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The Galway Bay RNLI volunteer crew carried out a training exercise with the University of Galway Clinical Simulation and Interprofessional Education Facility this week.

The exercise took place on a calm evening and involved the lifeboat crew being called to a cruiser where a member of the lifeboat crew played the part of the casualty with a traumatic leg fracture.

A busy evening on Galway Bay – RNLI Galway’s inshore lifeboat ‘Binny’ and crew taking part in a trauma simulation exercise involving a casualty on a cruiser, with a visiting cruise ship in the background.A busy evening on Galway Bay – RNLI Galway’s inshore lifeboat ‘Binny’ and crew taking part in a trauma simulation exercise involving a casualty on a cruiser, with a visiting cruise ship in the background

Departing the lifeboat station at Galway Port, the crew on board the inshore lifeboat ‘Binny’, travelled to the cruiser where they came aboard, assessed and stabilised the ‘patient’ using their casualty care check cards. The crew were observed by Professor Aidan Devitt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Mr Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway. After returning to the lifeboat station, Mr Alan Hussey, Consultant Plastic Surgeon gave a briefing on managing burns and other traumatic injuries such as amputation or avulsion of limbs and digits.

767Transferring the ‘patient’ to the lifeboat by stretcher as part of a trauma simulation exercise with the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway. From left: RNLI crew Stefanie Carr; Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation; RNLI crew Seán Óg Leydon, Frank Leonard, Helm Dave Badger and Olivia Byrne. Transferring the ‘patient’ to the lifeboat by stretcher as part of a trauma simulation exercise with the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway. From left: RNLI crew Stefanie Carr; Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation; RNLI crew Seán Óg Leydon, Frank Leonard, Helm Dave Badger and Olivia Byrne.

The exercise also required the lifeboat crew to transfer the patient in a stretcher to the lifeboat. In a real-life situation, the lifeboat crew would have transported the casualty back to Galway Port for transfer to an ambulance.

Galway RNLI volunteer crew, from left: Frank Leonard, Stefanie Carr and Olivia Byrne assessing and stabilising a ‘patient’, Sean McLoughlin, who is also an RNLI crew member. The crew were observed by Professor Aidan Devitt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Mr Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway as part of a trauma simulation exerciseGalway RNLI volunteer crew, from left: Frank Leonard, Stefanie Carr and Olivia Byrne assessing and stabilising a ‘patient’, Sean McLoughlin, who is also an RNLI crew member. The crew were observed by Professor Aidan Devitt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Mr Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway as part of a trauma simulation exercise

The simulation exercise was part of ongoing engagement between the University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and the RNLI crew and had been arranged by Prof Dara Byrne, Professor of Simulation Education, University of Galway who said: ‘We are delighted to continue our work with the RNLI team and support them in their valuable work. The management of trauma and burns in the very early stages can improve patient outcomes so it is important to get it right. The expertise provided by the two surgeons today during the simulation will make a difference to both the crew and their casualties. The Simulation Team and I are looking forward to our next educational session with the crew and to working with them in the state-of-the-art Simulation Facility at the University of Galway.’

Olivia Byrne, volunteer RNLI crew, said: ‘On behalf of the entire crew, I’d like to thank Professor Byrne for arranging for the consultants from Galway University Hospitals to take part in this exercise this evening. In the event of a call-out that involves the rescue of a patient with a fracture, burn or other traumatic injury, the patient will be brought to hospital in Galway to be treated by these doctors and their teams. Getting their insights into how patients are treated for these injuries helps us to appreciate the relevance of our first aid training and the importance of doing training exercises to put our learning into practice.'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A memorial to several currach fishermen, which was vandalised last year, has been replaced with a new cut stone version at Galway’s Barna pier.

Relatives of the fishermen, William “Liam” Gill (78) and Peter Faherty (53), were so upset by the damage to the plaque that they commissioned a replacement.

Gill and Faherty, his son-in-law, drowned when their currach filled with herring sank an estimated 80 yards from the Barna shoreline in October 1922.

