish the casualty a swift recovery.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A Connemara camping and caravan site overlooking Omey island has been awarded gold level certification by the Sustainable Tourism Network (STN).

Clifden Eco Beach Camping and Caravanning Park is currently the only campsite in Ireland to hold this certification, STN says.

The family business run by Tatjana and Kris Acton is located on the Aughrus peninsula and overlooking Omey island in Co Galway.

It says it has always had a focus on sustainability since it was first certified back in 2014. The 2024 reissue of their gold award follows a detailed onsite audit by an independent auditor.

Some of the highlights of its sustainability efforts include:

  • Banning toxic formaldehyde-based camper toilet solution and insisting on an eco-friendly product instead since 2014.
  • Banning plastic water bottles and single use plastics since 2014.
  • Becoming Europe’s first certified climate neutral campsite in 2015.
  • Sourcing spring water from beneath its sand-bearing soils which is free from chemicals.
  • Limiting the amp of power to each camping pitch to conserve energy.
  • Use of 100% green energy through their provider.
  • Forgoing the use of hard stands (concrete) for pitches so that the site can be returned to a green-field site easily and quickly.
  • Providing a pick-up service for customers that travel by public transport.
  • Providing bikes for customers.

The business also demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement - another essential element of sustainability.

Planned future initiatives include:

  • Upgrading the facilities to increase accessibility for people with disabilities, highlighting a dedication not just to environmental sustainability but also to social responsibility.
  • The introduction of smart meters and solar panels to further their use of renewable energy sources.
  • The introduction of QR codes at each pitch point, which both enhances visitor experience but also reduces paper use.

Speaking about the certification, Kris Acton states “This independent certification is important for us because it allows us to talk to an Irish and international audience about our sustainability. It says we are a sustainable business at the highest level. The audit is very evidence based.”

Tatjana adds, “The learning we got as we worked with STN as we worked towards recertification was priceless. The environmental education we are getting is second to none and it’s ongoing as we engage with STN.

The campsite sits in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for bottlenose dolphins and is a designated machair habitat site.

Machair sites are beach/sand dune habitats backed by peatland/wetlands and support pollinators and wading birds amongst other species.

Rob Rankin, STN director, said it was a “ remarkable accomplishment”.

“We are so impressed with this business. They prove that a small operation can be truly powerful leaders when it comes to sustainability. We are just delighted to see them reaping the rewards of their hard work,”he said.

The independent audit uses criteria recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

The GSTC is an independent non-profit UN-mandated organisation that has developed criteria that serve as globally accepted standards for sustainable tourism.

Published in Coastal Notes
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A three-month-old baby was among a family of six rescued by Clifden RNLI in western Connemara on Thursday evening (9 May).

The volunteer crew were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard at 6.15pm to assist a group who were cut off by the tide on Omey Island.

Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty with Daniel Whelan, David O’Reilly and Shane Conneely as crew.

Weather conditions were good with calm seas, and the lifeboat crew had no difficulty locating the walkers on the island.

The family — which included grandparents, a baby, two young children and their dog — were found to be well and did not require medical assistance.

They were returned to the shore at Claddaghduff where Cleggan Coast Guard and additional lifeboat crew provided further assistance and ensured the family got back to their accommodation safely.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI helm Kenny Flaherty said: “We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out to Omey and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

“If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty.

“Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew in western Connemara launched on Thursday evening (25 April) to rescue a sailor from the upturned hull of his sailing boat in Clifden Bay.

At 8.45pm the lifeboat crew were tasked by Malin Head Coast Guard following a call from a member of the public who had observed the sailor in difficulty from the shore.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Joyce King was quickly launched, helmed by Joe Acton with crew Alan Pryce and Shane Conneely. They were assisted by John Brendan Mannion on the shore.

The lifeboat arrived on scene, a short distance out in Clifden Bay, to find the casualty clinging to the hull of his upturned boat. The sailor, who was wearing a life vest, had been in the water for some time and was cold but in good spirits otherwise.

The crew transported the sailor back to shore to warm up and then set about righting the sail boat and towing it back to a safe mooring in the bay.

Speaking about the call-out, Clifden RNLI helm Joe Acton said: “With this current spell of good weather, we expect to see people enjoying water sports and boating activities around our coasts.

“We want everyone to enjoy the water and come home safely. Please always remember to wear a life jacket when out on the water, always carry a mobile phone or VHF radio to call for help in an emergency. Boats should have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) which is registered and regularly maintained.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew in western Co Galway were tasked just before 2pm on Thursday (11 April) following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation for a casualty on Inishbofin.

Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher was launched under coxswain David Barry with Joe Acton, Dan Whelan, Andy Bell, Neil Gallery and Shane Conneely as crew. The coastguard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 was also dispatched.

Weather conditions at the time were poor, with limited visibility and deep swells.

