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Displaying items by tag: Donaghadee

Donaghadee RNLI rescued a lone sailor on Friday afternoon (18 November) after his 27ft yacht broke down off the Copeland Islands north of Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula.

The volunteer crew were requested by Belfast Coastguard to launch their all-weather lifeboat just after 11.30am and go to the aid of the sailor, who had got into difficulty during his passage from Kircubbin on Strangford Lough to Carrickfergus.

The lifeboat, under coxswain John Ashwood and with five crew onboard, was launched immediately from Donaghadee and made its way to the scene half a mile northwest of Lighthouse Island.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging with a Force 5-6 northwesterly fresh breeze and a lumpy swell.

Once on scene, the crew observed that the sailor was safe and well. He had got into difficulty when a rope was caught around a propellor of the yacht, causing the engine to cut out and leave him without power which also led the vessel to drift. He raised the alarm via his mobile phone.

With the lifeboat alongside the yacht, the crew assessed the situation and a decision was made to pass a towline to the sailor. This proved difficult given the weather and the swell, but a tow was successfully established.

With the yacht under tow, the lifeboat began to make slow progress in the weather to reach the nearest safe port at Bangor Marina, a passage that took approximately an hour.

Speaking following the callout, Ashwood said: “We found the sailor safe and well and wearing his buoyancy aid but as he was very cold, we were glad to bring him back to the safety of the shore in Bangor.

“We would encourage anyone planning a trip to sea at this time of year to go prepared. Always check the weather forecast and tide times and always wear the appropriate clothing for your activity.

“Check your engine is well maintained and that you have the appropriate means of calling for help should you need it such as a VHF radio or a mobile phone. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been abandoned, lost, or discarded in the ocean.

They are a major environmental hazard to marine and other wildlife, contributing to an estimated 10% of all marine plastic as well as causing harm to two-thirds of marine species.

Wildlife trapped in nets can succumb to a slow, inhumane death, whilst ingestion of marine plastic is a massive issue.

Ards and North Down Council recently posted on Facebook that its Parks Team had managed to remove and safely dispose of a ‘ghost’ net from the beach at The Parade in Donaghadee, a seaside town on the north County Down coast. The Council had received notification of it from a member of the marine conservation charity Sea Shepherd NI, and it turned out to be larger than anticipated.

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Donaghadee RNLI’s volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat yesterday (Sunday 19 June) to reports of a kayaker who appeared to be struggling against the tide in strong offshore winds just off Cloughey Beach on Northern Ireland’s Ards Peninsula.

Pages sounded at 2.17pm and a crew of six under the command of coxswain Philip McNamara launched Saxon into a moderate to rough sea, with a Force 6-7 northwesterly wind and excellent visibility.

While the crew were making full speed to the last reported position of the kayaker, Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team — who were already on scene — kept eyes on the paddler some 2km north of the North Rock.

It transpired that the casualty had initially been out in a blue kayak and had got into difficulties. He managed to swim ashore and proceeded to go out in a yellow kayak in order to recovery the blue one. With a strong offshore wind and unable to locate the blue kayak, he attempted to return to shore and began to struggle.

At around 2.55pm, HM Coastguard also tasked a search and rescue helicopter which was en route from Prestwick. In the meantime the Portaferry coastguard team were able to report that the casualty had drifted to 1km north of the North Rock.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew quickly located the casualty sheltering on the North Rock itself. Due to shallow conditions and the sea state beyond the capability of the lifeboat’s daughter boat, second coxswain John Ashwood used a loudhailer to request the kayaker make his way off the rock and toward Saxon. He was able to do this and he was recovered onto the safety of the lifeboat. Subsequently, the search and rescue helicopter was stood down.

Once onboard, a casualty care assessment was carried out to ensure the kayaker was not suffering any ill effects from the situation and it was determined that he was well. Shortly after he was returned to shore at Portavogie Harbour where he was reunited with his son and handed over to the care of the Portaferry Coastguard Rescue Team.

Brian McLawrence, Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “There was great teamwork today between the coastguard rescue team and ourselves; a pleasure to work with them as always.

“Time is of the essence in these situations. We would advise that as soon as you suspect that you or a loved one is in trouble, waste no time, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

McLawrence added: “The man was lucky to get to the relative safety of the North Rock itself. We wish him all the best and hope he enjoyed the remainder of his Father’s Day.