Both men had learned to swim, having served in the British Navy. Their third crew member, Michael (Michil Frank) Coyne, couldn’t swim, so Faherty helped rescue him, using the currach’s oars to support him towards the shore.

However, Gill was trapped in the nets, and Coyne swam back to save him and also got tangled in the gear. Neither of the two survived.

The late William Gill who died off Barna pier a century ago, photographed with his familyThe late William Gill who died off Barna pier a century ago, photographed with his family

The Connacht Tribune of October 21st, 1922, reported that their bodies were found close to the currach about a mile east of the village at Léana.

“The remains of William Gill were placed in a coffin and those of Peter Faherty in a cart, and they were taken to Barna amidst every demonstration of regret,” the newspaper reported.

“Faherty had a wife and a family of seven, six girls and one boy, and much sympathy is extended to Mrs Faherty in her great loss,” it reported.

At the inquest, survivor Michael Coyne said that both of the two men kept a grip “on the canoe” - as the currach was called - all the time.

Peter Faherty, a former Royal Navy stoker, who drowned off Barna in 1922Peter Faherty, a former Royal Navy stoker, who drowned off Barna in 1922

“When I shoved myself away from the canoe, I was full sure myself that I was going down. I had the oars under the arm, and they kept up my head,” he said.

“The canoe would have drifted ashore only for the weight of the nets, some of which had fallen out of the boat,” he told the inquest.

Last year, a stone from the original pier, fitted with a plaque to the two fishermen, which was carved by Denis Goggin and Ray Flaherty, was damaged. The incident, which occurred less than a month after it was unveiled, was reported to the Garda, and CCTV footage captured in the area was sought as part of an investigation.

A new plaque has been fitted by stonemasons Peter and John Greaney, who are related to both men.

John (left) and  Peter Greaney fitting the replacement plaque to the two fishermen at Barna pier Photo: Joe O'ShaughnessyJohn (left) and Peter Greaney fitting the replacement plaque to the two fishermen at Barna pier Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy

“Peter Faherty is our great grandfather, and William Gill is our great great grandfather,” Peter Greaney explained.

Galway historian Cormac Ó Comhraí gave the historical context when he spoke at the original unveiling. He recounted how the country was “so disturbed” by the Civil War that in the week that the two men drowned, it was also reported that the Clifden-Galway railway line had not run in three months.

Ó Comhraí said there were repeated warnings of famine in Connemara, and fishing was poor in Galway during that period – “a coincidence that many have affected the men’s judgment in October 1922”.

He said that William Gill, also known as Liam Rua or Liam Goill, was born at the time of the Great Famine, and the trauma of his early years would have increased his fear of the threat of famine.

When they caught a large quantity of herring, they would have been under pressure to land it all ashore.

After the men died, a fund was set up by clergymen to collect money for the two families. Among those who contributed was a large subscription from the people of Castlegar across the city.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Representatives from the City of Galway Shipping company visited Galway RNLI during their weekly training session, to present the charity with a donation of €5,000. The company, which has been in operation since 1947, is based a short distance from the Galway lifeboat station, at New Docks. This donation brings the amount raised for the charity in Galway this year, to €100,000, with a recent legacy and a donation from the Marine Institute.

Before the volunteer lifeboat crew went out on their training exercise, Galway Shipping’s General Manager Tom McElwain and board members John Coyle and Dr John Killeen met with Galway RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Swan and some of the team based at the lifeboat station, to present the €5,000 donation.

The City of Galway Shipping Company has made the donation in support of the lifesaving work of the RNLI, which will next year be celebrating 200 years of search and rescue. The company’s board members are all successors of the founders and are admirers of the work of the lifeboats. John Coyle is also a former Chairperson of the RNLI’s Irish Council and Trustee of the RNLI, while Dr John Killeen is the current Chairperson of the Irish Council and a Trustee of the charity.

