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Displaying items by tag: Connemara

The Conamara family of sailors known as Clann Johnny Jimmy Pheaitín are profiled in a documentary on TG4.

Pádraig, Jimmy and Seáinín are “Na Jimmys”, associated with the Galway Hooker An Mhaighdean Mhara.

The programme “Bádóirí- Na Jimmys” interviews the trio and some of the other relatives well known for their knowledge of sailing and the sea on Inis Mhic Cionnaith island and An Cheathrú Rua in south Conamara.

Pádraig, Jimmy and Seáinín are “Na Jimmys”Pádraig, Jimmy and Seáinín are “Na Jimmys”

One relative, shipwright Pat Michael is finishing his Galway Hooker, a piece of art being built in the shed next door to home, and the Jimmys’ uncle, Johnny Jimmy, relates how he and his two brothers were the best rowers in Ireland and in England in the 1960s.

John Darba talks about Inis Mhic Cionaith, where he was raised, and the stories told by Jimmy an Oileáin, while Johnny Healion recalls when the Mhaighdean Mhara was still hauling peat to the Aran Islands, as he now prepares to launch his most newly built hooker.

Pat agus na ladsPat agus na lads

“Bádoirí-Na Jimmys” is on TG4, December 29th, at 8.15 pm and also available to view online here

Published in Maritime TV
Tagged under

A Connemara business group has expressed frustration over an apparent lack of enthusiasm by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys in a privately funded museum that would celebrate Marconi’s connections with Connemara.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the wireless pioneer’s historical links with Connemara, along with those of transatlantic aviators Alcock and Brown, and telegraphist Jack Phillips would be marked by the museum project.

Phillips’s selfless actions in continuing to broadcast from the ship’s wireless room saved over 700 lives during the sinking of the Titanic.

"The privately funded museum would celebrate Marconi’s connections with Connemara"

After the ship struck an iceberg in April 1912, Phillips sent “SOS” and “Come Quick Danger” (CQD) distress messages on Marconi equipment by Morse code to nearby ships until the power cut.

Clifden hotelier Brian Hughes says the museum project has enlisted the support of Sean Mulryan of Ballymore Homes who is “more than happy to fund and support this great project”.

Hughes says considerable money has already been spent on survey studies and plans by architects and engineers.

A group met Minister Humphreys and Minister of State for Transport and Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton in November 2020, and Hughes said they formed the impression that both ministers were “fully in favour” of the project.

The business group explained that the museum could become a “jewel” on the Wild Atlantic Way, attracting up to 500,000 visitors annually and providing 40 direct and indirect jobs.

The design would also ensure that it is a “net zero carbon museum”, Hughes said.

The proposed location is at the State-owned airport site near Cleggan, which is owned by the Department of Rural and Community Development as part of its responsibility for islands.

The airport was developed to link Cleggan to Inishbofin, as part of a wider Government plan to improve air access to and from west coast islands, but the air link was never realised.

The proposed museum would focus on how Guglielmo Marconi sent and received wireless messages between his wireless station in Nova Scotia and Derrygimlagh, Connemara in October 1907.

In 1908, Marconi took on telegraphist John George “Jack” Phillips to work alongside him in Marconi station, and Phillips subsequently got a job as chief wireless telegraphist onboard the Titanic.

The museum would also mark the landing by British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown at Derrygimlagh on June 14th, 1919, completing the first non-stop air crossing of the Atlantic.

Hughes said the group has received positive support from Fáilte Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

“ We are still waiting to get a letter from Ms Humphreys’s department, giving us permission to put in an application for planning permission,” he said.

The Department of Rural and Community said that “there are a number of issues arising for consideration within the department, including a proposal to construct a Coast Guard station on the site”.

“Until these issues have been fully examined, the department will not be in a position to agree to the group’s request,” it said.

Read more in The Times Ireland edition here

Published in News Update

A loggerhead turtle believed to originate from the waters around the Canary Islands has died despite the best efforts of Galway Atlantaquaria staff after it was found washed ashore in Connemara.

