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Displaying items by tag: Lough Erne

An Omagh man who was rescued by the Irish Coast Guard after he was caught in a rip current off a Donegal beach in July has completed the Dublin Marathon in his bare feet to raise awareness of water safety and to raise funds for the RNLI.

A seasoned open water swimmer, Chris Gallagher was visiting Murder Hole Beach when he got caught in a rip current.

“I am an experienced swimmer, having previously been a lifeguard and a world record swimmer as well as swimming all over the world including in Australia but I have never been caught like this before,” he said of his ordeal.

“I wasn’t even 10 metres out into the water when the ferocious rip caught me and threw me about like what I can only describe as being in an industrial washing machine and a racing car at the same time, it was powerful, and I had absolutely no control.

“I felt calm initially as I know how to work my way out of a rip curl as I was caught in Australian waters 22 years ago but nothing I tried worked.

“By the grace of God, a rock was in my grasp as I was being pulled into the rip roaring waters and I managed to get my body out of the water onto that wee rock but I was fighting the waves to stay on as they threw me on and off like a rag doll. I was clinging to the rock for dear life for two hours.”

Given the conditions, the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was tasked to the scene and rescued Gallagher from the water.

‘I am an experienced swimmer…but I have never been caught like this before’

Since he was rescued, Gallagher has signed up to be a water safety volunteer with the RNLI with a particular interest in highlighting the dangers of open water swimming.

He has also taken part in a series of inspiring fundraising events with his most recent venture to not only undertake the Dublin Marathon but to do it in his bare feet, which he completed successfully last Sunday (30 October). He also completed the Kerry Hardman Ironman triathlon on his birthday in August and in September a 5k swim of Glencar Lough in Sligo.

To round off his series of events, he is running an Eighties-themed night this Saturday 5 November in the Village Inn in Killyclogher. Proceeds from all events will go to Bundoran RNLI and Lough Erne’s two RNLI lifeboat stations, at Enniskillen and Carrybridge in Northern Ireland.

Speaking of Gallagher’s efforts to raise both funds and water safety awareness, RNLI community manager Nuala Muldoon said: “Chris really is an inspiration and his own rescue story highlights how even the most experienced water users can still find themselves in difficulty.

“We are delighted that he is now promoting water safety and are in awe at how adventurous he has been in setting himself courageous challenges in his pursuit to raise funds.

“Thanks to Chris, the proceeds raised will now power our lifesaving volunteer crews to continue their good work in saving lives both at sea and on inland waters.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Carrybridge RNLI helms Chris Cathcart and David Reid have served 20 years rescuing those on trouble on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

During a recent visit to the station by the RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie, they were presented with medals to thank them for their volunteering service.

Over the past 20 years since the lifeboat station was formed on Upper Lough Erne, Chris and David have been involved in hundreds of rescues involving a wide variety of callouts.

Between the two volunteers, they have attended all manner of shouts on Lough Erne including to people, boats and also stranded animals in distress.

In addition to the helm role, Chris is the lifeboat training coordinator and press officer while David is the inshore lifeboat/launch and recovery plant mechanic. Both are also casualty carers and shore crew.

At a presentation held at the end of the summer, Lord Erne presented 17 of the Carrybridge volunteers with the late Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal. The commemorative medal was created to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and awarded to those crew who had served more than five years with the charity.

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI praised Chris and David on their fantastic achievement.

“Chris and David carry a pager at all times and when the alarm goes off whether it be day or night, summer or winter both can be relied upon to respond to go to those in need,” he said. “It was a privilege for the volunteers to also be presented with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal by Lord Erne and his wife.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise masters of vessels on the inland waterways that as of Friday September, Corradillar Jetty on Upper Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh is closed until further notice for repair works.

Published in Inland Waterways

Carrybridge RNLI received an unusual request this past Wednesday afternoon (24 August) to assist a cow stranded in the waters of the Erne south of Enniskillen.

The animal was reported by a member of the public to be in the water distressed unable to get out in the area of Tamlaght Bay, between Upper and Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew located the cow which was close to the shoreline but seemed stuck and unable to make it ashore.

