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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

Johnny Shorten, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing Club, has no doubts about the importance of the Optimist dinghy class Connacht Championships which his club is hosting this Saturday and Sunday,

As Afloat reported previously, a hundred competitors are expected at what is one of the biggest scheduled events at the Oranmore Club this season.

“It’s a testament to the wonderful spirit of co-operation between all the sailing clubs around Galway Bay that they can come together to ensure such a worthwhile event can be hosted in the Bay.

Johnny Shorten, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing ClubJohnny Shorten, Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing Club

“The Optimist Class has been the starting point for generations of sailors and continues to grow and prosper. The enduring popularity around the world and in Ireland is a testament to the foresight of its creators and the great work done by the IODAI to foster competition, development and camaraderie for young sailors,” says Commodore Shorten.

The main fleet race area is likely to be west of the Marine Institute location and south of Ballyloughane strand near Renmore. Competitors in these fleets will be under the watchful eye of Race Officer John Leech. The Regatta fleet will race inside Rinville point, where Margot Cronin will be in charge of proceedings. Safety Officer John Collins will be co-ordinating operations.

Published in Galway Harbour
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The RTÉ Documentary on One production Miracle in Galway Bay, which told the story of stranded paddleboarders Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn, has won Best Radio Documentary at the Celtic Media Festival in Brittany.

In the documentary, Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn recalled their miraculous rescue following 15 hours clinging to their boards after being swept out to sea. It details the unfolding search, from raising the alarm, through the appeals for local vessels and people to join in the search along the coast, to the ultimate rescue by Galway fishermen Patrick Oliver and his son, Morgan.

The Celtic Media Festival is an annual 3-day summit which combines a major conference of seminars and masterclasses with the presentation of the coveted Torc Awards for excellence. It took place in Quimper, Brittany from 7th to 9th June.

Recognised for its rich craft in storytelling, the jury at the Celtic Media Festival described Miracle in Galway Bay as “illustrated radio at its best, driven by a narrator who clearly engaged with the subject, with exceptional contributors who recreated their experiences with dramatic accuracy”. The jury continued by saying, “it was layered, it was pacy, and it played hard and fast with our emotions. And finally delivered the happy ending we feared we’d lost”.

Producers of the documentary, Lorna Siggins and Sarah Blake said, “we were delighted to win this award for Sara and Ellen, their families, and all those involved in the search and rescue. It was a story of survival, community and hope which deeply touched our listeners. We’re very grateful to all who contributed to the documentary and worked on the production”.

The research for the documentary also informed an account of the paddleboarders' ordeal in the newly published book, Search and Rescue - True Stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116, by Lorna Siggins which has just been published by Merrion Press.

“Documentary on One: Miracle in Galway Bay” is available to download on or wherever you get your podcasts. 

RTÉ’s 'Documentary on One' unit tells radio stories about real life in Ireland and beyond. They are one of the most successful radio documentary departments in the world - having collected over 340 national and international awards since 2008. Their website contains over 1,700 documentaries - the largest free online radio documentary archive anywhere in the world, that stretches as far back as 1954.

Published in Maritime TV
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9th and 10th of July will see one of the largest competitive fleets seen in Galway Bay for many years take to the water for the Connacht Optimist Championships which is being hosted by Galway Bay Sailing Club.

Up to 150 boats from all corners of Ireland are expected to descend to allow the nation’s young sailors to battle it out in seven different fleets.

The competition will cater for a huge range of ages and abilities. There will be a senior fleet for the older children while the younger children in the junior fleet will have a shorter course to negotiate for each race. There will also be a coached Regatta fleet in the more sheltered waters closer to shore for those still learning their trade and working their way up to the main competitive races. Both the senior and junior fleets are separated into gold, silver and bronze groupings, ensuring a broad spectrum of participation and meaningful races across a range of abilities.

The main fleet race area is likely to be west of the Marine Institute and south of Ballyloughane strand near Renmore.

Competitors in these fleets will be under the watchful eye of Race Officer John Leech.

The Regatta fleet will race inside Rinville point, where Margot Cronin will be in charge of proceedings. An event of this size requires a huge volunteer effort. The competitors are grateful to all the volunteers who will be contributing time, effort and boats to ensuring their safety both on and off the water, with Safety Officer John Collins co-ordinating operations. All the sailing clubs around Galway Bay have come together to ensure such a worthwhile event can be hosted in the Bay.

The Optimist class originated in the 1940s and is now sailed in over 120 countries across the world. It is by far the most popular class of sailing boats for children aged between eight and thirteen. Despite its somewhat dumpy look, it has proven itself as an excellent boat for generations of children to learn the nuances of competitive racing. Most of Ireland’s sailing Olympians, including Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy, learned their trade in the Optimist class.