When the lifeboat crew arrived at the island, the casualty was received on board St Christopher and a casualty care assessment was carried out on the person, who was injured from a fall.

The casualty was immediately transported to Cleggan pier and the awaiting ambulance for further treatment in hospital.

Speaking about the call-out, Barry said: “This tasking was a real team effort involving the Cleggan Coast Guard, HSE National Ambulance Service and the local community in Inishbofin who provided great assistance during the transfer of the casualty. My thanks to all involved and I also wish the person a swift recovery.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At a recent awards ceremony, some 14 members of Clifden RNLI’s fundraising branch received long service medals recognising their combined 400 years of fundraising in Connemara.

As a fully independent charity organisation, the RNLI relies on donations to fund its lifesaving work. The Clifden lifeboat crew are on call 24/7 but they require ongoing training, well maintained equipment, lifeboats and shore equipment to carry out their mission of saving lives at sea.

None of this would be possible without the dedication, commitment and drive of our local fundraisers who have each dedicated many years to supporting their local coastal community.

The commitment and selflessness of Clifden’s fundraising volunteers was acknowledged by Danny Curran, RNLI regional engagement manager.

Speaking at the ceremony, he said: “I know how much thought and effort goes in raising every euro for our charity and I’m extremely grateful to the volunteers here today who have worked tirelessly on this goal for decades. In rain, hail and snow; every week, every month, every year, you have ensured we can keep our life saving services running.

“These awards are not just to celebrate the fundraising volunteers for their incredible achievements over many years but also their families and friends who play a key role in supporting our work.”

Long service award recipients include Padraig Mc Donagh from Kilkerrin who is the longest serving fundraiser in the branch, having dedicated an incredible 55 years to Clifden RNLI; Eileen and Oliver Coyne from Cleggan, who are responsible for the legendary RNLI Christmas hamper raffle; and Anne Marie Bennett, outgoing chair of the fundraising branch and highly valued RNLI volunteer.

A special moment was observed for Lavinia Joyce who sadly passed away in August this year. Lavinia was the first chairperson of the Clifden/Connemara fundraising branch, or the “Clifden Ladies Guild” as it was known when she joined in 1992. Her enthusiasm, dedication and sense of purpose to be involved with the RNLI was infectious. She was an inspiration to all of us and an absolute lady. Rest in peace, Lavinia.

Clifden RNLI Long Service Awardees 2023:

  • Geraldine Heanue
  • AnneMarie Bennett
  • Padraic Griffin
  • Stewart Freeman
  • Collin Mullen
  • Paraic Mc Donagh
  • Percy Hyland
  • Oliver and Eileen Coyne
  • Jacqueline Hannon
  • Nancy Duffy
  • Lavinia Joyce
  • Ann Day
  • Thomas King
Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard at 1.45pm on Tuesday (26 October) following a report that three people were stranded on Omey Island.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty with Joe Acton and Neill Gallery as crew.

Weather conditions were good with calm seas and the lifeboat crew had no difficulty locating the walkers on Omey Island.

The casualties were found to be well and did not require medical assistance. They were returned to the shore at Claddaghduff where Cleggan Coast Guard provided further assistance.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI lifeboat operations officer John Brittain said: “We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out to Omey and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

“If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty.

“Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

New residents of a Connemara island, which was once depopulated, have put an offshore exhibition together for the Clifden Arts Festival.

Four artists on Turbot Island are hoping their work will be viewed on the island, and have organised a ferry timetable from Clifden Boat Club for “InisturbART”, as the event is called.

Turbot or “Inishturbot” is a few miles west of Clifden and south of Omey, and its population of 60 was relocated to the mainland in 1978, four years after three islanders died in a currach capsize.

Patrick O’Toole (58), Patrick Stuffle (48) and Michael Wallace (62) were on their way home to Turbot from watching the All-Ireland football final in Clifden in September 1974 when the incident happened.

Driftwood painted by Dutch island resident Stefan FrenkelDriftwood painted by Dutch island resident Stefan Frenkel

Latterly, seasonal visitors bought property, and Covid-19 transformed Turbot into a refuge from the pandemic.

Among those who found themselves extending their seasonal stay and adapting to island life were Dutch couple Stefan and Hanneke Frenkel, both of whom have worked in advertising and interior design.

They were inspired by the island environment, and the enforced quarantine during the early stages of the pandemic, to develop their creative skills.

Hanneke Frenkel’s sea mats and carpets, woven from rope washed up on the shoreline, caught the eye of the curators of the Irish pavilion at this year’s Venice Architectural Biennale.

Collecting sea rope off Turbot island for the artists' exhibition for Clifden Arts Festival.JPGCollecting sea rope off Turbot island for the artists' exhibition for Clifden Arts Festival

Her husband Stefan has transformed pieces of fish boxes, ropes, nets, buoys, rubber ducks and other beachcombing material into paintings which reflect “small events on Turbot”.