"This donation brings the amount raised for the charity in Galway this year, to €100,000"

Speaking at the cheque presentation, John Coyle said: ‘With Galway Shipping based a short distance from the lifeboat station, we have all seen first-hand, the volunteers launching, in all weathers and at all hours of the day and night, to rescue people. The lifeboat crew based here and at the stations around the country do a fantastic job, and the shareholders are proud to give this donation to the charity for their lifesaving work. With the RNLI celebrating its 200th anniversary next year, I hope there will be many such occasions in the future.’

Galway RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Swan added: ‘We are delighted to receive this donation on behalf of the RNLI. The investment in our lifeboat, the kit our volunteers wear and the training everyone must undertake can be seen every time we launch. We have a great bunch of people who volunteer their time to help others. Behind the crew is a strong team that supports the lifesaving on the water. Our volunteers all work in different jobs in the community but are united in a common goal, to save lives. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our donors that supports us in doing this.’

The month of May is the RNLI’s Mayday appeal. People can run, walk, hop or skip a mayday mile a day to raise funds for the lifeboat crews and help save lives at sea. See RNLI.org/Mayday for details.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew welcomed Prof Dara Byrne, Philip Parakal Augusthinose and Mike Smith to the station last Thursday (13 April) to see first-hand how the RNLI station operates and how clinical simulation can enhance casualty care and first aid training.

The visit was part of ongoing engagement between the University of Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and the RNLI crew.

Earlier this year volunteer crew member Olivia Byrne, who is also a nurse and helps deliver some of the first-aid training to her fellow crew members, spent a half day in the university’s Clinical Simulation and Interprofessional Education Facility putting skills learned into practice.

“The technology in use at the university for learning is incredible,” Olivia said. “I was able to practise resuscitation techniques on full-body manikins which were programmed to simulate the very specific conditions that casualties that we rescue are exposed to such as water and cold. The manikin reacted to treatment as close to a real-life patient experience as is possible.

“I was delighted to be able to show Prof Byrne and colleagues around our station and give them an insight into the work we do and how our training is used in practice.

“During their visit they met with the crew and were even able to see how we prepare for and launch our inshore lifeboat which was out on the water as part of our continual training and crew assessment.

“I look forward to further collaboration with the university and am very grateful for the expertise they shared, the time that they dedicated to our RNLI crew and for a very generous donation of medical supplies. There are only three simulation centres of this type in Ireland with the newest and most advanced here in Galway. We are very fortunate to be based so close to this incredible facility.”

Galway RNLI volunteer Olivia Byrne accepts a donation of medical supplies from Mike Smith, Philip Parakal Augusthinose and Prof Dara Byrne from the University of Galway Clinical Simulation and Interprofessional Education Facility during a recent visit to the Galway Lifeboat Station | Credit: University of Galway/Martina ReganGalway RNLI volunteer Olivia Byrne accepts a donation of medical supplies from Mike Smith, Philip Parakal Augusthinose and Prof Dara Byrne from the University of Galway Clinical Simulation and Interprofessional Education Facility during a recent visit to the Galway Lifeboat Station | Credit: University of Galway/Martina Regan

Prof Dara Byrne, Professor of Simulation in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences said: “We are delighted to support our friends and colleagues in the RNLI with simulation equipment and education. They are a dedicated and crucial part of the healthcare family providing essential emergency service and care.

“They work as a team and interface with other emergency services so simulation can support their technical and non-technical skill requirements as part of their training programme. We are excited to begin a series of trauma talks and other activities with them and will be seeing them in the interprofessional simulation facility soon. A very exciting collaboration for us all and one that recognises the value and importance of the RNLI team and the support that they provide for our community.”

Mike Swan, Galway RNLI lifeboat operations manager added: “Lifeboat volunteers need and deserve the very best training and equipment to keep them safe when they launch to a rescue. Crews don’t just learn boat-handling skills — they learn everything from navigation and engine repair to first aid and sea survival. We provide them with comprehensive training and recognised qualifications.

“Our mission is to save lives at sea and we can only do that with the support of our community here in Galway. The University of Galway is an important part of our community and we appreciate the valuable support of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch by the Irish Coast Guard at 9.35am on St Patrick’s Day (Friday 17 March) following a report of a swimmer in difficulty off Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill.

