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The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland is a voluntary body formed in 1954 of inland waterways enthusiasts. For all the latest Inland Waterways news click here. We advocate the use, maintenance, protection, restoration and improvement of the inland waterways of Ireland. The association was founded in 1954 to campaign for the conservation and development of the waterways and in particular their preservation as working navigations. When the Shannon was almost totally undeveloped for pleasure boating, IWAI fought the building of low bridges, thus ensuring the development of the river as an asset for all to use and enjoy. In the 1960s IWAI successfully fought plans to close the Circular Line of the Grand Canal in Dublin. Later the association campaigned for the re-opening of the Ballinamore & Ballyconnell Canal (now the Shannon-Erne Waterway) and the Naas line of the Grand Canal.

IWAI is the voice of waterways users and enthusiasts. It represents the views of members to governments (Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), to Waterways Ireland and other navigation authorities, to local authorities and the range of statutory and state-sponsored bodies whose activities impinge on the waterways in one way or another.

Membership and Organisation
IWAI has approximately 4,400 members mainly organised in branches associated with the major navigations across the island.
Our membership is drawn from all walks of life and from people with a wide range of interests-boating, angling, walking, heritage, environment. Many of our members own and use boats on our rivers, lakes and canals ranging from motor cruisers to jet-skis, from barges to sailing dinghies and RIBs to rowing boats.
The association is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity (CHY no 10915). It is governed by a council  made up of representatives of each of the local branches and directly elected officers and members. Day to day affairs are managed by an executive committee.

Who’s Who in IWAI? You’ll find the list of current officers of IWAI here

IWAI is not responsible for the navigation, for registering boats, for harbours or similar facilities. The authority that is responsible for the Shannon, Suck, Erne, Barrow, Lower Bann, Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Shannon-Erne Waterway is ‘Waterways Ireland’

A complete chronology/history of the organisation and its activities can be seen here

A number of Committees are active within IWAI including the Heritage & Conservation Committee, Boating & Leisure Committee, etc.

Publications: The IWAI publishes ‘Inland Waterways News’, a quarterly magazine, sent out free to all members. The magazine covers a wide range of topics of interest to waterways enthusiasts at local, national and international level. IWAI also publishes a number of waterways related books and guides. Our web-site is one of the largest single reference sources for waterways related material in Ireland and a major source of referrals for waterways  related businesses which brings local events, activities and developments into national perspective. Some of the branches bring out local newsletters. Our web site at www.iwai.ie is packed with waterways-related information. Whether a boat enthusiast, historian, archaeologist, or fisherman, you will find something here of interest.

Branches: IWAI has twenty branches: five in Northern Ireland and fourteen in the Republic and one activity-based branch. Every member is affiliated to a local branch and each branch is represented on a national Council.  The branches are:
North: Lough Erne, River Bann and Lough Neagh, Coalisland, Lagan and Newry
South:  Athlone, Barrow, Belturbet, Boyle River, Boyne Navigation, Carrick-on-Shannon, Corrib, Dublin, Kildare, Lough Derg, North Barrow, Offaly, Shannon Harbour, and Slaney.

Improvements and Restoration: Work parties and funds are raised to improve navigations and to restore derelict ones.  Current projects include the Ulster Canal, Lagan Navigation, Coalisland Canal, Boyne Navigation and the Kilbeggan and Corbally lines of the Grand Canal. A synopsis of current activities is found here. The photo at right shows a work-party working on the Boyne navigation.
Boat rallies: IWAI organises rallies and other events including annual rallies on the Barrow (Easter), Dublin (May), the Erne (May), the Grand Canal (June), Shannon Harbour (June), the Corrib (July), the Shannon (July), Lough Derg (July). Competitions help to raise standards of boatmanship, seaworthiness and safety afloat.

Social events: Land-based events such as film shows, discussions and lectures are organised on a range of waterways topics including, safety, vessel maintenance, navigation, first-aid and waterways heritage

Member Services: The IWAI Shop IWAI provides a number of branded products and services for members. The association burgee and ensign are shown at right. We also sell waterways-related books and navigation charts.

Email Discussion Forum: We host a very active discussion forum. Here, you will meet folk who enjoy talking about life on our waterways. Generally, people are very free with advice on the list (whether wanted or not) and can point you in the right direction if you have problems finding  a 3/4 inch flux capacitor for your 1984 vintage submarine. The forum operates a parallel web-based and email service.

Navigation and related announcements: If you would like to keep up to speed with announcements, news, and press releases from the IWAI, you can subscribe to the association’s News Updates List.

