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A Donegal cyclist is set to embark on a mammoth world-record cycle attempt, riding unsupported from Malin to Mizen — a 1,225km route from one end of Ireland to the other — and back.

The gruelling non-stop ride is set to be a test of endurance but also a fundraising effort from Karol McNern from Ballyshannon, who is a former lifeboat crew member and helm at Bundoran RNLI.

The Co Donegal lifeboat station is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year while the charity is marking its 200th anniversary.

Karol’s ambitious ride aims to break both the World UltraCycling Association (WUCA) record and a Guinness World Record, drawing attention to the lifesaving work of Bundoran RNLI.

The funds raised will go directly to supporting the work of the volunteer crew in saving lives at sea.

Karol said: “Having served as a crew member and a helm, I know first hand the importance of the lifeboat service to a community. This ride is my way of giving back and raising awareness for the incredible work all the Bundoran team do.”

The ride will commence at Malin Head, the northernmost point of Ireland, continue onto Mizen Head, the southernmost point and then return back up the country to Malin Head.

Karol will face various challenges including unpredictable weather conditions, rugged terrain and the sheer physical and mental demands of cycling non-stop across such a vast distance. He will continue this journey unsupported, making it an even tougher challenge.

Supporters can make a donation and follow Karol’s progress through live updates on social media and contribute to his fundraising campaign.

Daimon Fergus, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We are incredibly grateful to Karol for thinking of us in this way and we wish him the best of luck as he takes on this challenge. His journey is an inspiration to us all and highlights his dedication, resilience and a sense of community spirit.

“Donations from Karol’s cycle will go towards helping us maintain our lifeboat and associated equipment as well as supporting the training of our crew members, and the overall operational costs.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Portaferry RNLI joined the Strangford ferry service and Portaferry Coastguard on Sunday morning (9 June) for a planned man-overboard exercise on Strangford Lough.

The exercise focused on an alert that one, then two people had fallen overboard. There was a Force 4-5 light westerly breeze at the time and a slightly choppy sea.

The ferry crew nominated spotters to track the location of the casualties in the water while their Strangford II rescue boat was launched with three crew onboard.

The importance of loud and precise instruction was demonstrated, and the first casualty was brought out of the water by the ferry’s rescue boat within minutes.

Portaferry RNLI’s volunteer crew launched promptly when contacted by the coastguard and were able to locate the second casualty quickly.

Once they were lifted out of the water, the volunteer lifeboat crew assessed their condition before both were brought to shore and handed over to Portaferry Coastguard, who continued casualty care alongside RNLI volunteers.

Portaferry RNLI and HM Coastguard Portaferry continued with casualty care once ashore | Credit: RNLI/Heather KennedyPortaferry RNLI and HM Coastguard Portaferry continued with casualty care once ashore | Credit: RNLI/Heather Kennedy

The exercise was observed by representatives from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and both the senior and principal engineers from the Strangford ferry service.

After a detailed debrief of the exercise, everyone involved enjoyed breakfast in Portaferry lifeboat station.

Captain Robert Anderson of the Strangford ferry service said: “The exercise went well and highlighted the difficulty of retrieving a casualty from the water.

“It was a valuable hour, and good to have cooperation from both the RNLI and HM Coastguard providing a more realistic scenario rather than our usual drills. The ferry crew responded quickly, worked as a team and gained experience.”

Heather Kennedy, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager added: “It’s important that anyone visiting open water understands the risks of the environment.

“As we approach the summer holidays, we want everyone to enjoy being around the water, but also want to make sure people stay safe and know what to do in an emergency.

“Check weather and tide times before venturing out, always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of communication. 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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In a dramatic rescue operation, the Galway RNLI saved three individuals after their boat capsized off Salthill yesterday evening. The Irish Coast Guard swiftly dispatched the volunteer crew following reports of a small boat in distress off Blackrock in Salthill, with three people in the water. The alarm was raised by a vigilant individual on a nearby boat.

Helm Dave Badger, Aaron Connolly, Sean King, and James Rattigan quickly launched the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat and made their way to the scene. Fortunately, sea conditions were favourable, with good visibility enabling the crew to promptly reach the location.

The stranded individuals, who had been in the water for approximately thirty minutes, were successfully rescued and brought safely onboard the lifeboat. They received immediate medical assessment and care before being transferred to shore. Volunteer shore crew assisted with first aid upon the lifeboat's return to the station. Subsequently, paramedics from the National Ambulance Service evaluated the casualties before transporting them to the hospital for further treatment.

