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The RNLI’s most westerly shop in Ireland has opened its doors on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, to raise vital lifesaving funds for the charity that saves lives at sea.

The new shop which is located inside Aran Islands RNLI’s lifeboat station at Kilronan Pier, is quickly becoming a key attraction for both the islanders and the many visitors who come each year. The shop means visitors can leave Inis Mór with a memory of their time on the island while supporting the charity.

The shop launched last Tuesday, and volunteers plan to have it open seven days a week during the tourist season (Easter through to Autumn) with opening times coinciding with the ferry arrival and departure times.

The shop offers a wide range of unique RNLI goods, including clothing and accessories, home and kitchen gadgets, toys and games, books and stationery, and gifts.The shop offers a wide range of unique RNLI goods, including clothing and accessories, home and kitchen gadgets, toys and games, books and stationery, and gifts.

The shop crew include volunteers Amy Williamson, Breda O’Donnell, Daniel and Lena O’Connell, David Terry, Margaret Jackie Gill, Shane Dirrane, Siobhán McGuinness and Treasa Ni Bhraonain, all of whom are looking forward to a busy summer after an exceptional first week serving local islanders and visiting tourists.

Speaking following the first week of trading, Brian Wilson, RNLI Community Manager, shares the shop team’s excitement: ‘We are delighted that Inis Mór is joining the rich heritage of lifeboat station shops in the RNLI. This is the second RNLI shop on the west coast of Ireland, along with Sligo Bay which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The response in the first week has more than exceeded our expectations. We have had a wonderful response from locals and tourists alike and I want to thank the team here for their efforts in getting us to this point as well as thanking everyone who has visited and shown their support since the opening last week.

‘RNLI shops started 100 years ago as cake stands before they expanded into selling commemorative souvenirs and cards, and now we offer an excellent range of RNLI products with all profits helping to save lives at sea. So, we are all thrilled that this piece of RNLI heritage has reached Inis Mór and that the proceeds raised can now help to power the lifesaving work of the volunteer crew on the Aran Islands.’

The shop team at Aran Islands RNLI are looking for more volunteers. If you think you can give some time to help out, please call into the shop for more information.

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Volunteer lifeboat crew from Courtmacsherry and Ballycotton RNLI, along with members of Barryroe GAA are featuring in a short film to promote a drowning prevention partnership between the RNLI and the GAA. The two organisations have been working together on a water safety partnership since 2017, which has seen RNLI volunteers visit their local GAA clubs to share water safety advice and information. The film has been released in advance of the RNLI’s appearance on the pitch at Croke Park to promote the partnership, at the upcoming All-Ireland Senior Hurling semi-final this Sunday (3 July) between Limerick and Galway.

The one-minute film was made to promote the partnership between the RNLI and the GAA and shows how both organisations share the same values of community and volunteerism. Many RNLI volunteers are also GAA volunteers, and the aim of the partnership has been to share water safety advice as widely as possible in all communities. The film was made on location at Courtmacsherry lifeboat station and Barryroe GAA club by Banjoman Productions. It shows a lifeboat training exercise and a water safety talk to a room of school children. While over at the GAA club, players take to the pitch and warm up for a match. It shows the importance of the many different roles the volunteers hold.

The film will be shown on the big screen in Croke Park before the semi-final on Sunday and will be shared with lifeboat stations, branches, and clubs. There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with 333 GAA clubs within a 10km radius of them. On average 111 people drown in Ireland each year and the work being done through the partnership aims to give everyone the knowledge of what they can do to both keep safe or help someone in trouble on the water.

One of the volunteers to feature in the film is Vincent O’Donovan, Courtmacsherry RNLI Deputy Launching Authority. A volunteer in both the RNLI and the GAA, Vincent hopes that the film will encourage more people to get involved in their community and think about water safety. Vincent said, ‘I’m very proud to be involved in the film and that it shows what is good about volunteering and local communities. Many of us in our local RNLI are also involved with the GAA, they go together and it’s a wonderful partnership. I hope people will want to get involved in their community and learn more about water safety.’

RNLI Trustee and Coxswain, Paddy McLaughlin has been involved with the partnership from the beginning and has seen it evolve over the last few years. Paddy said, ‘When we approached the GAA with the idea of working together to prevent drowning, they supported it straight way. Since 2017, RNLI volunteers have been giving hundreds of talks to GAA clubs and have been invited to events and match days to promote water safety. This is a lifesaving partnership and with so many people involved in the GAA on this island, we are getting water safety advice and awareness talked about in our communities.’

