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A Harbour Seal photographed at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of pinnipeds, they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Baltic and North seas. Photo: AfloatA photograph of a Harbour Seal taken at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, this species can be found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are the most widely distributed species of pinnipeds and can be found in the coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Baltic and North Seas. Photo: Afloat

Displaying items by tag: west cork

In the latest edition of 200 Voices, the RNLI podcast, Pamela Deasy has vivid memories of January 2012 the loss of five crew on a fishing trawler in Glandore Harbour and the subsequent establishment of a lifeboat station at Union Hall, West Cork.

In My Lifeline, which became available on Thursday, 25 January, Pamela, who is a volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Union Hall RNLI, remembers the morning the ‘Tit Bonhomme’ foundered on Adam Island at the entrance to Glandore Harbour with the loss of five crew. She recalls the month-long search to recover the bodies of the lost fishermen and a letter she wrote to the RNLI appealing for a lifeboat station at Union Hall.

This year, in September 2024, Union Hall RNLI will celebrate its 10th birthday, supported by a team of volunteers and fantastic community support and fundraising.

In 2019, Pamela was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and in the podcast, which marks 200 years of the RNLI, she tells the story of her personal battle and recovery supported by the ‘RNLI family’ and eased by the comforting presence of the sea.

The unique podcast series hears from people connected to the RNLI in Ireland and those whose lives have been touched by the lifesaving charity. Hear from locals with a special kinship to their lifeboat station, a crew member who’s been on service for a generation, or the family of someone rescued by an RNLI frontline lifesaver – each episode is sure to take the listener on a journey through a touching story.

Available across all podcast platforms and the RNLI’s website, listeners can hear from survivors, supporters, volunteers, lifeguards, celebrity ambassadors, historians and many more from across Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and beyond.

Listen to the RNLI’s 200 Voices, wherever you get your podcasts or at RNLI.org/200Voices.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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ESB Networks has appealed for vigilance at sea in relation to submarine cables after a fishing vessel cut power to West Cork’s Bere Island last week.

ESB Networks restored power to some 280 affected islanders at 11 pm on Friday last, January 5th, some 31 hours after supplies were cut suddenly on January 4th.

The operator confirmed that the outage occurred “ as a result of a fishing vessel accidentally coming into contact with a cable running from Castletownbere to Bere island”.

It said that “repair efforts started immediately, which included a diver safely locating the damaged cable so ESB Networks crews could carry out the required restoration work”.

Power was restored to all impacted customers by 11pm on Friday night,it said, and it apologised to all those affected by the disruption.

There was considerable upset at the incident at a particularly difficult time of year and with islanders dependent on freezers to store food supplies.

An ESB Networks spokesman declined to confirm the cost of the repairs, or whether the fishing vessel had offered to contribute.

The non-governmental organisation Coastwtch said the incident illustrated the “damage large powerful fishing vessels can have on the fragile nature” of the seafloor.

It called on the State to recover costs from “those who caused the damage”, and said that “our heart goes out to families left without power in winter cold”.

Coastwatch co-ordinator Karin Dubsky questioned why the island was dependent on one power cable and said a Heritage Council study 20 years ago had flagged concerns about this.

Given that submarine cables are set to increase during offshore wind development, she said it was essential that the cable “isn’t just fixed but that the cause is determined and published with planned action” to avoid a recurrence.

The ESB said that “damage to our network by third parties can occur from time to time – generally on overhead and underground cables on land - and we run extensive public campaigns on staying safe and staying clear of our network”.

“This incident serves as a timely reminder that similar vigilance should be applied by those at sea to submarine cables”,it said.

More information on its public campaigns is here.

Published in Marine Warning

West Cork’s Bere island has been left without power for over 24 hours after an undersea electricity cable was damaged.

ESB Networks said a total of 281 customers remain affected by the power outage, which also affected the Castletownbere area of West Cork.

It said it was hoped to have all supplies restored late on Friday night as crews worked to identify the fault and make emergency repairs.

The power fault was reported at about 3.30pm on Thursday and affected some properties in Castletownbere and the entire island community on Bere.

While supplies were restored in Castletownbere, the ESB said it had to commission specialist divers to inspect the undersea cable.