The dedicated efforts of the lifeboat crew did not end there, as they ventured back out to sea to secure the capsized boat, towing it back to Galway Docks to prevent it from posing a hazard to others.

Reflecting on the operation, Galway RNLI Helm Dave Badger praised the swift action of a member of the public on another boat, whose alertness was crucial in initiating the rescue. Badger emphasised the significance of wearing lifejackets, which aided in keeping the individuals afloat and visible throughout the incident.

"Accidents can occur unexpectedly, and wearing a lifejacket buys you precious time until help arrives," Badger remarked, stressing the life-saving importance of correctly fitted and maintained lifejackets.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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At 10.55pm on Friday evening (7 June), Enniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat John and Jean Lewis was launched at the request of Belfast Coastguard to assess a boat with six people onboard, which had encountered difficulties while making its way from Enniskillen in the direction of Castle Archdale.

Weather conditions at the time on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland were blowing a westerly Force 3 wind and visibility was poor.

The volunteer crew located the casualty vessel which had run aground on rocks close to Marker 58R1. The crew assessed those onboard and found them to be safe and well and wearing lifejackets.

The crew then made the decision to tow the vessel to the nearest safe jetty as the casualty vessel could not make good progress without assistance.

Speaking following the call-out, Enniskillen RNLI helm Paul Keown said: “Now that we are in the summer season, we would urge all boat owners to carry out regular maintenance checks on your vessel, make sure you have the relevant charts required before starting your journey, lifejackets for all on board and a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble.

“If you see someone in trouble on the water or are in difficulties yourself the number to dial is 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Youghal RNLI’s volunteer crew in East Cork were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 4.03pm on Sunday (9 June) to assist a sailor onboard a 35ft yacht that had suffered steering failure some two miles south of Mine Head Lighthouse.

The request came from the Irish Coast Guard following a report that a sailor had been experiencing problems with steering and requested assistance.

Weather conditions were cloudy with a moderate breeze and a choppy sea state.

Around 20 minutes after launching, the lifeboat crew arrived on scene and located the vessel. One crew member boarded the boat and assisted the sailor to rig an emergency steering tiller, which was successful in getting the vessel moving.

Upon further assessment of the situation, a decision was made that the lifeboat would escort the sailor to the safety of Helvick Head harbour in Co Waterford.

Helvick Head RNLI’s lifeboat later launched and once on scene, one crew member went onboard the casualty vessel and the lifeboat from Helvick Head then escorted the sailor back to the safety of the harbour.

Youghal RNLI was stood down and their crew member was transferred back to the lifeboat which then returned to station.

Speaking after the call-out, Youghal RNLI helm Liam Keogh said: “The owner of the boat made the right decision in calling for help as soon as they experienced difficulty, allowing both lifeboats to assist in returning the sailor to safety.

“Anyone can experience difficulty once on the water so we encourage everyone to carry a means of communication before heading out to sea. Should you get into difficulty, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The all-weather RNLI lifeboat Leonard Kent from Newcastle was launched early on Saturday to aid a 29-foot yacht with four people on board, approximately 20 miles southeast of Newcastle. The yacht had suffered a dismasting, prompting an urgent response from the Newcastle RNLI volunteer crew.

In favourable weather conditions with a slight to moderate sea state, the lifeboat quickly reached the distressed yacht and assessed the situation. With the mast damage impeding the yacht's ability to proceed safely, the decision was made to tow the vessel to safety.

The Portaferry RNLI also joined the rescue effort by launching their B Class Atlantic lifeboat to assist with the tow into Ardglass.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A Wexford woman living on the Hook Peninsula has been inspired to create a new fundraising initiative for the RNLI, which also promotes the benefits of being by the sea.

Local artist Helen Mason, who is married to a local fisherman, started to raise funds for the lifeboat charity after experiencing losing someone close to her to drowning and seeing first-hand the work of the lifeboat volunteers in her area.

Be by the Sea is asking people to organise a gathering in their own community during the summer months, to fundraise in aid of the charity that saves lives at sea.

People can organise to meet for a swim, a walk or a hike or they may choose to meditate, fly kites, or build sandcastles. They can even just sit together enjoying a coffee and having the craic.

