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Fifteen lives were saved from drowning by rescuers who received recognition at Water Safety Ireland’s National Annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, 6th December, at 7 pm.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, acknowledged recipients of the ‘Seiko Just in Time Rescue Award’ and other awards in appreciation for saving fifteen lives.

“Tonight, four women and 14 men are being recognised for doing something absolutely remarkable – that’s saving a life,” Minister Humphreys said.

“You’re being recognised for your determination. For your strength. For looking out for others. And for your extraordinary displays of courage.

“I am deeply honoured to pay tribute to these deserving award recipients”, she added.

Among the other recipients to receive awards are 30 volunteers who will be presented with Long-Service Volunteer Awards, recognising a combined total of 545 years of personal service teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills in communities nationwide.

Minister Humphreys continued: “Also tonight, I want to say to the people who coach and train people in swimming and lifesaving all over the country: you too are saving lives by enabling others to do so.

“Without the coaches, the trainers and the teachers, we would not have the large volume of lifesavers around our country that we can be so proud of.”

Water Safety Ireland CEO Joanne Walsh stated: “I would ask that we all remain aware of the dangers of drowning”.

“Drownings can happen quickly and silently but with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes everyone can avoid the hazards and take responsibility for their own safety. Start a water safety conversation with your family, friends and colleagues and encourage them to read Water Safety Ireland’s guidelines at www.watersafety.ie so they can enjoy Ireland’s waterways safely.”

The Rescue Appreciation Award and Seiko Just in Time Award, presented to those who helped save someone at risk of drowning.


1. Garda Sarah Lynam – Dublin

Last August, Garda Sarah Lynam, a former competitive swimmer, became alerted to the fact that a person was in distress in the water at Bachelor’s Quay. She ran from the GPO on O’Connell Street, removed her stab vest and utility belt and swam to the casualty. Once out of the water, she noticed he was not responsive, so she began CPR and he made a full recovery.

2. Francis Doherty and Maureen Devenney – Donegal 

Last May, Maureen Devenney and her sister got pulled out to sea by a strong current. Maureen encouraged her sister to kick her legs and turn over onto her back while Maureen swam to the shore where she got help from Francis who swam out with a ringbuoy and started for shore. Meanwhile, Maureen had organised a chain of six people to wade out chest deep and bring both to safety.

3. John Timlin – Kerry

Last August 2022, John had just finished a surf lesson at Fermoyle strand, Castlegregory, in Kerry. Suddenly he saw swimmers in difficulty, caught in a rip current. He quickly grabbed a surfboard and paddled out. It took some time to get through the high waves. Eventually, he spotted a motionless girl, weak and semi-conscious, pulled her up onto the board and began a challenging paddle to shore through dangerous conditions. He placed her into the recovery position and after coughing up a lot of water, was kept warm with blankets from his van until emergency services arrived. Thankfully, she made a full recovery.

4. Sarah Cooke – Offaly

Last July, Sarah was teaching a water safety class at Banagher pool in Offaly. A young man at the other end of the pool got into difficulty so she grabbed a ringbuoy, instructed her class to vacate the pool and brought him to safety.

5. Sergeant Brendan Byrne and Garda Ronan Allen – Dublin

In August 2019, Gardai Brendan Byrne and Ronan Allen responded to a 999 call that a man was in the river Liffey. When they arrived, two men were in difficulty. Garda Allen entered the water and reached them with a ringbuoy. Sergeant Byrne pulled the rope towards a ladder where Dublin Fire Brigade soon arrived at the scene and helped to take all three people out of the water to safety.

6. David Caulfield, Dylan Putthaaree and Glen Wightman – Wexford 

In August 2021, David Caulfield was driving along the quays by the river Barrow in New Ross, Co Wexford. He saw a man in the water and immediately jumped in and pulled him towards the riverbank where a passing boat spotted them and pulled them both to safety.

7. Paul Sweeney and Garda Mark O'Sullivan - Donegal 

In December 2021, Paul Sweeney saw a young man was in difficulty at Rathmullen pier, Donegal. He entered the water and managed to reach the young man. Garda Mark O Sullivan arrived, grabbed a ringbuoy and entered the water. Both men kept the casualty afloat until emergency services arrived. The hypothermic young man was brought to hospital where he made a full recovery.

