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A sea swimmer in West Cork was rescued by an RNLI lifeboat crew in thick fog this morning. 

The Courtmacsherry RNLI All Weather Lifeboat "Val Adnams" was called early this morning (Saturday, September 9th) by the Valentia Coast Guard Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre to help a swimmer in trouble off Inchydoney Island beach in West Cork. Despite the thick fog, the Lifeboat, led by Coxswain Mark Gannon and with a crew of five, quickly assembled and headed towards the area at 5.34 am. Fortunately, the swimmer had made it to shore safely with the assistance of a friend. Once the swimmer's safety was confirmed, the Lifeboat returned to its base in Courtmacsherry.

Vincent O'Donovan, the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Launch Authority and press officer, expressed his gratitude to the 20 volunteer crew and officers who quickly responded to the call for help. He emphasised the importance of dialling 999 or 112 in emergency situations, stressing that every minute counts. He wishes everyone using the coastline a safe and enjoyable weekend.

This morning's crew on the callout included Coxswain Mark Gannon, Mechanic Stuart Russell, and crew members Ken Cashman, Donal Young, Denis Murphy, and Kieran Boyle. It is a special day at the Lifeboat Station as the Naming Ceremony for the new Lifeboat "Val Adnams" takes place in the Village at 1.45 pm, and everyone is invited to attend. 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Shellfish Ireland, a company that specialises in shellfish in West Cork, has launched Ireland's first crab pate after receiving a grant worth €793,281 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). The grant was worth a significant amount and enabled the company to invest in new processing equipment and upgrade its cold storage facilities. This investment has allowed the company to develop new fish products from previously discarded waste, thus improving efficiency and reducing the cost of disposal.

Carol Harrington, CEO of Shellfish Ireland, stated that the grant enabled the purchase of new machinery, including a new refrigeration system. This system speeds up the freezing process during processing, enhances the quality of the product, and improves energy efficiency. Consequently, the company can now focus on more value-added products and has recently launched Ireland's first crab pate, currently available in Dunnes and Musgraves stores.

"The machines purchased with the support of the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme will increase our yield from processing crab, making us more competitive in both the domestic and export markets," said Carol. "This investment adds value to the crab and shrimp landings in Ireland, as the majority of the crab and shrimp purchased by Shellfish Ireland is from small to medium boats and family fishing enterprises, supporting rural industries in Ireland."

Since 2021, Shellfish Ireland has received grants worth over €1 million from BIM. This investment significantly improves the efficiency of the business, as it will enable the company to convert previously discarded waste into value-added raw material for secondary processing into fish food.

Shellfish Ireland's products are BRC Garde A certified and are available in major supermarket retailers, as well as restaurants and hotels. They also sell in Europe and Asia.

Established in Castletownbere in 1987 by two young fishermen, Richard Murphy and Peter O'Sullivan Greene, Shellfish Ireland has become one of the largest employers in the area, with more than 130 employees. The Murphy's are still very much involved, with 95-year-old Pat Murphy, Richard's father, serving as the chair of the board of Shellfish Ireland. Despite his age, he actively participates in the business and chairs meetings. Richard's son, Ryan, also works for the company, making it a three-generation family business.

Carol joined Shellfish Ireland in 2014 as a financial controller after taking redundancy from AIB in 2013. She was appointed CEO in 2016, and following Peter's retirement in 2019, GW Biggs Group came on board. This investment is expected to add value to the crab and shrimp landings in Ireland, creating more opportunities for rural industries in the country

Published in BIM
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A 'Heritage & Fastnet Centre' is scheduled to open in Summer 2024 on Cape Clear Island, located on the West Cork coast.

The development of the centre was celebrated by raising flags at the proposed site during a 'Flags Day' event. Micheal ó Ceadagáin, one of the island's oldest residents and one of the Iron Men of Cape Clear, raised the Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse flag, signifying Cape Clear's close relationship with the Fastnet.

