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Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay

When Pierce Purcell and others such as the late Dave Fitzgerald and David Whitehead were trying to get Galway Bay Sailing Club into being fifty years ago, they had to deal with the reality that Galway city’s long and varied coastline presented many challenges. Access points of varying quality to recreation afloat included the Claddagh on the River Corrib itself, plus the ships’ dock accessing the Bay by a sea-lock, together with the spacious inland sea of Lough Corrib in the north of the city, dinghy sailing waters in the partially-tidal inlet of Lough Atalia, and several sheltered sea inlets to the east of the city, towards Oranmore at the head of Galway Bay.

In time, GBSC settled on headquarters at Renville, with its sheltered inlet near Oranmore, to create a proper clubhouse/dinghy park/anchorage complex. It’s there that 2020’s Golden Jubilee celebrations will begin on this Friday night (February 21st) with Pierce Purcell presenting a “Reeling in the Year” show (proceeds to the RNLI) about the eventual move ro Renville, where until 1981 they had to make do with a caravan as the main shore base for a growing range of activities.

galway bay sc2Fifty years down the line, Galway Bay SC now sails from this modern clubhouse at Renville 
However, members still fondly remember those early winter gatherings in the Salthill Hotel to the west of the city, where they diligently built a membership base which was developing as a result of pioneering dinghy sailing events in which they’d tested the usefulness of the various sailing possibilities on the city’s waterfront.

In time, however, the move to Renville became inevitable, as the growing number of keelboats required a 24-hour-accessible anchorage. But many senior GBSC members have the fondest memory of those early gatherings at the Salthill Hotel, so it’s there on Sunday (February 23rd) that a Golden Jubilee Coffee Morning will get going at noon, and if it phases into a convivial nautically-themed shared viewing of the Ireland-England Rugby Match, so be it….

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway 2020 has said it is keeping the weather situation “under review” for its opening ceremony this evening writes Lorna Siggins

Met Éireann has upgraded its weather warning status from yellow to orange for Galway on Saturday, with heavy rainfall and south to south-west winds reaching mean speeds of 65 to 80 km per hour, with gusts of up to 120 km per hour.

An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people are expected to attend the open-air event in the Claddagh South Park on Saturday evening, hosted by British company Wonder Works.

Live music, pyrotechnics and seven giant glowing orbs representing county and city communities are promised during the ceremony, and a fleet of Galway hookers was due to set sail – but this may have to be curtailed due to the weather forecast.

President Michael D Higgins is due to declare the year-long European capital of culture open just after 6 pm.

Galway 2020 has said that it is “aware of the current weather advisories”.

“As public safety is our primary concern, we are keeping the situation under review,” it said in a statement on Friday evening.

“ Our intention is that the event will still go ahead, but may be subject to alteration. We will update further on Saturday morning,” it said

Met Éireann said that Galway City Council is monitoring the current forecasts with it, and has “adjusted the event programme to take account of the forecast weather conditions and to ensure public safety during the event”.

The event license for the opening ceremony extends to Sunday, but Storm Ciara will be sweeping over the country and wind conditions are expected to be more severe.

A new work by celebrated Irish language poet Louis de Paor is due to be premiéred, with the voices of Olwen Fouére, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Stephen Rea, Naisrín Elsafty and Caitlín Ní Chualáin.

Event hosts Wonder Works, veterans of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games in London and Rio de Janeiro, have billed it as a “large scale dramatic explosion of sound and vision”.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Bad Irish weather and why we should all embrace it is the theme of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture’s first street mural.

The mural was unveiled in Galway city centre by TG weather presenter Caitlín Nic Aoidh for the Hope it Rains/Soineann nó Doineann project yesterday.

Galway-based artist Shane O’Malley has used hydro-chromic paint for an abstract image, the shape, size, geometric patterns, and colours of which change in reaction to rainfall.

The direction, intensity and amount of rain determine which version of the mural is visible, making it as changeable as the weather, artistic director and curator Ríonach Ní Néill explained.

Located on the corner of Church Lane and Shop Street, the mural named “Changes change” is a “visual barometer for pedestrians of patterns of rainfall and drought”, the project says.

Galway 2020 creative director Helen Marriage said the programme has been “built around the central themes of landscape, language and migration, and Hope it Rains | Soineann nó Doineann will work with local artists to address a constant of the Galway landscape”.

Ní Néill said her project is “challenging artists to create works that directly interact with and respond to the weather, and use it as a source of creativity.

“The project fosters a thoughtful approach which seeks the advantages of our mild, windy and wet weather, all the while building awareness of the need for immediate action to mitigate climate change,” she said.