8. Jonathan Monroe – Galway

Last July, Jonathan was on his way to work when he saw a person in distress in the Eglinton canal in Galway city. Gary entered the water, reached the man and pulled him to safety. He stayed with the casualty until emergency services arrived. The casualty made a full recovery.

9. Mikey O'Siochrú – Dublin

Last August, Mikey had just come off duty as a lifeguard in Sandycove, when he was alerted to a woman in distress in the water. A seal was attacking the woman. He entered the water with a flotation device and upon reaching her, saw that she was injured. Mikey calmed the situation and brought her safely to shore where she received medical assistance for her wounds and made a full recovery.

10. Saoirse Maloney – Waterford 

Last July Saoirse was alerted that a woman was at risk of drowning in a cove in Ardmore. Saoirse swam to her rescue and brought her to safety. The woman was very disorientated but Saoirse continued to reassure her.

11. Patrick Gordon – Clare

Last July, Patrick was out surfing in strong winds with a friend when they heard a swimmer shouting for help after getting pulled from shore by a rip current. He immediately paddled towards the swimmer and told his friend to make for shore to get help. Patrick took his friend’s board, reached the exhausted swimmer, and got him to hold onto the board until he regained his breath and was able to make it safely back to shore.

12. Josh Marley – Donegal 

In August 2021, Josh became alerted to a person in distress in the water at Lifford bridge, Donegal. He immediately entered the river and managed to reach the woman and bring her to the safety of the riverbank where the emergency services took over.

13. Miley Doran – Carlow

In May 2021, Miley discovered two people, a mother and daughter, in difficulty in the River Barrow. Miley immediately jumped into the water and managed to bring the young girl to safety, before entering the water once more to rescue her mother. An incredible act of courage.

Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards are presented in recognition of a voluntary commitment to promoting a public awareness of water safety and rescue. Water Safety Ireland extends a sincere debt of gratitude to the following WSI volunteers.

10 Years of Service

Gerry Bruton, Offaly
James Murray, Offaly
Pamela McGrath, Clare
Yvonne Byrne, Kildare
Catherine Poole, Kildare
Billy Cantillon, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Stephen Ryan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

15 Years of Service

Brendan Devlin, Louth
Bryan Corcoran, Kildare
Susan Corcoran, Kildare
Brenda Maye, Kildare
Patrick Maye, Kildare
Sam Murray, Kildare
Ian Cunningham, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Joe Morgan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Tom Cusack, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Tony Slattery, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Valerie Stundon. Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

20 Years of Service

Ciara O Sullivan, Limerick
Jonathan Broderick, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Kieran Goodisson, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Peter Hogan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
David Finn, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Diarmuid Moriarty, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Ken Moore, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

30 Years of Service

May Coyle, Louth
Mal Sherlock, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick
Trevor Sheehan, Community Rescue Boats Ireland in Limerick

40 Years of Service

Aisling Cushen, Dublin
Jimmy Reilly, Dublin

Published in Water Safety
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Water Safety Ireland and Fáilte Ireland were not consulted in advance of controversial draft bye-laws banning all watersports except for swimming off 24 Connemara beaches.

The new bye-laws proposed by Galway County Council have been widely criticised by watersports enthusiasts, including swimmers who point out that safety craft will even be breaking the law if the regulations are passed.

Water Safety Ireland (WSI), the State’s agency for training lifeguards, has offered to conduct risk assessments on all beaches in question.

Roger Sweeney of WSI said these risk assessments would “ensure that each of those locations is safe for all users, swimmers and others alike”.

Fáilte Ireland has expressed concern about the impact on a growing market for outdoor water-based activities, particularly along the Wild Atlantic Way.

It has said that “zoning” for different beach activities should be considered as an alternative.

The tourism body has also described some of the proposed wording as “ambiguous”.

Galway sailor and yacht chandler Pierce Purcell said that lack of access was the single biggest obstacle to the development of water sportGalway sailor and yacht chandler Pierce Purcell has said that lack of access was the single biggest obstacle to the development of water sport

The draft bye-laws state that “no person shall windsurf on sailboards or kite-surf on kiteboards or surf on a surfboard or use a canoe, kayak, dinghy, stand-up paddle board or water bike in close proximity to bathers” off any of the 24 named beaches.

The draft bye-laws also state that the council “ may at its discretion designate areas of any beach in and at which the use of surfboards and/or kiteboards and/or sailboards and/or canoes and kayaks and/or dinghies and/or stand-up paddle boards and/or water bikes is restricted or prohibited”.

