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Displaying items by tag: Aran Islands

The grandnephew of an RNLI bowman who was awarded the charity’s bronze medal for gallantry for his part in the daring rescue of 12 people from a Greek freighter back in 1938, has made a visit from the UK to Galway this week to present the Aran Islands lifeboat crew with a precious gift.

John Harwood’s grand uncle Patrick Flaherty was the bowman of the Galway Bay (now Aran Islands RNLI) motor lifeboat which was called out on the night of the 16-17 August 1938. He was subsequently awarded in recognition of his meritorious conduct when together with four other men he courageously manned a small boat and rescued the crew of 12 of the steam trawler ‘Nogi’ which had run aground near Straw Island Lighthouse, Aran Isles, during a strong westerly-south westerly wind with a very heavy sea.

An online article describes how a boat from the Hatano with four men went to her rescue and at once got into difficulties. The lifeboat went first to the small boat, the rowlock of which caught in the fender of the lifeboat, and there was danger of a serious accident. The motor mechanic jumped aboard the boat and smashed the rowlock with a hatchet. The four men were rescued and their boat towed away. It was impossible for the lifeboat to get alongside the Nogi but five of her crew manned the small boat; it was lowered by a rope down to the Nogi and in two journeys rescued the 11 men on board her. A member of the Nogi's crew had been swept away in the trawler's boat when she struck. His boots were found on an island, but it was only after eight hours' search that the man was found dazed and exhausted. The whole rescue had taken over 14 hours.

When John’s uncle Paddy who lived in the north west of England and worked most of his life as a miner, died in 1998, he left John his father’s citation for the bronze medal which is written on vellum.

Vellum RNLIHistoric Vellum returned to the Aran Islands

‘This always had pride of place in my uncle’s house,’ John explained, ‘and as a child he often told me the story about how his father and I think his older brother took part in the rescue. He also regaled me with tales of his life on Aran, particularly his connection with the sea. This influenced me in later life to love the sea and along with my wife I have had a 30 year passion for the sea as a diver and yachtsman.’

John’s visit to Galway yesterday evening (Wednesday 19 April) follows his decision to return the citation to Aran Islands RNLI.

‘As time marches on, I realise that there will be no one to appreciate the award when my wife and I are no longer here, so I think it is high time that the award is returned to the Aran Islands where it belongs. I believe that my uncle may still have family on the Islands. I think the award should lie with them or with the lifeboat station.’

John and his wife Mary met members of both Aran Islands and Galway RNLI in Rosaveal yesterday evening before John presented the citation on vellum to Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O’Donnell.

‘We are extremely touched by John and Mary’s generous gesture to place what is their precious heirloom into the care of Aran Islands lifeboat station. RNLI medals for gallantry are rare and are presented for acts of bravery and this was certainly the case on the night the lifeboat carried out the rescue of the Nogi in 1938. We are very grateful to receive this award from John and Mary and can assure them it will take pride of place in his granduncle Patrick Flaherty’s lifeboat station.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#AranFreighters - Ireland’s Iargest domestic coastal cargoship that returned from hull works carried out in Co. Donegal earlier this month has yet to re-enter Galway-Aran Islands services, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 330 gross tonnage cargoship Bláth na Mara normally serves as an essential life-line providing supplies to island communities of all three Aran Islands, Inishmore, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr.

Instead Chateau Thierry which has a roll on / roll-off capabilities is currently covering in as relief cargoship on the Galway route. As there is no slipway facilities, cargo loading will involve use of a deck-mounted crane. In the meantime this replacement vessel has allowed ongoing maintenance work to continue on Bláth na Mara while docked in Galway Docks.

Operators of both freighters, Lasta Mara Teoranta normally deploy Chateau Thierry, a former US tank landing craft (see report photo) on a second service to Aran Islands from Rossaveel. This service conveys trucks, excavators and heavy plant and machinery.

