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At 7.46 pm, Sunday, April 17, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch to assist a lone skipper on 30ft cruiser aground, inside Red Island on the south-western County Clare shore. The wind was south-southwest, Force 3/4. Visibility was good initially but dropped at 8.36 pm with the sunset.

At 8.03 pm Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Owen Cavanagh, Joe O’Donoghue and Ciara Moylan on board. At 8.18 pm the lifeboat had the casualty vessel in sight; it was located inside Red Island, north of Holy Island. Aware of an extended shoal inside Red Island, an RNLI volunteer took soundings off the bow and, using onboard electronic navigation, crew plotted a safe course to the casualty vessel.

At 8.21 pm RNLI crew noted that the skipper on the casualty vessel was signalling with a light, waving and calling to them. Unable to make out what he was saying, the lifeboat asked Valentia Coast Guard for the skipper’s mobile phone number and called him. An RNLI volunteer reassured the skipper that the lifeboat was coming to assist and though it appeared the lifeboat was taking a course away from him, the lifeboat was in fact following a safe route in order to turn to his location without risk of grounding.

"The skipper on the casualty vessel was signalling with a light, waving and calling to the RNLI"

At 8.30 pm the lifeboat was alongside the casualty vessel. The skipper was safe and unharmed and wearing his lifejacket. As it was a cold night, lifeboat crew advised the skipper to put on additional warm clothing. An RNLI volunteer checked that the vessel was not holed and also made a check for any visual hazards bow and stern of the boat. Given the drop in temperature with nightfall and the secluded location, the helm made the decision to take the vessel off the rocks and out into safe water.

At 8.50 pm the lifeboat had the vessel off the shoal and out in safe water. With an RNLI volunteer remaining on the board, the skipper checked forward and astern drives and steering and once satisfied they were in good working order, the casualty made way under its own power to Mountshannon Harbour, with the lifeboat leading.

At 9.20 pm, as the casualty vessel entered Mountshannon Bay, the RNLI volunteer on board hailed the lifeboat to inform crew that the engine on the casualty vessel was overheating. The lifeboat immediately came alongside to assess the situation. The skipper switched to a backup engine and turned off his main engine and continued to Mountshannon Harbour with the lifeboat leading the way. At 9.31 pm the casualty vessel was safely tied alongside in Mountshannon Harbour.

The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at Station at 10 pm and at 10.35 pm the lifeboat was washed down and refuelled.

Christine O’Malley, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users ‘if you are alone on the water, tell someone your plans and what time you expect to arrive at your destination. Remember to carry up to date charts of the lake and do not venture off the main navigation channels'.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Dom Sharkey, a helm at Lough Derg RNLI has retired after twelve years dedicated service to the charity. Dom, a carpenter and master craftsman who works in building and renovation is recognized as a valued member of the RNLI team at Lough Derg.

Following his final exercise on Sunday 27 February, volunteers arranged a surprise leaving party for Dom, held with kind permission, at Lough Derg Yacht Club on whose grounds Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat is currently stationed. Dom was presented with a woodcut of Lough Derg made by artist Henri Bocxe. As a mark of appreciation on behalf of the local community, Noreen Cavanagh, Manager at the Thatched Cottage Restaurant in Ballycommon, generously provided sandwiches free of charge for the party. Members of the station also baked cakes and scones.

Dom was moved by everyone’s efforts on his behalf. He reflected on how much it meant to him to be a part of such an important and vital rescue service on the lake and how he has made such great new friends through being on the crew at Lough Derg RNLI. Dom did not rule out the possibility that he would return to the Station when his professional life was less busy.

Dom’s calm and considered approach to the challenges faced by crew when out on a Shout earned the deep respect of his fellow volunteers. Many new crew have benefited from his in-depth knowledge of both the theoretical and practical essentials in being a lifeboat volunteer as well as his understanding of the delights and vagaries of the lake.

Ger Egan, senior helm at Lough Derg RNLI said of Dom that he was a “committed and dependable volunteer, humble and selfless. Totally focused on whatever challenges a rescue threw at him, he was a huge asset to have at Lough Derg RNLI and will be greatly missed”.

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On Friday afternoon, 8 April, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch to assist six people on a 37ft cruiser that ran aground north of Hare Island on the Co. Clare shore.

At 3.02 pm the lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Keith Brennan, crew Eleanor Hooker, Steve Smyth and Doireann Kennedy on board. Winds were northerly, Force 3/4 gusting 6. Visibility was good, decreasing to moderate in frequent squalls.

At 3.31 pm the lifeboat had the casualty vessel in sight. The cruiser was inside the navigation mark with its bow up on the rocky shoal. Standing off, the lifeboat observed that the casualty boat was rocking from side to side. Using charts and electronic navigation, and with an RNLI crew member taking sounds from the bow, the lifeboat plotted a safe approach to the stern of the casualty vessel.

