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Galway Fire and River Rescue Crews Endangered by Disused Traps on Corrib

10th July 2023
Galway Fire Brigade personnel at the Queen's Gap in Galway
Galway Fire Brigade personnel at the Queen's Gap in Galway

A multi-agency group warns that lives of rescuers on Galway’s river Corrib are being put at risk by salmon and eel traps on a city stretch below the Salmon Weir.

As The Sunday Independent report, Galway’s chief fire officer Gerry O’Malley has said the structures owned by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) pose “significant risk” to his staff.

The structures associated with a salmon pass known as “The Queen’s Gap” and eel traps are out of bounds now to Galway Fire and Rescue Service crew.

A person caught in the fast flow in that area could die from impact, or could drown if caught in or pinned to one of the rails stretching across the river, O’Malley warns.

A body of a missing person, which was found in the river, had been trapped in the rails of one of the structures for almost three weeks, according to Galway City councillor and chair of the Claddagh Watch river patrol group Niall McNelis (Lab).

McNelis, who participates in the Inter-Agency Corrib Water Safety Group on behalf of Claddagh Watch, has tabled a motion on the issue for a city council meeting tomorrow (Mon, July 10).

“This is an issue of general safety for anyone on or near the river, but also the safety of rescuers,” RNLI lifeboat operations manager Mike Swan, also on the inter-agency group, says.

That safety risk came into very sharp focus in January of this year, when up to ten people were rescued after three rowing boats attached to the University of Galway and to Coláiste Iognaid secondary school capsized when the river was in flood.

“Several of the boats were caught at the top of the Salmon Weir. If any of those crew had been swept over the weir, they would not have survived the Queen’s Gap,” Swan confirmed.

Galway Fire and Rescue crews responded to 29 water rescue incidents in 2020, 57 in 2021 and 29 last year, most of which were on the river Corrib. The crews have responded to 18 separate water incidents, also mainly on the Corrib, this year to date.

IFI says the structures are “listed”, and it is “in ongoing discussions with Galway City Council to best understand how to manage these structures into the future”.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Galway Harbour, Rescue Team

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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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