“We do recommend if you are going to enjoy the water on a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard that you wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, and carry a means of communication such as a VHF radio or your mobile phone in a waterproof case – it could save your life.”

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte, and Donaghadee RNLI volunteers at the lifeboat station’s open day on Saturday 18 June | Credit: RNLI/Margaret RammMayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte, and Donaghadee RNLI volunteers at the lifeboat station’s open day on Saturday 18 June | Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

The previous day, Donaghadee RNLI held its annual lifeboat open day which gave the general public have access to the all-weather lifeboat Saxon, where they were greeted by volunteer crew members and given a tour of the boat.

There were record numbers queuing right around the lighthouse for the whole day. The harbour itself was busy with stalls, games and food outlets and the lifeboat shop reported a roaring trade all day.

The lifeboat station was also open and welcomed many visitors throughout the day, with tea and coffee, sandwiches and buns, all supplied by volunteer crew members, partners and family.

Visitors throughout the day included Mayor of Ards and North Down, Karen Douglas who joined in the morning for a tour of the station and lifeboat.

She was joined by one of the station’s most avid supporters, six-year-old Quinn Whyte. Quinn is passionate about the RNLI and lifeboats; he visits them all over the country and has his bedroom decorated in lifeboat memorabilia.

He started to support Donaghadee RNLI’s ‘Betty’s 5p Pots’ campaign earlier in the year, whereby you fill a small jam jar with 5ps and donate them at the lifeboat shop. So far this year he has collected a massive 87 pots — with each one holding around £2.25, that’s quite the achievement.

Mayor Douglas with Quinn at the helm of the all-weather lifeboat Saxon | Credit: RNLI/Margaret RammMayor Douglas with Quinn at the helm of the all-weather lifeboat Saxon | Credit: RNLI/Margaret Ramm

The volunteer team were delighted to Quinn him around the station and the lifeboat as a treat, and fully expect to see him joining the crew in the future.

The station also had a visit from Helen Winter and her son Patrick who made a very generous donation in memory of Helen’s late husband Harold Winter, who was a passionate fundraiser for the RNLI during his lifetime. Patrick himself is an avid sailor and fully appreciates the requirement for and the service of the RNLI.

The day finished with a display by the lifeboat and crew, and volunteer Rebecca McCarthy used her stand-up paddleboard to paddle into the harbour and demonstrate how to attract attention if you are in difficulty as well as the importance of carrying a flare and a means of communication.

The lifeboat came alongside Rebecca and another crew member, Nicola Butler, jumped into the water in full lifeboat PPE to demonstrate the use of the A frame, which is required to get casualties out of the water. Everyone watching appeared to enjoy the display and congratulated the crew with a warm round of applause.

Evelyn Bennett, chair of the Donaghadee fundraising team said: “Everyone at our station, crew and fundraisers, are over the moon at how our open day went, especially given that this was our first since 2019.

“The support we get from the public is what enables our volunteer crew to go to sea and save lives. We rely on donations and legacies and we are delighted to say that this year’s lifeboat day has raised in excess of £2,400 with some monies still to come in. This sum is takings from the entry to the lifeboat, stallholders and the collection buckets on the day.

“Our lifeboat shop and stall on the harbour was certainly kept busy raising in excess of £1,100 — a truly successful and thoroughly enjoyable day all round. We cannot thank the everyone enough for coming along and enjoying the day with us and look forward to next year!”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat was launched on Sunday 12 June, at the request of Belfast Coastguard to come to the assistance of a small speedboat that had broken down and was drifting out to sea.

The volunteer crew were paged and requested to launch by the Coastguard at 9.42 pm after a report from a member of the public on Ballyhalbert harbour that a small speedboat was adrift.

With good visibility, a slight sea state and light westerly winds the lifeboat Saxon launched with a complement of seven volunteer crew members onboard and made full speed to the reported location of the casualty vessel in roughly 35 minutes.

Upon arriving on scene the crew members ascertained that the three people on board were in good health, a towline was secured to the vessel and it was towed into Ballyhalbert harbour to the care of the Coastguard Rescue Team.

Saxon returned to Donaghadee Harbour at approximately 11.12 pm, where the crew members cleaned the boat down and made it ready for the next call out.

