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Displaying items by tag: Aran Islands

Aran Islands RNLI came to the aid of two fishermen yesterday evening after their vessel got into difficulty off Nags Head in county Clare.

The volunteer crew were asked by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to assess the situation at 3.48pm (Monday 22 November).

A 30ft fishing vessel with two people on board was having engine difficulty off Nags Head.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 115 from Shannon was also tasked and was on scene first, establishing no immediate danger to the vessel or its crew.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell with a full crew and headed straight for the vessel.

Conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas and good visibility.

Once on scene, the crew checked that the fishermen aboard the vessel were safe and well before proceeding to establish a tow line between the lifeboat and the fishing vessel. The boat was then towed to the nearest safe port at Liscannor Harbour.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: ‘The volunteer crew didn't hesitate to answer the call and we were able to get the fishermen back to the harbour before night.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew of Aran Islands RNLI were asked to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat last night, (Sunday 21 November) at 8.17 pm by the Irish Coast Guard.

A resident on the neighbouring Island of Inis Meáin was in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Inis Meáin.

Weather conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas, clear visibility, and a light northerly breeze.

Once at the pier, the crew brought the patient safely aboard following Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and transferred the casualty into the care of the waiting ambulance crew.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: ‘We want to wish the person we helped this evening a speedy recovery. There was a great response time from our volunteers tonight which meant we could get the patient on his way to receive the medical attention he needed quickly.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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An Aran islands energy co-operative has won an international award for its work on renewable fuels.

The Aran energy co-op has secured the National Association of Municipalities of the Minor Islands (ANCIM) prize for having the “best energy system that emphasises the vital role of resident communities in the formulation of local sustainable development plans”

Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árainn Teoranta (CFOAT), as the island co-op is known, set itself a ten-year target of making the Aran islands fossil-free.

Over the past eight years, it has been retrofitting 500 homes and other buildings on the three islands, with retrofits including external wall insulation, heat pumps for hot water and heating and solar PV on rooves.

The island energy co-op has been working with NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology on EU funded research projects, including creating a micro-grid and using smart technologies and exploring seawater and solar panel conversion to hydrogen fuel.

The islands have a number of electric vehicles, serving as both vans and people carriers, over 1,000 bicycles and 30 pony and traps available for hir.

The ANCIM award is part of the “Sun, Sea and Wind awards” linked to the EU’s “Salina Isola Pilot 2019” initiative for energy transition.

The EU programme supports energy transition in smaller islands by 2030.

The contest’s jury is made up of a number of mayors of Italian islands, including Giglio and Ventotene.

The island of Samso in Denmark won an award for the best sustainable energy system with a special focus on respect for the environment and landscape.

The Scottish offshore community of Canna and the island of Palawan in the Philippines also received recognition in the awards.

CFOAT Cathaoirleach or chairman Dara Ó Maoildhia said the Aran co-op was delighted to receive the award.

“It highlights how full community ownership of energy transition projects on islands is the best way forward,” he said.

“The resident community is strengthened and empowered, quality of life improves and the local economy grows,” Ó Maoildhia said.

“Jobs are created, and the islands become a more attractive place to live. We see all of this happening on Aran,” he added.

• Lorna Siggins recently interviewed Dara Ó Maoildhia for an Afloat podcast here

Published in Island News

The Aran Islands volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their All-Weather Severn Lifeboat at 2.48 pm, yesterday (Monday, August 30th). An 11.6 metre angling boat, with nine people aboard, was experiencing engine problems at the back of Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands, while out on an angling trip.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for the boat. Weather conditions at the time of launching were good, with a slight East North East breeze, calm seas and good visibility

Once on the scene, the Volunteer Lifeboat crew checked that all aboard were safe and sound, before establishing a tow line.

With the tow line safely secured, the lifeboat proceeded back towards Kilronan Harbour, where the angling boat was brought alongside the pontoon.

Speaking after the call out Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: 'thankfully the weather was calm and a quick response time from the volunteer crew, meant the angling boat and all aboard were brought safely ashore without delay.'

 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were called to two medical evacuations from Inis Oirr and Inis Mór yesterday (Sunday 22 August).

At 3.42 pm the crew were asked by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to a medical evacuation of a young male on a day trip to Inis Oirr who had sustained an injury to his arm after a fall from a bicycle.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Tommy Dirrane and a full crew onboard and headed straight for Inis Oirr. Conditions at the time of launching was good with calm seas and good visibility.

With the lifeboat alongside the pier in Inis Oirr, the patient was brought safely aboard the lifeboat by the crew. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

The second call came at 7.46pm, when the crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to transport a patient from Inis Mór who was in need of further medical attention.

With the patient safety transferred aboard the lifeboat, the lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew.

Conditions at this time of launching were also good with calm seas, light winds, but a low dense fog which reduced visibility greatly.

Speaking after the call outs both Aran Island RNLI Coxswains commended the speedy reaction time from the volunteer crew members to launch the lifeboat: ‘Minutes can make all the difference and our crowd never let us down,’ said Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain Tommy Dirrane. ‘We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.

‘As we head into another fine weather spell, we would like to advise visitors to respect the water. If planning a trip to the beach or sea, never swim alone and always let someone know where you are going and when you are due back. Always carry a means of calling with you in a waterproof pouch or bag and always wear a lifejacket at sea.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Two Italian brothers rescued after they were knocked into the sea in the Aran Islands have returned to meet the coastguard crew who saved them.