Under the wording, the council may be empowered to issue on-the-spot fines of €75 euro to anyone in breach of conditions and, if found guilty in court, a fine of up to €1,904.60.

Earlier this month, Galway County Council director of services told a council meeting that there had been a “misinterpretation”, but this was challenged by Independent councillor Noel Thomas who said the wording was there in “black and white” and needed to be revised.

Watersport representative organisations have pointed out that consultation should have taken place before any draft legislation was published.

Blue Flag criteria stipulate that beaches must be accessible to all and that there must be management and zoning for different users to prevent conflicts and accidents.

Critics say that Galway County Council risks jeopardising Blue Flag status for the affected beaches if the bye-laws are passed without amendment.

Fáilte Ireland head of product development – activities Fiona Monaghan outlines the State agency’s “concerns” in a submission to Galway Council Council in which she proposes zoning to ensure safe areas for bathers.

She says that its research shows that “a growing number of both domestic and international visitors are engaging in outdoor water-based activities in recent years, and this is a trend that will continue to grow year upon year, and not just during the summer months”.

“It is well recognised that the pandemic has accelerated people’s appreciation and engagement with the outdoors, and we are fortunate that Galway has some of the most natural and unspoilt coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way,”she says, referring to six Blue Flag and six Green Coast awarded beaches in the county this year.

“Fáilte Ireland has made a significant investment in developing water-based activity tourism around Ireland in partnership with local authorities, with €19million allocated in April 2021 for the development of 20 world-class water sport facilities centres to support water sports activity providers and significantly enhance the visitor experience,” Monaghan says.

She says draft beach bye-laws should give “due regard” to watersport users and operators during the bathing season, and “greater clarity” is required in the wording on “prohibited acts” and on how both bathers and other beach users can access and enjoy the amenity.

“It is also important that the draft bye-laws recognise the requirement for small craft to provide support and safety to bathers at busy times and during open water swim events and tuition,” she says.

“For too long, there was very little appreciation of our coastline and pristine waters as a recreational amenity," she says, stating that it is "imperative that the draft beach bye-laws for Galway County support the use of our beaches and waters for recreation and tourism giving due regard to all users".

Published in Marine Planning

Dublin City Council, in partnership with Water Safety Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development, this week launched an innovative ‘Smart Ring Buoys’ project aimed at saving lives in Ireland’s waters.

The Smart Dublin initiative worked with technology partners Civic Integrated Solutions Ltd, mSEMICON Teoranta and ZiggyTec Ltd to develop the low-cost lifesaving technology, which will provide real-time alerts when life rings are stolen or tampered with.

Anti-social misuse of life buoys is an issue for councils across Ireland, and more than 600 sensors will now be installed in eight local authorities including Fingal County Council, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dublin City Council, Laois County Council, Meath County Council, Sligo County Council and Limerick City & County.

The Smart Ring Buoy technology works through low-cost sensors paired with a mobile, map-based platform with real-time monitoring. It will alert water safety officers when ring buoys are tampered with or go missing and ensure their timely replacement. This is an essential and lifesaving action as a stolen ring buoy could mean a stolen life.

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys said: “In 2021 alone, we tragically lost 80 lives through drowning. Such incidents have devastating and long-lasting effects on families and communities.

“Safety tools like ring-buoys are in place to save lives and protect people when they are close to water. Sadly, the theft or vandalism of this life saving equipment is still commonplace in both our rural and urban communities.

“The initiative that I am launching today [Wednesday 26 October] in conjunction with Dublin City Council is both unique and important. With the support of funding from my department’s Digital Innovation Programme, we will roll out this sensor technology in 8 different local authorities.

“This project is a leading example of how the public sector is tacking community challenges with innovative approaches. I want to commend Dublin City Council and all the project partners and stakeholders involved.”

The project began back in 2018 as part of a workshop to identify challenges in Dublin’s Smart Docklands area. Members of the community highlighted that ring buoys were frequently being stolen or tampered with, with a delay to replacement devices being installed.

‘These smart ring buoys will detect when this essential public rescue equipment is interfered with or stolen’

At present, around 15 ring buoys go missing or are stolen every week from Dublin City Council alone costing over €20,000 per annum for replacement.

