Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Aran island

A Connemara nurse aims to raise funds for the Aran lifeboat by swimming solo across Gregory’s Sound.

As The Irish Independent reports, Barbara Conneely O’Brien, who is from a well-known Aran island fishing family, hopes to swim the three-kilometre tidal stretch between Inis Meáin and Inis Mór when the weather is suitable.

She has been training daily for “Snámh an tSunda”, as her swim is called, and has had a “fair few lashes” of Compass jellyfish over the last few weeks.

“I couldn’t even put my head in water before Covid-19 and practised using a bowl on the kitchen table,” she told the newspaper.

Conneely O’Brien lives in An Cheathrú Rua, and several of her siblings, including her sister Clíona, have made a career at sea.

Her late father, Gregory, survived a serious deck accident and was also involved in the rescue of one of his own boats, which went up on rocks off Inis Mór while his wife, Maggie, was about to deliver their first child.

Gregory’s Sound is a three-kilometre tidal stretch between Inis Meáin and Inis Mór Gregory’s Sound is a three-kilometre tidal stretch between Inis Meáin and Inis Mór 

Known as Sunda Ghríora in Irish, Gregory’s Sound is named after a hermit who lived on Inis Meáin.

Gregory’s mouth is reputed to have been turned to gold after he bit his bottom lip off in a fit of anguish over his sins, and he asked that his body be thrown into the sea in a cask on his death.

The cask landed across at Port Daibhche on Inis Mór – the same landing point that Conneely O’Brien is aiming for after she sets off from Inis Meáin.

The stretch of water has a north-east/south-west tidal stream, and was once plied by emigrant ships leaving Ireland for North America.

However, it can have confused seas in certain weather conditions, and so Conneely O’Brien has set a window of this week from August 7th to select a day to complete her swim.

She will be accompanied by her brother John Conneely, a fisherman, in a 21ft half-decker, Lady Luck.

She wants to pay tribute to RNLI volunteers, and wants to honour the memories of all of those who have died as a result of tragedies at sea.

So far, she has raised over 4,000 euro of her 5,000 euro target.

Read The Irish Independent here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Buoys retrieved from the sea and repurposed as works of art have been put on display on the southern Aran island of Inis Oírr.

The new exhibition, curated by Dara McGee of Áras Éanna arts centre on Inis Oírr, involves some 16 established and emerging artists from diverse backgrounds.

Galway paddleboarder Ellen Glynn was guest of honour at the opening today.

McGee says the idea arose after the great success of Áras Éanna’s “Curracha” exhibition which saw 21 artists decorate 21 currachs displayed throughout the island during the Covid restrictions of the summer of 2021.

The fishermen of Inis Oírr did a coastal clean-up of the island, gathering washed up nets, broken fish crates and an abundance of sea buoys, he says.

The participating artists include Páraic Breathnach, who “returns to his first love,visual arts” for the event, and who is best known for his street creations “The Spanish Arch” commissioned by Galway Arts Festival in 1986, and “Gulliver” commissioned by Dublin Millennium Celebrations in 1988.

An exhibit at the Aras Éanna - Buoy exhibition on Inis Oírr Photo: Cormac CoyneAn exhibit at the Aras Éanna - Buoy exhibition on Inis Oírr Photo: Cormac Coyne

Michael Mulcahy was the first ever artist in residence at Áras Éanna, and is one of Ireland’s most famous expressionist artists an a member of Aosdána. It was after his winter on the island in the 1980s that the idea of the arts centre in an old weaving factory bore fruit.

Philip Jacobsen spent some of his childhood living in Inis Oírr and has been a frequent visitor to the island since. His forthcoming exhibition involves the shipwreck, the Plassey, which he has witnessed the deterioration of and is keen to preserve its memory in art form.

Martin Keady from An Spidéal, Conamara, has attended art and craft classes in a training centre in Casla, and says he loves painting, animation, film, ceramics and woodwork. He says he loves to use bold colour and vibrant imagery, and the fish he painted on the buoys are inspired by the creatures of the deep sea.

Sian Costello completed a one-month residency in partnership with the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) in the summer of 2022 and is a multidisciplinary artist based in Limerick city. In her work, Costello says she uses performative self-portraiture, drawing, and the camera obscura, to re-evaluate the hidden role of patience in the history of portraiture and figure painting.