Moving closer with care so as not to spook the animal, the crew found that the cow was stick deep in mud with most of her body submerged in the water.

The local PSNI, who were also on Lough Erne that afternoon, arrived on scene to offer their assistance. Both the volunteer lifeboat crew and the PSNI attempted numerous times to assist the cow back to the shoreline but to no avail.

Due to the animal becoming very tired and weak, and starting to shiver, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) were also requested to attend to offer further help using some of its specialist equipment.

Enquires to locate the owner were made, during which time the lifeboat crew spotted a local farmer feeding animals in another field and made approached him. This farmer was able to alert the cow’s owner.

The NIFRS arrived on scene at the same time as the owner of the cow. The farmer checked the wellbeing of the animal and then set up a halter to assist in the abstraction of the cow from the mud to the shoreline.

The cow was then successfully brought ashore, and after a couple of shaky attempts stood up and proceeded to feed on the grass.

Her owner noted that the cow seemed to be in good health after her ordeal, and with some rest should be back to normal again. He also passed on his thanks to all involved in the rescue.

Speaking following the callout, Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI said: “I would like to thank the member of the public who raised the alarm, as no one likes to see animals of any kind in danger.

“The swift response by the multi agencies today meant that this callout had a successful outcome for both the cow and the farmer.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Carrybridge RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Douglas Euan & Kay Richards was launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard shortly after 6.33pm on Friday evening (12 August) to a vessel which had got into difficulties in shallow water close to Naan Island.

It proved to be the start of a busy evening for the Lough Erne lifeboat volunteers in Northern Ireland who assisted 11 people in total across four boats.

Once on scene, the volunteer crew located two vessels in close proximity, both of which had got into difficulties in shallow water.

The first vessel, with one person onboard, was assessed and the decision made with the owner’s permission to safely tow it into deeper water.

With the first vessel in safe water, attention turned to the second boat, with five people and a dog on board, which was further aground.

The crew transferred four people from this vessel to the first vessel as they were travelling together. A safe route was established for the lifeboat crew to tow the casualty into deeper water with the owner’s permission. Both vessels then proceeded on their onward journey.

Meanwhile, a third vessel was spotted by the lifeboat crew entering the same very shallow area of water. The lifeboat approached this vessel, which had two people onboard, and then after speaking with the owner was safely escorted back to deeper water where they were able to continue their journey.

As the lifeboat crew were making their way back to the station, they observed a fourth vessel with four people onboard which had encountered engine difficulties after getting caught in weeds around one mile North West of Knockninny. The lifeboat crew, with the owner’s permission, set up a tow and brought the vessel back to its private berth.

Speaking later, Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI said: “Now we are in the summer season we would urge all boat owners to make sure you have the relevant charts required before starting your journey, lifejackets for all on board and a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself the number to dial is: 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Waterways Ireland has issued advisories for masters on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland over two angling events in the area taking place next weekend.

On Lower Lough Erne, the Ulster Trout Angling Championship will take place on Saturday 9 April.

Fishing boats will launch from Rossigh slipway for the competition which runs from 9am to 7pm.

Meanwhile, on Upper Lough Erne the Predator Fishing Challenge will take place on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 April.

Boats in this event will launch from the private slipway at Watermill Lodge, with fishing to take place from 9.30am to 5pm.

For both events, all masters of vessels on these inland waterways are asked to keep wash/wake to a minimum when passing vessels in the respective areas.

Published in Inland Waterways

A volunteer crew member from Carrybridge Lifeboat Station successfully completed the rigorous RNLI helm assessment this past Wednesday 9 March.

Twenty-nine-year-old Kyle Boyd works for Openreach and has spent a lifetime on Upper and Lower Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Kyle started his RNLI voluntary service at Carrybridge on 8 October 2015, commencing his trainee crew member training, which he completed successfully.

He then continued his journey towards the successful helm qualification which he obtained after various assessments, with his final assessment being completed yesterday by trainer assessor Stephen McNulty.

Kyle is now qualified and able to take command of the station’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, Douglas Euan and Kay Richards.

Following his final assessment, when responding to a callout Kyle will be responsible for taking charge of the lifeboat when on the inland waterways of Lough Erne.