It said it believed the damage was caused by a fishing vessel.

Published in Island News
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The former Glenans Sailing Centre in the West Cork coastal village of Baltimore has been sold to a private developer, despite the local community's campaign to preserve it for a maritime heritage centre.

The long saga of Baltimore Railway Station, which had been a Glenans centre for many years, has ended in disappointment for the coastal village community’s efforts to get the dilapidated but historic building on the waterfront acquired as a maritime heritage and community amenity centre.

The building had been used for several years as a sailing centre by the French Glenans organisation.

A local community sign erected at Baltimore Railway StationA local community sign erected at Baltimore Railway Station

It was owned by Fáilte Ireland.

One of the community leaders, Mary Jordan, told me of the local disappointment from the sale to developers.

“We are devastated,” she says. “Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan tried his best with Fáilte Ireland, but it was all sewn up. Where does our maritime heritage and history stand in this country? Just trampled on.”

Published in West Cork
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A resident of Cape Clear Island off the coast of West Cork was evacuated for medical assistance following an accident on Sunday.

Baltimore RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crew received a call at 12.39 pm and launched their all-weather lifeboat to provide medical assistance.

The crew arrived at North Harbour on Cape Clear Island at 12.59 pm and transferred the casualty aboard the lifeboat via stretcher after assessment by a Casualty Care lifeboat crew member.

The lifeboat departed Cape Clear Island at 1.09 pm and returned to the station in Baltimore at 1.39 pm.

The casualty was then handed over to the HSE ambulance crew. The call out was the second medical evacuation from Cape Clear Island in two days.

On Friday, a man living on the island also required medical assistance and was evacuated to the mainland by the lifeboat crew, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The crew consisted of five volunteer members, including Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell, and crew members Sean McCarthy, Brian McSweeney, and Micheal Cottrell.

The weather conditions during the call out were good, with a northwesterly force 2 to 3 wind, a 2m sea swell, and good visibility.

Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer expressed satisfaction over the evacuation and the team's efforts in providing medical assistance to the residents of Cape Clear Island.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A sea swimmer in West Cork was rescued by an RNLI lifeboat crew in thick fog this morning. 

The Courtmacsherry RNLI All Weather Lifeboat "Val Adnams" was called early this morning (Saturday, September 9th) by the Valentia Coast Guard Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre to help a swimmer in trouble off Inchydoney Island beach in West Cork. Despite the thick fog, the Lifeboat, led by Coxswain Mark Gannon and with a crew of five, quickly assembled and headed towards the area at 5.34 am. Fortunately, the swimmer had made it to shore safely with the assistance of a friend. Once the swimmer's safety was confirmed, the Lifeboat returned to its base in Courtmacsherry.

Vincent O'Donovan, the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Launch Authority and press officer, expressed his gratitude to the 20 volunteer crew and officers who quickly responded to the call for help. He emphasised the importance of dialling 999 or 112 in emergency situations, stressing that every minute counts. He wishes everyone using the coastline a safe and enjoyable weekend.

This morning's crew on the callout included Coxswain Mark Gannon, Mechanic Stuart Russell, and crew members Ken Cashman, Donal Young, Denis Murphy, and Kieran Boyle. It is a special day at the Lifeboat Station as the Naming Ceremony for the new Lifeboat "Val Adnams" takes place in the Village at 1.45 pm, and everyone is invited to attend. 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Shellfish Ireland, a company that specialises in shellfish in West Cork, has launched Ireland's first crab pate after receiving a grant worth €793,281 under the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). The grant was worth a significant amount and enabled the company to invest in new processing equipment and upgrade its cold storage facilities. This investment has allowed the company to develop new fish products from previously discarded waste, thus improving efficiency and reducing the cost of disposal.

Carol Harrington, CEO of Shellfish Ireland, stated that the grant enabled the purchase of new machinery, including a new refrigeration system. This system speeds up the freezing process during processing, enhances the quality of the product, and improves energy efficiency. Consequently, the company can now focus on more value-added products and has recently launched Ireland's first crab pate, currently available in Dunnes and Musgraves stores.