Rachel Towey is a scenic artist with a career spanning 30 years in the theatre/TV and film industry. Hailing from Inishowen in Donegal and currently residing in Galway, she continues to work as an artist in theatre, as well as running a small business called MaraBay Deco.

Margaret Nolan is a Dublin-born artist who has had numerous solo exhibitions and group shows throughout Ireland. As Galway City Council’s Artist- in- Residence for many years, she produced many well-known murals that have left their mark on Galway’s urban landscape, and she has been leading curator of street art in the city. Her more recent work has shifted into new directions, concentrating on the body within the context of increasing abstraction and pigment layering.

Natasha Mc Menamin was born in Donegal and was studying in Galway to develop her artistic skills. She is known for her love of nature, which inspires her, her very detailed style, and the way she uses colours.

Siobhán O’Callaghan is a Dublin-based artist, who says she is invigorated by art’s capacity for storytelling, documentary and commentary. Her work centres around connection in various forms – shared experiences, intimacy, how we relate to our environment. She graduated from NCAD in 2015 and continued her training at Florence Academy of Art. Exhibitions include Alchemical Vessels, 126 Gallery (2023), RHA Annual Exhibition (2021, 2022, 2023), Utopia Dystopia, dlr Lexicon (2019), and Caoláit, Burren College of Art (2019).

Alissa Donoghue is originally from Wisconsin, grew up surrounded by forests, but has grown to love living surrounded by the sea. Having spent her first fourteen years on Inis Oírr dismissing sea swimmers as “mad”, she took it up as a hobby herself during the heatwave of 2018. This has deepened her layered relationship with the sea, she says, and some of its more “difficult” creatures.

She has a life-long interest in art making, enriched in recent years with art classes through Áras Éanna and many hours spent creating with her three children.

An exhibit at the Aras Éanna - Buoy exhibition on Inis Oírr Photo: Cormac CoyneAn exhibit at the Aras Éanna - Buoy exhibition on Inis Oírr Photo: Cormac Coyne

Niamh Ní Dhonnacha is a native of Inis Oírr and will be entering 6th class at Scoil Chaomháin in September. She loves art, especially painting and drawing. She mounted her first solo exhibition in 2022 at Teach an Tae.

“I made my buoys on the theme of the nature of Inis Oírr,”she says. “One shows wild flowers and a stone wall and the other buoy is the ocean with lobsters and seals. I had lots of fun doing this project.”

Mykayla Myers is a young Traveller girl aged 15 who had loved to draw from a young age.She is a pupil in Galway Community College and her goal is to do her Leaving Certificate and continue her education in University of Galway. She already has a well developed portfolio of her art work.

She is very interested in drawing portraits and hopes to develop this further. She is very proud of her Traveller background and heritage and won the overall Galway Traveller Achievement Award in 2023 for her artwork.

Esther Stupers is from the Netherlands, but made Ireland my home 13 years ago in Co Mayo. She studied as a gold and silversmith but after moving to Ireland she became more involved in welding and bigger projects. She has been working with Macnas for the last few years and was involved in the currach exhibition at Áras Éanna. She also paints and builds sets for local musical societies. She says her inspiration for this project are “the smallest one celled animals that live in our oceans “grabbing” onto the buoy, as in protozoa”.

Megan McMahon is a multi-media artist from Limerick, and studied at the School of Design and Creative Arts at GMIT. This is her first public exhibition. She is inspired by murals and street art in urban landscapes. Currently she is exploring contrasting colours to express emotion in her work, she says. She works on Inis Oírr during the summer months.

Bríd Ní Chualáin is an Inis Oírr native. She studied Foundation Art in NCAD, and has been working in various Irish language revitalisation initiatives. Bríd is also a talented musician who can be heard frequently playing in sessions on Inis Oírr.

Aisling Nic Craith was born and raised in Dublin, and I left at 18 to study art and design in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. From there,she moved to New York, Japan and Korea, and this had a large influence onher artwork, before moving back to Bray, Co Wicklow.

“I paint with encaustics and weave tapestries. Having only recently moved to Inis Oírr, I am inspired by the ever-changing sea, stunning light and stone landscape,” Nic Craith says.

Mary Fahy graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design, and her degree show was awarded the Revenue Commissioners Purchase Prize and selected for The Young Contemporaries exhibition, Belltable Arts Centre. She has been shortlisted twice for the Markievicz Medal Award for Painting, and has won the Larkin Memorial Award and the Irish Times Award.

