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Galway Bay FM reports that An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for a development at a Connemara site overseen by Udarás na Gaeltachta.

Plans for the Páirc na Mara facility were previously approved by Galway County Council, but continued to face opposition from local groups concerned that the initial proposals would develop into a full-scale salmon farming facility.

That decision has now been overturned by the national planning authority, according to Galway Bay FM.

Four months ago the Páirc na Mara marine project had welcomed the announcement of €2 million in funding from the Business, Enterprise and Innovation to develop a market-focused marine innovation and development centre at the Cill Chiaráin site.

Published in Coastal Notes

#OnTV - A new four-part documentary series on the people of Ireland’s west who keep the Galway Hooker sailing tradition alive behind tomorrow night (Thursday 10 January) at 8pm on TG4.

Bádóirí provides an insight into seven Connemara families, part of one of the few indigenous communities of sailors left in Europe, as they compete to be champions of the Galway Hooker Association Racing League.

The first of four episodes screens tomorrow at 8pm and will be available to stream for viewers in Ireland on the TG4 Player.

Published in Galway Harbour

#FishFarm - Permission granted for a salmon farm to extract water from a Connemara lake is facing a judicial review, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

An Bord Pleanála recently greenlit plans by Bradán Beo Teo, the region’s biggest producing salmon farm enterrprise, to extract fresh water from Loch an Mhuilinn for cleaning and disease treatment purposes after the company was previously blocked by Galway County Council.

But now local environmental activists are behind a proposed High Court review of the way the planning board arrived at its decision.

The Connacht Tribune has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#FerryNews - Brittany Ferries new chartered Connemara has completed a maiden voyage overnight from Cork however instead of arriving in Roscoff, the ropax ferry diverted to Brest from where the ship this afternoon has just berthed, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 500 passenger /195 car capacity Connemara was originally intended to launch Brittany Ferries much anticipated new first ever Ireland-Spain direct ferry route on 29 April (since revised to this Wednesday, 9 May). As for the debut of Connemara, circumstances dictated otherwise, with the ropax ferry picking up a pilot this afternoon prior to berthing at Brest as a temporary port.

Connemara was scheduled to depart Cork yesterday mid-afternoon but did not vacate the berth at Ringaskiddy until after midnight, today. The long delays encountered in the Irish port were due to a mandatory survey of the Brittany Ferries chartered-in Cypriot flagged ropax. The surveys were carried out by (DTTAS) Department of Transport, Toursism and Sport.

Officials from DTTAS through their division, the Marine Survey Office (MSO) part of Irish Maritime Administration (IMA) carried out a survey inspection of the 186m Connemara. The surveying of the 27,415 gross tonnage ferry was to satisfy national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping requirements prior to the certification of the 2007 Visentini built ropax.

The reason for Connemara's change of Breton port today was because Roscoff only has a single ro-ro-ramp which since this morning was occupied by the same operator's Armorique. The cruiseferry arrived overnight from Plymouth on schedule and remained in port until a departure this mid-afternoon bound for Cornwall.

According to Brittany Ferries, foot passengers booked on today's Connemara return sailing to Cork have been advised of a bus connection departing Roscoff (17.00) to transfer those to Brest from where the sailing tonight, Tuesday, 8 May departs at 19.00.

As previously alluded, Connemara was originally to have begun service on the new Ireland-Spain route. The 'économie' no-frills Cork-Santander service as previously reported on Afloat was delayed due to technical works forcing Connemara to dry-dock in Santander. The setback saw the original launch date of the first sailing on the new continental connection, from Santander to Cork on April 29 revised to last Sunday of this May Bank Holiday weekend (but this too was cancelled).

Due to Connemara's operational route diagram, the ropax still departed Spain on Sunday (without passengers or freight) to Cork. The Brittany Ferries ship, the first named with an Irish name, made an inaugural arrival to Cork Harbour yesterday morning. At 08.00 Afloat monitored the Connemara pass the backdrop of Cobh before berthing in Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal.

The terminal is also where flagship, Pont-Aven routinely operates cruiseferry based Cork-Roscoff sailings. Cruiseferry sailings are from Cork every Saturday, returning from France on Friday's. Connemara's introduction but also based on the 'économie' service will boost capacity on the Ireland-France route. When sailings settle in, they will operate from Cork every Monday and from Roscoff on Tuesday's.

As mentioned the new Ireland-Spain service begins with a Cork-Santander sailing scheduled from the Irish port tomorrow morning at 11.00. This continental connection to Cantabria, in northern Spain, offers two overnight sailings each week with departures from Cork on a Wednesday and Friday and departures from Santander on a Thursday and Sunday.

Among passengers booked on tomorrow's maiden Ireland-Spain sailing are fans of Leinster Rugby. The province having reached the final of the European Champions Cup play French team Racing 92 from Paris.

Irish fans after disembarking in Santander will head east to the next major sea port city of Bilbao, Biscay, where the San Mamés Stadium is the venue for the sporting finale taking place this Saturday, 12 May. 

