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Galway River Patrol Appeals to Revellers to Watch Out for Friends

23rd December 2022
Claddagh Watch Patrol’s Paul Gibney, Cllr. Niall McNelis and  Arthur Carr on the banks of the River Corrib, Galway, the fastest-flowing city river in Europe
Claddagh Watch Patrol’s Paul Gibney, Cllr. Niall McNelis and Arthur Carr on the banks of the River Corrib, Galway, the fastest-flowing city river in Europe Credit: Andrew Downes

A Galway riverbank patrol group has appealed to those socialising during the festive season to keep an eye and ear out for friends in the city.

The Claddagh Watch group of volunteers will walk the Corrib riverbanks up to and including Christmas Eve, and over the New Year’s weekend.

Claddagh Watch chairman Niall McNelis said that while it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves over the Christmas period, there was always a need for vigilance in relation to the risks associated with people out and about at night close to the river Corrib.

“We are asking people to buddy up when heading out for the night, and to watch out for friends and keep mobile phones fully charged,”McNelis, a Labour Party city councillor and mental health advocate, said.

“And please don’t hesitate to contact the emergency services on 112 if you are concerned about someone who is missing,”he said.

Claddagh Watch Patrol’s Niall McNelis on the banks of the River Corrib, Galway Photo: Andrew DownesCladdagh Watch Patrol’s Niall McNelis on the banks of the River Corrib, Galway Photo: Andrew Downes

“Sometimes it may just be a young man who had gone to relieve himself, and hasn’t realised how close he is to the water’s edge,”McNelis said.

“The river Corrib is the fast flowing river of its size in Europe and people often don’t realise how strong the current is as it flows out into the bay.”

Claddagh Watch involves some 90 volunteers, about 50 of whom are actively patrolling the Corrib river banks and harbour area. The trained volunteers are out in all weathers until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Claddagh Watch works closely with the Garda Siochána, the RNLI Galway lifeboat, the Galway Fire and Rescue Service and Water Safety Ireland.

It was formed in July 2019 to help prevent suicides in and on Galway’s waterways, and models itself on the Wexford Marine Watch charity which was initiated for similar years and is ten years old.

Claddagh Watch has been involved in 360 major interventions involving “blue light” services, and in 11 rescues over the past three and a half years.

“We have not lost anyone any night we were out,”McNelis said. “Our volunteers have accumulated over 10,500 hours of patrolling along the river.”

The organisation is recruiting more volunteers, and plans to extend its patrols up the Corrib via a towpath and walk which runs through the University of Galway campus and by the Corrib village student residential area.

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

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