“Buoys” is on display as an outdoor trail from the lighthouse on Inis Oírr from now until the end of September.

More here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Long-serving Aran Islands GP Dr Marion Broderick is retiring but will continue as a medical officer for the RNLI lifeboat.

As The Irish Independent reports today, Broderick has spent 42 years working in one of the busiest offshore practices in the State.

Interviewed for the newspaper by Lorna Siggins, Broderick remembers witnessing currach crews standing up in a rolling sea to lift a patient on a stretcher over head height into an RNLI lifeboat.

That was at a time when she was responsible for all three islands and had to travel from Inis Mór, where she was based, to Inis Meáin or Inis Oírr by lifeboat and then by currach into the piers due to tidal constraints.

"currach crews standing up in a rolling sea to lift a patient on a stretcher over head height into an RNLI lifeboat"

A rural GP has to treat a patient beyond the “golden hour, " which is a particular pressure on an offshore island.

Before Irish Coast Guard helicopter crews with trained paramedics were available, she would regularly accompany acute cardiac, acute obstetric and trauma patients into the hospital by lifeboat.

She was central to the campaign initiated by Donegal activist Joan O’Doherty in 1988 to establish a 24-hour helicopter search and service on the west coast. At the time, the Air Corps could provide daylight cover only, and night-time emergencies relied on the lifeboat.

The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Campaign’s voluntary work led to the establishment of Irish Coast Guard helicopter bases, and the RNLI also opened several more stations on the Atlantic seaboard.

Poll na bPéist or the “wormhole”, the naturally formed rectangular pool or blowhole on Inis Mór, has been a “constant source of anxiety” for her – especially since it was a location for international cliff diving championships in 2009 and 2012.

While she credited the sponsors for a “well-staffed emergency and rescue plan”, she was concerned about copycat attempts afterwards.

Sure enough, she has treated two cases involving vertebral fractures and recalls how two young men dislocated their shoulders within two hours of each other after jumping in.

Even spectators to Poll na bPéist are at risk on days when it can resemble a cauldron– “days when no islander would go there”, she points out.

Read more in The Irish Independent here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

The Oscar-nominated film The Banshees of Inisherin has given tourism on the Aran island of Inis Mór and Mayo’s Achill island a boost, but such good fortune doesn’t extend to the island’s fishing vessels.

As The Examiner reports, third-generation Aran fisherman John Conneely of Inis Mór will deliver two fishing vessels to yards where they will be broken up, piece by piece, in a few weeks’ time.

One of Conneely’s two vessels, the 17-metre Connacht Ranger, has been in the family for over half a century. It was one of a fleet of timber boats built at boatyards then run by the State’s sea fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

John Conneelys's Connacht Ranger, one of two vessels he has to scrap as part of the Brexit decommissioning scheme.JPGJohn Conneelys's Connacht Ranger, one of two vessels he has to scrap as part of the Brexit decommissioning scheme

The same State board - which had been tasked with building up a much-neglected industry half a century ago - is now responsible for the scheme to slim it back down.

The whitefish decommissioning scrappage scheme was drawn up by a Government seafood task force to pay up to 60 skipper owners compensation for destroying their vessels - due largely to the loss of quota caused by Brexit.

Conneely is one of a total of 42 owners who have accepted offers, out of 57 letters of offer issued by BIM.

Padraic's cottage, built from scratch for the Banshees of Inisherin film set at Gort na gCapall on Inis Mor close to the Conneely family homePadraic's cottage, built from scratch for the Banshees of Inisherin film set at Gort na gCapall on Inis Mor close to the Conneely family home

The Brexit Adjustment Reserve, as Brussels calls the compensation fund, amounts to almost 1 billion euro and must be spent within two years. However, only a small percentage of this has been allocated for the fishing vessel scrappage scheme, in spite of the major impact of Brexit on coastal communities.

Read more in The Examiner here 

Published in Island News

About Irish Ferries

Irish Ferries, owned by the Irish Continental Group, is a a major ferry operator in Ireland, providing daily and weekly links to and from Ireland for tourism and freight travelling between Ireland and the UK and Ireland and the continent. Irish Ferries has a fleet of six ships, three of which service the busy Dublin to Holyhead route.

The ICG Chairman is John B McGuckian and the CEO is Eamon Rothwell.