Commenting on the fundraiser, Helen said: “I had the idea to do this for some time before I finally approached the RNLI and asked them if I could do it myself and see where it goes.

“I have been raising money for my local lifeboat station in Fethard over the years and I have seen first-hand the work they do and know how important the lifeboats are for coastal communities. The volunteers who go out when others come home are incredible people and I want to help them continue their work, saving lives at sea.

“I’m married to a fisherman and sadly we have lost people close to us. I want the Be by the Sea fundraiser to be open to everyone and to be fully inclusive. We know that people love spending time near the water and that the sea is very good for us, so how about raising funds for the RNLI at the same time.”

Be by the Sea, is a ‘Fundraising In Aid of’ event for the RNLI and those interested to learn more can visit the initiative’s JustGiving page where they can also register their event with the RNLI. Once onboard, people can choose to share their photos and videos of their event to Instagram.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI were requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard on Saturday afternoon (8 June) to locate and assist a swimmer reported to be in difficulty by a member of the public on shore.

The bystander could see the swimmer’s yellow buoyancy aid and through binoculars perceived that the swimmer was struggling. The location given was in Youghal Bay, east of Garrykennedy Harbour.

At 12.52pm, Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew James Corballis, Chris Parker and Joe O’Donoghue on board. Conditions had a north-westerly Force 3-4 wind with good visibility.

The lifeboat carried additional casualty blankets on board, and during the briefing as the lifeboat launched, volunteers prepared their casualty care cards.

At 12.58pm, as the lifeboat rounded the Mountaineer, navigation mark C, Valentia Coast Guard communicated that the swimmer had been located and was back on shore, and the lifeboat could stand down.

Aoife Kennedy, launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises swimmers to “swim safe — if you get in trouble in the water, Float to Live. Lean back, extend your arms and legs and control your breathing. Before setting out, make sure someone knows where you are and carry a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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This past weekend, hundreds of swimmers of varying skill levels gathered to take part in the thrilling Dunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim. The event, which is supported by EirGrid, the operator and developer of Ireland’s electricity grid, serves as a major annual fundraiser for the Dunmore East RNLI, a dedicated group of volunteers providing 24-hour search and rescue services along a large part of Ireland's southeast coast.

The event saw an impressive turnout, with over 360 swimmers and numerous spectators from all across the southeast and beyond. Not only did the occasion promote a sense of positivity and joy, but it also raised much-needed funds for the Dunmore East RNLI.

Expressing her delight at the event's success, Margaret Barry, Chairperson of Dunmore East RNLI Fundraising Branch, praised the unwavering support from participants, volunteers, sponsors, and the community. According to Barry, this support demonstrated the collective dedication to promoting water safety and supporting the invaluable work of the Dunmore East RNLI. She extended her heartfelt gratitude to everyone involved and expressed the intention to continue building upon this momentum in the future.

Graham Parker, EirGrid Public Engagement Team Lead with his medal following completion of the 1600m swim for the Dunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim 2024.Graham Parker, EirGrid Public Engagement Team Lead with his medal following completion of the 1600m swim for the Dunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim 2024

The event catered to swimmers of all abilities, offering distances of 1,600m, 800m, and 500m, allowing individuals to test their skills in open water. In a statement, Sinead Dooley, Head of Public Engagement at EirGrid, expressed the organisation's pride in supporting the RNLI Dunmore East Open Water Swim and its crucial lifesaving initiatives. This marks the beginning of a multi-year partnership between EirGrid and Dunmore East RNLI.

Amidst the festivities, the event facilitated a reflection on the upcoming 200th anniversary of the RNLI in 2024. This significant milestone is a testament to the organization's unwavering dedication to saving lives at sea, funded entirely by voluntary public donations. The Dunmore East RNLI Open Water Swim stands as just one of many events to commemorate this historical achievement and to honor the vital lifesaving service it provides today.

Published in Sea Swim

Wicklow RNLI brought five people to safety yesterday afternoon (Wednesday, 5 June), after their vessel developed mechanical problems five and a half miles south of Wicklow Harbour.

The all-weather lifeboat RNLB Joanna & Henry Williams slipped its mooring at 4:10 pm to reports of a white rib with five persons on board, which had developed engine failure. The lifeboat under the command of Coxswain Nick Keogh was followed quickly by the inshore lifeboat Dennis Audrey, helmed by Paul Sillery.