Published in Weather
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At year’s end, the Sailors of the Month adjudicators survey the overall scene in search of an outstanding and innovative event which has added to the variety of the Irish sailing programme. In 2019 this role was well filled by the Galway-Lorient Cruise-in-Company organised in July with great energy, enthusiasm and effectiveness by Cormac Mac Donncha. It attracted 27 boats including a French contingent, together with participants from as far north as Sligo on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, and set new levels of target achievement which similar future events will do well to match.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway’s harbourmaster has hit out at the lack of warning for a severe storm which caused flooding in parts of the city and Salthill last night writes Lorna Siggins.

The city’s emergency plan was invoked after southerly winds forecast at 40 to 45 knots hit 73 knots, and there was a sea surge over quays in the docks and in Salthill.

A cargo ship making regular deliveries to the Aran Islands was thrown up on rock armour when it broke one of its moorings. The 39-metre Saoirse na Mara sustained considerable damage during the height of the winds at around 8 pm.

Capt Sheridan said Valentia Coast Guard had been informed last night, and there was no pollution from the ship and no injuries to crew. Efforts would be made to refloat the vessel at high tide this morning, he said.

Capt Sheridan said the city had “only dodged a bullet by a miracle”, but said he was furious at the lack of warning.

“With climate change and sea-level rise, we are only going to have more of these events and we need to be prepared,” he said.

“This inaccuracy of forecasting highlights our lack of ocean literacy and our need to focus on understanding what is actually going on in the ocean,” he said.

“We need to remind ourselves that the planet is 70 per cent water, and the ocean controls so much of our daily lives. Climate change is here and now,” Capt Sheridan emphasised.

The port had hosted an emergency training exercise for staff yesterday afternoon, and so Capt Sheridan said he had been particularly vigilant about weather forecasts.

“That exercise went off well, but at 3 pm it was forecast for 40 to 45-knot winds on Wednesday night. It reached 73 knots and was off the scale.”

The gusts caused widespread damage to trees on routes in and out of the city.

Published in Galway Harbour
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One of the great successes of the 2019 season was the Galway-Lorient Cruise-in-Company in July to celebrate the ancient seaborn links between the City of the Tribes and the historic port and Celtic centre of South Brittany on France's Biscay coast writes W M Nixon

Put together in precise detail by serial organiser Cormac MacDonncha of Galway Bay SC, it attracted an impressive fleet of 27 boats drawn mostly from Ireland's Atlantic seaboard, but also including the key ingredient of three fine boats which had come over from Brittany.

They were led by Lorient YC President Jean-Gab (Jean-Gabriel) Samzun with his handsome Peterson 46 Trilogy, which once upon a time was Robin Aisher's Yeoman XXI, a finisher in the storm-battered 1979 Fastnet Race with the crew including the owner's daughter Sally, who these days is Mrs O'Leary of Crosshaven.

jack roy mac donncha2Irish Sailing President Jack Roy with "serial organiser" Cormac Mac Donncha at Kilronan in the Aran Islands when the latter made it the venue for the WIORA Championship in 2017.
trilogy hooker3Peter Connolly's City-built Galway Hooker with Jean-Gab Samzun's Peterson 46 Trilogy (ex-Yeoman XXI) off Galway port before the start of the Galway-Lorient Cruise-in-Company

The Lorient sailors are so enamoured of Connacht that they're returning in a reciprocal visit to Galway port in June of next year. But meanwhile the Galway and West Coast sailors - having successfully taken on the intricate waters of west and south Brittany in 2019 - have decided that later in 2020 they should make a point of some detailed navigation and pilotage in the cruising paradise which is on their doorstep, and much cherished by visiting cruising boats – particularly those from France.

Because of course, that's the problem with being based in Galway. The wondrously intricate and mysterious coast of Connemara – "The Land of the Sea" – is only about twenty miles to the westward. Getting there isn't thought of as any big deal by Galway sailors. Yet such is the place's enchantment that sailors from all over Europe and further afield will voyage for many miles just to savour the joys of this unique coastline, which has rightly been described as more of a personality than place.