Published in Optimist
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Slipping out into Galway Bay before sunrise, several traditional craft from Galway Hooker Sailing Club participated in the Darkness into Light national fundraiser on  Saturday.

“When a community comes together, it’s amazing what can be done,” the club said after the highly successful event took place.

The vessels were on the water even as hundreds of people gathered from 4 am on Saturday in Salthill to walk the promenade and shoreline in aid of the charity Pieta.

The city-based club was one of a number of sailing and boating clubs around the country to support the national event, which raises awareness about suicide and fundraises for the support work conducted by Pieta.

Galway City Sailing Club and Galway Bay Sailing Club also responded to the on-water appeal.

“This morning the Galway community came out to walk, run, sail and motor into the day as the sun rose,” Galway Hooker Sailing Club said.

“It was a beautiful morning and we would like to thank everyone,” it said.

Over 3.7 million euros had been pledged to the charity last night, close to its 4 million euro target. Some 54,000 euros of this was raised across 19 venues in Galway, on and off water.

Founded in Dublin in 2006, Pieta was established to provide free, accessible one-to-one counselling to people suffering from suicidal ideation, engaging in self-harm or to those bereaved by suicide.

Published in Galway Hookers

Galway City businesses could benefit from cruise ship passengers to the tune of almost €2 million over the course of the summer months as such ships are due to anchor off the bay.

A total of 22 cruise ships will arrive in Galway between May and the end of September and it is expected that those on board will provide a much needed boost for the local economy. Two of those will pay a visit to the Aran Islands (see related story) as well.

Some of the ships will have up to 1,000 passengers on board – one of the bigger ships Nautica, which will have around 2,000 passengers on board, will visit Galway in the summer of 2024 and this is bound to be an attraction in itself.

The first cruise ship (Borealis, from Cobh) arrived off Galway Bay in the past fortnight and resulted in some 800 passengers being ferried into the city for the day.

They were transported from the 61,000grt cruiseship to the Glór na Farraige (see photo) of Aran Island Ferries, which actually started operating its tourist service from Ros a’ Mhíl to the islands much earlier than normal due to the demand.

More from Connacht Tribune and the Port of Galway harbourmaster.

The Glór na Farraige Afloat recalls an east coast role back in 2015 when also chartered to bring cruise-passengers ashore off Dun Laoghaire Harbour from where yesterday, NCL's giant Norwegian Getaway (145,000grt) made an anchorage call.  

Published in Cruise Liners
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Water quality in Galway Bay may be improved when a new wastewater treatment plant is completed in An Spidéal next year, Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien has predicted.

The project will eliminate the discharge of more than 600 wheelie bins of raw sewage into Galway Bay every day, he said, on a visit to view the village’s new plant.

Swimmers, surfers, local sailors, inshore fishers and anglers will benefit, along with the marine environment, he noted.

O’Brien said it would also act as “an enabler for housing and supporting economic growth and development in the area”.

“Irish Water and Galway County Council are to be commended for progressing this vital project as part of its commitment to the people of Spiddal,” he said.

“ The provision of a reliable wastewater service, in a manner that protects the natural environment, is essential to the economic and social development of this area,” he said.

The minister was accompanied by Galway County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Peter Keaveney, and Irish Water asset delivery regional lead Patrick Greene.

“Spiddal was one of 13 locations nationwide where Irish Water awarded contracts in 2021 to end the discharge of raw sewage,” Greene said.

“So far in 2022 we have awarded contracts for two additional locations with more to follow in the coming months. 60% of the raw sewage entering waterways in Ireland has now been eliminated and we are on track to fully removing the majority of raw sewage discharges by 2025,” he said.

Greene said he would like to thank “the people of Spiddal, including Udarás na Gaeltachta, Spiddal Craft and Design Studios, Danu Media, Stiuideo Cuan Teo as well as Scoil Einne” for their “ongoing support throughout the works”.

The project, which represents an investment of €4 million, is being built by Mott MacDonald and Coffey Water Ltd.

Published in Galway Harbour
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The Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD, recently visited Galway Bay Sailing Club headquarters for the official sod-turning ceremony to inaugurate the club’s latest development. The Minister, who is a native of Oranmore, has a special interest in the Rinville area, and has been very supportive of GBSC over the years.

Galway Bay Sailing Club has been in the location since 1979, and has undergone many expansion programmes over the past 43 years. This latest development consists of the completion of the ground floor training rooms/kitchenette and wetsuit storage areas whuch are also multipurpose meeting and training rooms designed with maximum flexibility in mind.