"The machines purchased with the support of the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme will increase our yield from processing crab, making us more competitive in both the domestic and export markets," said Carol. "This investment adds value to the crab and shrimp landings in Ireland, as the majority of the crab and shrimp purchased by Shellfish Ireland is from small to medium boats and family fishing enterprises, supporting rural industries in Ireland."

Since 2021, Shellfish Ireland has received grants worth over €1 million from BIM. This investment significantly improves the efficiency of the business, as it will enable the company to convert previously discarded waste into value-added raw material for secondary processing into fish food.

Shellfish Ireland's products are BRC Garde A certified and are available in major supermarket retailers, as well as restaurants and hotels. They also sell in Europe and Asia.

Established in Castletownbere in 1987 by two young fishermen, Richard Murphy and Peter O'Sullivan Greene, Shellfish Ireland has become one of the largest employers in the area, with more than 130 employees. The Murphy's are still very much involved, with 95-year-old Pat Murphy, Richard's father, serving as the chair of the board of Shellfish Ireland. Despite his age, he actively participates in the business and chairs meetings. Richard's son, Ryan, also works for the company, making it a three-generation family business.

Carol joined Shellfish Ireland in 2014 as a financial controller after taking redundancy from AIB in 2013. She was appointed CEO in 2016, and following Peter's retirement in 2019, GW Biggs Group came on board. This investment is expected to add value to the crab and shrimp landings in Ireland, creating more opportunities for rural industries in the country

Published in BIM
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A 'Heritage & Fastnet Centre' is scheduled to open in Summer 2024 on Cape Clear Island, located on the West Cork coast.

The development of the centre was celebrated by raising flags at the proposed site during a 'Flags Day' event. Micheal ó Ceadagáin, one of the island's oldest residents and one of the Iron Men of Cape Clear, raised the Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse flag, signifying Cape Clear's close relationship with the Fastnet.

Throughout the 1960s, Micheál and his fellow Iron Men delivered bags of coal up the 99 steps to the Fastnet Lighthouse. He has dedicated his life to working for the island community, serving as Chairperson and Manager of Cape Clear Coop, among other roles.

The Cape Clear Flag was also raised near St Ciarán Gallán and the Holy Well in North Harbor, commemorating the island's 5,000-year history represented by the Cape Clear Stone. Éamon Lankford spent 40 years collecting artefacts from the island and conducting extensive research on its history and folklore, producing a collection of publications about Oileán Cléire.

The Cape Clear Island Centre is being developedThe Cape Clear Island Centre is being developed

Islanders are hopeful for the return of the Cape Clear Stone, which is currently housed in a museum in Cork City.

Flags were also raised for the new children's playground on Cape Clear, the Fastnet Rock & Lighthouse, and the O'Drisocoll Flag, in honour of the O'Driscoll heritage, with the O'Driscoll Worldwide Archives set to be kept at the new Centre. The island community aims to develop a Heritage Centre to gain national and international recognition.

The first phase includes maritime heritage, local historic shipwrecks, and a tower showcasing the history of the harbour, Church, and Castle, among other features.

Many individuals and groups are contributing to the island's progress.

Published in Island News

An historic West Cork lifeboat station is set to officially name a new Shannon class lifeboat 'Val Adnams' during a ceremony at 1:45 pm on Saturday, September 9. The guest of honour on the day will be Val Adnams herself, who is travelling all the way from America for the event. Val is the main donor for the new Shannon lifeboat, which will be named in her honour. The Courtmacsherry RNLI is home to the new lifeboat and is one of the oldest stations in the Institution. 

Val Adnams is a lifelong supporter of the RNLI and an avid sailor and sportsperson. She grew up in Preston and Weymouth and developed a deep respect and admiration for the RNLI as she witnessed the callouts of the local Weymouth Lifeboat, which went to the help of others in distress at sea. Val moved to Washington DC when she was 23 and worked on Capitol Hill for some years before meeting her partner Ed and settling in Idaho. 

Val will be accompanied by members of her family for this special occasion. The lifeboat was also partly funded by generous legacies from Mrs. Sylvia Anne Walker and Mrs Petrina Johnson. A plaque recording these bequests has already been mounted inside the lifeboat.