The inshore lifeboat was quickly launched and proceeded immediately to the scene. The Galway Fire Service was also tasked and they assisted the swimmer ashore.

Weather conditions were good with a Force 3 southerly breeze.

Paul Carey, Galway RNLI deputy launching authority who was on scene at Salthill said: “A great outcome in this case. Two people were swimming together and one of them appeared to get disorientated. Thankfully the alarm was raised quickly.

“Always remember if you see somebody in difficulty dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard. Always respect the water.”

The volunteer lifeboat crew on board the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat were helm Brian Niland, Dave Oliver, James Rattigan and Ian Claxton supported by shore crew Shane Austin, Dave McGrath and Mike Cummins.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Following a two-year break due to the pandemic, Galway RNLI’s Sample Our Soup fundraiser will return to the streets of Galway on Saturday 11 February.

The fundraiser — which sees proceeds raised go towards powering the lifesaving work of the volunteer lifeboat crew — has gone from strength to strength over the years and continues to be one of the station’s favourite events enabling the team to get out and about to highlight their work and say thanks to those they meet for their ongoing support. Even Stormy Stan, the RNLI’s mascot, makes an appearance.

The heartwarming soup is prepared by Mark Hopkins, head Chef at The Seafood Bar at Kirwan’s Lane. Volunteers from Galway RNLI will be located outside Taaffes Bar on Shop Street from 11am on Saturday 11 February to serve the soup to Galway shoppers.

Annette Cullen, Galway RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer said: “Without volunteers like those in our fundraising team and our lifeboat crew who selflessly give of their own time, our lifeboat couldn’t function and continue to be rescue ready.

“As a charity, we are reliant on the generosity of the public in supporting this work through fundraisers such as Sample Our Soup, so in advance of Saturday, we would like to say thank you.

“Thanks too to our sponsors Kirwans Lane, Raftery’s Centra Claregalway and Cater Rent Ballybrit Industrial Estate for their continued support of this event.”

This story has been updated to reflect the change in date for the event.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Off the west coast of Ireland, wind energy awaiting to be harnessed could be akin to the past discovery under the sea bed of crude oil and natural gas.

As the Connacht Tribune reports, the Port of Galway is an ideal location to act as a focal point for these projects.

That was the view of Port of Galway Chief Executive Officer, Conor O’Dowd, when a presentation was made to city councillors at a meeting on Monday, outlining the potential for the harbour in the years ahead.

According to the CEO wind speeds off the north-west coast of Ireland, were the best in Europe and the UK with Galway as a base ideally situated to capitalise on this form of natural energy.

Click here for more on the west coast port city from where in April, the Taoiseach endorsed plans for the state's first energy hub.  

Published in Galway Harbour

The Galway Sea Scouts took a trip to Nawaka, the National Sea Scouts Festival in Netherlands as Damien McCoy reports

Like Disneyland for Sea Scouts is how one of our Sea Scouts described Nawaka, the National Water Camp they attended in Zeewolde, Netherlands. Held every 4 years and running for 10 days, the Sea Scout festival is one of the largest of its kind and this year, Port of Galway Sea Scouts returned with 27 Scouts and 8 Leaders to represent Ireland at the event.

With 7,000 Scouts and Staff on site, the Nawaka village had a real festival feel, complete with popup shops, exhibitions and activities to keep everyone entertained and provided for. The opening ceremony saw the entire festival flotilla descend upon the local harbour of Zeewolde, which was awash with the brightly coloured Lelievlet Boats that each Sea Scout group paints in their group colours.

Nawaka 2022 Opening ceremony, Zeewolde harbour

The Lelievlet has been the standard boat of the Dutch Sea Scouts since the 1950s, with its steel hull providing lower maintenance than wooden predecessors and its 6 person capacity ensuring that younger scouts have the opportunity to sail with and learn from their older crewmates. Its design also offers the opportunity for Scouts to gain proficiency in sailing, rowing and stern sculling all in a single vessel. Stern sculling was the required way to enter and leave port and it was amazing to see very young scouts powering boats out of harbour using this technique.