John Ashwood, Volunteer Coxswain commented ‘ A good outcome this evening as we were alerted while we still had some light, albeit fading, otherwise this could have been a different scenario. We strongly advise that if you are going to sea that you carry a means of communication, preferably a VHF radio which the lifeboat can use to locate your position. The importance of wearing proper life jackets can never be underestimated too. We were glad to get the casualty vessel and three crew members into the safety of Ballyhalbert Harbour.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat was launched yesterday, Thursday 09 June, to assist a French yacht which had run aground at Ballyferris Point, in County Down.

The volunteer crew of Donaghadee Lifeboat were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard yesterday at 11.56 am to reports of a 9-metre yacht which had run aground on rocks just off Ballyferris Point, roughly 6 miles South of Donaghadee.

The yacht, with a French lone sailor onboard was en route from Arklow to Bangor when he ran aground on rocks and used his VHF radio to contact the Coastguard for help.

The lifeboat made full speed in a moderate sea, fair visibility and with a fresh south-easterly wind were on scene at 12.24 pm. The crew assessed the situation and with the aid of a local rib passed a 150 metre towline to the yacht. A tow was attempted but due to a rapidly falling tide and the yacht being well stuck, but with no danger to the yacht or sailor, the decision was made for the lifeboat to return to Donaghadee and allow the tide to rise.

Saxon was relaunched again and back on scene at approximately 3 pm, where the tide had come in enough to allow the yacht to begin to float. Crew members launched the smaller daughter boat with Chris Stewart and David Cull aboard and re-attached a new towline. A fresh attempt was made to tow the yacht off the rocks again but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the yacht did float free itself and Chris Stewart boarded the yacht. An experienced sailor himself, Chris was able to sail the yacht and allow the gentleman to assess the damage, of which there didn’t appear to be anything major.

After discussion with the yachtsman, it was agreed that he would be towed to the safety of Bangor Marina where he could fully assess for damage before attempting to continue his journey toward Scotland and on to Norway.

The yacht was assisted with its berthing in Bangor Marina by the Bangor Coastguard Rescue team.

As the lifeboat was leaving Bangor Harbour at 5.53 pm to return to Donaghadee they were requested again by Belfast Coastguard to attend to a second yacht that needed assistance.

The 11-metre German yacht with a couple onboard was struggling to make headway through Donaghadee Sound. They were sailing toward Bangor and due to a strong tide, a drop in the wind and the loss of their main engine, they were not making any headway.

They contacted the Coastguard via their VHF radio and asked for assistance as they were beginning to suffer from exhaustion.

Saxon arrived on the scene to the yacht which was at the north end of Big Copeland Island, less than 10 minutes later and a crew member proceeded to pass a tow rope to the struggling vessel.

At this stage the conditions had improved slightly compared to earlier in the day, visibility was excellent and the sea state was slight.

After a 40-minute tow, the yacht and its tired crew were delivered to the safety of Bangor Marina and once again were assisted with berthing by four of the Coastguard Rescue Team.

The lifeboat and the crew returned to the station and made the boat ready for its next service.

Philip McNamara, Donaghadee Lifeboat Coxswain commented ‘A busy week for our crew members as we did in fact have three callouts this week and also had a visit from our Chief Executive. As always, I commend the crew as they are a credit to the station with their dedication and ability to turn up and get the boat to sea at the drop of a hat.

We would like to extend our gratitude to the owner of the local rib who assisted us with the French yacht, it is much appreciated.

Even the most experienced sailors can run into difficulty or suffer from fatigue, and it is a positive thing to recognise when you need assistance and ask for it as early as possible – so well done to both yacht owners in their professionalism. We do always recommend that before going to sea you have a working means of communicating with the Coastguard, carry lifejackets and safety equipment, lots of advice can be found on the RNLI website.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat was launched on Thursday 19 May, to assist a yacht taking water onboard approximately 12 miles North East of Bangor, County Down.

The volunteer crew of Donaghadee Lifeboat were requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard on Thursday at 3.22 pm to reports of an 8-metre yacht in difficulty at the mouth of Belfast Lough.

The yacht, with 3 people onboard, left Stranraer at 9.45am and was en route to Bangor when it requested assistance from the Coastguard due to taking on water. They reported that they could see Kilroot Power Station but were unable to narrow down their position.