The Government contracted service to the Aran Islands have been operated by Lasta Mara for almost two decades. As the sole operator of freight-only vessels this involves carrying a diverse range of cargoes: from all kinds of food, household items, furniture, coal and vehicles hoisted on board and also livestock. This leaves several other passenger-only operators to serve the islands.

The Galway registered Bláth na Mara based out of the mainland homeport had works completed at Mooney Boats in Killybegs. The call to the yard involved Bláth na Mara using the boat-lift raised to the top of the quayside from where the 36m freighter was transferred on a rail-system to the workshop. This enabled shot blasting and painting of the hull. The works also saw anodes supplied and fitted to the hull.

Cargo loading in Galway Port takes place at the outer pier where Lasta Mara Teo has a warehouse. This is from where the 28m Chateau Thierry departed this morning on the islands cargo feeder service. 

Otherwise the routine use of Bláth na Mara involves a single cargo derrick swung from an A-frame foremast. Containers are stowed onto the aft-deck. This layout gives the ship a distinctive profile as the wheelhouse is located at the bow unlike the vast majority of cargoships.

On completion of loading the hard-working coastal freighter heads first to the largest island, Inishmore at Kilronan Harbour. Having discharged cargoes on Inis Mor the service continues to neighbouring Inis Meain and Inis Oirr.

 

Published in Island News

#MarineWildlife - The Galway Atlantaquaria is currently caring for an extremely rare slipper lobster found in Galway Bay off the Aran Islands in recent days.

According to the Marine Institute, this is the first recorded landing of the warm ocean species at this latitude in the North Atlantic, after previous reports Kerry and Cork in the last decade.

The latest find was landed by skipper John Connolly of the fishing vessel Connacht Ranger from Kilronan on Inis Mór, and landed into Rossaveal, where it was later identified by Terlich Smith of the Marine Institute.

"My nieces and nephews were very excited about the slipper lobster, and named it Tréan, which is an old Irish word for hardy and brave and usually associated with warriors,” said Connolly.

“The fact it was so small, came so far north, and survived being towed up in a big net full of spurdogs, stones and prawns does make the name seem pretty apt.”

The Galway Atlantaquaria is now caring for the 72mm exotic lobster, which is progressing well after a week in quarantine.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#FastestCrossing – A newly acquired passenger-only ferry is to offer the fastest ever crossing time to the Aran Islands, when Doolin Ferry introduce a highspeed craft just one month after the seasonal service resumes, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Speaking to Afloat at Holiday World Show, Dublin, Liam O’Brien, Director of Doolin Ferries, commented that the 200-passenger ferry, Doolin Express will from April, offer the fastest crossing time to the Aran Islands in just 15 minutes. The new ferry will considerably reduce the journey passage by shaving off 20 minutes from the old 35 crossing time on the Doolin Pier-Inis Oírr service.

The west Clare based operator acquired the fastferry, Blanche Hermine from France operator, Vedettes du Golfe. The craft had served islands in the Golfe du Morbihan, an almost enclosed sea near Vannes in southern Brittany.

Doolin Express will sail at a minimum speed of 19 knots on the service to Inis Oírr, the smallest but closest of the three Aran Islands to the mainland. Neighbouring islands are also served by the company to Inis Meáin and further west Inis Mór, the largest of these Atlantic isles off Galway Bay.

A rival operator also serves from Doolin along with those running from Rossaveal, Connemara and a freight-only link from Galway Port.  

When the new ferry, Doolin Express enters service, she will become the largest of the fleet to carry passengers. Tranquility takes 100 passengers and Queen of Aran, a veteran on the west coast service with almost the same capacity.

Doolin Ferry (O’Brien Line) a family run business founded in 1970, also runs excursion trips by Cailin Or with 72 passengers to the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. This location is one of the many highlights dotted along the western seaboard.

In recent years the rugged coast stretching from counties Cork to Donegal has been branded as the Wild Atlantic Way. This has assisted in boosting tourism numbers and notably by targeting overseas visitors.

Published in Island News

#MarineNotice - The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) advises that University College Dublin is running a scientific wave measurement campaign deploying a bed mounted ADCP at Inis Meáin in the Aran Islands s of yesterday (Saturday 28 January).

