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Displaying items by tag: Charity

Paddy Conaghan worked in tunnels in Thailand, Hong Kong, Denmark, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and every place from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

But he says his greatest achievement was driving and ducking 515 times at beaches clockwise around Ireland as he celebrated his 82nd birthday.

Paddy set off on his latest quest on 4 December, having previously faced the challenge of diving off as many piers as possible anti-clockwise around Ireland.

His first challenge raised over €100,000 for local counselling service Gemma’s Legacy of Hope. And his chosen charities this time include one close to his heart: the RNLI.

“I chose the RNLI because I am very familiar with the work they do in saving lives at sea,” Paddy said. “We have a lifeboat on Arranmore since 1883 that has saved many lives and I thought the RNLI would be a safe bet if I got into bother in my ventures around the coast. They also rely on fundraising by the public so I hope I can raise some money for them.”

Paddy was supported at every swim by people who turned out to swim with him, supplied him with food, towels and the odd bottle of whiskey to stave off the cold.

Owners of the Arranmore Blue Ferry, Seamus and Louise Boyle supplied him with a van and kitted it out with bedding and cooking appliances and Paddy chose to stay full-time in the van despite many offers of bed and breakfast. Paddy felt it added to the challenge to stay in the van, enduring temperatures of -2 degrees.

Prior to completing his final swim at Maghery beach in Donegal, Paddy was thinking of how this venture might end and came up with the idea of leaving his final swim for somebody else to start a similar challenge.

In Paddy’s own words: “I would really like somebody else to continue this challenge on a yearly basis, always leaving Maghery beach for the next challenger. I am so glad to have completed the circuit twice, it gave me a great sense of satisfaction to do something for the various charities, I wasn’t doing much else with my life.”

Nora Flanagan, Arranmore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer spoke to Paddy on arrival back in Arranmore last Sunday 13 March and said: “Paddy is the most unassuming, modest man I have the pleasure to know.

“I asked him about his World Open Water Swimming Awards Man of the Year award, an award which celebrates individuals and offerings that embody the spirit of open-water swimming and have positively impacted the community, showcasing their determination, fortitude, sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance, and he said he didn’t think he deserved it because many people swim in the sea. Yes they do, but not many would dive into the sea several times a day around Ireland in the middle of winter to raise funds for charity.

“The RNLI is a charitable institution which relies on people like Paddy to help keep the lifeboats afloat. Many people volunteer with the RNLI as crew, fundraisers and shore crew and together our one aim is to support the lifeboats to continue saving lives.

“I asked Paddy what he’s going to do now with time on his hands and all he said was, ‘I’m thinking’ and I have no doubt that he is.”

If you wish to donate to Paddy’s charities, visit his iDonate page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The ‘All in a Row’ charity challenge for 2022 is coming to the Dublin’s River Liffey on Saturday 3 December with teams looking to smash a target of 1,000km rowed in eight hours.

Forty skiffs, four Dragon boats, kayaks, canoes and currachs will all be on the water to raise funds for RNLI lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

Organisers are hoping to exceed last year’s target of rowing 1,000km during the event on the river, which will start from St Patrick’s Rowing Club at the Tom Clarke Bridge (formerly the East Link Bridge) and finish at the Ha’penny Bridge.

The challenge is being undertaken with the aim of showcasing the River Liffey as one of Dublin’s best amenities while raising funds for two vital water-related charities. The event raised €20,000 in 2021.

The action gets under way start from 8.30am on Saturday 3 December and at 1pm all boats will gather on the Liffey at the Sean O’Casey footbridge where wreath-laying ceremony, attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, will take place to commemorate all those who have lost their lives through drowning.

Many Dublin rowing clubs have their home on the River Liffey and are a regular sight on the water. At the port end of the river is St Patrick’s Rowing Club, Stella Maris Rowing Club, East Wall Water Sports Group and Poolbeg Yacht and Boat club. Ringsend Basin is home to the Plurabelle Paddlers (Dragon boats) and the Dublin Viking Dragon boats.

At the other end of the city, beyond Heuston Station, there are many river rowing clubs and kayaking clubs including Phoenix Rowing Club. And rowing clubs from other parts of Ireland will also join in the challenge.