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Newcastle RNLI rescued five rowers early yesterday morning (Sunday 26 June) after they got into difficulty in challenging weather conditions 23 nautical miles northeast of Ardglass.

The crew from the GB Row Challenge had left Tower Bridge London on 12 June to circumnavigate Great Britain and to collect environmental data.

The vessel had been monitored throughout the night by HM Coastguard with frequent radio transmissions. During a check at 7 am on Sunday, the rowers explained they had capsized and righted themselves but were unable to row.

Newcastle RNLI was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.15 am. Weather conditions at the time were poor with a Force 7 southerly wind and very rough seas. The lifeboat launched under Gerry McConkey and with crew members Shane Rice, Lochlainn Leneghan, Declan McClelland, Karl Brannigan and Declan Barry onboard. Conditions deteriorated following the launch with weather increasing to a Force 9 southerly wind and high seas.

On arrival at 9.24 am, the volunteer crew assessed the situation and decided a tow was necessary to bring the vessel’s crew to safety. Such were the conditions at sea that it took three attempts before a tow was successfully established. Newcastle RNLI then towed the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, a passage that took two hours.

The rowers were met by Newcastle Coastguard, and one was checked over by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Speaking following the call out, Newcastle RNLI Coxswain Gerry McConkey said: “We would like to wish the rowers well following their experience yesterday after they got caught by the poor weather. I would also like to commend our volunteer crew who used their skills and training to work in what were extremely challenging conditions that deteriorated during the call out to successfully bring the five people to safety.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, another crew of round-Britain rowers were rescued by Red Bay RNLI on Saturday (25 June) amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

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At a special naming ceremony and service of dedication held today (Sunday 26 June), volunteers at Dunmore East RNLI officially named their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, William and Agnes Wray.

The lifeboat which went on service in September last year is named after the Manchester couple who were happily married for over 60 years and who had three children, all of whom have had a proud connection to the sea.

The honour of handing over the lifeboat and officially naming her, went to Robin Malcolm, a representative of David Malcolm, a secondary funder of the lifeboat, assisted by crew member Brendan Dunne. The Shannon is the third all-weather lifeboat that Brendan, a volunteer with the RNLI for 37 years, has served on. He was also crew on the Waveney class, St Patrick and the Trent class Elizabeth and Ronald.

Dunmore East RNLI's All-Weather Shannon Class LifeboatDunmore East RNLI crew on the All-Weather Shannon Class Lifeboat for the christening ceremony

The Shannon replaces the station’s Trent class lifeboat which was on service in Dunmore East since 1996. During those 25 years, Elizabeth and Ronald launched 412 times, bringing 821 people to safety, 20 of whom were lives saved.

During today’s naming ceremony, John Killeen, RNLI Trustee and Chair of the RNLI Council in Ireland, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity before handing her into the care of Dunmore East RNLI.

Deputy Launching Authority Karen Harris accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station ahead of the Shannon being blessed in a service of dedication led by Father Brian Power and the Reverend Bruce Hayes. The lifeboat was then officially named William and Agnes Wray.

During her address, Karen said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station adding that the crew were most grateful to the donors for their generous gift which had funded the lifeboat.

‘As Deputy Launching Authority, part of my job is to authorise her launch when requested. It is my job to send a message to the volunteers, asking them to get down to the station as quickly as possible. When the crew arrive here and get kitted up and head out to sea, we will have peace of mind because this lifeboat will help to keep them safe as they save others. So, on behalf of all the station volunteers, I would like to thank the donors. Your generosity has given Dunmore East a lifesaver.’

Dunmore East RNLI's All-Weather Shannon Class LifeboatThe lifeboat now stationed in the popular Waterford fishing village is the first Shannon class in the RNLI fleet to be based in the south-east of Ireland.

The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet. The naming of the class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. When the Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet, it became the first time an Irish river was chosen, and it was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations.

Dunmore East RNLI was established in 1884. Since then, the crews have received 18 awards for gallantry.

Among the guests on the platform party were Eddy Stewart-Liberty, Lifeboat Management Group Chair, who welcomed guests and opened and closed proceedings, RNLI Trustee John Killeen who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed it into the care of Dunmore East Lifeboat Station, Karen Harris, Dunmore East RNLI Deputy Launching Authority, Robin Malcolm representing David Malcolm and Brendan Dunne who named the lifeboat and David Carroll, author of Dauntless Courage, who delivered a vote of thanks.

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Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat in West Cork was launched on Saturday 25 June 2022 at 10.05 pm last night to go to the immediate assistance of two sailors who were crossing the Atlantic and had run into challenging weather and needed assistance.