The ADCP, or acoustic Doppler current profiler, is deployed in a seabed-mounted frame at a depth of around 40 metres, with a ground line between the frame and a clump weight also rested on the seabed.

The purpose of the deployment is for measurement of waves and currents of the coast of Inis Meáin. This is a temporary deployment and it is proposed that the ADCP will be recovered before 15 May this year.

Co-ordinates and a map showing the deployment location are included in Marine Notice No 2 of 2017, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#AranIslands - Galway Bay FM reports that a new contract for the decades-old aeroplane service to the Aran Islands has been signed.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the long-awaited PSO contract will see flights continue between the Galway Bay islands and the mainland at South Connemara till at least the end of 2020.

The agreement follows months of uncertainly over the future of the air link due to costs on the route.

Only two weeks ago, local Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh queried the contract’s imposition of additional fees for passengers on unscheduled flights.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#AranIslands - Issues remain with the new contract for Aran Islands air services, according to one local senator.

As Galway Bay FM reports, Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh says the new PSO agreement imposes additional fees on flights not specified on the schedule.

The situation means that passengers on an extra flight for a funeral or in other exceptional circumstances might have to pay more than €30 extra for their seat.

Only three weeks ago, residents in the Galway Bay islands – who have also recently faced the prospect of losing their winter ferry service – were given certainly that their air link to the mainland would continue till at least the end of 2020.

But O’Clochartaigh says Gaeltacht Minister Seán Kyne can still act to make arrangements so that islanders are not left out of pocket. Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#AranIslands - The deadlock over Inis Mór’s winter ferry service appears to be over, after the ferry operator agreed to continue absorbing the costs of the council-imposed passenger levy.

According to Galway Bay FM, Island Ferries Teo’s proposal to reduce the levy both retroactively to 2012 and from 2017 onwards has been approved by Galway County Council.

The operator had halted services to the largest of the Aran Islands at the end of November, citing “negative fiscal conditions” that it said were a consequence of the 80c passenger levy.

It’s now emerged that half of the company’s €500,000 debt to the council will be written off, not counting upwards of €450,000 in court costs.

Sailings were restored within days on a temporary basis as talks between the company, Galway County Council and the Department of the Gaeltacht resumed earlier this month.

It’s now expected that winter sailings to and from the island will continue beyond the revised 4 January end date.

Published in Ferry
Tagged under

#AranIslands - While Inis Mór’s winter ferry link with the mainland remains in question, Aran Islands residents at least have an answer to their air service woes.

According to Galway Bay FM, Aer Arann Islands has been selected as the State’s preferred tender for the long-running route to the islands in Galway Bay.

The new PSO contract for the islands to Na Minna airport near Rossaveal runs from 1 January 2017 to the end of 2020, confirming continued flights for another four years.

The move follows several extensions to the existing contract that saw the State and Aer Arann at deadlock over costs on the route, as well as a controversial tender in 2015 to replace the decades-old airplane route with a helicopter service.

Meanwhile, an Oireachtas committee was addressed last week by a group representing Inis Mór residents as the dispute over the island’s winter ferry service continues.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - Talks are to resume on Friday writes Galway Independent in a bid to ensure the continuation of the ferry service to Inis Mór, Aran Islands. 

The Island Ferries service ceased last Wednesday and was due to remain out of action until 17 March next year after the family-run company said it “had been left with no further option but to take such drastic action”.

The service however resumed on Friday evening, following talks between the company, Galway County Council and the Department of the Gaeltacht. The service will now remain in place until 4 January 2017, in “a gesture of goodwill to the Islanders”. This date will be kept under review as discussions continue.

Kevin Kelly, Acting Chief Executive of Galway County Council, said the talks, which centre on passenger levies, are complex but there is a “meaningful engagement process in place”.

“We are working as good as we can to conclude this within the timeframe. It is important that there is progress being made and that all parties feel that the overall approach has the possibility of reaching a successful conclusion.”

Published in Island News
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