Galway Sea Scouts aboard Barbarossa and Grace O’Malley - Dutch Sea Scout Lelievlets

There was a previous effort to introduce Lelievlet’s into Irish Sea Scouting, but to our knowledge only two of the boats remain operational and are now based on the Shannon in Limerick City with 25th Limerick Scout Group since the withdrawal of sailing from the Killaloe Scout Centre. Given the suitability of this boat type for youth mentoring and participation in sailing, we’re now investigating how we can revive their use in Ireland.

The generosity of numerous Dutch Sea Scout groups also ensured that we got the use of Lelievlets for the duration of the festival, with many of the Galway kids electing to join Dutch crews, enabling them to learn the best way to rig and handle these unfamiliar boats.

Mixed Irish & Dutch crew aboard a Dutch Sea Scout Lelievlet

The exchanges went beyond nautical knowledge however, with our Scouts also learning about Dutch culture and building new friendships which will endure long after Nawaka is over. We’re expecting a few of the groups to visit Galway over the next year so that we can return the hospitality they extended to us and give them a chance to experience the mountains and ocean which is not part of their usual scouting program.

We also had a fantastic opportunity to provide the Dutch a taste of Irish nautical heritage as we brought Loveen, the Port of Galway Sea Scout Gleoiteog to Nawaka this year. Supported by a crew from Galway Hooker Sailing Club we were able to ensure that many of our new Dutch friends had the opportunity to experience sailing in the traditional Galway Hooker.

Aboard Loveen the Port of Galway Sea Scout Gleoiteog at the Nawaka 2022 Parade of Sail

An interesting feature of Sea Scouting in the Netherlands is the use of large barges, tugs and other retired commercial vessels by Groups as their Scout Den, many of which had made long trips through the canals and waterways of the country to bring the sailing and camping equipment required by their team. 

Dutch Sea Scout Tug boat, which serves as their Scout Den

Sailing events during Nawaka included the Vlettenrally, where Sea Scouts are challenged to sail the greatest distance in 8 hours, resulting in one crew taking the directions literally and making it half way to Belgium before being intercepted and brought back late at night by powerboat. Other days were spent by the kids honing their tacks, jibes and reaches, while other times they simply enjoyed the freedom of swimming off the side of the anchored boats as a way to cool off from the high temperatures. For many of them it was the first sailing experience outside of Galway Bay and the absence of our usual wetsuits, hats and gloves was welcomed by all.

The parade of sail towards the end of the festival involved the entire flotilla of Nawaka craft making their way up to Zeewolde for a night time display of lights, decorations and music for the families of Scouts and local residents who had assembled on shore to watch. Explorers Scouts, the equivalent of our Venture Scouts, provided entertainment on barges as we paraded past, including a rock band and disco.

Irish & Dutch mixed crewed Lelievlets, under tow for the parade of sail

Sunset at the Parade of Sail in Nawaka 2022

 Lelievlets under tow to join the Nawaka flotilla

 The 27 Sea Scouts who attended have all vowed to return in 2026, either as Scouts again, or in the case of the older ones as leaders and staff volunteers. Nawaka 2022 has ensured that they have not just expanded their knowledge of sailing and scouting and gained an appreciation of Dutch culture, but have also grown and developed the life skills they will need as they become young adults.

Flying the Ireland & Scouting Ireland flags at Zeewolde Scout Centre Marina

The trip would never have happened without the dedication, time and efforts of the Leaders and parents of the Port of Galway Sea Scouts, with Denis Murphy who worked tirelessly during COVID to ensure we made it to Nawaka worthy of a special mention.

Denis Murphy, Nawaka 2022 Camp Chief for Port of Galway Sea Scouts

If you’d like to find out more about Nawaka, please visit nawaka.scouting.nl and to learn about Port of Galway Sea Scouts you can find us at galwayseascouts.com

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway adventurer and former professional rugby player Damian Browne and his friend and fellow rugby player Fergus Farrell have set off from New York on their unsupported row across the Atlantic.