A Vermont-based couple had set out in their 37-foot yacht from Boston a number of weeks ago and were crossing the Atlantic on route to Scotland.

At 5:30 pm yesterday evening, the Irish Coast Guard’s Marine Research Coordination Centre in Valentia advised the yacht to change course and make for Castletownbere due to deteriorating weather conditions.

As the evening progressed and weather conditions became increasingly challenging Castletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediately under the command of Coxswain Dean Hegarty with crew Dave O’Donovan, David Lynch, Marc O’Hare, Donagh Murphy and Dion Kelly.

Castletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediatelyCastletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediately

The yacht was located at 10:46 pm. ten miles South-West of Castletownbere – conditions on scene were Westerly Force 6/7 winds and a 3-metre sea swell.

A local fishing boat assisted while the lifeboat escorted the yacht. Once in calmer waters, a lifeboat volunteer went aboard to assist with berthing the yacht at Castletownbere pier. When ashore, the sailors had refreshments in the lifeboat and expressed their gratitude to the Irish Coast Guard, The Castletownbere lifeboat and the skipper of the local trawler. One of the sailors commented: ‘It was so reassuring to see the lifeboat coming – we were tired and sea conditions were challenging and we are so delighted to be safe and on dry land now!’

This was Castletownbere lifeboat's second call-out in two days – on Saturday, the lifeboat was involved in a multi-agency search for a missing person in the Ballylickey area.

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Six round-Britain rowers have been rescued by Red Bay RNLI amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, the group were part of the GB Endurance team taking part in a coastal rowing challenge around Great Britain when they got into difficulty yesterday afternoon (Saturday 25 June).

The HM Coastguard helicopter from Prestwick in Scotland was also dispatched to the incident off Cushendall on the Co Antrim coast, while a tanker was diverted from its course to provide shelter for the rowers before their rescue by the Red Bay all-weather lifeboat.

In a statement on social media, the lifeboat station said: “Red Bay RNLI all weather lifeboat was launched this evening just after 5pm to reports of six people in difficulty on a small craft sixteen miles east of Cushendall.

“The lifeboat crew have now safely recovered all six people onboard the lifeboat in hugely challenging conditions,” it added.

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Volunteers at Union Hall RNLI in West Cork held a special ceremony and service of dedication on Saturday (25 June) for their Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Christine and Raymond Fielding.

A crowd gathered on Keelbeg Pier for a special ceremony and service of dedication to name Union Hall RNLI’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat, ‘Christine and Raymond Fielding.’

The funding for the lifeboat came from the late Dr. Raymond Fielding, a keen mariner and proud Corkman. While Raymond and his wife Christine did not live to see the lifeboat put into service, Raymond asked that it bear both their names.

RNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob BatemanRNLI Trustee John Killeen (left) and Vice President Peter Crowley Photo: Bob Bateman

The lifeboat has been on service since June 2021, but the ceremony was postponed to allow the community to celebrate together. The lifeboat was officially handed into the care of the Institution by Eddie Fitzgerald, a close friend of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding. The couple were described by Mr. Fitzgerald as a great team who had been married for 48 years before Christine predeceased Raymond. The Fieldings loved sailing, spending a great deal of time off West Cork, in particular.

RNLI Trustee, John Killeen accepted the lifeboat from Mr. Fitzgerald, on behalf of the charity, before giving it into the care of Union Hall Lifeboat Station, who were represented by Deputy Launching Authority, Peter Deasy. Speaking during the handover, John Killeen said, ‘All of us in the RNLI are one crew and we need the tools of the trade to carry out our lifesaving work. One part of that is the lifeboat, while the other is our volunteers. The lifeboat crew give a lot of their time and take a risk in going out to save people. It’s a fantastic day for the community here in Union Hall.’

In accepting the lifeboat on behalf of the station Deputy Launching Authority Peter Deasy added, ‘While we’re sad to say farewell to our former lifeboat ‘Margaret Bench of Solihull,’ which has served the station faithfully for five years, we look forward to writing a new chapter in the station’s history with the arrival of this new Atlantic class lifeboat.’

‘This Atlantic class lifeboat means that we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available. I know that when the crews head out to sea, we will have peace of mind that this lifeboat will help to keep them safe. We also remember today the people who worked so hard in setting up this Station and who sadly are no longer with us, particularly Paddy O’Donovan, our former Chairperson of the lifeboat station, who was passionate about establishing a lifeboat here.’