In February 2019, Giovanni and Ricardo Zanon were struck by an unexpected wave at Poll na bPéist on Inis Mór, falling 20 metres off the cliff into the cold Atlantic.

Despite sustaining serious injury — Ricardo Zanon broke his tibia and pelvis in the fall — the brothers survived to tell the tale thanks to the swift actions of the crew of the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Rescue 115’s winchman Philip Wrenn won a prestigious award earlier this year for his role in the rescue.

The Zanon brothers and their parents returned to Inis Mór today (Wednesday 11 August) for the first time since the incident to give thanks to Wrenn and the rest of the crew.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ricardo said of that fateful day: “I just remember a big, huge wave like a grey wall coming towards me and then it was completely dark and I thought I was going to die.”

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

Clusters of Covid-19 have resulted in medical evacuation of two young people from the largest Aran island of Inis Mór at the weekend.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the HSE has confirmed an “increase in Covid infection activity” on Inis Mór.

The two medical evacuations took place in separate airlifts to University Hospital Galway. It is understood that both patients are in their early twenties.

The hospitality sector has been identified as the source of a number of clusters of Covid-19 on the island over the past fortnight, although the HSE said it could not comment on individual cases or outbreaks.

It is believed that the outbreaks occurred when the island’s vaccination programme was almost complete. A minority of cases were among fully vaccinated people, while several were among people who had received only their first dose of a vaccine.

The two smaller islands of Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr have remained clear of any similar outbreak to date.

The HSE told The Times that its public health and community healthcare west sections had been “liaising with businesses and health professionals” on Inis Mór to ensure “testing and tracing are being carried out promptly”.

HSE personnel have conducted Covid-19 PCR swab tests on Inis Mór on a number of days over the past week.

Inis Mór and Mayo’s Achill island have been booked as locations during the months of August and September for filming The Banshees of Inisherin, starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. The film is based on an unpublished play written by Martin McDonagh, as part of his Aran Islands trilogy.

Heather Humphreys, the rural development minister, cancelled a scheduled trip to Inis Mór last Friday, but visited Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr to approve a series of new projects as part of the government’s “Our Rural Future” programme.

Two weeks ago the HSE West director of public health, Dr Breda Smyth, warned of a “dramatic increase” in cases across the western region in a five-day period, with figures doubling in Co Mayo and tripling in Co Galway.

Read The Times here

Published in Island News
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The symbiotic relationship between the Aran Islands and the centuries-old fishing currach is explored in a new installation at the country’s westernmost arts centre, Áras Éanna on Inis Oírr.

The commissioned artists include John Behan RHA, one of Ireland’s most acclaimed sculptors. Behan is no stranger to the exhibition’s theme, having previously created a seven metre-long bronze ship, titled ‘Arrival’, for the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Sadia Shoaib, a Pakistani artist and asylum seeker, has also contributed to the outdoor exhibition, Curacha, which marks 21 years of Áras Éanna.

The work of Kathleen FureyThe work of Kathleen Furey Photo: Cormac Coyne

Shoaib researched the Aran Islands for her piece, and says she was inspired by the traditional woven stitch of the islands and its butterflies for her "Mandala style" depiction of a spiritual journey through layers.

Connemara artist Kathleen Furey depicted a Harry Clarke stained glass window painting of St Gobnait from the Honan Chapel in Co Cork on her currach, which is on view at Inis Oírr church.

Dara McGee, the centre’s artistic director since 2017, commissioned 21 six-foot currachs as canvases for 22 artists in total as part of the anniversary project.

“We had to do something outdoors for the 21st anniversary because of Covid-19,” McGee explained.

“Currachs are made of timber and canvas covered in tar, and canvas is one of the materials that has been used by artists for painting on,” he said.

The fleet of traditional craft were built by Tom Meskell, Eugene Finnegan, and Carmel Balfe McGee,

McGee, who is himself an artist, set designer and painter, said the participants were given “free rein”, and each currach “reflects the artist’s own personality and style”.

Pat Quinn's work for the Curracha exhibition Photo: Colm CoynePat Quinn's work for the Curracha exhibition Photo: Cormac Coyne

He paid tribute to the artists that he contacted from “Donegal to Kerry” for their enthusiasm.

The completed installations form an outdoor art trail on the island to comply with Covid-19 guidelines, while seven of them are displayed in Áras Éanna. The exhibition will continue until September.

Once a weaving factory, the building housing Áras Éanna lay derelict for some time before Mick Mulcahy, an artist, spent time there in the 1990s.

The state helped to finance the refurbishment of the centre, owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht development agency.

Read The Times here

Published in Historic Boats
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Aran Islands RNLI's volunteer crew came to the aid of a cyclist who fell off his bike today (Monday 19 July).

The crew were asked to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat at 12.19 pm. A male visitor to the island for the day required further medical attention after falling off his bicycle.

The patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by both the local fire service and the lifeboat crew at the pontoon at Kilronan Harbour.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Conditions at the time of launching were good, with calm seas, a light southwest breeze and clear visibility.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: 'The crew responded without delay, and we got the patient on his way to the care needed. We would like to wish him a speedy recovery.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway Bay Sailing Club is expecting 50 boats or more to participate in the club's August's Lambs Week event that features sailing around the Aran Islands with stopovers in Rossaveal, Kilronan and Roundstone.

The event runs from August 19th to 23rd.

A group of Galway Bay volunteers are working on mooring blocks, berthing arrangements, racing handicaps and schedules, food and refreshments, safety, and fashion (polo shirts!).

More here

Published in Galway Harbour
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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