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Displaying items by tag: Aran Islands

Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne says he opposes the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (NPHET) decision on an early lifting of travel restrictions to and from offshore islands.

The decision to allow travel to and from offshore islands to resume from June 29th, announced on Friday night, has thrown island communities into confusion.

There has been one case of Covid-19 on the Aran Islands, but the three islands are on water rations due to the long dry spell. There are also concerns about its elderly population’s exposure to the pandemic.

Mr Kyne said that apart from the water issue, local authorities had no time to prepare piers and public facilities and signage for an opening on June 29th.

While there has been a welcome from tourism interests, there are serious concerns among medical professionals and residents on a number of islands, he said.

A survey conducted by the co-op on the Aran island of Inis Óirr last week indicated that 92 per cent of residents and businesses oppose re-opening for the remainder of the summer due to fears over the spread of Covid-19.

Comdháil Oileáin na hÉireann is due to hold a board meeting this morning about the issue in a bid to secure a consensus in advance of next Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

Islands had been closed until the beginning of phase five of the Government’s Covid-19 road map and expected to open again to visitors from August 10th.

Mr Kyne said that when phase five was scrapped, he received a large number of communications from island residents and businesses with opposing views about the timing of re-opening.

“I’ve sent recommendations to the Taoiseach, who has been engaging with the National Public Health Emergency Team on this issue,” Mr Kyne said.

“Unless the islands can come up with an agreed position, however, the NPHET decision is the default one,” he said.

At a special sitting of the Dail Covid-19 committee late last week, Galway West TD Eamon Ó Cuiv (FF) proposed a special package of assistance to island businesses if there is later re-opening.

Published in Island News
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Wexford RNLI came to the rescue of five people on Monday afternoon (15 June) after the jet ski they were on lost power and began to sink.

The four teenagers and an adult had managed to get on top of a nearby pontoon on the River Slaney between Ferrycarrig Bridge and Killurin Bridge, where they then raised the alarm with the Irish Coast Guard.

Wexford RNLI volunteers were paged just before 3pm and launched the inshore lifeboat with three crew on board within 12 minutes.

Once on scene before 3.30pm, the crew took the four teenagers on board the lifeboat and brought them safely ashore at Killurin.

The lifeboat then returned to the scene for the adult and jet ski. Conditions at the time were good with no swell and a falling tide.

Speaking following the callout, Wexford RNLI helm Damien Foley said: “Everyone was wearing lifejackets and did the right thing by calling for help to the coastguard when they could.”

The volunteer crew of Damien Foley, Ger Doran and David Marskell, all of who were working at the time, were back at Wexford Lifeboat Station at 4.30pm. It was also the first rescue for volunteer crew member David Marskell.

Elsewhere on Monday, Aran Islands RNLI responded to two medevac shouts, on Inis Oírr and Inis Mór respectively, bringing two women to the mainland for treatment — one for a suspected broken arm.

Aran Islands lifeboat coxswain Declan Brannigan said: “Our volunteers didn't hesitate to answer both calls today and we would like to wish both women a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Aran islanders may have a ban on visitors, but they are already critically short of drinking water. 

Irish Water and Galway County Council have introduced restrictions on water use lasting 17 hours a day on both the largest island of Inis Mór and the southernmost island, Inis Oírr.

Prolonged dry weather resulted in the first set of restrictions on April 20th, when supplies on the two islands were curtailed from 9.30 pm to 8 am daily.

The extension from 5 pm to 10 am daily is necessary to “ensure continuous daily water supply is available for residents and businesses on both islands for hygiene and other essential purposes during this continued dry spell”, Irish Water spokesman Tim O’Connor said.

Inis Oírr has suffered from long-running shortage issues, with supplementary water having to be shipped out in recent years. The three islands have had a dramatic fall-off in demand for water, since voting to shut down all tourism, including summer Irish colleges, in mid-March.

“Had we the normal level of visitors, we would be in a very serious situation now,” one Inis Mór resident noted.

“We are asking customers on both islands to be mindful of how they use water and thank them for their continuous conservation efforts to date. We would

Irish Water said it was “working at this time, with our local authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of drinking water and wastewater services”.

Published in Island News
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Inisheer off Co. Galway, at this time of year is normally a hive of activity with bands of tourists alighting from the ferries ready to soak up the peace and quiet. Or they may be arriving for Irish language or art courses or even to swim alongside Dusty the dolphin, whose presence has been absent from the waters for the last few months.

Inisheer, or Inis Oírr, is the smallest and most southerly of the Aran Islands and along with Inishmore and Inishmaan form a northwest-to-southeast barrier of sorts to Galway Bay. The tourist ferries from Rossaveal and Doolin, Co Clare, have ceased operations since mid-March because of the pandemic, but the Lasta Mara cargo ferry run by Rory Beatty and Co (from Galway) has proved a lifeline for the islands.

“We have a wonderful cargo service from Galway. They’ve been extremely facilitative as well. The best of people is coming out,” says Máire Uí Mhaoláin, manager of the Community Development Co-operative on Inisheer.

Aran Island Ferries, run by the O’Briens of Carraroe and the O’Brien and Garrihy ferries from Doolin, has all stopped running trips to the islands in accordance with government regulations.

“They’ve all helped us out by not running tourists to the island,” says Máire. “That was a huge concern for us back in March. We get a lot of tourists, particularly European students travelling at that time of year.”

