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Displaying items by tag: River Shannon

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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Works are planned for improving angling facilities on the Nenagh River and other tributaries of the River Shannon in Tipperary and Offaly, according to the Nenagh Guardian.

Details are included in the latest annual report of the Shannon Fisheries Partnership, which covers the Shannon catchment above the ESB-controlled Ardnacrushsa fishery.

The partnership promises “an extensive programme of instream and bank side works which will focus on the improvement of fish stock and fish habitat”.

These works will take place on the Nenagh River, the Little Brosna/Camcor River at Birr and the Mulkear River near Birdhill in tandem with the ESB, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and local angling clubs.

The Nenagh Guardian has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

A Limerick councillor has hit out at what he branded as the “utter incompetence” of inland fisheries officers after images circulated on social media of as many as 60 salmon allegedly poached from the River Shannon.

As the Limerick Leader reports, the images show the the wild salmon lined up in a front garden, with three men alongside giving thumbs up.

It’s understood that the salmon are thought to have been illegally netted from the tail race at the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric plant.

Commenting on the images, Cllr Emmett O’Brien did not mince his words as he directed his ire at Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

“The dogs in the street know that poachers are putting out nets and catching salmon swimming in the tail race,” he said, adding that there is a black market for such salmon throughout Limerick city.

“But bizarrely the IFI officers rarely if ever patrol the tail race but rather seem intent to race up and down the river in large power boats like Navy Seals.”

IFI says it is “currently investigating the circumstances of this incident and is therefore not in a position to comment further at this stage”.

The Limerick Leader has more on the story HERE.

Published in Angling

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland has alerted members over reports of the invasive quagga mussel in the River Shannon.

The bivalve is said to be “abundant in Lough Ree over a wide range of depths” and has also been found in Lough Derg and the stretch of the Shannon between the loughs.

Similar in appearance to another invasive species, the zebra mussel, the quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) has spread over a number of decades from its native waters in Ukraine as far as Mexico. It was first recorded in the UK in 2014.

According to Dr Jan-Robert Baars of UCD’s Invasive Ecology (InEco) laboratory and Dr Dan Minchin of the Lough Derg Science Group, the quagga mussel “behaves in a similar way [to the zebra mussel] and is also a filter feeder removing planktonic organisms from the water column. It has a high filtration rate likely to result in further changes to water quality and nutrient dynamics of, in particular, lakes.

“The quagga mussel is likely to compete with the zebra mussel and native species. Having a wide ecological tolerance and suited to Irish climatic conditions, it is expected to become widely distributed in time.

“It appears to have a preference for cooler water and can settle on finer sediments than the zebra mussel explaining its greater abundance at depth in some colonised lakes elsewhere.”

The scientists warn that the species “is likely to be spread by boats to the upper Shannon, and through the Shannon-Erne Waterway to the Erne. It is also likely to be spread overland by trailered craft. Owners of boats should be made aware they could spread this species from the Shannon.”

In addition, the presence of the quagga mussel “is likely to lead to a further surge in fouling and may have additional impacts on water quality and the ecological integrity of Irish aquatic ecosystems.”

The species is currently under a rapid assessment field study by the InEco lab.

Published in Inland Waterways

Residents of a Limerick suburb on the banks of the River Shannon say they were not consulted about plans for a new kayaking facility in a local park.

As the Limerick Leader reports, locals close to Shannon Fields have hit out at the proposals for a fenced-off hard stand and storage unit for the Limerick Kayak Academy on park lands provided by Limerick City and County Council.

Speaking for the residents of the neighbouring Irish Estates, Cllr Frankie Daly said: “The lack of consultation is beyond a joke.”

Their campaign has the support of former champion rower Maxine Murphy, who suggests that Curragower Falls in the city centre would be a better location for the kayakers' needs.

But the council counters that residents will have every right to express their opinions as part of the planning process.

The Limerick Leader has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking
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Remote and “tranquil” cabin cruiser moorings, kayak trails, canal walks and greenways form part of a €76.5 million tourism plan for the river Shannon published today.

As Times.ie reports today, the ten-year masterplan is the first such “whole river” approach to the entire Shannon region, according to Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Minister for Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien.

The 360km waterway is the longest river in Ireland and Britain, and runs through ten counties – all of which are involved in the strategy drawn up by Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland.

Prone to periodic flooding, the river also has untapped potential as an international and national tourism destination, according to Fáilte Ireland which plans to invest 2.1 million euro in the waterway this year.

As Afloat reported yesterday, the masterplan identifies seven priority areas, and three key themes within Fáilte Ireland’s “Hidden Heartlands” brand  -  “The Shannon, Mighty River of Ireland”, “Shannon Journey’s” and “Adventures and The Natural Timeless Shannon”. 

Redevelopment of Connaught harbour in Portumna, Go Galway; a “canoe step” for access to Lough Derg; a new cycle and walking trail linking Connaught harbour and the Lough Derg “blueway”; and extra cruise berths in several counties and in Athlone, Co Westmeath are among initial projects allocated for funding.

 Fáilte Ireland’s head of product development – activities Fiona Monaghan said that a pilot project to develop “remote” or “tranquillity” moorings for cabin cruisers would focus on three such locations on Lough Derg, three on Lough Ree and three on the upper Shannon.

The plan also involves supporting a number of tourism businesses along the river and the Shannon-Erne waterway.

The entire ten-year plan has been costed at 76.5 million euro, Monaghan said, with a focus on “quality, rather than quantity”, and a sensitive approach to the river’s environment.

Strategic environmental assessments and public consultation have already taken place, she said.

 Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said that “this unique area is highly valued for its special environmental qualities and biodiversity and is home to many unique species, and native flora and fauna”. 