The volunteer lifeboat crews located the vessel approximately 15 minutes after launching in a position five and a half miles south of Wicklow Harbour. Conditions on scene were blowing north westerly force 2-4, with slight seas and good visibility.

Once on scene, the volunteer crews assessed the situation. Given the fact that the rib was unable to make safe progress without any means of propulsion, a decision was made to establish a tow. The rib was towed by the inshore lifeboat to the nearest safe location which was Jacks Hole.

The vessel was secured a short time later, and all five casualties were assessed as being ok with no further attention required.

Speaking after the callout, Deputy LPO Connie O’Gara said, “This was a quick response by the crew and that, along with their training, helped bring five people safely ashore, and we wish them well.

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Port of Cork Information

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of only two Irish ports which service the requirements of all six shipping modes i.e., Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise. Due to its favourable location on the south coast of Ireland and its modern deep-water facilities, the Port of Cork is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services.

The Port of Cork is investing €80 million in a container terminal development in Ringaskiddy. The Cork Container Terminal will initially offer a 360-metre quay with 13-metre depth alongside and will enable larger ships to berth in the port. The development also includes the construction of a 13.5-hectare terminal and associated buildings as well as two ship to shore gantry cranes and container handling equipment.

The development of new container handling facilities at Ringaskiddy was identified in the Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan in 2010. It will accommodate current and future container shipping which can be serviced by modern and efficient cargo handling equipment with innovative terminal operating and vehicle booking systems. The Port of Cork anticipates that Cork Container Terminal will be operational in 2020.

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of just two Irish ports which service the requirements of all shipping modes.

The Port of Cork also controls Bantry Bay Port Company and employs 150 people across all locations.

A European Designated Core Port and a Tier 1 Port of National Significance, Port of Cork’s reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround as well as the company’s investment in future growth, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain.

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades, most recently with the construction of the new €80m Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy which will facilitate the natural progression of the move from a river port to a deepwater port in order to future proof the Port
of Cork. This state-of-the-art terminal which will open in 2020 will be capable of berthing the largest container ships currently calling to Ireland.

The Port of Cork Company is a commercial semi-state company responsible for the commercial running of the harbour as well as responsibility for navigation and berthage in the port.  The Port is the main port serving the South of Ireland, County Cork and Cork City. 

Types of Shipping Using Port of Cork

The Port offers all six shipping modes from Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise liner traffic.

Port of Cork Growth

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades. Since 2000, the Port of Cork has invested €72 million in improving Port infrastructure and facilities. Due to its favourable location and its modern deepwater facilities, the Port is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services. A well-developed road infrastructure eases the flow of traffic from and to the port. The Port of Cork’s growing reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain. The Port of Cork Company turnover in 2018 amounted to €35.4 million, an increase of €3.9 million from €31.5 million in 2017. The combined traffic of both the Ports of Cork and Bantry increased to 10.66 million tonnes in 2018 up from 10.3 million tonnes in 2017.

History of Port of Cork

Famous at the last port of call of the Titanic, these medieval navigation and port facilities of the city and harbour were historically managed by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. Founded in 1814, the Cork Harbour Commissioners moved to the Custom House in 1904.  Following the implementation of the 1996 Harbours Act, by March 1997 all assets of the Commissioners were transferred to the Port of Cork Company.

Commercial Traffic at Port of Cork

Vessels up to 90,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT) are capable of coming through entrance to Cork Harbour. As the shipping channels get shallower the farther inland one travels, access becomes constricted, and only vessels up to 60,000 DWT can sail above Cobh. The Port of Cork provides pilotage and towage facilities for vessels entering Cork Harbour. All vessels accessing the quays in Cork City must be piloted and all vessels exceeding 130 metres in length must be piloted once they pass within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of the harbour entrance.

Berthing Facilities in Cork Harbour

The Port of Cork has berthing facilities at Cork City, Tivoli, Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The facilities in Cork City are primarily used for grain and oil transport. Tivoli provides container handling, facilities for oil, livestock and ore and a roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ramp. Prior to the opening of Ringaskiddy Ferry Port, car ferries sailed from here; now, the Ro-Ro ramp is used by companies importing cars into Ireland. In addition to the ferry terminal, Ringaskiddy has a deep water port.