The second part of the new development is a large and secure equipment storage unit and repair area. This linear building is clad in timber, and is for storage everyday use sailing support and safety vessels, and their equipment.

During her visit the Minister said: “I was particularly pleased to be able to assist Galway Bay Sailing Club in securing significant Sports Capital funding this year. The Club does magnificent work in supporting all ages and abilities in learning to sail, and this new development will help secure their position as the largest sailing club in the West of Ireland.”

GBSC is delighted to have received Sports Capital funding of €140k which will go a long way towards funding these developments.

This allocation allows the Club to proceed immediately, as full planning permission has been granted for the development, and the members we would like to thank the Minister for supporting this initiative which will allow GBSC to expand its junior, adult and sailability training programmes for the future.

Minister Hildegarde Naughton TD in the clubhouse with GBSC officers Pat Irwin (Vice Commodore, left), Johnny Shorten (Commodore) and Honorary Treasurer Andrew Flanagan.Minister Hildegarde Naughton TD in the clubhouse with GBSC officers Pat Irwin (Vice Commodore, left), Johnny Shorten (Commodore) and Honorary Treasurer Andrew Flanagan.

Published in Galway Harbour

One of the 21 fishermen feared dead after a Spanish fishing vessel sank off the Newfoundland coast this week was the sole survivor of a dramatic rescue two decades ago off the Irish west coast.

Ricardo Arias Garcia was winched from the Skerd Rocks in outer Galway Bay by the Rescue 115 Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew in October 2000.

The native of Marin in Spain has been named as one of the 21 who died or are missing when the Villa de Pitanxo sank about 280 miles off the Newfoundland coast in rough seas early on Tuesday.

Only three of the 24 crew on board the vessel were rescued, while nine have been confirmed dead and 12 crew listed as missing from the 50-metre (164ft) vessel. The search for the missing 12 was stood down on Wednesday evening.

The Halifax rescue centre involved in the search said the area was experiencing 46 miles per hour winds and sea swells of up to 5.5 m (18 ft) at the time. The Spanish vessel was built to withstand harsh Atlantic weather.

Arias Garcia survived a previous sinking but lost all of his fellow crew when the Arosa sank in a storm off north Galway Bay on October 3rd, 2000.

The Spanish-owned 32 metre-long Arosa, which was registered in Britain, had been fishing for four days when weather deteriorated.

Its skipper was heading for shelter in Galway Bay a force nine gale, blowing to force ten, when it struck the Skerd rocks about nine miles west of the Connemara village of Carna.

Ten of the 13 crew on board were Spanish, two were from Sao Tome island off central Africa and one was from Ghana.

 Ricard Arias Garcia, the Spanish fisherman feared dead off Newfounland, after he survived the Arosa sinking in Galway Bay in October 2000. Ricard Arias Garcia, the Spanish fisherman feared dead off Newfounland, after he survived the Arosa sinking in Galway Bay in October 2000 Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

A “mayday” alert was issued, the three African crew tried to launch the liferafts, but it proved too difficult as the vessel was wedged between rocks with enormous seas on its port side.

The desperate crew, most wearing lifejackets, clung to the vessel until most were washed away.

Arias Garcia spoke afterwards of how he decided not to wear a lifejacket as he feared it might choke him..

"In between the waves, I tried to look up, calm down and organise myself," he told reporters afterwards in University Hospital, Galway.

"I saw another big wave coming. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When that wave had passed, I felt rocks beneath me. I dragged myself up along the rocks. I looked up and I saw the light of the helicopter."

The crew of Rescue 115 had only 200 to 300 yards of visibility in pitch dark and driving rain, close to a mountainous coast, when they spotted him.

They had already identified liferafts on the water near the Skerd Rocks and could see they were empty.

Arias Garcia was wearing only a t-shirt when the light from the helicopter caught him, clinging to a rock close to the bow of the vessel which was being pounded by heavy seas.

The crew of Capt David Courtney, Capt Mike Shaw, winch operator John Manning and winchman Eamonn Ó Broin winched him on board.

The helicopter crew also rescued the vessel’s skipper. Both men were flown to hospital but the skipper did not survive.

The Shannon crew received a State award for their role in rescuing Arias Garcia.

The RNLI Aran lifeboat, the Cleggan and Costello Bay Coast Guard units and Naval Service divers who searched for bodies were also conferred with marine meritorious awards.

Galician newspaper La Voz de Galicia recalled this week how Arias Garcia, feared lost off Canada, had survived a “shipwreck off Ireland” in 2000.

“Ricardo saw his companions from the Arosa die, and that terrible event marked him. Those who know him say that he enjoyed the sea,” the newspaper reported.