Competitors are asked to raise sponsorship for the event, and for spectators and supporters there is an iDonate page where one can give towards two very worthy water safety and rescue causes.

Published in River Liffey

An intrepid duo intend to cross the Irish Sea from Wales to Wicklow this weekend in an unusual fashion — paddling on their bellies.

Damien Wildes and Charlie Fleetwood will assume the prone position on their stand-up paddleboards from Holyhead in the early hours of this Saturday 9 July for the crossing to Greystones, which they expect to take somewhere between 14 and 20 hours.

Each will be assisted by their own volunteer-operated support boat for the endurance feat in which they hope to raise at least €15,000 for three local charities: Purple House Cancer Support, Wicklow SPCA and Wicklow RNLI.

“Completing the prone crossing will be a world’s first,” Damien told Greystones Guide, “and I know not many people have actually made it across by SUP, so Charlie will make it onto a very short and very illustrious list.”

The pair’s iDonate page has more on their plans HERE.

Published in Offshore

After 55 days at sea, the St Michael’s Rowing Club duo of Kevin O’Farrell and Rob Collins completed their epic journey across the Atlantic earlier this week.

Setting off from southern Portugal in early April in a small craft as part of a four-man crew, alongside Dutch rowers Ralph Tujin and Somon van de Hoek, the Irish pair battled rough seas, technical hitches and physical injuries to arrive in French Guiana 55 days later.

Using just their own strength and the ocean currents, the crew worked in two-hour shifts, day and night, for nearly two months. They had to hunker down in a tiny cabin off the coast of Portugal when they hit a storm with sea swells the size of a house. Then, they were nearly run over by a tanker off the coast of the Canary Islands.

Hard luck hit when they realised they had to repair their boat in the Cape Verde islands as their navigation equipment broke. An unexpected challenge was to battle a four-hour onslaught from a shoal of flying fish in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rob Collins (left) and Kevin O’Farrell at sea in their four-person ocean rowing boatRob Collins (left) and Kevin O’Farrell at sea in their four-person ocean rowing boat

But it was all worth it as on Monday (30 May), they rowed up the Kourou River to reach their final destination, the small town of Kourou in French Guiana, where they were greeted with fireworks and a few well-deserved beers.

A very warm welcome awaits the ‘Salty Pair’ of Robert and Kevin back in Dun Laoghaire, where fellow St Michael’s members will gather round a pint of choice to hear their stories and be inspired by their adventures.

Robert and Kevin rowed across the Atlantic in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Ireland - inspired by Fionn, who lives with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.

A voluntary organisation, Muscular Dystrophy Ireland supports kids like Fionn and their families by providing a wide range of respite and support services all year-round, advocating for their community and educating society about neuromuscular conditions and supporting researchers and clinicians to carry out quality research into neuromuscular conditions.

Donations to Robert and Kevin’s fundraising effort can still be made via iDonate HERE.

Published in Coastal Rowing

Two members of St Michael’s Rowing Club in Dun Laoghaire are preparing to row across the Atlantic for a special cause — and faster than anyone has before.

Robert Collins and Kevin O’Farrell are aiming to break the world record for the fastest row from mainland Europe to mainland South America in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Ireland — inspired by the son of a family friend who was diagnosed with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.

Starting in Portugal this Friday 1 April, they will be rowing as part of a five-person crew, non-stop for at least 48 days across the Atlantic to French Guiana in South America — spending every day together in a small boat, battling the weather and the ocean.

They will be rowing 12 hours each day, two hours on, two hours off. Their crew will be unsupported, carrying all equipment and food necessary to sustain them on their expedition.

The so-called ‘Salty Pair’ has previously trained for the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge despite no prior experience in rowing, but were forced to withdraw due to the “challenges we faced in preparing for the race during a global pandemic”.

The five-person crew in training for ‘Kev and Rob’s Atlantic Row’The five-person crew in training for ‘Kev and Rob’s Atlantic Row’

Robert and Kevin said of their latest attempt: “We’re raising funds for a charity close to our hearts. Fionn, the son of a family friend, was diagnosed with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy at the age of three. It is a muscle-wasting disease with a poor prognosis.