Throughout the 1960s, Micheál and his fellow Iron Men delivered bags of coal up the 99 steps to the Fastnet Lighthouse. He has dedicated his life to working for the island community, serving as Chairperson and Manager of Cape Clear Coop, among other roles.

The Cape Clear Flag was also raised near St Ciarán Gallán and the Holy Well in North Harbor, commemorating the island's 5,000-year history represented by the Cape Clear Stone. Éamon Lankford spent 40 years collecting artefacts from the island and conducting extensive research on its history and folklore, producing a collection of publications about Oileán Cléire.

The Cape Clear Island Centre is being developedThe Cape Clear Island Centre is being developed

Islanders are hopeful for the return of the Cape Clear Stone, which is currently housed in a museum in Cork City.

Flags were also raised for the new children's playground on Cape Clear, the Fastnet Rock & Lighthouse, and the O'Drisocoll Flag, in honour of the O'Driscoll heritage, with the O'Driscoll Worldwide Archives set to be kept at the new Centre. The island community aims to develop a Heritage Centre to gain national and international recognition.

The first phase includes maritime heritage, local historic shipwrecks, and a tower showcasing the history of the harbour, Church, and Castle, among other features.

Many individuals and groups are contributing to the island's progress.

Published in Island News

An historic West Cork lifeboat station is set to officially name a new Shannon class lifeboat 'Val Adnams' during a ceremony at 1:45 pm on Saturday, September 9. The guest of honour on the day will be Val Adnams herself, who is travelling all the way from America for the event. Val is the main donor for the new Shannon lifeboat, which will be named in her honour. The Courtmacsherry RNLI is home to the new lifeboat and is one of the oldest stations in the Institution. 

Val Adnams is a lifelong supporter of the RNLI and an avid sailor and sportsperson. She grew up in Preston and Weymouth and developed a deep respect and admiration for the RNLI as she witnessed the callouts of the local Weymouth Lifeboat, which went to the help of others in distress at sea. Val moved to Washington DC when she was 23 and worked on Capitol Hill for some years before meeting her partner Ed and settling in Idaho. 

Val will be accompanied by members of her family for this special occasion. The lifeboat was also partly funded by generous legacies from Mrs. Sylvia Anne Walker and Mrs Petrina Johnson. A plaque recording these bequests has already been mounted inside the lifeboat.

The Shannon class lifeboat is named after an Irish river in recognition of the service of the Irish lifeboat crews down through the years. This is the first RNLI lifeboat to be named after an Irish river. The arrival of the new lifeboat marks the beginning of a new chapter, as it is the eleventh lifeboat to be stationed in Courtmacsherry since the arrival of “The Plenty” in 1825. The lifeboat is jet-driven, which provides it with increased manoeuvrability.

Brian O'Dwyer, Courtmacsherry RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, expressed his excitement ahead of the lifeboat naming ceremony. He said, "We are looking forward to welcoming Val and her family to this beautiful part of the world and to the start of a lifelong friendship. We would also like to acknowledge the generous legacies of Mrs. Sylvia Anne Walker and Mrs. Petrina Johnson, who contributed to the funding of our new lifeboat. We, and the lifeboat volunteers who follow, will be the proud custodians of this Shannon class lifeboat. This lifeboat will save many lives in the years ahead and bring our crews safely home."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A yacht that got into difficulty during Storm Betty was rescued by the West Cork Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat on Saturday morning.

The sailors had been anchored off Dromquinna on the Kenmare Peninsula, but as the storm worsened, the vessel dragged anchor and became stuck on a rock.

The sailors raised the alarm with the Irish Coast Guard's Marine Research Coordination Centre in Valentia, requesting immediate assistance.

The Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was launched at 03:22 and faced a three-hour trip to Dromquinna.