In moderate sea conditions but good visibility Donaghadee Lifeboat Saxon, launched at 3.33pm and proceeded at full speed toward Belfast Lough. Meanwhile, Irish Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter 118, which had been on another callout further North, were able to offer assistance in locating the yacht.

To help find them, the crew of the yacht set off a red flare, enabling the crew of the lifeboat to determine their position and consequently Saxon was on scene at 4.11pm followed shortly by the Search and Rescue helicopter.

As the vessels own pump was doing a sufficient job at keeping the water at bay, the crew on the lifeboat established a tow-line to the stricken yacht and proceeded to tow at a speed of approximately 5 knots to the safe haven of Bangor Marina, arriving shortly after 6pm.

The lifeboat refuelled and returned to Donaghadee Harbour and were available for their next callout shortly after 7pm.

Earlier in the week on Tuesday 17 May at 5.55 am, the volunteer crew were launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard after reports from a member of the general public who reported sightings of a man in a small boat holding onto a lobster pot just North of Ballywalter Harbour. The lifeboat launched into moderate/rough conditions and proceeded at full speed toward the casualty, who’s outboard engine had broken down. It transpired that the casualty had contacted a family member with a boat to assist, the lifeboat stayed on scene until the assisting vessel arrived and returned to Donaghadee Harbour at 7.20 am.

Philip McNamara, Donaghadee Lifeboat Coxswain commented ‘Two positive results this week from our callouts – a credit to the member of the public who called in the the small punt holding onto the lobster pot, we would always encourage the public to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if they are worried, the earlier we are launched the more likely a positive result.

We were happy to ensure the remaining safe passage of the 8 metre yacht into Bangor Marina, again the importance of asking for help as earlier as possible to ensure a positive outcome played a big part in this callout, also having the relevant equipment onboard to help us locate you is essential. As always the crew’s quick response and skill were superb, and I extend my thanks to them.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Take a walk from Donaghadee Harbour east towards the Commons on the North Down coast and you’ll see the 70-year-old Sir Samuel Kelly lifeboat in its purpose-built shed near the Harbour.

Protected now from the elements, it is being restored by the Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Co. Ltd. in what has proved to be a long-term project.

Sir Samuel Kelly was a well-known Belfast coal importer and philanthropist whose widow bequeathed in 1950 to the RNLI the cost of a new lifeboat for Donaghadee. The vessel was named after Sir Samuel and today can be seen overlooking the North Channel where it made in 1953 probably its most famous rescue under Coxwain Hugh Nelson, when it saved 33 survivors of the sinking of the Stranraer – Larne car ferry, the MV Princess Victoria.

Coxswain Hugh Nelson Photo: S CochraneCoxswain Hugh Nelson Photo: S Cochrane

Hugh Nelson was awarded the British Empire Medal for courage on that day. In I976 it became a reserve lifeboat stationed at the opposite end of Ireland at Courtmacherry on the County Cork coast. From there it saw action in the storm struck Fastnet yacht race in 1979.

Sir Samuel Kelly Lifeboat and crew Photo courtesy: County Down SpectatorThe Sir Samuel Kelly Lifeboat and crew Photo courtesy: County Down Spectator

The 47 ft Watson class lifeboat was built by J Samuel & Co in Cowes and has two diesel engines. As a vessel that would often have to operate in dangerously shallow waters, the propellers are cleverly protected by the curved shape of the hull.

The Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Company is a not-for-profit charitable company, formed by local volunteers in Northern Ireland in 2015. It aims to advance and promote education, heritage, and culture, primarily by the conservation, rehabilitation, maintenance, and protection of the historic lifeboat Sir Samuel Kelly.

Sir Samuel Kelly in its purpose made shelterSir Samuel Kelly in its purpose made shelter

On retirement, the lifeboat was bought by the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra and arrived back in Northern Ireland in 1980. But funds had not been found to maintain and restore her and with the agreement of the museum the lifeboat was brought to Donaghadee. She was cleaned and painted before being left on display to the public in the Commons car park where she sat for 30 years.

After the formation of the Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Company in 2015 ownership of the boat was transferred to the local council’s North Down Museum and later the Company signed a loan agreement for the lifeboat with Ards and North Down Borough Council in addition to a lease for the compound in which it is located.