The Shannon class lifeboat is named after an Irish river in recognition of the service of the Irish lifeboat crews down through the years. This is the first RNLI lifeboat to be named after an Irish river. The arrival of the new lifeboat marks the beginning of a new chapter, as it is the eleventh lifeboat to be stationed in Courtmacsherry since the arrival of “The Plenty” in 1825. The lifeboat is jet-driven, which provides it with increased manoeuvrability.

Brian O'Dwyer, Courtmacsherry RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, expressed his excitement ahead of the lifeboat naming ceremony. He said, "We are looking forward to welcoming Val and her family to this beautiful part of the world and to the start of a lifelong friendship. We would also like to acknowledge the generous legacies of Mrs. Sylvia Anne Walker and Mrs. Petrina Johnson, who contributed to the funding of our new lifeboat. We, and the lifeboat volunteers who follow, will be the proud custodians of this Shannon class lifeboat. This lifeboat will save many lives in the years ahead and bring our crews safely home."

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A yacht that got into difficulty during Storm Betty was rescued by the West Cork Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat on Saturday morning.

The sailors had been anchored off Dromquinna on the Kenmare Peninsula, but as the storm worsened, the vessel dragged anchor and became stuck on a rock.

The sailors raised the alarm with the Irish Coast Guard's Marine Research Coordination Centre in Valentia, requesting immediate assistance.

The Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was launched at 03:22 and faced a three-hour trip to Dromquinna.

The yacht was located on a rock south of Dromquinna but, with the rising tide, volunteer lifeboat crew were able to attach a tow rope and pull the vessel clear. The yacht was undamaged and both sailors were found to be safe and well. It was then decided to tow the yacht to Castletownbere. The tow is currently in progress and the lifeboat and yacht are expected in port at 14:00.The yacht was located on a rock south of Dromquinna but, with the rising tide, volunteer lifeboat crew were able to attach a tow rope and pull the vessel clear. The yacht was undamaged and both sailors were found to be safe and well. It was then decided to tow the yacht to Castletownbere. The tow is currently in progress and the lifeboat and yacht are expected in port at 14:00

Despite driving rain, strong winds and a large sea swell, the crew managed to locate the yacht on a rock south of Dromquinna and attach a tow rope before pulling it clear.

The yacht was undamaged, and both sailors were found to be safe and well. The tow to Castletownbere is expected to be completed by 14:00.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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For all you need on the Marine Environment - covering the latest news and updates on marine science and wildlife, weather and climate, power from the sea and Ireland's coastal regions and communities - the place to be is Afloat.ie.

Coastal Notes

The Coastal Notes category covers a broad range of stories, events and developments that have an impact on Ireland's coastal regions and communities, whose lives and livelihoods are directly linked with the sea and Ireland's coastal waters.

Topics covered in Coastal Notes can be as varied as the rare finding of sea-life creatures, an historic shipwreck with secrets to tell, or even a trawler's net caught hauling much more than just fish.

Other angles focusing the attention of Coastal Notes are Ireland's maritime museums, which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of our nautical heritage, and those who harvest the sea using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety pose an issue, plying their trade along the rugged wild western seaboard.

Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied as the environment they come from, and which shape people's interaction with the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

Marine Wildlife

One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with Marine Wildlife. It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. And as boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify, even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat. Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse, it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to our location in the North Atlantic, there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe. From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals, the Marine Wildlife category documents the most interesting accounts around our shores. And we're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and video clips, too!

Also valuable is the unique perspective of all those who go afloat, from coastal sailing to sea angling to inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing, as what they encounter can be of great importance to organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). Thanks to their work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. But as impressive as the list is, the experts believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves, keep a sharp look out!

Weather

As an island in the North Atlantic, Ireland's fate is decided by Weather more so than many other European countries. When storm-force winds race across the Irish Sea, ferry and shipping services are cut off, disrupting our economy. When swollen waves crash on our shores, communities are flooded and fishermen brace for impact - both to their vessels and to their livelihoods.

Keeping abreast of the weather, therefore, is as important to leisure cruisers and fishing crews alike - for whom a small craft warning can mean the difference between life and death - as it is to the communities lining the coast, where timely weather alerts can help protect homes and lives.

Weather affects us all, and Afloat.ie will keep you informed on the hows and the whys.

Marine Science

Perhaps it's the work of the Irish research vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of Marine Science for the future growth of Ireland's emerging 'blue economy'.