Dublin City Council says it realised that this was a problem not just in Dublin but across Ireland and set out to find a solution through its Smart Dublin innovation programme. Across Ireland there are approximately 5,000 life buoys installed.

The project has taken what’s described as a “unique” approach to procurement in an Irish context, led by Dublin City Council, where the Dublin local authorities have been able to pilot a number of innovative solutions initially and then purchase the best solutions as part of a wider framework with 23 local authorities.

In addition, the project was shortlisted for an Innovation leadership award from the European Innovation Council, recognising the efforts done by the public sector to promote and implement innovation procurement across Europe.

Speaking about the new scheme, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan said: “This is a great example of collaboration across the Irish local authorities and Water Safety Ireland through our Smart Dublin programme. It is also the first time we have used a procurement approach like this to pilot an innovative technology solution before we buy.

“We look forward to scaling this type of approach to accelerate the deployments of new innovations that can address city challenges.”

Roger Sweeney, acting CEO of Water Safety Ireland said: “Every year, ring buoys are used by the public to save lives from drowning however many ring buoys are regularly stolen or vandalised. A stolen ring buoy can mean a stolen life. Ring buoys play a critical role in drowning prevention but to do so they must always be available and in place.

“These smart ring buoys will detect when this essential public rescue equipment is interfered with or stolen. They will save on the time that is currently needed to monitor and replace them and they will provide this information 24 hours a day.

“The increased number of visitors to our waterways nationwide has placed a greater emphasis on the need for such innovative water safety solutions that can help prevent tragic drownings. Water Safety Ireland is delighted to be involved in this project which will help save lives.”

Published in Water Safety

With Met Éireann issuing an advisory for hot weather through the rest of the week and the weekend, the RNLI, Irish Coast Guard and Water Safety Ireland are urging people to plan for their personal safety when visiting the coast or when they are on or near the water.

Air temperatures are set to be in the mid to high 20s, with some parts breaking 30C today (Thursday 11 August).

All three organisations are reminding people about the dangers of cold water shock, which can seriously affect breathing and movement, and can occur in any water temperature below 15C.

In a joint statement, they said: “With the good weather and high temperatures forecast to last right through to the weekend, we want to remind everyone to attend to their personal safety.

“With so many people enjoying the water this summer, it’s important that we all know the risks. The sea can be unpredictable, and even with the temperatures soaring, the fact is that the water is still relatively cool compared to air temperatures.

“Just because an area looks safe for swimming it doesn’t mean that it is safe. Only swim in areas that are protected by lifeguards or in areas with which you are familiar. In the case of lifeguard -protected beaches, only swim between the red and yellow flags.”

RNLI water safety lead Kevin Rahill said: “Many people who get into danger each year never planned to enter the water — slips, trips and falls can also occur.

“The RNLI is urging people to Float to Live if they get into trouble in the water. This means leaning back and spreading your arms and legs to stay afloat, controlling your breathing, then calling for help or swimming to safety.

“In the event of any water or coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 or use marine VHF Radio Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.”

Roger Sweeney from Water Safety Ireland added: “Rip currents are difficult to spot but common on beaches and carry you out to sea quickly.

“If you do get caught in one, the advice is to not to exhaust yourself trying to swim against it. Rather swim parallel to the beach until free of the narrow current and then head for shore.”

Gerard O’Flynn from the Irish Coast Guard also noted: “Record numbers are also taking to the water on craft such as paddleboards and kayaks, many for the first time, so it is important to always remember to wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid and to take a means of calling for help.”

Published in Water Safety

Ahead of the August Bank Holiday weekend, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI, Water Safety Ireland and Met Éireann are appealing for people to take care when they are on or near the water.

With many people continuing to enjoy the summer holidays or planning a break this weekend, the organisations are asking people to be particularly mindful to check weather forecasts and tide times before venturing out and if planning on entering the sea to know how to spot and safely handle a rip current.

If planning other activities such as paddleboarding, the request is to always go prepared so the water can be enjoyed safely.

Evelyn Cusack, head of forecasting in Met Éireann says: “While there will be some warm sunny spells, the weather will be mixed this weekend. For a detailed forecast for 10-days ahead for over 1,000 locations around Ireland including the beaches, lakes and mountains, go to met.ie.”