The subsidised service is still continuing but instead there is one ferryboat servicing the three Aran islands twice a day only for islanders, and only for essential travel.

For more including visits from those in essential services the Irish Examiner reports here. 

Freight-only services

Afloat.ie adds Lasta Mara Teo last year introduced second hand tonnage in the form of Fagerfjord from Norwegian owners. The former palletised cargo ship since renamed Saoirse na Mara made its maiden arrival in September to Kilronan Harbour on Inishmore, Aran Islands (see video). Note the hoisted on board vehicles.

The new tonnage joined existing cargoship Bláth na Mara also based out of Galway. In addition they run a former army landing craft Chateau Thierry which operates a ro-ro vehicle (un-accompanied) service but from Rossaveal in Connemara.

Published in Island News

No tourists are permitted to travel between the Aran Islands and Galway during current Covid-19 restrictive measures, Island Ferries has said.

The private company has also said one vessel will serve all three islands daily for “essential/emergency services only “ under a revised timetable.

“Emergency/ essential workers and those providing essential services such as doctors, Gardaí and others require transport to and from the islands,” Island Ferries has said in a statement.

The company had initially signalled that it was cancelling all ferry services but said that it had made the amendments in consultation with representatives of the emergency services on the islands and on foot of the new restrictions announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday.

“ Tourists are not permitted to travel, under any circumstances. Furthermore, we implore upon all islanders not to make any unnecessary journeys,”it says.

Earlier this month, the Inis Mór co-op, Comharchumann Forbartha Árann Teo , appealed to visitors to stay away from the islands during the current public health crisis, stating the majority of residents supported this stance. A vote had been taken which was 94 per cent in favour of the restrictions.

The two islands of Inis Meáín and Inis Oírr also supported this stance.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Galway Bay FM reports that residents on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands are appealing for tourists and other visitors to stay away for the next fortnight to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Comharchumann Forbartha Árann Teo issued a statement saying residents have overwhelmingly voted in favour of limiting travel to or from Inis Mór until Sunday 29 March.

In addition, islanders are asked to avoid travel to and from the mainland for the rest of this month’s containment period.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport advises that University College Dublin intends to deploy an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) sub-surface installation off the Aran Islands this Friday 28 February, weather permitting.

The deployment will occur around 0.6 nautical miles from Eeragh Lighthouse on Rock Island, off Inishmore, in a direction of 235°. The exact location co-ordinates are 53° 08' 34.437" N, 9° 52' 14.040" W.

The one-day deployment will be carried out by the MV Madelen (Callsign: EI4990). The vessel will display appropriate lights and signals.

Navigational warnings will be issued by radio when the marker buoy deployment takes place. Yellow, spherical marker buoys, 40cm in diameter, will be used. They will flash amber every five seconds.

For more information on this deployment visit www.highwave-project.eu

Published in Coastal Notes

West coast operator, Aran Island Ferries travelled to India last week as part of Tourism Ireland’s sales mission in the country.

The delegation, writes GalwayDaily, of Irish tourism companies, which included hoteliers and visitor attractions, met hundreds of tour operators and travel agents in Mumbai and New Delhi.

The companies also met influential travel journalists and bloggers.

The aim of the sales mission was to build awareness of the many things to see and do on a holiday in Ireland and encourage tour operators and travel agents in India to include Ireland in their programmes and brochures for 2020 and beyond.

More here on this story. 

Published in Ferry

The Aran Islands were this week among six offshore communities across the European Union to publish their plans to transition to clean energy, as TheJournal.ie reports.

Comharchumann Fuinneamh Oileáin Árann Teo (CFOAT) helped develop the transition plan that was published in tandem with the Clean Energy for EU Islands Forum held in Croatia from 20-22 November.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the local energy co-operative has set an ambitious target for the islands to be self-sustainable for energy generated from the waves, wind and sun by 2022.

CFOAT manager Avril Ní Shearcaigh said the plan “acts as a road map for the islands as we pursue our goal of carbon neutrality by 2022, and reflects the enthusiasm and drive of our community to be more sustainable and self-sufficient”.

That drive to become “energy independent” took on a new urgency in 2016 when Isis Meáin and Inis Oírr lost their connection to the national grid for several weeks.

Emergency generators were shipped in after almost 400 residents were left without power for four days by the undersea cable fault.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea

Aran Islands RNLI has responded to consecutive calls for help today to carry out two medical evacuations.

The volunteer crew were first asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy, at 11.25 am by the Irish Coast Guard.

An elderly man required medical attention on the Island of Inis Meáin.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Pete Hanscombe and a full crew.

Weather conditions were moderate at the time with a force 3 light South-East wind.

Once alongside the pier in Inis Meain, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat and brought under the supervision of the volunteer crew members. While preparing to leave the pier in Inis Meain, the lifeboat received another call, this time to go to the aid of a woman on Inis Mór who was also in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat headed straight for Inis Mór and once alongside the pontoon, the patient was transferred safely aboard and put under the supervision of the lifeboat crew. The lifeboat then proceeded on to Rossaveal harbour where the crew transferred the patients on to a waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain Pete Hanscombe said: ‘This was a busy morning for the volunteer crew members, but they responded quickly and both patients were transferred safely and quickly to the Ambulance in Rossaveal. We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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