The yacht was located on a rock south of Dromquinna but, with the rising tide, volunteer lifeboat crew were able to attach a tow rope and pull the vessel clear. The yacht was undamaged and both sailors were found to be safe and well. It was then decided to tow the yacht to Castletownbere. The tow is currently in progress and the lifeboat and yacht are expected in port at 14:00.The yacht was located on a rock south of Dromquinna but, with the rising tide, volunteer lifeboat crew were able to attach a tow rope and pull the vessel clear. The yacht was undamaged and both sailors were found to be safe and well. It was then decided to tow the yacht to Castletownbere. The tow is currently in progress and the lifeboat and yacht are expected in port at 14:00

Despite driving rain, strong winds and a large sea swell, the crew managed to locate the yacht on a rock south of Dromquinna and attach a tow rope before pulling it clear.

The yacht was undamaged, and both sailors were found to be safe and well. The tow to Castletownbere is expected to be completed by 14:00.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The race around the Fastnet Rock is confirmed as Thursday's CD Environmental Calves Week fixture as the regatta passes its half stage.  

No wind and dense fog in West Cork greeted the 72-competing boats on Wednesday morning in Schull Harbour as sailors faced a three-hour postponement before race two got underway in a startline set outside the harbour. 

The Class Zero start of Calves Week race two on Wednesday with the fog still a major factor and visibility down to less than 100 metres Photo: John KellyThe Class Zero start of Calves Week race two on Wednesday with the fog still a major factor and visibility down to less than 100 metres Photo: John Kelly

The last of the seven fleets started at  3.45 pm and were still racing at 6.30 pm.

The course for classes Zero and One on day two of Calves Week 2023 off Schull Harbour in West Cork Photo: Maurice O'ConnellThe course for classes Zero and One on day two of Calves Week 2023 off Schull Harbour in West Cork Photo: Maurice O'Connell

Despite the tricky conditions, consistency is paying off overall, with the top of divisions IRC Zero, Two, Three and Four all led by double race winners.

See the provisional results below

A race win for John Treanor's J112E ValenTina gives the National Yacht Club crew the overall lead in IRC Zero from Norbert Reilly's J111 Ghost Raider of Howth Yacht Club. After two wins from two races sailed, the Dun Laoghaire yacht is now two points clear at the top of the Calves Week table. Third is Paul O'Higgin's JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

(Below) Mainsheet trimmer Adam Winkelmann, driver Nicole Hemeryck and Trimmer Evan O'Connor aboard the IRC Zero leader ValenTina (above) from the National Yacht Club Photos: Bob Bateman and Maurice O'Connell(Below) Mainsheet trimmer Adam Winkelmann, driver Nicole Hemeryck and Trimmer Evan O'Connor aboard the IRC Zero leader ValenTina (above) from the National Yacht Club Photos: Bob Bateman and Maurice O'Connell

(Below) Mainsheet trimmer Adam Winkelmann, driver Nicole Hemeryck and Trimmer Evan O'Connor aboard the IRC Zero leader ValenTina (above) from the National Yacht Club Photos: Bob Bateman and Maurice O'Connell

Leslie Parnell's First 34.7 Black Velvet from the Royal Irish Yacht Club continues to lead IRC One from race two winner and clubmate Bobby Kerr on the J109 Riders On The Storm.  Local Tony O'Brien in the J109 Tighey Boy lies third.

Calves Week IRC One leader - Leslie Parnell's First 34.7 Black Velvet from the Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: Bob BatemanCalves Week IRC One leader - Leslie Parnell's First 34.7 Black Velvet from the Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

Two wins from two races maintain David and James Dwyer's top form this season in IRC Two in Swuzzlebubble.

Calves Week IRC Two leader - David and James Dwyer's Half tonner Swuzzlebubble Photo: Bob BatemanCalves Week IRC Two leader - David and James Dwyer's Half tonner Swuzzlebubble Photo: Bob Bateman

The Royal Cork Half Tonner leads from fellow Half Tonner, Two Farr (Boardman/Kelly/O Leary), who shares the same six points as the Sunfast 32, Bad Company (Desmond/Ivers/Keane) from Royal Cork.