David Wilkinson has recorded his experiences in coming to the west over several decades in a book entitled Island Journal: One Year and a Day. He first came as a child as his parents had a holiday home on Inishlacken, close to Roundstone.

Also participating in the group exhibition is Dublin maths teacher and musician Peter Knox, who spends much of the year now on Turbot. Several years ago, he adapted a poem about the 1974 drownings, which was written by local man Joseph O’Toole, into a song.

The piece entitled “Turbot Men” was recorded on video. Knox has also created a private art gallery in his island home.

The four artists say that living on the remote island has allowed them to “embrace the challenge of limited entertainment” by “unleashing their imagination, resourcefulness, and love for island living in a range of art projects for their group exhibition”.

They have put together a three-and-a-half hour tour on Turbot for Clifden Arts Festival participants, and there will be three ferry crossings a day from Clifden Boat Club on September 16th, 19th and 24th, with tickets at 20 euro.

Another Connemara island, Omey, will be venue for an illuminated procession by landscape theatre specialists LUXE which will celebrate the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society’s centenary as part of the arts festival programme.

Christy Moore, Clare Sands and Johnny Óg Connolly are among musicians performing at Clifden, while Séamus Ó Flatharta (voice and whistle), Caoimhe Ní Fhlatharta (voice and fiddle), Pádraic Keane (uilleann pipes) and the ConTempo Quartet (viola, violin, and cello) will present “Stolen Hearts,” a new piece by Grammy Award winning composer Bill Whelan.

The festival’s extensive arts trail includes work by Seán Ó Flaithearta in Clifden Court House and Connemara Muses, an initiative led by 16 female artists.

Talks and readings will include sailor and explorer Kevin Cronin, speaking on his new book, In Search of Franklin: An Irish Connection, and James Morrissey, author of Real to Reel:Garech Browne and Claddagh Records.

Michael Viney’s last book completed before he died will be launched by Irish Times group managing director Deirdre Veldon on September 24th .

The Clifden Arts Festival will be opened by broadcaster, uilleann piper and musical historian Peter Browne on September 13th, and it runs until September 24th.

More details here

Published in Island News
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The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were called out on Friday morning (25 August) at 7.30am to assist a stranded yacht off Connemara.

The vessel with two sailors on board had come into difficulty to the south-west of Inishark, which is west of Inisbofin.

Both of Clifden’s lifeboats launched: the inshore Atlantic 85 helmed by Daniel Whelan with Shane Conneely and Chris Nee as crew; and the all-weather Shannon class St Christopher with John Mullen as coxswain, James Mullen, Joe Acton, Neil Gallery and Alan Kearney as crew.

They were assisted from the shore by Tom Guy, John Heffernan and Sean Mercer.

Sea conditions at the time were moderate, with Force 5 winds and good visibility.

On arriving at the scene, the crews found the sailors to be well and in good spirits however the propeller and rudder on their yacht had become badly entangled with ropes.

The lifeboat volunteers set about establishing a tow line and brought the casualty vessel and the passengers back to safety at Cleggan Harbour.

Speaking after the rescue, Mullen said: “The sailors today did the right thing in calling for assistance when they ran into difficulty and I am delighted we were able help. Our volunteer crew did a great job of ensuring a speedy, safe and successful operation this morning.

“I’d like to thank the two sailors who kindly offered to buy breakfast for the crew after we reached the shore. The breakfast was most welcome after an early start saving lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were called out on Tuesday (11 July) to assist a vessel with three anglers on board suffering mechanical failure at the mouth of Killary Harbour.

Weather conditions at the time were very poor with heavy rain and limited visibility.

While preparing to launch on a training exercise on their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, the Clifden crew were tasked to assist a small angling vessel with mechanical failure at the mouth of Killary Harbour, 22 nautical miles away.

It was reported that the casualty boat had three people on board and was drifting towards the rocks.

The Atlantic 85 was immediately away under the helm of Alan Pryce, with crew Chris Nee, Shane Conneely and Connor O’Malley.

While en route, the lifeboat crew were informed that the casualty vessel had drifted onto the rocks and immediate assistance was required.

Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat was also tasked to provide additional cover with John Mullen as coxswain and crew members Joe Acton, Dan Whelan, James Mullen and Brian Ward. They were assisted by John Heffernan and Neil Gallery on the shore. The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 also made its way to the scene.

The inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the location to find the fishing boat on the rocks and the three fishermen had climbed onto the rocky shoreline.

The situation was precarious and the weather conditions were poor. However, the volunteer crew managed to extract the three casualties and put the stricken vessel under tow.

The casualties were cold and wet but in otherwise good form, and they were brought, along with their boat, to Rossroe pier to safety.

Speaking about the call-out, Clifden RNLI helm Alan Pryce said: “I’d like to commend the crew on a well-executed rescue in very tricky conditions. The crew and the lifeboat performed incredibly well and the top cover of R115 and Clifden ALB ensured a swift response and successful outcome.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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