“Inspired by Fionn’s story, we will be raising funds for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, who have given Fionn, his family and other afflicted families incredible support through the toughest times a parent can imagine.”

A voluntary organisation, Muscular Dystrophy Ireland supports kids like Fionn and their families by providing a wide range of respite and support services all year round, advocating for their community and educating society about neuromuscular conditions and supporting researchers and clinicians to carry out quality research into neuromuscular conditions.

To support Kev and Rob’s Atlantic Row, donate via the iDonate website HERE. All money raised will go to their chosen charity, with the rowers bearing all costs linked to the row itself.

Published in Rowing

A Donegal octogenarian has completed his marathon effort to swim at as many spots around the Irish coast as possible — raising more than €100,000 for charity in the process.

As the Sunday World reports, Paddy Conaghan skipped Christmas and even his own 81st birthday bash to round the island of Ireland in his van for the ‘Ducking & Driving Around Ireland’.

Paddy set out at the start of December, working his way anti-clockwise from his home on Arranmore, as previously noted on Afloat.ie.

Despite some hiccups along the way — including a change of van after an unfortunate breakdown in Kerry — he returned home to a hero’s welcome yesterday (Saturday 12 February) having raised a six-figure sum for local counselling service Gemma's Legacy of Hope.

The Sunday World has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim
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Six sea swimmers from Ireland have succeeded in their attempt to cross the North Channel in winter — setting a new record in the process.

According to RTÉ News, the members of the Walrus Swim Team completed the 35km relay swim from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland to Portpatrick in Scotland in just under 13 hours on Friday (14 January).

And what makes their achievement even more remarkable is that the sextet — who met while swimming at the Forty Foot in Dublin — took to the chilling waters of the North Channel without the protection of wetsuits.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim

A team of six sea swimmers aim to make history later this week with the first crossing of the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland in winter.

As RTÉ News reports, the Walrus Swim Team comprises regulars at the Forty Foot in south Dublin who met during the pandemic as indoor pools were closed.

This Friday 14 January, the six — Dave Berry, Declan Bradshaw, Vincent Donegan, Ger Kennedy, Niamh McCarthy and Colm Morris — will take to the water at Donaghadee in Northern Ireland for the 35km relay swim to Portpatrick in aid of the the Gavin Glynn Foundation, which supports families fighting childhood cancer.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim
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An intrepid pair of kayakers are now five days into their 10-day adventure paddling the length of the River Shannon from source to sea.

Eoin Connolly and Ronan McDonnell skipped the usual festive fare as they set out on Christmas Eve in their two-person kayak to tackle the epic 360km route.

And it’s all for a good cause, specifically the Rafiki Network which assists young mothers in Zimbabwe by providing them with support for mental health and income generation.

Follow Eoin and Ronan’s progress on their Instagram page as they aim to complete the challenge in the coming days.

Published in Kayaking
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A Donegal octogenarian has set himself the mammoth task of going for an open water swim at as many Irish beaches and piers as possible.

As RTÉ News reports, Paddy Conaghan is living out of a van for the duration of his ‘Ducking & Driving Around Ireland’ charity challenge, which he began at the start of this month.

The 80-year-old from Arranmore is working his way anti-clockwise around the coast of Ireland and most recently has been enjoying the hospitality of Co Kerry’s coastal communities.

What’s more, he’s already raised nearly €50,000 for local counselling service Gemma's Legacy of Hope — and hopes to raise much more before the expected completion of his lap around the island in February.

Follow’s Paddy’s adventures on his Facebook page HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - FAQS

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographically defined maritime areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources. In addition to conserving marine species and habitats, MPAs can support maritime economic activity and reduce the effects of climate change and ocean acidification.

MPAs can be found across a range of marine habitats, from the open ocean to coastal areas, intertidal zones, bays and estuaries. Marine protected areas are defined areas where human activities are managed to protect important natural or cultural resources.

The world's first MPA is said to have been the Fort Jefferson National Monument in Florida, North America, which covered 18,850 hectares of sea and 35 hectares of coastal land. This location was designated in 1935, but the main drive for MPAs came much later. The current global movement can be traced to the first World Congress on National Parks in 1962, and initiation in 1976 of a process to deliver exclusive rights to sovereign states over waters up to 200 nautical miles out then began to provide new focus

The Rio ‘Earth Summit’ on climate change in 1992 saw a global MPA area target of 10% by the 2010 deadline. When this was not met, an “Aichi target 11” was set requiring 10% coverage by 2020. There has been repeated efforts since then to tighten up MPA requirements.