Half Tonner Two Farr (Boardman/Kelly/O Leary) Photo: Bob BatemanHalf Tonner Two Farr (Boardman/Kelly/O Leary) Photo: Bob Bateman

Calves Week 2023 IRC Three leader - Royal Cork's Fiona Young in the Albin Express, North Star Photo: Bob BatemanCalves Week 2023 IRC Three leader - Royal Cork's Fiona Young in the Albin Express, North Star Photo: Bob Bateman

In IRC Three, it's a similar scenario at the top of the scoreboard, with Royal Cork's Fiona Young counting two from two in the Albin Express, North Star. Club mates Colman Garvey and Keirin Kelleher are second in the Quarter Tonner, Diamond on four points. Third is Dave Doyle's, Muskateer on seven.

The Radley's Skipper 70 Pat Mustard stays top of IRC Four from Rob O'Reilly's BonJourno! Part Deux with Richard Hanley's Saoirse lying third.

Rob O'Reilly's BonJourno! Part Deux is lying second in Calves Week IRC Four Photo: Bob BatemanRob O'Reilly's BonJourno! Part Deux is lying second in Calves Week IRC Four Photo: Bob Bateman

Published in Calves Week
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The much-awaited CD Environmental-sponsored Calves Week Regatta 2023 is just around the corner, and with over 70 confirmed entries, the four-day series promises to be a thrilling event for sailing fans starting next Tuesday, August 8th.

The competition is split into seven fleets, and the top end of the entries is looking particularly competitive this year for the Schull Harbour Sailing Club event.

Sailing has suffered a bit of a weather battering over the past few weeks, with cancellations because of extreme conditions forced in many locations around the coast. So the Calves Week organisers will be hoping for different conditions when racing at the annual West Cork Regatta festival gets underway.

An Amendment to the Notice of Race has been issued by SHSC, which says: "The White Sail Class 1 will be scored under ECHO and IRC (for boats that hold a valid IRC Certificate), White Sail Class 2 will be scored under ECHO only."  

 The 2023 Calves Week 70-boat fleet will consist of seven classes: - Class 0, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, White Sail 1 & White Sail 2 Photo: Bob Bateman The 2023 Calves Week 70-boat fleet will consist of seven classes: - Class 0, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, White Sail 1 & White Sail 2 Photo: Bob Bateman

Registration will take place the previous afternoon at the Fastnet Marine and Outdoor Education Centre, which will also be the location for the Skippers’ Briefing at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning prior to the start of racing.

 Frank Whelan’s canting-keel Elliott, 52 Opal from Greystones Harbour Frank Whelan’s canting-keel Elliott, 52 Opal from Greystones Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Johnny Treanor’s J112e Valentina from Dun Laoghaire Photo: Bob BatemanJohnny Treanor’s J112e Valentina from Dun Laoghaire Photo: Bob Bateman

Among the new visitors to West Cork are Norbert Reilly's J111 Ghost Raider from Howth, Johnny Treanor’s J112e Valentina from Dun Laoghaire, and Frank Whelan’s canting-keel Elliott, 52 Opal from Greystones Harbour.

Norbert Reilly's J111 Ghost Raider from HowthNorbert Reilly's J111 Ghost Raider from Howth Photo: Bob Bateman

Jelly Baby, a J 122, helmed by the Jones family, will be looking to take on the newcomers and fend off stiff competition from the two Royal Irish Yacht Club visitors, the JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI and the First 40 Prima Forte skippered by Patrick Burke.

Paul O'Higgins' JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI from Dun Laoghaire's Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: AfloatPaul O'Higgins' JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI from Dun Laoghaire's Royal Irish Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

In the class 1 fleet, Leslie Parnell’s First 34.7 Black Velvet will hope to continue their successful outing in this event over the past seasons, but a fully crewed up J109 Tighey Boy with the help of some Australian crew will be hoping to spoil the party.

Schull Harbour J109 Tighey Boy Photo: Bob BatemanSchull Harbour J109 Tighey Boy Photo: Bob Bateman

The Collins family from Baltimore Sailing Club will be looking to retain their Class 3 trophy in their Dehler 34, but will face renewed competition in the ten-boat fleet, particularly from the Garvey/Kelleher sailed  Quarter Tonner, Diamond and Fiona and Nigel Young's Albin Express, North Star.