Chairman if the Donaghadee Heritage Company explains. “Three years ago, over the “Kelly” we erected a steel-framed shelter, clad in perspex and netting. This has allowed the Lifeboat to dry out after 70 years or more open to the elements, both at sea and at its current location ashore. This excellent structure has also enabled work to be done in relative comfort, sheltered from the worst of the weather. To date, it is our biggest and best investment!”.

Now the temporary shelter aims not only to reduce the destructive processes of the weathering that jeopardises the lifeboat's future and provide a base for the conservation work to take place but has allowed the creation of a new public interpretation space for the town to raise the profile of the longer-term project for which the vision is to exhibit the wider maritime heritage of Donaghadee.

A recent specialist survey highlighted the areas of the boat requiring attention and the Company is concentrating on these activities. Considerable funding will also be necessary to complete the conservation and refurbishment work over the coming years. Virtually all this work is done by volunteers, several of whom have experience in particular skills such as painting and metalwork.

Since the formation of Donaghadee Heritage Preservation Company, the Sir Samuel Kelly Project has enjoyed the support of the local community and Ards and North Down Borough Council. The Company, together with many local organisations has run events providing the funds for the shelter. The local council has been very supportive in facilitating the loan agreement for the lifeboat and the lease for the site. In addition, the parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to work together to achieve a satisfactory outcome to the project. The aim is to provide a permanent home for the refurbished Sir Samuel Kelly and other exhibits in a Heritage Centre.

Sir Samuel Kelly lifeboat Photo: National Historic Ships UKSir Samuel Kelly lifeboat Photo: National Historic Ships UK

Alan Couser anticipates another couple of years of work on the Sir Samuel Kelly Lifeboat to bring it up to museum standard. “We are already seeking out the possibilities of housing it in a permanent Heritage and Education Centre. Ideally, this would be built adjacent to the current Community Centre, which is close to the harbour. It would become a major attraction and centre of interest in that part of the town. Our team is currently in talks with consultants tasked with the redevelopment of the area and we believe we have a strong case. In the meantime, we continue to progress our work preserving the Lifeboat to the best of our ability, trusting it will last another 70 years and serve as a reminder of the lives saved and lost over her lifetime”.

Published in Historic Boats
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Donaghadee RNLI carried out a medevac of a passenger who became ill on a cruise ship that left Belfast Lough on Friday evening (17 September).

The volunteer crew were requested by Belfast Coastguard to launch their all-weather lifeboat Saxon shortly after 6pm and go to the aid of the female casualty.

The lifeboat launched at 6.12pm under coxswain Philip McNamara and seven crew members onboard and was on scene within half an hour. Weather conditions had a north-easterly Force 3 wind with calm seas and slight rain.

he lifeboat crew liaised with the ship and the ship’s doctor on the condition of the casualty before transferring the

After liaising with the ship and the ship’s doctor on the casualty’s condition, the RNLI crew transferred her onto the lifeboat and administer casualty care.

The lifeboat then proceeded to Bangor Marina with the casualty and another passenger, and once returned to shore the patient was transferred into the care of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Speaking following the callout, McNamara said: “We were glad to be able to help tonight and would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery.

“I would also like to commend our volunteer crew who turned out so quickly in numbers this evening ensuring we could get our help to the casualty as soon as we could.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The opinion is divided in Donaghadee about the Ards and North Down Borough Council plans to create within the harbour a 'recreational area' outside of the inner portion but still within harbour limits. The recreational area would be a safe area for non-motorised craft and swimmers to use, without fear of collisions with motorised craft.

Donaghadee Harbour lies on the north County Down coast and is a picturesque port in which the lifeboat Saxon has its home along with several boats on moorings and some small working fishing and tourist vessels. It has always been an irresistible attraction for those keen on jumping into and swimming in the sheltered (in most wind directions) waters.

At present, as well as those swimming within the harbour, many use the slipway to the west. The recreational area would be clearly identified on signage and demarcated by buoys throughout the bay.