Once alongside and having established that everyone on board was safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets, an RNLI crew member checked beneath the floorboards and in the engine housing to ensure there was no water coming in. Given the conditions, location and circumstances, the helm made the decision to set up a tow and to take the casualty astern off the rocks.

At 3.59 pm the lifeboat had the cruiser off the rocks and out in safe water. The RNLI crew member on the casualty vessel again checked that there was no ingress of water and that the drives forward and astern, and the rudder were working. With an RNLI volunteer remaining on board, and the lifeboat in company, the cruiser made way under its own power to Garrykennedy Harbour. It was safely tied alongside at 4.35 pm. 

The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at station at 4.45 pm.

Aoife Kennedy, Deputy Launching Authority at Lough Derg RNLI, advises boat users to ‘study your charts when planning your passage, anticipate each navigation mark along your route and keep a constant lookout’.

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Three “blueways” developed across four Irish counties are “the first in the world” to be accredited as such, Fáilte Ireland says.

“Blueways” encourage the use of lakes, canals, rivers and coastal environments for walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding while engaging with nature and heritage.

The Boyne Blueway, Suir Blueway Tipperary and Lough Derg Blueway have been opened this week, following their accreditation.

Fáilte Ireland says its research shows that 73%* of domestic tourists engaged in outdoor activities on their most recent overnight trip, ranging from walking and hiking, to swimming, kayaking and canoeing.

It says official accreditation of “blueways” responds to this growing public demand for quality outdoor infrastructure close to water and nature.

The “blueway” accreditation has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland, Waterways Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland. The aim is to “ensure a consistent high standard from a technical and safety perspective” and to “deliver best in class sustainable visitor experiences”, the tourism body says.

“Under the Programme for Government, we committed to investing in and promoting “blueways” and recreational trails for the benefit of local communities and tourists alike,” Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said.

She said they would open up counties Meath, Tipperary, Clare and Galway to water-based and water-side activities.

“The “blueways” partnership is an important cross-border initiative that will .... help position the island of Ireland as a world-class activities tourism destination for visitors,” she said.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Lough Derg RNLI’s Fundraising Branch has revealed more details of its first ‘Lap the Lake’ charity cycle this May.

And its chair Niamh McCutcheon says the lifeboat station’s biggest fundraiser undertaking to date is being “widely supported around the country” in the weeks since it was first announced.

As previously reported on, the cycle on Sunday 8 May will start and finish at the RNLI Lifeboat Station in Dromineer, following a 130km route around Lough Derg that will give participants an opportunity to delight in the outstanding beauty of the lake and River Shannon through counties Tipperary, Clare and Galway.

As part of the safety measures, there will be first aid, out riders, marshals and bike maintenance provided throughout the course.

There will be a comfort stop at Le Bateau, Emerald Star Line in Portumna where tea, coffee and a lunch pack will be provided for participants.

Lough Derg Yacht Club is also providing parking, toilet and shower facilities for all riders.

The €65 entry fee includes a T-shirt, goody bag, a reusable lifeboat water bottle and many other treats. A delicious meal costing €10pp and bar facilities will be available at Lough Derg Yacht Club following the cycle.

The committee stress that the cycle is a non-competitive event. Encouraging cycling enthusiasts to register, McCutcheon says it “promises to be a fun day covering the very picturesque Lough Derg, an area for which our lifeboat volunteers provide a rescue service 24/7, 365 days of the year”.

For all details including how to register, visit the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteer crew were called to assist two people on a 37ft yacht that ran aground on the lough on Saturday afternoon (5 March).

At 3.36pm the lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Owen Cavanagh and crew Doireann Kennedy, Chris Parker and Tom Hayes on board, headed for Church Bay on the southwestern Co Clare shore, some 3km west of the station. Winds were light, north-easterly Force 1 and visibility was very good.

After rounding Hare Island close to the Clare shore, the casualty vessel came into sight. The skipper of the yacht had kept his jib hoisted to help identify himself to the lifeboat crew.

Church Bay is known for its rocky shoals, and in a cautious approach to the vessel, lifeboat crew took depth soundings off the bow.

Once alongside the casualty vessel, the lifeboat established that all on board were safe, unharmed and were wearing their lifejackets.

An RNLI volunteer was transferred to the casualty vessel to check that it was not holed and to help lower the jib.

The lifeboat made further soundings around the vessel and, given the isolated location, the helm made the decision to take the casualty off the rocks and into safe water, having first emptied the yacht’s ballast and water tanks to reduce the draft of the vessel.