As RTÉ News reports, the 50kg turtle was discovered on Muighinis Beach near Carna in a comatose state and on the advice of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group was taken to the national aquarium in Salthill.

However, Galway Atlantaquaria confirmed on social media that the adult female loggerhead turtle “never regained consciousness”.

It’s suspected that the turtle, who had been named Macdara after the patron saint of Connemara fishers, was blown off course during Storm Barra earlier this month into the colder North Atlantic.

Published in Marine Wildlife

The State agency responsible for the protection of freshwater fish and habitats is investigating an incidence of farmed salmon recovered from the Connemara Fishery.

Officers from Inland Fisheries Ireland’s (IFI) Western River Basin District in Galway were alerted by anglers fishing for wild Atlantic salmon on the Dawros River in Letterfrack, more commonly known locally as the Kylemore River.

The anglers had reportedly captured fish with poorly formed fins and other distinguishing features associated with farmed salmon.

Scientists from IFI inspected various fish samples from the river and have confirmed that the fish are of “aquaculture origin” and are not wild Atlantic salmon.

The discovery is a serious cause for concern for IFI, according to its head of operations Dr Greg Forde.

“The Dawros Rivers have been designated a special area for conservation for wild Atlantic salmon and we are seriously concerned about the impact that farmed salmon could have on this native species,” he said.

“For example, farmed salmon could potentially transfer disease or could interbreed with the indigenous wild salmon population of this river.

“Salmon spawn during the month of December and each river has a genetically unique salmon stock. Early indications are that the farmed salmon, due to their size and development, could be capable of spawning this winter and interbreeding with wild fish, thereby weakening the natural genetic pool unique to the Dawros River.”

IFI says its investigations to determine the source of the escape are ongoing. The State agency has notified the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, which is responsible for the issuing of aquaculture licences.

In an appeal to owners and operators of salmon fish farms around the country, Dr Forde said: “To protect and conserve wild Atlantic salmon for both current and future generations, it is absolutely essential that all salmon aquaculture installations are completely secure and farmed fish are not allowed to escape into the wild.”

Published in Angling

Ros an Mhíl/Rossaveal could become a hub for marine renewable energy projects, if plans by Údarás na Gaeltachta come to fruition.

The board of the Gaeltacht authority has recently approved funding to plan the development of a 30-acre site it owns near the Connemara harbour.

Údarás na Gaeltachta says its study will include a review of the marine renewable energy sector and its potential opportunities, as well as “the requirements and advantages that Ros an Mhíl harbour and Gaeltacht companies have to meet future demands and to benefit from same”.

The organisation says renewable energy will be central to its 2021-2025 strategy, which is set for publication early next year, adding that Ros an Mhíl “has been long identified by Údarás na Gaeltachta as a strategic resource”.

Chair of the board Anna Ní Ghallachair said: “We are happy that Údarás na Gaeltachta will be in a position to undertake this study on the opportunities for renewable energy in the Ros an Mhíl area.

“This is a strategic sector for Údarás, and indeed for the whole country. If we are to halt climate change, we must avail of all opportunities there are to generate clean energy.”

Údarás na Gaeltachta hopes to issue tenders on etenders in the weeks ahead so that work can commence early in the new year.

The news comes after similar moves have been mooted for the Shannon Estuary, while in Cork a new strategic partnership aims to improve communication with the wider marine community as the pace of offshore wind farm development picks up.

Published in Power From the Sea

A new children’s book focusing on the local history and mythology of the North West Connemara region has been launched this week in Co Galway.

And a portion of the proceeds is being donated to the Clifden RNLI lifeboats for their dedication to saving lives at sea.

Local author and youth worker Marie Feeney has produced From Our Ancient Land to Bountiful Sea, an informative and often humorous collection of local history and folklore tales with illustrations by Gary Kendellen.