Donaghadee Harbour lies on the north County Down coast and is a picturesque portDonaghadee Harbour lies on the north County Down coast and is a picturesque port

The Council says that all its harbours currently have restrictions in place to prohibit swimming within the inner harbour area where vessels may be manoeuvring. However, every summer the Harbour Master must continually challenge people who are either unaware of the restrictions or unwilling to abide by them. Donaghadee has a considerable number of daily kayakers and paddle boarders and the interestingly named Chunky Dunkers sea swimmers' group, who for the most part operate outside of the inner harbour and officers are keen to find a balance between the necessary safety considerations and the encouragement of these healthy activities.

It could be said that swimming in a restricted area isn't the same as the fun to be had jumping into the deep harbour!

In preparation for summer, officers wish to increase general awareness of the restrictions and hazards with the introduction of new, improved signage at all Council harbours. The signage will highlight potential hazards to harbour users and list all restrictions and prohibitions, such as swimming. It will also show the exact location using the "what3words" system.

Councillor Janice McArthur represents Donaghadee on the Council. Her attention was drawn to the fact that nowhere in the proposal does it mention that the recreational area dries out at low tide she replies, " Yes, that's a given.

However, people can, if competent, use the area beyond this. The key thing is that they do not use the working harbour space. The designated area, although tidal, is also a safe zone". She continued, "The use of paddleboards is becoming increasingly popular too so it provides a safe recreational area for this to take place. The proposal has received considerable support locally but Council officers will consult with stakeholders".
Regarding the slipway which is used by the sailing club, it was confirmed that craft launching from the jetty would have precedence.

And resident Robert Neill is cautious. " Swimmers really only go in at high tide (ie the Chunky Dunkers) so at least they are protected - don't think it will look very attractive".

John Caldwell, Hon Secretary of the Donaghadee Community Development Association, said, "The Association supports the idea. We want Donaghadee to be safely enjoyed by everyone, and the harbour and seafront are very popular with swimmers, kayakers and sailors. The harbour does, of course, need to continue to operate as a harbour and zoning off an area for recreational use strikes an appropriate balance between this and the needs of those wishing to take part in activities other than sailing."

Martin Strain of the Chunky Dunkers swim group says that " at this very early point we would give it a cautious welcome. Fundamental matters such as its precise area, how and who is going to 'police' it remain important issues that will ultimately determine the success or otherwise of the plan. However, generally speaking, we welcome any input or recognition by the Council that there is a burgeoning interest in water sports of all kinds in our town and that as ratepayers we are entitled to some Council funded facilities".

Published in Irish Harbours
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Plans are afoot to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the building of the present harbour at Donaghadee, a small port on the north coast of County Down, but unearthing the Time Capsule, buried 24 feet below the pier during construction, will not, according to the County Down Spectator newspaper, be possible as the whole harbour has Industrial Heritage designation and Listed Building status which prohibits any disruption to the original structure.

The Bicentenary of the harbour will, Covid 19 restrictions and budget permitting, take place in early August this year. The port lies on the opposite side of the North Channel about 13 miles from Portpatrick on the Mull of Galloway in Scotland.

Donaghadee has had a harbour since the  mid-17th Century Donaghadee has had a harbour since the mid-17th Century

Donaghadee has had a harbour since the mid-17th Century when the Scot, Sir Hugh Montgomery, an aristocrat and soldier, established a settlement in Ireland in 1606 (preceding the Plantation of Ulster) and claimed a share of the lands in North Down which had belonged to the last great Gaelic Lord, Con O'Neill.

A David Kennedy painting of Donaghdee Harbour in 1834A David Kennedy painting of Donaghadee Harbour in 1834

Montgomery had built a large stone quay to accommodate vessels ferrying between Donaghadee and Portpatrick with the main export from Ireland being cattle. But it became clear by the early 19th century that there were problems with both ports and after an exhaustive inquiry, it was concluded that "the passage between the two Kingdoms would be greatly facilitated and accelerated by the improvement of the harbours at Portpatrick and Donaghadee", thus giving the latter a new lease of life.

Plans and surveys for this ambitious undertaking were made by John Rennie Senior, the celebrated engineer whose works included Waterloo, Southwark and London Bridges on the River Thames. He died within two months of work beginning, and was succeeded by his son, John, later Sir John Rennie who worked with fellow Scot, the seasoned marine builder, David Logan.