On another Irish-Iberian connection, if our entry for the Eurovision Song Contest succeeds in tonight's semi-finals, we could also be cheering on at the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. This takes place also on Saturday but in neighbouring, Portugal at the Altice Arena in the capital Lisbon.

Published in Ferry

#PáircNaMara - Galway County Council is seeking further details on the Páirc na Mara development for Connemara, following an objection from a local group opposed to salmon farming.

New plans for the ‘marine innovation park’ were submitted late last year by Údáras na Gaeltachta, envisaging a low-carbon marine industry hub over nine hectares, and with a focus on aquaculture research.

But as Galway Bay FM reports, an objection by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages — which has long campaigned against aquaculture projects in the region — has “caused anger in west Connemara” where the park is slated to be developed.

The situation has now prompted the council to seek more information on the fish farming aspects of the project.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

#ArcticBuoy - A marine research buoy found on the Connemara coast by local Sea Scouts recently had drifted over 6,000 kilometres across the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean and Atlantic to Ireland.

The buoy, around half a metre in diameter, was found at Lettermullen by the scout troop during an exploration of their local beach.

Michael Loftus, leader of Gasógaí Mara na Gaeltachta (Connemara Sea Scouts), said they often find flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shore, which they can usually identify.

“However, little did we know that this new find would uncover a world of discovery relating to the buoy being launched from an aircraft in the Arctic Ocean and travelling thousands of kilometres to land on the west coast of Ireland.”

The Marine Institute, which works on a series of projects where autonomous instruments are deployed into the ocean for marine research, was contacted to help solve the mystery of where the red buoy came from.

“Although the buoy is not an Argo float that is typically used by the institute as part of the national Argo float programme, we were delighted to help the Sea Scouts establish that the buoy is in fact an Airborne Expendable Ice Buoy, which came from as far away as the Beaufort Sea,” said Diarmuid Ó Conchubhair of the Marine Institute.

The International Arctic Buoy Programme involves a number of different countries including Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, and the United States.

The programme maintains a network of drifting buoys in the Arctic Ocean that are used to monitor sea surface temperatures, ice concentration, and sea level and support weather forecasting. The buoys are also used for validating climate or earth system models which inform the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

Each buoy in this programme has an identification number that is used to track its location in the Arctic Ocean using a type of satellite communication system.

“Using the number marked on this buoy [#4800512], we were able to establish that this particular buoy had been deployed by an aircraft over five years ago in the Beaufort Sea, north of the Yukon and Alaska, west of Canadian Arctic islands,” said Ó Conchubhair.

Dr Eleanor O’Rourke, oceanographic services manager at the Marine Institute, explained: “Researchers involved in the International Arctic Buoy Programme decide where to deploy buoys, particularly where the status of sea-ice may be changing.

“Most of the buoys are placed on sea ice, but some are placed in open water in some of the most remote parts of the world's ocean, where it is difficult for research vessels to access.”

Footage of the buoy found in Connemara being deployed from an US Coast Guard C-130 aircraft in 2012 can be seen online.

Airborne Expendable Ice Buoys have an average lifespan of 18 months and around 25 to 40 buoys operate at any given time.

“The buoy last reported its data in 2014 and it is likely that it ran out of battery power and spent the last three to four years at the sea surface travelling via wind and ocean surface currents,” said O’Rourke.

In 2007, Ireland became a member of the international Argo programme, which uses robotic instruments known as autonomous Argo floats that report on subsurface ocean water properties such as temperature and salinity via satellite transmission to data centres.

Using a fleet of around 4,000 autonomous floats around the world, the Argo array is an indispensable component of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).

“Similar to the buoys used by the International Arctic Buoy Programme, Argo floats collect and distribute real time information on the temperature and salinity of the ocean,” said Ó Conchubhair, who is vice chair of the European Argo Programme.

“Argo floats; however, measure these variables from the upper 2,000m of the ocean and help to describe long-term trends in ocean parameters such as their physical and thermodynamic state.”

This information is required to understand and monitor the role of the ocean in the Earth's climate system, in particular the heat and water balance.

Click here for more information about Ireland’s involvement in the Argo programme. You can also track and look at data from Irish Argo floats at Ireland’s Digital Ocean.

Four years ago, another Arctic device was found on the North West Coast and exhibited by Transition Year students in Co Mayo, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Science

#MarineScience - A new planning application is set to be submitted for the proposed ‘marine innovation park’ in Connemara, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Páirc na Mara is envisaged as a low-carbon marine industry hub over nine hectares, with a focus on aquaculture research.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the new research cluster would form part of a network including the existing Marine Institute facilities at Newport in Co Mayo.

The deadline for expressions of interest in the revised project is tomorrow, Friday 1 December.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#ClegganBay - The Irish Times writes on Saturday’s (28 October) memorial service for lives lost in the Cleggan Bay Disaster 90 years ago.