“ It will be a haven for on-water and off-water experiences offering a range of ways to be active in nature, in a sustainable manner.  The Shannon will invite the visitor to slow down, stay longer and to engage with local communities,” she said.

Martin said the region will be developed as a “model of ecologically sustainable tourism”, with a “leave no trace” code of practice and a “slow travel” approach for visitors. 

Other elements of the plan include the development a water-based “activity hub” at Red Bridge (Ballymahon), Co. Longford,  due to its proximity to Lough Ree, Ballymahon and the Center Parcs complex.

Ten additional cruiser berths will be developed in Roosky, Co Roscommon, and there will be additional car parking, landscaping, and interpretation of the waterways “industrial heritage”.

Read more on Times.ie here

Published in Inland Waterways
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Refurbishment of the Longford Canal and the extension of the Grand Canal Greenway from Daingean to Edenderry are two of the projects that will be funded from a €63.5m allocation for greenways in 2021.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton today (Monday 9 November) confirmed the funding for a range of greenways across the country.

Minister Ryan said the funding “is the highest single year amount ever allocated to greenways”.

“Indeed, it nearly equals the total amount originally allocated for the four years 2018-2021 (€53m) and shows the commitment of this Government to providing a step-change in the way in which we fund walking and cycling,” he said.

Among the inland waterways projects in the list is the €172,000 refurbishment of the Longford Canal spur of the Royal Canal, with improved infrastructure being provided along its cycleway.

In Co Offaly, €3.1 million has been allocated to fund the extension of the Grand Canal Greenway from Daingean to Edenderry, with another €1.66 million for the stretch between Daingean and Lough Boora, west of Tullamore.

“By the end of next year it will be possible to cycle the greenway the whole way from Edenderry to Lough Boora, over 50km worth of cycleway,” Minister Ryan said.

Minister Naughton added that a new greenway bridge across the River Shannon in Athlone would be funded from a €8.1 million allocation to the Galway-to-Dublin Greenway.

Published in Inland Waterways

Cruiser hire firms on the River Shannon have experienced a boom in business from ‘staycationers’ as holidays abroad this year were cancelled in droves, according to RTÉ News.

While some operators felt the brunt of coronavirus restrictions in the spring as they lost a lucrative international market, come summer the tide turned and now the industry as a whole says it is enjoying its most successful period in eight years.

Demand has been driven by a hungry domestic market grounded by lockdowns on foreign getaways — with RTÉ News highlighting Banagher in particular at its busiest this month.

And it’s hoped many of those who may be new to a cruising holiday, or other aquatic activities on Ireland’s inland waterways, will be hooked enough to return next season.

 

Meanwhile, the Shannon cruising boom has come alongside a rise in incidents involving cruisers getting into difficulty — with Lough Derg RNLI having a particularly busy week.

Most recently the inshore lifeboat Jean Spicer was called to a 36ft cruiser with four on board which ran aground in Youghal Bay on Thursday evening (10 September).

This followed rescues for a 20ft vessel with engine failure at the lough’s northeastern end on Wednesday; a 35ft cruiser aground by the Silver Islands on Monday evening; and a vessel with engine failure near Mountshannon Harbour last Sunday.

Also on Sunday, four people were rescued from a Shannon cruiser that caught fire and sank after difficulties in the Jamestown Canal.

The RNLI has repeated its call for all boat users, many of whom may be new to cruising or boating, to study their charts and stay on the navigation route.

Boaters should also ensure their engines are fully serviced, and that they have sufficient fuel for any journey — while lifejackets must be worn by everyone on board.

Published in Cruising
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Invasive chub have been confirmed in the River Inny in Longford, according to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI).

A single fish was caught on rod and line at one of a number of spots where IFI staff recorded possible sightings following reports from members of the public.

Chub (Squalius cephalus) are non-native to Ireland, with the potential to compete with native species for food and space as well as be a carrier of fish diseases and parasites.

The River Inny — a tributary of the Shannon — is the only Irish river in which they have been recorded thus far, and removal operations between 2006 and 2010 were thought to have eradicated the species from the system.

It is not yet clear whether the current chub are linked to the original population or were more recently introduced.

However, the threat of chub spreading through the Shannon system “is of real and pending concern to the biodiversity of Ireland’s biggest catchment”, says the fisheries body.

IFI’s head of research Dr Cathal Gallagher explained: “Ireland’s rivers are ecologically important ecosystems, which support significant recreational fisheries for native and established fish species.

“Non-native fish species threaten these ecosystems and the game and coarse fisheries that they support — potentially in unforeseen ways — and are thus a cause for concern.”

IFI appeals to anglers to protect Ireland’s fisheries by not moving fish between watercourses for any reason and to submit any sightings directly to IFI or on the hotline at 1850 347424 or 1850 FISH24.

Published in Angling

Carrickcraft, the leading River Shannon Cruiser-Hire firm, expects to reopen its boat rental business from 20th July and aims to tap into the 'staycation' market as many Irish people are worried about flying abroad this summer due to COVID-19.

'A boat has always been the perfect place to get away from it all, but this year even more so', the firm says.

The firm that operates from bases on the rivers Shannon or Erne has a wide variety of craft available for short or long cruises as Afloat's David O'Brien find out in a three-day cruise through Roscommon in search of the Moone Boy Burger in 2017.

Carrickcraft says 'We will, of course, be practising best hygiene with social distancing at the marinas, and we will endeavour to get you on your way as quickly as possible'.

The July date also sees Cruise Ireland companies Locaboat, Waveline and Linssen boating holidays also reopen on the river.

Published in Inland Waterways
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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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