So the latest Mac Donncha project is a detailed August Bank Holiday weekend cruise-in-company for West Coast sailors in the hope of experiencing the Connemara coast as visitors see it. They'll be busy in the city in June with the hospitality for the boats from France, but by July the seemingly continuous city Festival Season is underway, and it gets beyond all reason at the end of the month with the Galway Races.

innishboffin quayHigh water for an intriguing selection of cruisers at the quay at Inishbofin, a destination for next year's GBSC long weekend cruise-in-company. Photo ICC.
That is when it's reckoned the GBSC cruising sailors and their friends from up and down the west coast can be reasonably excused for being out of Galway City and in Connemara and places adjacent, so the programme being mapped out is:

  • Thursday, July 30th: Depart Galway Docks for Rosamhil (Rossaveal) Marina.
  • Friday, July 31st: Rosamhil to Kilronan (Aran Islands)
  • Saturday, August 1st: Kilronan to Inishbofin
  • Sunday, August 2nd: Inishbofin to Roundstone
  • Monday, August 3rd (Bank Holiday) Roundstone to Rosamhil.
  • Monday, August 3rd Cruise-in-Company concludes at Rosamihil.

Those who know the coast of Connemara will realise that the passages from Galway Bay to and from Inishbofin involve negotiating Slyne Head, and for the more quirky cruising brethren and sisterhood, negotiating Slyne Head means contemplating the use of the inner passage through the narrow gap known either as the Joyce Sound or Joyce's Pass, or indeed the Joyce Sound Pass.

map of connemara5An intriguing pilotage and navigational challenge – the Connemara coastline between the Aran Islands (bottom) and Inishbofin (top left)

Joyce sound pass 6The Joyce Sound Pass is a useful short-cut inside Slyne Head, but complete information is needed for a safe passage through. Photo ICCslyne head7Slyne Head is the most seaward of a line of rocky islands.
Whatever name you choose for this tricky channel, it can be something of a challenge. But the rewards in distance saved and the avoidance of the often lumpy seas off Slyne Head make it an attractive proposition, though a careful reading of the Irish Cruising Club directions as compiled by Honorary Editor Norman Kean shows that this is not a short-cut to be trifled with.

But whatever way you go in negotiating Slyne Head, this is a wonderful away-from-it-all area, a true holiday coast. As ever, the Galway hospitality goes the extra distance – the word is that if you don't see yourself having the time to get involved with your own boat, the GBSC welcome machine will try to facilitate you with a berth on a locally-based boat.

And as a taster of what being with the Galway fleet can offer, here's the vid from the summer's cruise to Lorient.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway’s “edge of the world” situation between river, lake and sea has inspired a documentary which secured a top award earlier this week at the Irish Film Festival London writes Lorna Siggins

The documentary entitled Cumar – a Galway Rhapsody explores the influences of Connemara’s Atlantic landscape and Galway on seven artists, including musician/composer Máirtín O’Connor, poet/playwright Rita Ann Higgins and novelist Mike McCormack.

Macnas performance company artistic director Noeline Kavanagh, singer-song-writer, RóisínSeoighe, visual artist, Pádraic Reaney and comedian, Tommy Tiernan were also profiled in the documentary.

Described as “Galway’s own cinematic sean-nós” by Ronan Doyle of independent film website Scannáin, it was conceived and directed by Aodh Ó Coileáin of NUI Galway and produced by Paddy Hayes of Tua Films.

It had its premiere at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh in July and was screened in Chicago, USA, in September.

“It is of particular significance to be selected for this award in London, a city so central to Irish artistic endeavour,” Ó Coileáin said.

“Since coming to live in Galway over 30 years ago, I have wondered what it is about this catchment area that produces artists and attracts artists to the city of tribes,” Ó Coileáin, from Co Kerry, says.

“The film touches on some of the explanations that have occurred to me from time to time: the city’s diverse cultural background stretching into medieval times and beyond, the confluence of languages, the rich tradition of music and song… or is it simply the meeting of the waters: river, lake, and sea?”

He recalled how many west of Irish musicians and artists came to London to work in the years after the second world war, including Joe Heaney from Carna, Co Galway, piper Willie Clancy and fiddle player Bobby Casey from Co Clare, and singer Margaret Barry from Cork.

He recalled that Druid Theatre company’s performance of J M Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World at the Donmar Warehouse in London’s Covent Garden in 1985 was a “milestone in Irish theatre”.

Irish Film Festival London founder and director Kelly O’Connor predicted that Cumar would become a “long-standing document of the intrinsic essence and influence of Galway”.

Galway composer Jake Morgan wrote the documentary’s score, while Galway Street Club made a guest appearance.

The film will be screened at London’s Regent Street Cinema as part of the Irish Film Festival London on November 24th at 7.30 pm.

The documentary is an ilDána film, funded by TG4 and the Arts Council, in association with Galway Film Centre.

Published in Maritime TV
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A bottlenose dolphin was recently rescued by quick-thinking locals after live stranding on Mutton Island near Galway city.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports the story related to it by friend of the group Jason, who was alerted to the marine mammal in the shallow water near the Galway Bay lighthouse by an Australian couple with whom he had previously been discussing the area’s resident bottlenose Nimmo.