Port of Cork Development Plans

2020 will be a significant year for the Port of Cork as it prepares to complete and open the €86 million Cork Container Terminal development in Ringaskiddy.

Once operational the new terminal will enable the port to handle up to 450,000 TEU per annum. Port of Cork already possess significant natural depth in Cork harbour, and the work in Ringaskiddy Port will enable the Port of Cork to accommodate vessels of 5500 to 6000 TEU, which will provide a great deal of additional potential for increasing container traffic.

It follows a previous plan hatched in 2006 as the port operated at full capacity the Port drew up plans for a new container facility at Ringaskiddy. This was the subject of major objections and after an Oral Planning Hearing was held in 2008 the Irish planning board Bord Pleanala rejected the plan due to inadequate rail and road links at the location.  

Further notable sustainability projects also include:

  • The Port of Cork have invested in 2 x STS cranes – Type single lift, Model P (148) L, (WS) Super. These cranes contain the most modern and energy-efficient control and monitoring systems currently available on the market and include an LED floodlight system equipped with software to facilitate remote diagnostics, a Crane Management System (CMS) and an energy chain supply on both cranes replacing the previous preferred festoon cabling installation.
  • The Port of Cork has installed High Mast Lighting Voltage Control Units at its two main cargo handling locations – Tivoli Industrial & Dock Estate and Ringaskiddy Deep-water & Ferry Terminals. This investment has led to more efficient energy use and reduced risk of light pollution. The lights can also be controlled remotely.
  • The Port of Cork’s largest electrical consumer at Tivoli Container Terminal is the handling and storage of refrigerated containers. Local data loggers were used to assess energy consumption. This provided timely intervention regarding Power Factor Correction Bank efficiency on our STS (Ship to Shore) Cranes and Substations, allowing for reduced mains demand and reducing wattless energy losses along with excess charges. The information gathered has helped us to design and build a reefer storage facility with energy management and remote monitoring included.

Bantry Port

In 2017 Bantry Bay Port Company completed a significant investment of €8.5 million in the Bantry Inner Harbour development. The development consisted of a leisure marina, widening of the town pier, dredging of the inner harbour and creation of a foreshore amenity space.

Port of Cork Cruise Liner Traffic

2019 was a record cruise season for the Port of Cork with 100 cruise liners visiting. In total over 243,000 passengers and crew visited the region with many passengers visiting Cork for the first time.

Also in 2019, the Port of Cork's Cruise line berth in Cobh was recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in the world, winning in the Top-Rated British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Destination category. 

There has been an increase in cruise ship visits to Cork Harbour in the early 21st century, with 53 such ships visiting the port in 2011, increasing to approximately 100 cruise ship visits by 2019.

These cruise ships berth at the Port of Cork's deepwater quay in Cobh, which is Ireland's only dedicated berth for cruise ships.

Passenger Ferries

Operating since the late 1970s, Brittany Ferries runs a ferry service to Roscoff in France. This operates between April and November from the Ro-Ro facilities at Ringaskiddy. Previous ferry services ran to Swansea in Wales and Santander in Spain. The former, the Swansea Cork ferry, ran initially between 1987 and 2006 and also briefly between 2010 and 2012.

The latter, a Brittany Ferries Cork–Santander service, started in 2018 but was cancelled in early 2020.

Marine Leisure

The Port of Cork has a strategy that aims to promote the harbour also as a leisure amenity. Cork’s superb natural harbour is a great place to enjoy all types of marine leisure pursuits. With lots of sailing and rowing clubs dotted throughout the harbour, excellent fishing and picturesque harbour-side paths for walking, running or cycling, there is something for everyone to enjoy in and around Cork harbour. The Port is actively involved with the promotion of Cork Harbour's annual Festival. The oldest sailing club in the world, founded in 1720, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club is located at Crosshaven in the harbour, proof positive, says the Port, that the people of Cork, and its visitors, have been enjoying this vast natural leisure resource for centuries. 

Port of Cork Executives

  • Chairman: John Mullins
  • Chief Executive: Brendan Keating
  • Secretary/Chief Finance Officer: Donal Crowley
  • Harbour Master and Chief Operations Officer: Capt. Paul O'Regan
  • Port Engineering Manager: Henry Kingston
  • Chief Commercial Officer: Conor Mowlds
  • Head of Human Resources: Peter O'Shaughnessy