Arias Garcia was one of 16 Spaniards, five Peruvians and three Ghanaians, on board the Villa de Pitanxo which had been at sea for over a month.

The vessel’s owner, Grupo Nores, specialises in catching cod, dogfish and other species found in the North Atlantic.

Published in Fishing

A one-year economic assessment of the southeast Galway Bay catchment has found it generated revenues of €105 million and supported about 550 jobs.

The report was commissioned by Cuan Beo, a community based coastal organisation working in south-east Galway Bay, and is the first of its kind according to the group.

Its findings were presented at a regional event held late last week which was attended by local politicians and policymakers, representatives of State agencies, and farmers, fishermen, community and tourism groups, scientists and environmental groups living in the catchment.

The event was moderated by Dr Micheál Ó Cinnéide, former director of the Environmental Protection Agency and now with Corrib Beo.

The report describes how a very distinct geographical area is connected by a common drainage system, drawing all rainfall and run-off water in the catchment and discharging it into Galway Bay.

It is one of 46 catchments in Ireland, according to the EPA, and covers an area of approximately 1,200 Km2. It includes about 117 km of coastline stretching from Galway harbour to Blackhead in Co Clare and extends inland to Athenry, Loughrea and Gort.

The report highlights the value and importance of data collection and management for the catchment, and potential growth areas across a number of key sectors where the resources available in the catchment could be developed in a sustainable manner to create new jobs and generate revenue.

These growth areas include climate technology, blue health, marine and coastal tourism, research and local community development and the report says they offer “unparalleled opportunities for growth and sustainable development, building on the circular economy and supporting climate-resilient communities”.

“Now that we have established market and non-market economic baselines, this report will heighten awareness with policymakers and planners as to the true value of the resource base and the marine environment,” Cuan Beo chair Diarmuid Kelly said.

“ It will promote this catchment as a location for research and development in sustainability and environmental enhancement. This will become increasingly important as social and environmental measures, such as carbon emissions and sustainability development goals, are established and monitored,” he said.

The report was conducted by Dr Colm O’Dowd who noted that “valuing both market and non-market products and services from the marine environment is necessary if they are to be included in marine spatial planning and management decisions”.

“For example, while we know that shipping and tourism are vital economic pillars in this catchment, there is little awareness of the value of marine-related recreation or the potential healthcare savings associated with activities such as sea
swimming,” O’Dowd said.

“Assessing the economic value of these activities and of marine ecosystems should influence decision making on marine spatial planning and support improvements in water quality and access to coastal areas,” he said.

The report was funded by Cuan Beo, the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) and the EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund under the FLAG West Programme.

A copy of the report is available here 

Published in Galway Harbour

The Galway gleoiteog named Loveen tacked across the Claddagh basin this weekend, some 96 years after it was built by the Reaney family of Spanish Arch.

The gleoiteog has been restored, plank by plank, by the Galway Hooker Sailing Association in a restoration project involving the Port of Galway Sea Scouts.

The vessel was bought by the late Nicky Dolan in 2009, but he passed away before he had fulfilled plans to repair it. With the support of former mayor and Labour councillor Niall MacNelis, it was donated to the Port of Galway Sea Scouts in 2011.

As Afloat reported previously, Expert boatbuilders Coilín Hernon and his sons, Ciarán Oliver, and a large team from the Galway Hooker Sailing Association (GHSA) have worked on the project since funding was secured.

Loveen sailing  on the Claddagh basin Photo: Bartley FanninLoveen sailing on the Claddagh basin Photo: Bartley Fannin

The association, which has over 100 volunteers, began work in earnest in 2019 and continued with careful restrictions through last year’s Covid-19 pandemic.

A flotilla joined the gleoiteog on the water – including The Lovely Anne, a late 19th-century gleoiteog, already restored by the GHSA.

The gleoiteog has been restored, plank by plank, by the Galway Hooker Sailing AssociationThe gleoiteog has been restored, plank by plank, by the Galway Hooker Sailing Association Photo: Bartley Fannin

Éinde Hernon was on the helm of the Loveen as it berthed in the Claddagh basin for a blessing by Fr Donal Sweeney of the Claddagh Dominican church.

“We can nearly always rely on rain,” Fr Sweeney joked.

Mayor of Galway Colette Connolly attended the event, and, in spite of threatening rain, a large crowd gathered at Nimmo’s pier to welcome the Loveen into the Galway hooker fleet.

Fr Donal Sweeney of the Claddagh Dominican church, blessing the gleoiteog Loveen at the Claddagh basin on SaturdayFr Donal Sweeney of the Claddagh Dominican church, blessing the gleoiteog Loveen at the Claddagh basin on Saturday Photo: Bartley Fannin

Published in Galway Hookers
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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...