When the lifeboat volunteers were satisfied there was no damage to the propellers or drives, the casualty vessel made way by motor to its home harbour in Dromineer. The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at station at 4.31pm.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “study your charts when planning your passage and keep to the navigation routes”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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On Sunday afternoon, 12 February, Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat to launch to investigate a report from a member of the public that a kayaker was in difficulty by Navigation Mark J, at the northern end of Lough Derg

At 3.40 pm the lifeboat launched with helm Keith Brennan, crew Owen Cavanagh, Chris Parker and Tom Hayes on board. Winds were south-westerly Force 4 and gusting. Visibility was good.

When the lifeboat arrived at Navigation Mark J, north of Gortmore, it began a thorough search of the area. From shore, two swimmers at Gortmore observed the lifeboat and called the RNLI boathouse in Dromineer, suspecting that the water-board which they had been using as a safety buoy may have caused alarm. The board was at the location at which the member of the public had thought they’d seen an upturned kayak.

Valentia Coast Guard were informed and the lifeboat was stood down.

The lifeboat departed the scene and was back at station at 4.50 pm.

Jeremy Freeman, Deputy Launching Authority at Lough Derg RNLI said ‘this was a false alarm but with good intent’. He says ‘if you see someone in difficulty in the water call 999 or 112 and ask for marine rescue. Stay safe and not to not enter the water yourself, too many people drown trying to save others.’

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With the publication today of the Notice of Race (downloadable below) and the opening of the online entry system it’s all systems go for the Fireball World Championship in Lough Derg Yacht Club, Dromineer in August. This will be the first Fireball World Championship since Montreal in 2019 so there is significant interest around the globe with international teams already booking their accommodation and making travel arrangements. At the time of writing, teams are expected from Australia, Canada, the US, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic and South Africa, along with a large contingent from the UK and a rapidly growing local fleet. With special Irish Ferries rates for competitors the ‘Trip to Tipp’, is an attractive option for sailors from mainland Europe and the UK. Another great attraction at LDYC is the amount of space available for camping and for camper vans so much of the Worlds fleet is expected to live on-site for the event helping to keep the event both affordable and extremely social. With Carrickcraft cruiser hire as one of the sponsors discounted cruiser hire is available to competitors and their families, providing an attractive accommodation alternative which would allow families to view the racing from their floating holiday homes based on the marina beside the sailing club. The booking system for campsite space is also live from today.

International race officer Con Murphy will be PRO for the event. The World Championships take place from August 21st-26th with a warm-up event on 18th & 19th August which doubles as the Irish National Championship. Measurement checking is expected to take place mainly on Saturday 20th August with the racing programme of two races per day running from Sunday through Friday and Wednesday as the lay day. With Omicron hopefully a distant memory by summer, sailors are anxious to get stuck back into high level international competition and a fleet of between 50 and 80 boats is expected to assemble at Lough Derg. With some fifty square miles of open lake the venue is likely to challenge sailors with a good mixture of conditions over the week. While not at all as shifty or light as smaller lakes it will be interesting to see if the venue suits the Swiss and Czech competitors who predominantly sail on lakes.

"More than 25 Irish boats have committed to the event, the first on local waters in 11 years"

The stunning lakelands area, a lesser-known gem of the Irish tourism offering, is likely to surprise domestic and international sailors alike with its beauty. The event will include an activity programme for families and non-sailors with many and diverse regional attractions. The lead-up to the event, with the delay caused by the pandemic, has given the domestic Fireball fleet a great boost and the last couple of years have seen a big increase in local numbers. More than 25 Irish boats have committed to the event, the first on local waters in 11 years and this number is expected to grow as the date nears. Sailors are asked to register now via the club website at and for those who register early and pay the remainder of the entry fee by the due date a raffle is being held for free entry. Youth sailors are welcome and can enter at a discount of 20% and the class is encouraging sailors from other classes to get hold of a Fireball and to join the fray. The last couple of years has seen an increase in interest in Fireballs in Ireland and sailors have joined from the 420s and from the 49er amongst other classes.

Welcoming the event LDYC commodore Joe Gilmartin said “We at LDYC are really looking forward to hosting the International Fireball community at this major event. It is definitely lining up to be one of the highlights of our 2022 season. You are assured of an excellent event with some great sailing, lots of fun and generous hospitality”. Speaking from her home in Switzerland Fireball International Commodore Christina Haerdi commented – “It feels like a first breath after a long stay underwater! We will celebrate the Fireball Worlds in Ireland. The organisers did not give up after the frustrating cancellation of the 2020 Worlds but restarted with full energy to make it happen in Dromineer, in the heart of the Green Island. Let’s make the dream come true and register now!” Irish Fireball Association Chairman Neil Cramer chairman said “We are super-excited to finally get to show off Ireland & Tipperary to the International Fleet after such a long hiatus due to Covid. We hope to attract not only individual competitors but their entire families as well, promising to provide attractive off-the-water activities and some excellent lay-day options”.