The RNLI describes the duty of a helmsman as being “to use utmost endeavours to safeguard and rescue the lives of those in danger, whilst having regard for the safety of their crew”.

Following the trainer assessor’s visit, helm Kyle Boyd said: “It feels amazing to pass out and take the next step in my lifeboat volunteer career. I’m really looking forward to taking the helm on training and shouts alike.”

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI, added: “I am very pleased that after all Kyle’s hard work and commitment to training, involving many long cold nights afloat on Upper Lough Erne, Kyle has achieved the status of RNLI helm for our Atlantic inshore lifeboat.

“He will be a great asset to the existing helms and will further enhance our ability to respond to the call to save lives on the inland waterways of Lough Erne.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
3rd March 2022

Fred Ternan of Lough Erne

The boating community and those who treasured the maritime heritage of County Fermanagh’s Lough Erne learned with shock last weekend of the sudden death of Fred Ternan.

Fred was a true son of Fermanagh. He was born on Inniscoonra Island on Lower Lough Erne and it was there he learned to row, swim, waterski and sail and it was there also that he became familiar with the art of wooden boat building and repairs. He lived on the island until he was eighteen and then left to join the Civil Service.

Fred was known to many through his lifelong interest in sailing. He successfully raced a GP14, and later a J24. He rebuilt an early 1900s Fairy class yacht and raced it with his brother George and son Michael. Fred was Commodore of Lough Erne Yacht Club in 1985 and remained as Secretary and Treasurer throughout the period 1996 to 2011 during which time he set up RYA sail training and later RYA youth race training at the club. Fred had been a Race Officer for many years. One of the honours of his sailing career was an award by the Royal Yachting Association for services to sailing, reflecting his inspiration to many people to take up the sport.

With Ken Wilson and John Taylor, Fred founded Lough Erne Heritage, a community project to encourage and impart research about the Lough’s traditional boats and those who built and used them. And in this aim he succeeded admirably, being the source of extensive knowledge of the maritime history of Lough Erne. He tirelessly promoted the history and heritage of boating and island life and was fastidious in his quest to achieve a goal. Fred was passionate about Lough Erne Cots, Snipe sailing dinghies and his Fairy yacht.

Last year Fred proudly launched a restored Snipe dinghy at Crom on Lower Lough Erne and at the time of his passing, he was involved in the building of four Lough Erne Cots and excited about the launch at the end of May. With his friend Brian Osborne he was looking forward to fitting a Spritsail on one of the cots this summer, having read that in 1842 there were sailing Cots on Lough Erne. Fred thought it would be great to try it out for the 180th anniversary.

A proud family man, he will be sorely missed. Our deepest condolences to his wife Florence, son Michael, daughter Edwina, brother George and his wider family circle.


Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

The volunteer lifeboat crews of Carrybridge and Enniskillen RNLI were recently delighted to receive a donation of £1,600 raised at a special event that crossed swimming with mindfulness.

‘Wild and Free at the Sea’ was held by Dips N Hips in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal last September, welcoming 50 people for a day of open water swimming, yoga and mindfulness on the beach.

It also marked the beginning of a ‘dip a day’ challenge for the month of October, where organiser Coná Gallagher braved the waters of Lough Erne every single day.

On behalf of Dips N Hips, Coná handed over a cheque to Ivan Kee from the Lough Erne Fundraising Branch for the Carrybridge and Enniskillen RNLI stations.

Stephen Scott, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI, praised all those who took part in the challenge and in particular Coná for all their hard work and dedication raising money for both lifeboat stations on Lough Erne.

“The funds raised will have a significant impact for the crews at both Carrybridge and Enniskillen and will assist with future lifesaving operations,” he said.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

There’s a great buzz of woodworking activity in the Belleek Men’s Shed and on West Island in County Fermanagh. But this is no ordinary woodworking – this is the building of traditional Lough Erne Cots.

The Cot was originally a burnt-out log or a hollowed-out tree. It was later concluded that all watercraft referred to as cots had their origins as log boats. These dugout canoes only ceased to be used as transport when the great oaks ran out as the forests were cleared.