The pair are attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft, and estimate it will take 1.5 million oar strokes to complete the 5,000 km crossing.

They are also raising funds for four charities – Ability West, the Galway Simon Community, Madra animal rescue and the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) foundation.

Browne is well familiar with what is ahead, having spent 63 days 6 hours and 25 minutes at sea completing the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge to Antigua in 2017-18.

The existing world record for an unsupported row was set over 120 years ago by Norwegians George Harboe and Frank (Gabriel) Samuelsen who were the first pair to attempt it.

The Norwegian crossing from New York to the Scilly Isles in 1896 took 55 days and 13 hours. After a short break in the Scillys they rowed another five days to Le Havre in France.

Browne and Farrell say there have been 52 previous attempted crossings by way of an unsupported row, with 11 of these attempts by pairs. Only six of those pairs managed to complete the row.

There have also been successful crossings by six solo rowers, five fours and one crew of five.

Browne, who spent 16 years on the rugby pitches of the Celtic League, English Premiership and French Top 14 Championship and was part of the winning 2012/13 Heineken Cup team with Leinster Rugby, has climbed in the high altitude Pamir mountains in Afghanistan.

He has summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mont Blanc in France and Gran Paradiso in Italy.

After retiring from rugby, he completed the six day, 257 km Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert, also known as the “toughest footrace on Earth”. He then spent 18 months preparing for his solo row across the Atlantic.

At sea, he endured nine-metre swells, a badly cut head, capsizes, encounters with whales, sea and pressure sores, lost an oar and experienced complete steering failure with still over 2000 nautical miles to go to Antigua.

“A hell of an experience, hell of an adventure and a hell of a challenge,”he describes it on his website.

“It was exactly what I wanted from the challenge, I wanted to be pushed to my limits mentally and physically and I got exactly what I wanted,”he said.

Fergus Farrell, his partner on “Project Empower” as this new transatlantic crossing is called, is a lifelong friend of Browne’s. Both played underage rugby together for Connacht and Farrell was a self-employed business man who experienced a traumatic spinal injury.

On October 26th 2018, Farrell ruptured his T9, T10 and T11 spinal discs in the middle of his back. One of the ruptured discs leaked into his spinal cord. After an operation in the National Spinal Unit at the Mater Hospital, Farrell says he noticed his motionless feet and asked his surgeon if this is how he would be for the rest of his life?

He says the surgeon put his hand on Fergus’s shoulder and “calmly told him he had been extremely unlucky”.

Farrell, who was then paralysed from the waist down, moved to the NRH and set about his recovery.

On October 26th 2019, a year after his surgery, he miraculously completed a 206km walk from the site of the injury at his yard in Athenry, Galway to the NRH in Dún Laoghaire.

Farrell attributes his recovery to his “stubbornness, thickness and determination”, and he also raised €70,000 for the NRH.

Farrell says he is determined to give his second chance of life everything he can give. He says he wants to show people that “the mind is a positive and powerful part of everybody’s lives” and that “when challenged correctly there are no limits to what you can achieve”.

Browne and Farrell’s progress can be tracked on their website here

Regular Afloat readers will recall the pair previously rowed a currach from Aran islands to Galway here

Published in Coastal Rowing
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NUI Galway has applied for planning permission for a new watersports facility on the city campus.

As Galway Bay FM reports, the development at the college’s upper Newcastle campus would involve the construction of a rowing storage shed, along with two floating platoons on the bank of the Corrib river.

A pedestrian and cyclist greenway along Corrib would link to an existing footpath, and the plans include equipment storage facilities, changing rooms, drying room, bathrooms, reception, first aid and a café.

A gym training room, function room, kitchenette, mother and baby room, communications room and offices are also provided for in the application, which has been submitted along with an environmental impact statement.

Galway city planners are expected to rule on the application in July.

Read more on the Galway Bay FM website here

 

Published in Galway Harbour
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