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Always check the weather and tide times.
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm such as a VHF radio or personal locator beacon (PLB) and a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch as back-up.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you are due back.
  • If going afloat, wear a lifejacket or suitable personal flotation device for your activity.
  • Never ever swim alone. Only swim in areas that are supervised by lifeguards or in areas with which you are familiar.
  • Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Kevin Rahill, RNLI water safety lead said: “This weekend will see spring tides so we would encourage anyone planning a walk or activity near the coast to check tide times before venturing out to avoid becoming cut off.

“The RNLI is also urging everyone to remember to ‘Float to Live’ if they do get into trouble in the water this weekend. To do this: Lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 for the coastguard.”

Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said: “We wish to thank the public for their cooperation and support and for the responsible approach displayed when participating in any water based or coastal activity.

“We would also advise people to avoid bringing inflatable toys to the beach, rivers or lake side as users can easily get swept away from the shore.”

Water Safety Ireland’s acting chief executive Roger Sweeney said: “Swimmers should watch out for rip currents which are one of the most dangerous natural hazards at Irish beaches.

“The strong channel of water running from a beach back to sea can be difficult to spot so the best way to avoid them is to swim at lifeguarded beaches between the red and yellow flags. If caught in one, don’t exhaust yourself trying to swim against it. Swim parallel to the beach until free of the narrow current and then head for shore.”

Published in Water Safety

A €6m revamp of Lahinch Leisure Centre in Co Clare, which includes a dedicated water safety centre, has been officially unveiled today (Monday 18 July) by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys.
 
The newly redesigned family-friendly, state-of-the-art facility features a 25-metre heated swimming pool, learner pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi besides the new Water Safety Ireland rescue centre.

A two-storey fitness gym overlooks the promenade and Liscannor Bay, with membership drawn from all over North and West Clare already exceeding 1,400 people.
 
Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, praised the wider community for its “steadfast support” for the development and he expressed his hope that future developments on site will further add to the amenities on offer.
 
“Today is about the future and a fantastic modern facility that is once again ready to serve another generation of residents and visitors to Lahinch, and the entire North and West Clare area,” he added.
 
Shane Talty, member of the board of Lahinch Leisure Centre and Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District said the upgrade is the first significant development on the site in more than 25 years and marks the beginning of a new phase of life for the historic community facility.
 
“The first development on this site was in 1963, when a forward thinking, progressive Community Development Association oversaw the provision of a dance hall and outdoor swimming pool,” Cllr Talty said. “That centre operated for the next 30 years, until the mid-1990s when a large-scale renovation saw the pool modernised and enclosed and an aquarium developed.”

Cllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council with Eoin Conlan, manager of Lahinch Lesiure Centre and Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development at the opening of the €6m revamp of the leisure centre | Credit: Eamon WardCllr Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council with Eoin Conlan, manager of Lahinch Lesiure Centre and Heather Humphreys, Minister for Rural and Community Development at the opening of the €6m revamp of the leisure centre | Credit: Eamon Ward
 
He continued: “The revamped facility opened in 1996 and served the community up to its closure in Dec 2019. By then, the structures had become dilapidated, the roof was badly leaking, and the pool plant room had reached end of life. Only the trojan efforts of the then Manager Joe Garrihy, his staff, the board chair Denis Creedon and the members somehow managed to keep the centre open for as long as they had.”
 
Cllr Talty noted that planning has already commenced regarding the proposed repurposing the community hall within the building and that further funding will be sought.
 
“Funding received under the department’s RRDF fund has also helped deliver new on-site public toilets as well as a new rescue centre developed by Clare Water Safety with our support in providing the required lands,” he added.

“We have been delighted with this model of collaboration between the Local Authority, Clare Water Safety and ourselves in making the centre a real hub for the community.”
 
Through funding support from the SEAI, the facility is a Nearly Zero-Energy Building (NZEB) delivering approximately €100,000 savings in annual energy costs. Additional funding from LEADER programme has delivered energy upgrade works to further heighten the environmental sustainability of the centre.
 
JADA Construction Ltd and Kelly RAC were the main contractors for the development while the design team comprised McKenna Consulting Engineers, Tom McNamara & Partners and Tipperary Energy Agency.

The facility upgrade has been funded by the Department of Community & Rural Development through the RRDF, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), the TOMAR Trust, LEADER, Clare County Council and local fundraising. See www.lahinchleisurecentre.ie for further information.