 
Goals of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland
IWAI is set up as a limited company – from our memorandum of association, it has the following objectives:

(a) To promote the use, maintenance and development of the inland waterways of Ireland, and in particular, to advocate and promote the restoration to good order, and maintenance in good order of every navigable waterway and the fullest use of every navigable waterway by both commercial and pleasure traffic, provided such is not injurious to the environmental health of the waterways and surrounding areas.
(b) To support any proposal which may be calculated to maintain or improve Irish waterways and also to improve navigation, lay moorings and carry out other works of improvement on and adjacent to the waterways.
In furtherance exclusively of the above main objects the Company shall have the following ancillary objects:
(a) To oppose by appropriate action the abandonment or neglect of Irish canals or river navigations, the pollution of waterways, the obstructions of navigations by fixed bridges, aqueducts, overhead cables, or otherwise, the obstruction of towing paths, or any other action calculated to injure or destroy the navigation or amenities of the waterways of Ireland.
(b) To prepare, either alone or in collaboration with any other body, guide books, charts, maps and other literature suitable for use by persons using the Irish navigations for any purpose, and to foster public interest in and knowledge of the Irish waterways by disseminating information on the subject to members and to the general public.
(c) To organise visits to objects and places of interest on the waterways including water-borne journeys.
(d) To do all such acts as shall further the active and corporate life of the Association and to cooperate with any other body having similar or sympathetic aims.
(e) To represent the interests of boat owners in all matters pertaining to the above objects.
(f) To organise, engage in, and sponsor boat rallies, exhibitions, displays, festivals, carnivals, sports, hobbies and entertainments.

IWAI Policies
Details of IWAI Policies can be found here.

Inland Waterways Association (IWA), 110 Booterstown Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Tel: 1890 924991, Email: [email protected]

 

Afloat posts on the IWA:

Float to the Fleadh launched by RTÉ Broadcaster

The big swim to Enniskillen

Published in Organisations
21st October 2009

Rolex Middle Sea Race

The Rolex Middle Sea Race is a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney–Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a 'must do' race. The Royal Malta Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club co-founded the race in 1968 and 2007 was the 28th Edition. Save for a break between 1984 and 1995 the event has been run annually attracting 25–30 yachts. In recent years, the number of entries has rissen sharply to 68 boats thanks to a new Organising Committee who managed to bring Rolex on board as title sponsor for the Middle Sea Race.

The race is a true challenge to skippers and crews who have to be at their very best to cope with the often changeable and demanding conditions. Equally, the race is blessed with unsurpassed scenery with its course, taking competitors close to a number of islands, which form marks of the course. Ted Turner described the MSR as "the most beautiful race course in the world".

Apart from Turner, famous competitors have included Eric Tabarly, Cino Ricci, Herbert von Karajan, Jim Dolan, Sir Chay Blyth and Sir Francis Chichester (fresh from his round the world adventure). High profile boats from the world's top designers take part, most in pursuit of line honours and the record – competing yachts include the extreme Open 60s, Riviera di Rimini and Shining; the maxis, Mistress Quickly, Zephyrus IV and Sagamore; and the pocket rockets such as the 41-foot J-125 Strait Dealer and the DK46, Fidessa Fastwave.

In 2006, Mike Sanderson and Seb Josse on board ABN Amro, winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, the super Maxis; Alfa Romeo and Maximus and the 2006 Rolex Middle Sea Race overall winner, Hasso Platner on board his MaxZ86, Morning Glory.

George David on board Rambler (ex-Alfa Romeo) managed a new course record in 2007 and in 2008, Thierry Bouchard on Spirit of Ad Hoc won the Rolex Middle Sea Race on board a Beneteau 40.7

The largest number of entries was 78 established in 2008.

 

History

IN THE BEGINNING

The Middle Sea Race was conceived as the result of sporting rivalry between great friends, Paul and John Ripard and an Englishman residing in Malta called Jimmy White, all members of the Royal Malta Yacht Club. In the early fifties, it was mainly British servicemen stationed in Malta who competitively raced. Even the boats had a military connection, since they were old German training boats captured by the British during the war. At the time, the RMYC only had a few Maltese members, amongst who were Paul and John Ripard.

So it was in the early sixties that Paul and Jimmy, together with a mutual friend, Alan Green (later to become the Race Director of the Royal Ocean Racing Club), set out to map a course designed to offer an exciting race in different conditions to those prevailing in Maltese coastal waters. They also decided the course would be slightly longer than the RORC's longest race, the Fastnet. The resulting course is the same as used today.

Ted Turner, CEO of Turner Communications (CNN) has written that the Middle Sea Race "must be the most beautiful race course in the world. What other event has an active volcano as a mark of the course?"

In all of its editions since it was first run in 1968 – won by Paul Ripard's brother John, the Rolex Middle Sea Race has attracted many prestigious names in yachting. Some of these have gone on to greater things in life and have actually left their imprint on the world at large. Amongst these one finds the late Raul Gardini who won line honours in 1979 on Rumegal, and who spearheaded the 1992 Italian Challenge for the America's Cup with Moro di Venezia.

Another former line honours winner (1971) who has passed away since was Frenchman Eric Tabarly winner of round the world and transatlantic races on Penduik. Before his death, he was in Malta again for the novel Around Europe Open UAP Race involving monohulls, catamarans and trimarans. The guest list for the Middle Sea Race has included VIP's of the likes of Sir Francis Chichester, who in 1966 was the first man to sail around the world single-handedly, making only one stop.