These tales include accounts of the famous engineer Alexander Nimmo, who designed many piers and bridges in the Connemara area, and a blend of local history and myths that will appeal to locals and visitors alike.

Marie’s first book The Cleggan Disaster comprehensively and poignantly detailed the tragic drowning of 45 men from the fishing communities of Cleggan, Claddaghduff and Inishbofin and the Inishkeas, and also benefitted the local RNLI lifeboats.

Author Marie Feeney with her children Ronan, Diarmuid and Michaela at Sallerna Beach in Cleggan, Co Galway (Photo: Marie Feeney)Author Marie Feeney with her children Ronan, Diarmuid and Michaela at Sallerna Beach in Cleggan, Co Galway | Photo: Marie Feeney

On the launch of her new book, Marie said: “The coastline of Connemara, while exceptionally beautiful is also treacherous and mostly utilised by people who use it either for pleasure or their livelihood.

“Thankfully in our community, we have a dedicated RNLI volunteer team who provide an invaluable service by saving lives each year, sometimes in the most challenging environments.

“The philosophy of the RNLI is astounding. The purpose to save lives, their vision to save everyone, their volunteer ethos, their charitable and community base. Every life matters, and of course their maritime expertise is crucial.”

From Our Ancient Land to Bountiful Sea is now on sale locally in Connemara at The Clifden Bookshop, Letterfrack Country Shop, Gala Cleggan and Sweeney’s Claddaghduff. The book is also available online at the inConnemara Bookshop.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Cleggan Coast Guard in Connemara is long overdue a permanent base — and a local TD insists the village’s airstrip is the answer.

As the Connacht Tribune reports, Éamon Ó Cuív says it is unacceptable that the coastguard service for north Connemara has been seeking a fixed abode for so long.

A number of sites are being considered by the OPW — but Deputy Ó Cuív says none would be more suitable than the State-owned Cleggan Airstrip.

The Connacht Tribune has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard

With a nice southerly breeze, 19 Flying Fifteens hoisted their sails early morning for the last race of the Connemara league.

As Afloat reported previously, a rejuvenated fleet in County Galway is boasting one of the largest fleets in the country with up to 27 actively club racing. 

The course laid meant plenty of tacking down the bay rounding the cannon rock buoy and head for the finish line in the next neighbouring bay Cuan an fhir Mmhór where the finish line was in front of Caladh Thaidhg pier.

With good upwind sailing out of Casla Bay came a split in the fleet with the western side of the bay paying off. Leading at the Mark was Ronán O Briain (Ffingers crossed IRL 3588) closely followed by his cousin Niall O'Brien (Mind over Matter IRL 275) in third was Martin Griffin (Havoc IRL 3145). Next came the leader of the eastern boats, Christopher Griffin (Fraoch Geal IRL 3383) a couple of boat lengths behind.

With the wind freshening and spinnakers flying the reach to Caladh Thaidhg was swift. There was no change at the top of the leaderboard as they crossed the line in front of several spectators gathered along the shore.

Race 1 results top 6

  1. Ronán O'Briain (Fingers crossed IRL 3588)
  2. Niall O'Brien (Mind over matter IRL3275)
  3. Martin Griffin (Havoc IRL 3145)
  4. Christopher Griffin (Fraoch Geal IRL 3383)
  5. Cian&liam O'Conghaile (user-friendly IRL 3397)
  6. Micheál O'Conghaile (Stork GBR 3403)

The boats gathered again, and the second race was ready for the off for the return journey home. Niall o Brien got off to a great start and was leading at the mouth of the bay, followed closely by Martin Griffen, Ronan o Briain and Clíona ní Bhriain (Simply red IRL 3203) once past the turning mark at cannon rock the spinnakers started to go up, and the standings changed.