Forty-five men, many of them from Connemara, died after a sudden and severe storm hit a small fleet fishing for herring off the Mayo coast in October 1927.

Descendants of some of those whose lives were taken in the tragedy gathered at a memorial at Lacken pier on Saturday which also paid tribute to diver Michael Heffernan, who was lost in a cave rescue in the region in October 1997.

Masses were also held in Claddaghduff and on Inishbofin, which was home to many of those lost in the incident.

The commemoration had an additional resonance with the loss of five Irish Coast Guard personnel in recent months — the crew of Rescue 116 and volunteer Caitriona Lucas, who was posthumously awarded the State’s highest honour earlier this month.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Windfarm - Giant wind turbine blades seen in Galway Harbour last winter are now in operation in Connemara as part of Ireland’s biggest ever windfarm project.

According to the Connacht Tribune, the Galway Wind Park between Galway Bay and Lough Corrib aims to generate enough energy from its 58 enormous wind turbines to power more than 140,000 homes annually — while offsetting over 220,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The news comes just days after the world’s first floating windfarm began generating power for Scotland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Power From the Sea

#RNLI - Clifden RNLI officially named its new D class lifeboat Celia Mary at a special ceremony and service of dedication held yesterday (Saturday 21 October) in the Connemara coastal town.

The honour of handing over the lifeboat and officially naming her went to the donor Peter Ross, husband of the late Celia.

He was accompanied at the ceremony in the Station House Hotel by his family and Celia’s best friend Rea Hollis, who has made a generous donation towards the running costs of Clifden Lifeboat Station.

Celia, who was from East Sussex but was of Irish descent, died three years ago shortly after her 79th birthday. She had always wanted to fund a lifeboat.

A much-loved wife and mother of five children, Celia spent many years living self-sufficiently and keeping cows and sheep. She had a great sense of humour and her kitchen was the focal point of her village.

Her idyllic life came to an end when rheumatoid arthritis took hold. But despite suffering from subsequent ill health, this did not stop her from becoming a respected antiques dealer until what has been described as her indomitable spirit succumbed and she passed away.

During the ceremony, Niamh McCutcheon, a member of the Irish Council of the RNLI, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity from Peter Ross, before handing her over into the care of Clifden Lifeboat Station.

During her address, McCutcheon praised the efforts of all those who supported the work of the station.

“In 2017, Clifden RNLI has been requested to respond to 17 call outs, with a total of 26 launches, bringing 18 people to safety between the three different lifeboats on station here. You cannot put a price on the impact that has on people’s lives, whether they are volunteers or casualties.

“Our lifesavers could not have answered those calls for help without the support they receive from fellow volunteers on the shore: the fundraisers, the launch crew and the station management. In fact the whole of the RNLI depends on those people who represent our charity in the community.”

Lifeboat operations manager John Brittain accepted the lifeboat on behalf of Clifden RNLI ahead of the blessing in a service of dedication led by Father James Ronayne and the Very Reverend Stan Evans. The lifeboat was then officially named by Peter Ross.

Brittain said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station, adding that the crew were most grateful to Peter for his generous gift in memory of his wife which had funded the lifeboat.

“Celia always wanted a lifeboat, and now she has one in Clifden,” he said. “While her lifeboat may be a little far from her family, we have been told by her loved ones that Celia, who was of Irish descent, would have revelled in the beauty of Galway, Connemara and the Atlantic coast.”

The D class Celia Mary replaces the Grainne Uaile which served Clifden RNLI for the last 10 years. During that time, the lifeboat launched 62 times, bringing 20 people to safety.

Originally introduced in 1963, the D class has evolved into a highly capable modern lifeboat. It is the workhorse of the RNLI’s fleet and is ideal for working close inshore, near rocks or in shallow water in moderate conditions. It can be righted by the crew if it capsizes and is also part of the RNLI flood rescue team’s fleet of boats.

She comes into her own for searches and rescues in the surf, shallow water and confined locations - often close to cliffs, among rocks and even inside caves.

The RNLI established a lifeboat station in Clifden in early 1988 when a C class lifeboat was put on service for one season’s evaluation. The following year, Clifden RNLI became fully operational as a summer season-only lifeboat station.

In 1997, an Atlantic 21 lifeboat was placed on service and a new boathouse for the lifeboat and a tractor was completed in August 1998. A new D class lifeboat was placed on service in May 1998, and the following year it was joined by a new Atlantic 75 B class lifeboat which remained stationed until June 2013 when it was replaced by the Atlantic 85 named Joyce King.

A crowd of well wishers turned up to see the lifeboat officially named, with a bottle of champagne poured over the side of the boat before it launched at the end of the ceremony.

Among the guests on the platform party were Pearse Hyland, chair of the Lifeboat Management Group, who welcomed guests and opened proceedings, and inshore lifeboat mechanic Andy Bell, who gave a vote of thanks and closed proceedings.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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