Published in Water Safety

As the June bank holiday approaches, the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued another joint water safety appeal — this time for the many thousands of people expected to take advantage of the break this weekend and visit the coast and inland waters.

The organisations are asking people to check that they have the correct equipment they need to enjoy their activities and that they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Water-based activities are safe and enjoyable with the right equipment. However, inflatable toys are not suitable for use in open water, including at the seaside, inland waters and rivers.

Inflatable toys, including dinghies and air mattresses, can quickly blow out to open waters or capsize. They should not be used in any open waters.

The three organisations have issued a joint water safety appeal as the summer months traditionally bring an increase in callouts for the search and rescue organisations, including coastguard and lifeboat crews, many of whom are volunteers.

As the popularity of kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding increases, the safety advice for these activities includes:

  • Always have a means for calling for help and make sure you can access it when you are out on the water
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return
  • Wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid
  • Always check the weather forecast and sea conditions before you set off
  • Paddle in a group where possible. If you're exploring somewhere new, seek knowledge from experienced practitioners in the area

“We want everybody to enjoy our waters but please pay attention to your own safety,” Irish Coast Guard operations manager Micheál O’Toole said.

“Never, ever swim alone and if you are using a boat or kayak, please ensure that if an emergency arises and you need assistance, that you are capable of contacting the coastguard with a marine VHF radio, PLB or EPIRB. Never rely on a mobile phone alone.”

RNLI water safety delivery support Lisa Hollingum said: “It’s great to see people getting out and taking part in water based activities this summer but it’s important to know what to do if something unexpected happens.

“There are so many great products on the market for water safety and something as simple as a water proof pouch to hold a means of communication for when you go out on a paddle board or kayak, can make all the difference.”

Water Safety Ireland’s acting chief executive Roger Sweeney added: “This weekend, the lifeguards trained and assessed by Water Safety Ireland begin summer patrols at local authority run bathing areas.

“Last year, they rescued 473 people and provided first aid to 6,700 people. This weekend, let them be there for you. Bring your loved ones to any of the lifeguarded waterways listed at watersafety.ie.”

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble, dial 999 or 112 or use VHF Channel 16 and ask for the coastguard.

Published in Water Safety

In the lead up to the May bank holiday weekend, the Coast Guard, RNLI and Water Safety Ireland have issued a joint water safety appeal, asking people to take some basic steps to stay safe, as incidents continue to occur as the weather improves and more people visit waterways nationwide or participate in coastal and inland aquatic activities.

There has been a seasonable increase in the overall number of search and rescue incidents with activity levels similar to recent years. The three organisations are drawing particular attention to the need for people involved in sea kayaking and similar activities, to receive proper training before going on the water, to carry a reliable means of calling for help and to tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back.

Water temperatures remain cold even at this time of year and Cold Water Shock can affect everyone. The three organisations advise everyone intending to take part in any water-based activity or coastal walks to take some basic steps in advance to keep safe.

If heading out on the water or visiting the coast:

  • Always check the weather and tides
  • Carry a reliable means of raising the alarm (i.e. VHF radio or phone)
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back
  • Wear a suitable Personal Flotation Device on the water
  • Watch out for incoming tides to avoid getting cut off. With High Tides ranging from midday to early evening depending on the part of the coast, it is important that people check before walking along the coast.

If you are swimming:

  • Water temperatures are still cold at this time of the year, consider wearing a wetsuit to stay warm
  • Acclimatise slowly
  • Wear a bright swimming cap and consider a tow float to increase your visibility
  • Never swim alone and always ensure that your activity is being monitored by a colleague

Micheál O’Toole, Irish Coast Guard Operations Manager, said: ‘It is important to have a means of communication if engaging in any water-based activity. When boating, carry a VHF radio, backed up by flares, PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Never solely rely on a mobile phone.’

He added ‘that prior to undertaking any boat activity please ensure that equipment is fit for purpose and that a shore-based contact is aware of your plans and estimated duration.’

Kevin Rahill, RNLI Water Safety Lead, added: ‘Many people will be taking to the water for the first time this year and this is a good time to think about checking your equipment, especially your lifejacket. We recommend that people get their lifejackets serviced annually. Not everyone intends to end up in the water. If you fall in unexpectedly, remember to ‘Float to Live’ – lie on your back and spread your arms and legs, gently moving them to keep afloat. Keep floating until you feel your breath coming back before calling for help or swimming ashore if nearby.