They have left their name to their successors, the flat-bottomed Lough Erne Cot with ‘rising ends’ which was used by the people of the river Erne system for about one thousand years. It could be pushed ashore meaning people and animals could walk on and off easily. This was the original landing craft, a simple design still used by armies all over the world. They are known as Lough Erne Cots as they are different from any of the other cots in Ireland.

A Cot ferry from the1800s Photo courtesy Fred TernanA Cot ferry from the1800s Photo courtesy Fred Ternan

Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP) was keen to save heritage skills such as boatbuilding and Fred Ternan of Lough Erne Heritage suggested that they support cot building. (Cots are easier to build than clinker-built boats). So, two groups were set up to build four new cots; the West Island Cot Heritage Group on Belle Isle estate on the northern tip of Upper Lough Erne headed up by Andrew Cathcart whose father was a boat builder. There Fred Ternan guides the work, overseen by Liam Boyle who a few years ago was the first man in 50 years to build a Lough Erne Cot, and in Belleek on the River Erne on the Fermanagh-Donegal border where Leo Slevin leads the Belleek Men’s Shed in the construction.

The last working cot, built in 1958 by Fred Ternan's cousin, that carried cattle, turf and hay on Lough ErneThe last working Cot, built in 1958 by Fred Ternan's cousin, that carried cattle, turf and hay on Lough Erne

Both groups are using a Lough Erne Heritage design drawn up by Fred Ternan based on a 1950s sketch by a teacher, Miss Beggan of Wattle Bridge primary school for her family cot. Fred arranged for the two groups to take part, sourced the wood and provided technical advice for Belleek and arranged for Liam Boyle to support the builders on West Island.

The remains of the last cot which worked on Lower Lough Erne. Owned by Eddy Armstrong for the transport of cattle (it could carry 12 or 14 cows) into the 1980s and possibly 90sThe remains of the last Cot which worked on Lower Lough Erne. Owned by Eddy Armstrong for the transport of cattle (it could carry 12 or 14 cows) into the 1980s and possibly 90s

The idea is to recreate the famous Cot Race which took place at Crom on Upper Lough Erne, in 1850s.

In his history of the Lough Erne Cot or coite in Irish, George Morrissey tells a fascinating tale of this craft developed as the mode of transport best suited to carry man, beast, machines, and goods between the shores and islands of Upper and Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh of which a map will show has vast amounts of lakes and rivers. The Erne system is the third-largest in Ireland. Morrisey tells that it has been travelled from as far back as the Stone Age, through the times of the O’Reilly‟s of Breifne, the great medieval chieftains O’Neill, O’Donnell and Maguire, the incoming Scots and English of the plantation and the Irish fleeing the Great Famine.

Cots were involved in the building on Upper Lough Erne of the Lady Craigavon and the Lady Brookeborough bridges in 1933 which ironically turned out to spell the end of Ferry Cots. However, large cots were and still are needed. One activity during World War 11 which the Five Ton Cot was used for was smuggling across the border into the Republic of Ireland. Sulphate of ammonia for sugar beet fertilizer was taken across and on the return the cot was loaded with piglets sedated with Guinness to keep them quiet!

Before the roads and rail system the River Erne was the transport highway for all goods travelling the length and breadth of Lough Erne. Ballyshannon at the mouth of the River Erne in Co. Donegal, was the local port, so goods including fish, coal, stone, timber, various building products, etc, had to be transported via Belleek. That, along with the movement of people, goods, and animals over and back to the islands on Upper and Lower Lough Erne, the Cot would have been the vehicle of choice.

The Belleek cot build story began in 2017 when the village was approached by Fred Ternan to see if they would be interested in running a regatta for Lough Erne Cots there as part of a heat, with the winners going on to take part in a final later in the year in Enniskillen. The Belleek regattas in 2018 and 2019 were also heats with the winners going on to the final in Enniskillen. Lough Erne Heritage’s regatta at Crom on Upper Lough Erne in 2016 was the start of its Cot racing events and there were other heat winners throughout Fermanagh. Knockninny, at the southwestern end of Upper Lough Erne hosted a regatta in June 2019 (also a heat with the winners going on to the finals in Enniskillen) which coincided with the 150 years from the last race that took place there. In 1891 at the Knockninny Regatta it was written “20,000 or 30,000 people on occasions of this kind come to see the Boat and Cot racing”.