“I just knew it was in trouble so I ran down and the dolphin was out of the water alive,” he said.

With the tide going out, time was of the essence as Jason was joined by three others who offered their scarves to form a brace to lift the dolphin into deeper water.

“I just went the rest of the way as it was getting dark at that point. With one final push it just started to swim away.

“I can’t explain how I felt and we did it as a team. An incredible thank you so so much to those who helped,” he added.

The incident came just days after the IWDG called on the Government to join forces with NGOs like itself to develop a stranding response protocol, especially for large whales.

The IWDG said “fresh attention” has been drawn to the issue following the death of a fin whale seen swimming in Dublin Port earlier this month.

More recently, an endangered sei whale was found floating in the River Thames at Gravesend in the UK last Friday (18 October), nearly two weeks after a humpback whale died in the same stretch of water.

IWDG chief executive Dr Simon Berrow said: “Strandings, both live and dead, of large whales are not common in Ireland but do occur and we need a protocol, signed off by relevant partners, including Government agencies, so we can respond quickly and efficiently in such cases without having to phone around looking for resources and support.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

Irish authorities are still detaining a cargo ship close to Kinvara in south Galway Bay after its hull sprang a leak while loading cargo for the Bahamas writes Lorna Siggins

As Afloat reported previously, the 30m ship Evora was detained last week at Tarrea pier near Kinvara by the Marine Survey Office (MSO) under port-state control regulations which prevent the vessel from going to sea.

Concerns about the four crew employed for the voyage also prompted a visit to the vessel by the International Transport Federation’s (ITF) Irish branch.

ITF representative Michael Whelan said he had met the crew – three Cubans and a Colombian – to check on their situation in relation to pay, conditions, and accommodation for the crew while the vessel is damaged.

The cargo ship had been due to steam to the Bahamas with a large quantity of cement when the ship’s hull was damaged during loading at Tarrea pier.

Local residents feared that fuel from the ship might leak, causing pollution which would have a serious impact on south Galway’s shellfish industry, including its oyster beds.

The owner said there had been no fuel leak from the vessel and no pollution risk.

The pier is outside the remit of the Galway harbourmaster and is the responsibility of Galway County Council.

It is understood residents found it difficult to get a response from the local authority, and Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan intervened to assist.

The Department of Transport, under which the Marine Survey Office operates, said it could not comment on the details of the detention.

It said that any queries should be directed to the ship’s flag state – as in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. However, the ship's port of registry is recorded as Panama on the vessel.

The vessel, built in France 50 years ago, was formerly owned in Rossaveal, Co Galway, but was sold to a new owner within the past 12 months.

The owner confirmed that the vessel had been held as the engine room was flooded, and said: "no harmful substances were released into the bay".

The ITF representative Michael Whelan said he was in regular contact with the crew, and understood they now wished to be repatriated. He confirmed that the crew had been paid, but did not wish to stay indefinitely, as the vessel had not been inspected by flag state inspectors as of yesterday.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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Belgian solo sailor Caroline Adriens has departed southwards from Galway after spending nearly a year in the popular west coast port with her 30ft Albin Ballad.

She had arrived in Galway in September 2018 from Tromsø in Norway via Shetland, Orkney, Cape Wrath, the west coast of Scotland, Northern Ireland, northwest Ireland and the coast of Connacht before mooring up in Galway for the winter in the welcoming shelter of the dock.

Her boat, a classic Albin Ballad, is of a successful and seaworthy marque that was built in Sweden between 1971 and 1982 and has now been overhauled in Galway in advance of her dream to sail around the world.

belgian woman launching2Hiawatha in the slings in Galway, Caroline Adriens on left

Caroline said of her plans that: “It’s an itch that I’ve wanted to scratch for quite some time, and I’m finally realising my dream when I depart from Galway.

It will be the first time that I have actually sailed on my own. I'm excited, but of course a little nervous, as the ocean is a big place and my boat is not so big".

On hearing of Caroline's impending trip, Michael Walsh of Dubarry wasted no time in supporting Caroline with a pair of Shamrock Sailing Boots to ensure she departed Galway with the best women's sailing footwear on the market.

Caroline plans to be in Portugal for the winter via the Scilly Isles in early September, and has reached Valentia Island in Kerry by way of Fenit on Tralee Bay in the first stages of her voyage southward.

belgian womans boat3 Belgian solo sailor Caroline Adriens’ Hiawatha is a well-proven Albin Ballad built in Sweden in the 1980s

Published in Galway Harbour
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