Race 2 results top 6

  1. Ronán O'Brien (Fingers crossed IRL3588)
  2. Niall O'Brien (Mind over matter IRL 3275)
  3. Micheál O'Conghaile (Stork GBR 3403)
  4. Martin Griffin ( Havoc IRL 3145)
  5. Cian & Liam O Conghaile (User-friendly IRL 3397)
  6. Cliona O'Brien (Simply Red IRL 3203)

The league results and prizes were given on the pier afterwards.

With the 2020 league top six finishers as follows:

Overall winner 2020

  1. Niall o Brien (Mind over matter IRL 3275)
  2. Cian & Liam o Conghaile (User-friendly IRL 3397)
  3. Martin Flaherty (The Real thing IRL 3108)
  4. Martin Griffin. (Havoc IRL 3145)
  5. Ronán o Brien (Fingers crossed IRL 3588)
  6. Cliona o Brien (Simply Red IRL 3203 )
Published in Flying Fifteen
Tagged under

Discovery of the remains of a “drowned” prehistoric house in north Connemara may be further evidence of sea-level rise along the Atlantic coast in the last millennium.

As The Sunday Times reports today, parts of a small prehistoric dwelling covered by sea except at low spring tide have been identified by archaeologist Michael Gibbons and engineer Shane Joyce on the coast south-west of Clifden, Co Galway.

The site is in a sheltered “lagoon-like setting” on the tip of the Faul peninsula, at the junction of Clifden and Ardbear bays.

Gibbons said that the structure is similar in size to early Neolithic houses, and it is protected from tidal surges by Oileán Gearr or Islandagar, a small island on its western side.

Gibbons said it was further evidence of a “drowned prehistoric landscape”, which has been researched and dated by NUI Galway palaeoecologists Prof Michael O’Connell and Dr Karen Molloy.

O’Connell and Molloy have estimated that sea levels rose by as much as four metres on the Atlantic coast in later prehistory - as in 1,000 years ago – with Galway Bay being younger than originally estimated.

Prof O’Connell said that it was “quite reasonable” to suggest the structure identified by Gibbons and Joyce may be early Neolithic, given that sea level rise occurred in the late Neolithic period.

O’Connell and Molloy’s work focused on tree stumps, believed to be bog pine, which have been exposed at low tide by storms dating back to 2010, along with pollen analysis of coastal peat deposits.

Gibbons said that a shell midden dating from 4,000 BC on the Errislannan peninsula, just south-west of the Faul location, was also evidence of Neolithic settlement by early farmers.

Read The Sunday Times report here

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

SmartBay Ireland have collaborated with the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) to launch a new scholarship scheme for a candidate from the Connemara Gaeltacht to begin a Master’s research programme.

Commencing in November 2020, the new programme aims to develop post-primary educational resources in the field of marine renewable energy.

And the scholarship, which is now open for applications, is designed to fund and support a candidate in the Connemara Gaeltacht Region — while also driving awareness around ocean literacy, marine renewable energy, and sustainability through education in local schools.

The successful candidate will receive full funding support to the value of €44,500 over the duration of the 24-month project, which will focus on the preparation and delivery of educational resources at post-primary level, in both English and Irish.

SmartBay Ireland general manager John Breslin said: “This scholarship is an excellent opportunity for the successful candidate not only to advance in their career, but to be at the forefront of developing educational resources and make a positive and lasting impact on the post primary curriculum.”

Applications are open until noon next Wednesday 16 September for candidates with experience as a post-primary educator, preferably in the field of science, with demonstrable proficiency and fluency in the Irish language.

“This is a very exciting opportunity which would suit an enthusiastic candidate with a passion for education, the marine and sustainability,” said Dr Róisín Nash, a lecturer at GMIT.

“At a time when research and management of essential marine resources are key features of a sustainable future, this is a unique project with lots of opportunities for the candidate to be creative and influential in incorporating marine and renewable energy into the classroom.”

The SmartBay Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship is funded by the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, the Marine Institute, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Full details on the postgraduate research scholarship and application procedure are available from GMIT website HERE.

Published in Marine Science
Page 1 of 7

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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