A coal boat in Donaghdee HarbourA coal boat in Donaghadee Harbour in the early 1950s

The new harbour had to have greater depth to accommodate steam packets. Rock blasted from the seabed, within the harbour area and further south in what became known as the Quarry Hole (now a small marina), was used to form the outer slopes of the two piers; but the inner faces were built of limestone from the quarries of Anglesea. The harbour consists of two independent piers running north-westwards out to sea; parallel nearer the shore, they converge at the outer ends to form a harbour mouth 150 feet (46 m) wide.

Day trip boats for the Copeland Islands gather at Donaghdee HarbourDay trip boats for the Copeland Islands gather at Donaghdee Harbour

John Caldwell of the Donaghadee Community Development Association is working very closely with the Ards and North Down Council on the detailed planning of the weekend. He said "I very much hope that we are able to celebrate the bicentenary of Donaghadee's iconic harbour in a meaningful way. The draft programme has something for everyone with a wide variety of activities aimed at people of all ages. It promises to be a super weekend".

Among the events planned are concerts, harbour sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding and coastal rowing as well as a Classic Yacht Regatta. And so it is hoped that this summer, the engineer John Rennie designed harbour, will be able to be celebrated, 200 years after the laying of the foundation stone on July 31st 1821.

Published in Irish Harbours
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Ireland's offshore islands

Around 30 of Ireland's offshore islands are inhabited and hold a wealth of cultural heritage.

A central Government objective is to ensure that sustainable vibrant communities continue to live on the islands.

Irish offshore islands FAQs

Technically, it is Ireland itself, as the third largest island in Europe.

Ireland is surrounded by approximately 80 islands of significant size, of which only about 20 are inhabited.

Achill island is the largest of the Irish isles with a coastline of almost 80 miles and has a population of 2,569.

The smallest inhabited offshore island is Inishfree, off Donegal.

The total voting population in the Republic's inhabited islands is just over 2,600 people, according to the Department of Housing.

Starting with west Cork, and giving voting register numbers as of 2020, here you go - Bere island (177), Cape Clear island (131),Dursey island (6), Hare island (29), Whiddy island (26), Long island, Schull (16), Sherkin island (95). The Galway islands are Inis Mór (675), Inis Meáin (148), Inis Oírr (210), Inishbofin (183). The Donegal islands are Arranmore (513), Gola (30), Inishboffin (63), Inishfree (4), Tory (140). The Mayo islands, apart from Achill which is connected by a bridge, are Clare island (116), Inishbiggle (25) and Inishturk (52).

No, the Gaeltacht islands are the Donegal islands, three of the four Galway islands (Inishbofin, like Clifden, is English-speaking primarily), and Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire in west Cork.

Lack of a pier was one of the main factors in the evacuation of a number of islands, the best known being the Blasket islands off Kerry, which were evacuated in November 1953. There are now three cottages available to rent on the Great Blasket island.

In the early 20th century, scholars visited the Great Blasket to learn Irish and to collect folklore and they encouraged the islanders to record their life stories in their native tongue. The three best known island books are An tOileánach (The Islandman) by Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig by Peig Sayers, and Fiche Blian ag Fás (Twenty Years A-Growing) by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Former taoiseach Charles J Haughey also kept a residence on his island, Inishvickillaune, which is one of the smaller and less accessible Blasket islands.

Charles J Haughey, as above, or late Beatle musician, John Lennon. Lennon bought Dorinish island in Clew Bay, south Mayo, in 1967 for a reported £1,700 sterling. Vendor was Westport Harbour Board which had used it for marine pilots. Lennon reportedly planned to spend his retirement there, and The Guardian newspaper quoted local estate agent Andrew Crowley as saying he was "besotted with the place by all accounts". He did lodge a planning application for a house, but never built on the 19 acres. He offered it to Sid Rawle, founder of the Digger Action Movement and known as the "King of the Hippies". Rawle and 30 others lived there until 1972 when their tents were burned by an oil lamp. Lennon and Yoko Ono visited it once more before his death in 1980. Ono sold the island for £30,000 in 1984, and it is widely reported that she donated the proceeds of the sale to an Irish orphanage


Yes, Rathlin island, off Co Antrim's Causeway Coast, is Ireland's most northerly inhabited island. As a special area of conservation, it is home to tens of thousands of sea birds, including puffins, kittiwakes, razorbills and guillemots. It is known for its Rathlin golden hare. It is almost famous for the fact that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, retreated after being defeated by the English at Perth and hid in a sea cave where he was so inspired by a spider's tenacity that he returned to defeat his enemy.