The original sketch on which Fred based the design of the cots now being builtThe original sketch on which Fred based the design of the Cots now being built

Leo Slevin is delighted with the Belleek Men’s Shed progress; “The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership were very impressed with the events and building a traditional Cot boat in Belleek was mentioned. This led to a conversation about setting up a ‘Men’s Shed’ which came to fruition in the Craft Village. The next task was to secure funding to run the Men’s shed. We were successful in obtaining grants from the Policing & Community Safety Partnership Community Cash. With valuable assistance from Fermanagh Trust we also got a grant from Callagheen Wind Farm”. He continued; ”We were now in a position to re-open the conversation with LELP with the intention of building indigenous Lough Erne Cots. Along with another group in West Island (Belle Isle), we secured funding for the necessary materials and tooling for the project through the LELP Community Engagement and Farming Fund funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. The aim of our build is to re-develop the Fermanagh Cot”.

Lough Erne Regatta notices from 1883 and 1888Lough Erne Regatta notices from 1883 and 1888

Belleek Men’s Shed started Cot building in late October 2021. They will be used in all future Belleek Regatta beginning in summer 2022. The community will be involved in the story of the Cots by visits to the local schools, taking groups out for trips on the river and attending information events. The National Lottery gave funding for securing the premises and buying tools. This also included the purchase of a Kiln to preserve the skills in the locality of the pottery making that ‘exists in the DNA’ of the people of Belleek.

Leo Slevin (4th left) left) with the cot builders of Belleek Leo Slevin (fourth from left) with the cot builders of Belleek Photo: John McVitty

The Cathcart family has been associated with Lough Erne and the surrounding islands for the past three centuries. The present Cathcart family now lives on West Island. Growing up and being reared on the shores of Lough Erne, it was only natural for the Cathcarts to be involved in boat building and commercial fishing, especially as they lived on various islands. One of the activities the family was involved in was when during WW II huge parts of the plantations were cut down for the war effort and they towed the tree rafts to Enniskillen.

Oak or Larch tree was used for boat building. The tree trunks were towed to Enniskillen, and then transported to the sawmills by horse and cart. After being planked the planks were loaded onto a boat and rowed back upstream (no engines then) to the West Island. One of the earliest records of Cot Racing was written in 1842. The Cathcart tradition of building Lough Erne Cots continues today with Eric’s son Andrew Cathcart building a 22-foot cot with the West Island Heritage Group.

Both groups have about 80% finished with the painting to follow and it is hoped that both will be launched at the end of May in Enniskillen.

Elmarie Swanepoel, Lough Erne Landscape Partnership Programme Manager, is pleased with the progress. "We are delighted to be supporting, through funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, this wonderful community-led project. This project provides members of the community the opportunity to learn new skills, work together as a community and ensure that the unique skill of cot building on Lough Erne is kept alive for future generations."

Lough Erne Cot racingLough Erne Cot racing Photo: LEH

And Fred Ternan of Lough Erne Heritage says “With all of this going on I am hopeful that other groups around the Lough might get involved. Lough Erne cots are distinct from all the other cost in Ireland. and may have a European heritage. Similar craft from Roman times have been unearthed on the continent and their earliest origins may be from when planks were first able to be sawn. With the publicity gained so far regarding these ancient craft and continued exposure regarding the current cot build and planned launch of the four new cots, the story of Lough Erne Cots will reach much further afield”. He continues; “The local Fermanagh and Omagh District Council recently built one of these cots under my guidance and it might possibly be on the water to accompany the new Lough Erne Cots. Maybe someday we will see a rebuild of one of the largest used in the past which were 55 feet long. There is the potential to have nine or ten Lough Erne Cots of varying sizes on the water on the day of the launch at Enniskillen Castle The launch is being organised by Lough Erne Landscape Partnership with the support and advice of Lough Erne Heritage who is one of the partners within LELP”.

Cot Builder Pat Keown of Belleek Photo: John McVittyCot Builder Pat Keown of Belleek Photo: John McVitty

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under
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