Royal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob BatemanRoyal Cork sailors (from left), Amy Mockler, Dick Gibson and Hugh Mockler Photo: Bob Bateman

A service of dedication was led by Reverend Chris Peters and Father Gerard Thornton. Following this, the lifeboat was officially named by Bill Deasy, Union Hall RNLI boathouse Manager, with the occasion being marked by Helm Chris Collins pouring champagne over the bow of the lifeboat.

A vote of thanks was delivered by Brian Crowley, Chairperson of Union Hall RNLI. Music for the ceremony was provided by St Fachtna’s Silver Band and The Union Hall and Castlehaven Parish Choir. MC for the event was Fundraising Chairperson Carmel McKenna.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat is one of the fastest vessels in the fleet; with a top speed is 35 knots. Designed to operate in shallower water, the B class can handle challenging open sea conditions. It is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks and areas inaccessible to all-weather lifeboats. It is also capable of being beached in an emergency without sustaining damage to the engines. In addition to night vision equipment, the B class lifeboat carries a searchlight and parachute illuminating flares to light up the surrounding area, helping to keep crew members safe as well as locate those in need of help. The B class has a manually operated righting mechanism in the event of a capsize which involves inflating a bag on top of the roll bar. The engines are inversion-proofed so that they shut down should the lifeboat capsize and can be restarted after she has been righted.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Christine and Raymond Fielding replaces the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, Margaret Bench of Solihull, which had been on service since 2017. Before this, the lifeboat Maritime Nation was in service from 2014. Both lifeboats came from the RNLI’s relief fleet, making the Christine and Raymond Fielding the first lifeboat to be built especially for service at Union Hall RNLI. Since the station opened in 2014 Union Hall RNLI have launched 68 times and brought 98 people to safety.

Union Hall RNLI Lifeboat Photo Gallery By Bob Bateman

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Courtmacsherry RNLI was alerted by Valentia Coast Guard on Wednesday afternoon (22 June) to two people onboard a 42ft yacht with mechanical problems 25 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.

Shortly after 3.30pm the all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain Mark John Gannon and a crew of five and quickly proceeded to the yacht’s reported location, just south of the Kinsale Head gas field.

The lifeboat located the yacht at 5.30pm and a decision was made to tow and return it to the nearest safe port of Courtmacsherry.

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s crew on this callout | Credit: RNLI/CourtmacsherryCourtmacsherry RNLI’s crew on this callout | Credit: RNLI/Courtmacsherry

It emerged that the two people onboard were on passage from Kinsale to the Scilly Isles when they encountered difficulties.

After four-and-a-half hours, the lifeboat with yacht in tow arrived safely at Courtmacsherry pontoon at 10.15pm.

Philip White, Courtmacsherry RNLI deputy launching authority said: “It has been a very busy six days with four callouts and great credit is due to all the volunteer crew who drop everything when their pagers sound to help others in distress.”

The crew on this rescue were coxswain Mark John Gannon, mechanic Chris Guy and crew members Dara Gannon, Dave Philips and Pat Lawton.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI on Inis Mór were called on to assist a local woman in need of medical attention on Wednesday evening, 22 June.

The woman was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew shortly after 6.15pm and the vessel, under coxswain John O’Donnell with a full crew, headed straight for Ros an Mhíl harbour where an ambulance was waiting.

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

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “The volunteer crew responded to their pagers as soon as they went off so we were able to get the patient on her way to the hospital quickly. We would like to wish her a speedy recovery.

“As we head into the summer months, we would like to advise all beachgoers, and anyone heading to sea, to heed all safety advice and guidelines.”

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Youghal RNLI went to the aid of a sailor in difficulty 400 yards off Mangan’s Bay on Thursday afternon (23 June) after their boat suffered engine failure.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to launch their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat at 12.49pm following reports of a person onboard a broken down 7m Cobra RIB which was at anchor 400 yards off Mangan’s Bay.

Weather conditions at the time were good and calm with a southernly breeze of wind.

Arriving at the casualty’s location, the lifeboat crew observed that the man onboard was safe and well. He was wearing full personal protective equipment.

Upon further assessment of the situation, a decision was made to establish a tow and bring the boat to a trailer at the nearest safe port at Ferry Point.

Speaking after the callout, John Griffin, Youghal RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “With the weather getting finer we would urge everyone planning to go out on their boats to make sure they are serviced at the start of the year.

“It is also essential to have a means of communication such as a VHF radio or mobile phone in the event of a difficult situation. Should you get into trouble or see someone else in difficulty, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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