No. The Aran islands have a regular ferry and plane service, with ferries from Ros-a-Mhíl, south Connemara all year round and from Doolin, Co Clare in the tourist season. The plane service flies from Indreabhán to all three islands. Inishbofin is connected by ferry from Cleggan, Co Galway, while Clare island and Inishturk are connected from Roonagh pier, outside Louisburgh. The Donegal islands of Arranmore and Tory island also have ferry services, as has Bere island, Cape Clear and Sherkin off Cork. How are the island transport services financed? The Government subsidises transport services to and from the islands. The Irish Coast Guard carries out medical evacuations, as to the RNLI lifeboats. Former Fianna Fáíl minister Éamon Ó Cuív is widely credited with improving transport services to and from offshore islands, earning his department the nickname "Craggy island".

Craggy Island is an bleak, isolated community located of the west coast, inhabited by Irish, a Chinese community and one Maori. Three priests and housekeeper Mrs Doyle live in a parochial house There is a pub, a very small golf course, a McDonald's fast food restaurant and a Chinatown... Actually, that is all fiction. Craggy island is a figment of the imagination of the Father Ted series writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, for the highly successful Channel 4 television series, and the Georgian style parochial house on the "island" is actually Glenquin House in Co Clare.

Yes, that is of the Plassey, a freighter which was washed up on Inis Oírr in bad weather in 1960.

There are some small privately owned islands,and islands like Inishlyre in Co Mayo with only a small number of residents providing their own transport. Several Connemara islands such as Turbot and Inishturk South have a growing summer population, with some residents extending their stay during Covid-19. Turbot island off Eyrephort is one such example – the island, which was first spotted by Alcock and Brown as they approached Ireland during their epic transatlantic flight in 1919, was evacuated in 1978, four years after three of its fishermen drowned on the way home from watching an All Ireland final in Clifden. However, it is slowly being repopulated

Responsibility for the islands was taking over by the Department of Rural and Community Development . It was previously with the Gaeltacht section in the Department of Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

It is a periodic bone of contention, as Ireland does not have the same approach to its islands as Norway, which believes in right of access. However, many improvements were made during Fianna Fáíl Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív's time as minister. The Irish Island Federation, Comdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, represents island issues at national and international level.

The 12 offshore islands with registered voters have long argued that having to cast their vote early puts them at a disadvantage – especially as improved transport links mean that ballot boxes can be transported to the mainland in most weather conditions, bar the winter months. Legislation allowing them to vote on the same day as the rest of the State wasn't passed in time for the February 2020 general election.

Yes, but check tide tables ! Omey island off north Connemara is accessible at low tide and also runs a summer race meeting on the strand. In Sligo, 14 pillars mark the way to Coney island – one of several islands bearing this name off the Irish coast.

Cape Clear or Oileán Chléire is the country's most southerly inhabited island, eight miles off the west Cork coast, and within sight of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, also known as the "teardrop of Ireland".
Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast, which has a monastic site dating from the 6th century. It is accessible by boat – prebooking essential – from Portmagee, Co Kerry. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was not open to visitors in 2020.
All islands have bird life, but puffins and gannets and kittiwakes are synonymous with Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Rathlin island off Antrim and Cape Clear off west Cork have bird observatories. The Saltee islands off the Wexford coast are privately owned by the O'Neill family, but day visitors are permitted access to the Great Saltee during certain hours. The Saltees have gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters.
Vikings used Dublin as a European slaving capital, and one of their bases was on Dalkey island, which can be viewed from Killiney's Vico road. Boat trips available from Coliemore harbour in Dalkey. Birdwatch Ireland has set up nestboxes here for roseate terns. Keep an eye out also for feral goats.
Plenty! There are regular boat trips in summer to Inchagoill island on Lough Corrib, while the best known Irish inshore island might be the lake isle of Innisfree on Sligo's Lough Gill, immortalised by WB Yeats in his poem of the same name. Roscommon's Lough Key has several islands, the most prominent being the privately-owned Castle Island. Trinity island is more accessible to the public - it was once occupied by Cistercian monks from Boyle Abbey.

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