Marae Moana is a multiple-use marine protected area created on July 13th 2017 by the government of the Cook islands in the south Pacific, north- east of New Zealand. The area extends across over 1.9 million square kilometres. However, In September 2019, Jacqueline Evans, a prominent marine biologist and Goldman environmental award winner who was openly critical of the government's plans for seabed mining, was replaced as director of the park by the Cook Islands prime minister’s office. The move attracted local media criticism, as Evans was responsible for developing the Marae Moana policy and the Marae Moana Act, She had worked on raising funding for the park, expanding policy and regulations and developing a plan that designates permitted areas for industrial activities.

Criteria for identifying and selecting MPAs depends on the overall objective or direction of the programme identified by the coastal state. For example, if the objective is to safeguard ecological habitats, the criteria will emphasise habitat diversity and the unique nature of the particular area.

Permanence of MPAs can vary internationally. Some are established under legislative action or under a different regulatory mechanism to exist permanently into the future. Others are intended to last only a few months or years.

Yes, Ireland has MPA cover in about 2.13 per cent of our waters. Although much of Ireland’s marine environment is regarded as in “generally good condition”, according to an expert group report for Government published in January 2021, it says that biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are of “wide concern due to increasing pressures such as overexploitation, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change”.

The Government has set a target of 30 per cent MPA coverage by 2030, and moves are already being made in that direction. However, environmentalists are dubious, pointing out that a previous target of ten per cent by 2020 was not met.

Conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment has been mandated by a number of international agreements and legal obligations, as an expert group report to government has pointed out. There are specific requirements for area-based protection in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the OSPAR Convention, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Yes, the Marine Strategy Framework directive (2008/56/EC) required member states to put measures in place to achieve or maintain good environmental status in their waters by 2020. Under the directive a coherent and representative network of MPAs had to be created by 2016.

Ireland was about halfway up the EU table in designating protected areas under existing habitats and bird directives in a comparison published by the European Commission in 2009. However, the Fair Seas campaign, an environmental coalition formed in 2022, points out that Ireland is “lagging behind “ even our closest neighbours, such as Scotland which has 37 per cent. The Fair Seas campaign wants at least 10 per cent of Irish waters to be designated as “fully protected” by 2025, and “at least” 30 per cent by 2030.

Nearly a quarter of Britain’s territorial waters are covered by MPAs, set up to protect vital ecosystems and species. However, a conservation NGO, Oceana, said that analysis of fishing vessel tracking data published in The Guardian in October 2020 found that more than 97% of British MPAs created to safeguard ocean habitats, are being dredged and bottom trawled. 

There’s the rub. Currently, there is no definition of an MPA in Irish law, and environment protections under the Wildlife Acts only apply to the foreshore.

Current protection in marine areas beyond 12 nautical miles is limited to measures taken under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives or the OSPAR Convention. This means that habitats and species that are not listed in the EU Directives, but which may be locally, nationally or internationally important, cannot currently be afforded the necessary protection

Yes. In late March 2022, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that the Government had begun developing “stand-alone legislation” to enable identification, designation and management of MPAs to meet Ireland’s national and international commitments.

Yes. Environmental groups are not happy, as they have pointed out that legislation on marine planning took precedence over legislation on MPAs, due to the push to develop offshore renewable energy.

No, but some activities may be banned or restricted. Extraction is the main activity affected as in oil and gas activities; mining; dumping; and bottom trawling

The Government’s expert group report noted that MPA designations are likely to have the greatest influence on the “capture fisheries, marine tourism and aquaculture sectors”. It said research suggests that the net impacts on fisheries could ultimately be either positive or negative and will depend on the type of fishery involved and a wide array of other factors.

The same report noted that marine tourism and recreation sector can substantially benefit from MPA designation. However, it said that the “magnitude of the benefits” will depend to a large extent on the location of the MPA sites within the network and the management measures put in place.

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