From marine research to development and sustainable management, Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. Whether it's Wavebob ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration, the Marine Science category documents the work of Irish marine scientists and researchers and how they have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

Power From The Sea

The message from the experts is clear: offshore wind and wave energy is the future. And as Ireland looks towards the potential of the renewable energy sector, generating Power From The Sea will become a greater priority in the State's 'blue growth' strategy.

Developments and activities in existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector, and those of the energy exploration industry, point to the future of energy requirements for the whole world, not just in Ireland. And that's not to mention the supplementary industries that sea power projects can support in coastal communities.

Irish ports are already in a good position to capitalise on investments in offshore renewable energy services. And Power From The Sea can even be good for marine wildlife if done properly.

Aside from the green sector, our coastal waters also hold a wealth of oil and gas resources that numerous prospectors are hoping to exploit, even if people in coastal and island areas are as yet unsure of the potential benefits or pitfalls for their communities.

Changing Ocean Climate

Our ocean and climate are inextricably linked - the ocean plays a crucial role in the global climate system in a number of ways. These include absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere and absorbing 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity. But our marine ecosystems are coming under increasing pressure due to climate change.

The Marine Institute, with its national and international partners, works to observe and understand how our ocean is changing and analyses, models and projects the impacts of our changing oceans. Advice and forecasting projections of our changing oceans and climate are essential to create effective policies and management decisions to safeguard our ocean.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “Our ocean is fundamental to life on earth and affects so many facets of our everyday activities. One of the greatest challenges we face as a society is that of our changing climate. The strong international collaborations that the Marine Institute has built up over decades facilitates a shared focusing on our changing ocean climate and developing new and enhanced ways of monitoring it and tracking changes over time.

“Our knowledge and services help us to observe these patterns of change and identify the steps to safeguard our marine ecosystems for future generations.”

The Marine Institute’s annual ocean climate research survey, which has been running since 2004, facilitates long term monitoring of the deep water environment to the west of Ireland. This repeat survey, which takes place on board RV Celtic Explorer, enables scientists to establish baseline oceanic conditions in Irish waters that can be used as a benchmark for future changes.

Scientists collect data on temperature, salinity, water currents, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the Atlantic Ocean. This high quality oceanographic data contributes to the Atlantic Ocean Observing System. Physical oceanographic data from the survey is submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and, in addition, the survey contributes to national research such as the VOCAB ocean acidification and biogeochemistry project, the ‘Clean Atlantic’ project on marine litter and the A4 marine climate change project.

Dr Caroline Cusack, who co-ordinates scientific activities on board the RV Celtic Explorer for the annual survey, said, “The generation of long-term series to monitor ocean climate is vital to allow us understand the likely impact of future changes in ocean climate on ecosystems and other marine resources.”

Other activities during the survey in 2019 included the deployment of oceanographic gliders, two Argo floats (Ireland’s contribution to EuroArgo) and four surface drifters (Interreg Atlantic Area Clean Atlantic project). The new Argo floats have the capacity to measure dissolved ocean and biogeochemical parameters from the ocean surface down to a depth of 2,000 metres continuously for up to four years, providing important information as to the health of our oceans.

During the 2019 survey, the RV Celtic Explorer retrieved a string of oceanographic sensors from the deep ocean at an adjacent subsurface moored station and deployed a replacement M6 weather buoy, as part of the Irish Marine Data Buoy Observation Network (IMDBON).

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the IMDBON is managed by the Marine Institute in collaboration with Met Éireann and is designed to improve weather forecasts and safety at sea around Ireland. The data buoys have instruments which collect weather and ocean data including wind speed and direction, pressure, air and sea surface temperature and wave statistics. This data provides vital information for weather forecasts, shipping bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research.

“It is only in the last 20 years, meteorologists and climatologists have really began to understood the pivotal role the ocean plays in determining our climate and weather,” said Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann. “The real-time information provided by the Irish data buoy network is particularly important for our mariners and rescue services. The M6 data buoy in the Atlantic provides vital information on swell waves generated by Atlantic storms. Even though the weather and winds may be calm around our shores, there could be some very high swells coming in from Atlantic storms.”