‘For visitors and people new to our shores, the RNLI has a range of translated safety resources in many languages which are available to download here: https://rnli.org/safety/multi-lingual-resources

Roger Sweeney, Water Safety Ireland’s Acting CEO, cautions: ‘Muscle cooling due to hypothermia is a factor in many drownings. Swim within your depth and keep it short as warm air does not mean warm water, especially in May. Children require close, constant, uninterrupted supervision. When shoreline walking, beware of being stranded by incoming tides. Many recently arrived Ukrainians have never visited a beach and are unfamiliar with such stranding risks. Please help to keep them safe by reaching out in your community with the translated advice at; www.watersafety.ie/ukraine ’

If you see somebody in trouble on the water or along the coast, or think they are in trouble; Dial 112 or use VHF radio CH 16 and ask for the Coast Guard.

Published in Coastguard

The Chief Executive of Water Safety Ireland, the State organisation headquartered in Galway, has retired. John Leech had been CEO for 21 years.

“When I joined the organisation the 10-year annual average of fatal drownings was 185, today it is 115 and thankfully the trend is downward,” he said on announcing is retirement.

“Our membership was less than 1,000 whilst today it is over 5,500. In terms of lifesaving sport we had two weekends of sport each year. We now have 22 or 23 competitions each year and we had no vehicles, boats craft or buildings, WSI now has lots of equipment, boats, buildings, vehicles now to enable it to run training programmes and sports competitions.”

Before joining Water Safety Ireland he had served with the Navy as a Lt.Commander and was involved in developing the Naval Service Diving Unit.

Water Safety Ireland is a statutory, voluntary body and registered charity established to promote water safety and reduce drownings in Ireland.

Published in Water Safety

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today appointed Clare McGrath as the new Chair of Water Safety Ireland (WSI), which works to prevent drownings.

Ms McGrath has been a lifelong advocate for drowning prevention and in addition to being a volunteer with WSI and serving on the WSI Council, is the Water Safety Development Officer with Clare County Council since 2014.

Ms McGrath received a thirty-year Long Service Award at the WSI National Awards Ceremony in November for her voluntary efforts as an Instructor, Examiner and Tutor and her experience predates this Award, having won National Lifesaving Competitions aged sixteen and lifeguarding at seventeen. As a current member of the WSI Council, she has helped to develop a National Drowning Prevention Strategy. As the current Chair of the WSI Sports Commission, she has played a key role in developing Lifesaving Sport in which participation levels are at an all-time high. 

Currently the Chair of the Federation of Irish Sport, and the former Chair of Swim Ireland, Ms McGrath has a particular penchant for teaching the Water Safety Ireland Lifeguarding and Lifesaving Sport syllabus through which a corps of Lifeguards is educated so that waterways and pools have competent cover to protect the public.

Announcing the appointment, Minister Humphreys said: “I am delighted to appoint Clare McGrath as the new Chairperson of the Council to Water Safety Ireland. Clare brings a wealth of experience as a lifelong member of Water Safety Ireland and Swim Ireland. I also want to acknowledge the contribution of Martin O’Sullivan, the outgoing Chair, and to thank him for his strong contribution and dedication to Water Safety Ireland over several years. WSI is an organisation with a rich history of volunteerism and is deeply committed to these volunteers who teach swimming, lifesaving and promote drowning prevention initiatives nationwide. WSI has been consistently to the fore in raising awareness of the dangers of drowning in water over many years as well as the education and training of thousands of people in water safety.” 

Commenting on her appointment as WSI Chair, Ms McGrath said: “My objective is to bring drownings down by promoting the necessary rescue skills, attitudes and behaviours that will prevent drownings and water related accidents. I very much look forward to working with the WSI Council and engaging it’s Commissions, the thirty Water Safety Area Committees nationwide and it’s members, Local Authorities, and other Agencies to develop policies and projects that help encourage more participation and engagement at all levels. Over the next five years as Chairperson I look forward to providing leadership to the Council in the continued delivery of Ireland’s National Drowning Prevention Strategy 2018-2027, and the strategic development of the organisation. I thank the outgoing Chair Martin O’Sullivan for his commitment and the WSI staff for the support they give to drowning prevention.” 

The CEO of WSI, John Leech and staff welcome this appointment and look forward to working with Ms McGrath on delivering many projects ahead.

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