Patrick Collins's Dehler 34, Ealu from Baltimore Sailing Club Photo: Bob BatemanPatrick Collins's Dehler 34, Ealu from Baltimore Sailing Club Photo: Bob Bateman

In class 4, Rob O'Reilly of the host club, sailing his Dynamo 25 Bonjourno, will once again face serious competition from Richard Hanley’s GK 24 from Kinsale Yacht Club and a resurgent local Sadler 32 Raffles with the Kirby/Norris crew hoping to put last year’s disappointment behind them.

 Schull Harbour's Rob O'Reilly  will be sailing his Dynamo 25 Bonjourno Photo: Bob Bateman Schull Harbour's Rob O'Reilly  will be sailing his Dynamo 25 Bonjourno Photo: Bob Bateman

In a very competitive 13-boat White Sail class1 fleet, Kieran O'Brien’s MG 335 Magnet from the Royal Cork Yacht Club, will once again be locked in battle with fellow club member Prince of Tides, while in White Sail 2 Simon O'Keefe’s 1902 vintage Lady Min, could well be the dark horse in the twelve-boat fleet.

Kieran O'Brien’s MG 335 Magnet from the Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Bob BatemanKieran O'Brien’s MG 335 Magnet from the Royal Cork Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

The CD Environmental sponsors reception will open Calves Week on August Monday, followed by four days of racing. Each night, participants can look forward to a presentation of prizes and live musical entertainment on Schull's Main Street.

The Calves Week 2023 schedule of races. The fleet will consist of seven classes: - Class 0, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, White Sail 1 & White Sail 2.The Calves Week 2023 schedule of races

Published in Calves Week
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Growler (G. Horgan) took home the trophy at the Schull Harbour Sailing Club's Summer cruiser league's Tadg Dwyer Trophy Race on Saturday.

Dave O’Brien’s Aphrodite came in second, while John McGowan’s Mackey G took third place.

This was the eighth race of the league, which has Barry Quinlan’s Capella in the overall lead with 20 points, followed by Tony O’Brien’s Tighey Boy with 30 points. Tadg Dwyer’s Brazen Huzie, with 33 points, comes in at third place.

The club is preparing for next week's CD Environmental-sponsored Calves Week Regatta, which should see 75 boats come to the line for West Cork's biggest sailing event.

Published in West Cork

Castletownbere lifeboat was dispatched to help a man whose speedboat was having difficulty off the West Cork coast this afternoon.

The Irish Coast Guard's Marine Research Coordination Centre in Valentia received reports that a 17' speedboat with one person aboard had become stuck on a rope and required 'immediate assistance'.

The RNLI lifeboat, 'Annette Hutton,' was tasked and launched within minutes under the command of Coxswain Marney O'Donoghue with volunteer crew Dave O'Donovan, Joe Cronin, John Paul Downey, and Donagh Murphy.

The speedboat was located shortly thereafter just off Dunboy Point within Berehaven Harbour.

The volunteer crew were able to release the pleasure craft by using a grappling hook and then cutting the snagged rope. The lifeboat then towed the vessel to safety and berthed it at Castletownbere Pier.

Coxswain O'Donoghue commented, "the boat was in an awkward location, making the rescue slightly more challenging, but the volunteer crew managed to release the boat with little effort."

The weather on the scene was described as having good visibility with Force 5/6 winds and a calm sea.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI responded to a distress call on Thursday, 27 July, to assist a 12m sailing yacht with engine failure near Baltimore Harbour, West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 7 pm after the Coast Guard requested their assistance.

The inshore lifeboat arrived at the vessel at 7.15 pm, and the crew decided to tow the yacht.

The inshore lifeboat, with the casualty vessel under tow, returned to Baltimore Harbour and arrived at 8.45 pm. There were four volunteer crew members onboard the lifeboat.

The conditions at sea were calm with a westerly force 3 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Pat O’Driscoll, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Helm, advised the public to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard in case of an emergency at sea.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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...