Notice of Race is downloadable below. Online registration and registration for event camping are now live and can be found at

Published in Fireball
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A Lough Derg “Lap the lake” 130 km cycle is raising funds for RNLI Lough Derg this May 

Starting and finishing at the well-known harbour of Dromineer, parking and showers will be available at nearby Lough Derg Yacht Club. 

Lough Derg is the third-biggest on the island of Ireland. It is a long, narrow lake, with shore roads in counties Clare, Galway, and Tipperary for the cyclists to navigate.

Event tickets are €65 per person and will include a t-shirt and goody bag. We would love participants to raise another €65 or more and donate a total of €130 for 130km. All funds raised go to Lough Derg RNLI. 

Bookings are now open for places here and download the poster below.

Lap the Lake” Cycle Will Raise Funds for RNLI

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A busy mother of one is among five new volunteer crew members who will be on call for the first time this Christmas at Lough Derg RNLI.

Polish native Ania Skrzypczynska is preparing to swap traditional festivities for the cold waters of the December lake, should the call for help come in.

And as the RNLI continues its Christmas Appeal, Ania is urging the public to help her crew, and the thousands of other volunteer crews on call over the Christmas period, to continue their lifesaving work.

Ania says she joined the RNLI “because I wanted to become part of the community after moving to Dromineer. After the first few training sessions on the lifeboat, I had got to meet really nice, friendly people and found it to be a great experience.

“Then after passing my first assessment and being allowed to go on the lifeboat, it was like the beginning of an adventure for me.

“Being a mum of a small and very busy boy, I am restricted with the amount of time I have to spare between my full-time job and family life. However, I know that in the future I will be able to get more involved in the life of the station.

“I am looking forward to becoming a fully qualified crew member. I like new challenges and I want to channel it towards learning how to help others. And by living so close to Lough Derg, I want to learn more about the lake, its beauty and, its dangers.”

Among the other new crew members at Lough Derg RNLI are Richard Nolan, Ciara Lynch, Eimear Kelly and Ciara Moylan.

For Richard, his knowledge from youth of the work the RNLI did on the lake was a major influence in his decision to join the crew, but he also found that having lived away from home in London for almost 10 years, it was a good opportunity to reintegrate into his community.

Richard says: ‘This is my first Christmas on call, and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water.”

From left: Paul Sillery, Graham Fitzgerald and John Stapleton have taken up new roles at Wicklow RNLIFrom left: Paul Sillery, Graham Fitzgerald and John Stapleton have taken up new roles at Wicklow RNLI

Elsewhere, Wicklow RNLI have passed out three volunteer lifeboat crew into new lifesaving roles at the station.

Graham Fitzgerald is a new station coxswain, Paul Sillery is a new helm on the station’s inshore lifeboat and John Stapleton is a new mechanic on the all-weather Shannon class lifeboat.

Graham has been a volunteer lifeboat crewmember since 2009, becoming a helm on the inshore lifeboat back in 2013. He has a strong family connection to the station, with his grandfather Billy Kilbride a former lifeboat volunteer.

From a strong seafaring background and working in Dublin Port, the sea is in his veins, and he was involved in the rescue of two children who were blown out to sea on an inflatable earlier this year.

“I like the challenge of going out on a rescue and not knowing what we may face; I’ve been on a few challenging ones and it’s so rewarding to bring people home safe, something that sadly not every family have experienced,” he says.

“As a helm and now a coxswain, I feel a huge responsibility to the crew and the station, thanks to the support of the public we have the kit and the equipment to ensure we can save lives at sea whenever and wherever we are needed.”

Paul Sillery joined the lifeboat crew back in 2009 and has recently passed out as a helm on the station’s D class lifeboat. Like Graham, Paul has a strong lifeboating tradition in his family: his great uncle Parker Keogh was coxswain and his uncle David Sillery was a crew member.

“I knew I was always going to join the lifeboat crew and the minute I turned 17 I was at the door of the station,” Paul says. “People recognise the crew in the street as they see us going out to train and see us leaving for a shout. It’s so humbling to have that kind of community support behind us.

John Stapleton has been recently passed out as a mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat. Born and raised in Dublin, John moved to Wicklow 11 years ago and joined the lifeboat crew in 2015.

“There is a role for everyone in the RNLI and if you have an interest in something you can develop it and train up,” John says. “We have navigators, launching authorities and shore crew — everyone does the role that suits them, and it all works together. The resources the RNLI puts into the training and the kit is incredible.:

John adds: “Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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