The list of top yachting names includes many Italians. It is, after all a premier race around their largest island. These include Navy Admiral Tino Straulino, Olympic gold medallist in the star class and Cino Ricci, well known yachting TV commentator. And it is also an Italian who in 1999 finally beat the course record set by Mistress Quickly in 1978. Top racing skipper Andrea Scarabelli beat it so resoundingly, he knocked off over six hours from the time that had stood unbeaten for 20 years.

World famous round the world race winners with a Middle Sea Race connection include yachting journalist Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Les Williams, both from the UK.

The Maxi Class has long had a long and loving relationship with the Middle Sea Race. Right from the early days personalities such as Germany's Herbert Von Karajan, famous orchestra conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philarmoniker, competing with his maxi Helisara IV. Later came Marvin Greene Jr, CEO of Reeves Communications Corporation and owner of the well known Nirvana (line honours in 1982) and Jim Dolan, CEO of Cablevision, whose Sagamore was back in 1999 to try and emulate the line honours she won in 1997.

 

THE COURSE RECORD

The course record was held by the San Francisco based, Robert McNeil on board his Maxi Turbo Sled Zephyrus IV when in 2000, he smashed the Course record which now stands at 64 hrs 49 mins 57 secs. Zephyrus IV is a Rechiel-Pugh design. In recent years, various maxis such as Alfa Romeo, Nokia, Maximus and Morning Glory have all tried to break this course record, but the wind Gods have never played along. Even the VOR winner, ABN AMro tried, but all failed in 2006.

However, George David came along on board Rambler in 2007 and demolished the course record established by Zephyrus IV in 2000. This now stands at 1 day, 23 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.

 

IN RECENT YEARS

In 2001,a new Committee was elected and injected new blood and ideas into the Middle Sea Race organising Committee.  Innovative marketing ideas were introduced and the search for a title sponsor was initiated. In 2002, Rolex SA came on board as the title sponsor. Since 2002, the event has witnessed a record number of entries every year and has also seen amazing growth in the quality of entries. Although bigger boats regularly participate with new tecnological inprovements such as code zeros, canting keels and forward canards, the Course Record remained unbeaten for seven years. One used to wonder when this will ever be broken – 64 hrs, 49 mins and 57 seconds was the time to beat...

In 2006, a record fleet of 68 yachts was on the start line, ranging from some of the largest and fastest racing monohulls on the planet, including Alfa Romeo, Morning Glory, ABN Amro 1 and Maximus, to some of the best sailed cruiser-racers around. The finish was a nailbiter, with Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory taking in pole position amongst the larger yachts, but having to wait two days until two of the smallest boats had arrived home before the victory could be confirmed. As it was, the double-handed crew of Shaun Murphy & Ric Searle on the J-105 Slingshot and the young crew on Lee Satariano's J-109 Artie came close, but not quite close enough finishing third and second overall respectively just over 2 hours outside the winner's time.

The record number of participants till 2006 stood at a staggering 68 entries.

In 2007 Massive storms bashed through the fleet on the northern side of Sicily. Tens of boats retired during the first night out and were forced to take shelter in various ports along the Eastern shore of Sicily.  Loki also lost their rudder and had to abondon her. We also saw George David on board Rambler set a new course record of 1 day, 23 hours, 55 minutes and 3 seconds.

2008 saw a record number of entries. Seventy-eight boats started the race and was characterised by light winds in the beginning of the race and thunder storms during the second part of the race. Thierry Bouchard, on board Spirit of Ad Hoc won in a Beneteau 40.7. He also won the ORC division, claiming the Boccale del Mediterraneao Trophy.

The above information courtesy of Rolex Middle Sea Race 

 

Published in Middle Sea
8th July 2009

National Organisations

National Organisations

There are a number of different organisations established in Ireland to manage the marine leisure sector and these stakeholders are an important part in the future growth of the sector that is arguably worth 700 million euro per annum to the Exchequer.

The main organisations – including some in the UK – are:

Cruising Association of Ireland – The Cruising Association of Ireland was set up with the aim of working with the Irish Sailing Association and the Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland for the promotion and encouragement of cruising and of social union among its members.

Heritage Boat Association – The Heritage Boat Association’s aspiration is to protect, promote and celebrate the floating heritage on the inland waterways of Ireland.

Inland Waterways Association – A voluntary body formed in 1954 of inland waterways enthusiasts, the IWA advocates the use, maintenance, protection, restoration and improvement of the inland waterways of Ireland.

Irish Amateur Rowing Union/Rowing Ireland – The IARU/Rowing Ireland is the governing body for rowing in Ireland and represents over 100 clubs across Ireland. Rowing is one of Ireland's most successful sports, having won multiple World Championships over the last decade.

Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) (Garda Cósta na hÉireann) – The Irish Coast Guard is part of the Department of Transport. The Irish Search and Rescue Region, which includes most of the Republic of Ireland and parts of Northern Ireland, is the area over which the coast guard has authority. This area is bounded by the UK Search and Rescue Region.

Irish Cruiser Racer AssociationICRA can be contacted via Commodore Fintan Cairns at [email protected] or the Secretary Denis Kiely at [email protected]

Irish Disabled Sailing Association/SailforceSailforce is a new campaign established by the Irish Disabled Sailing Association (IDSA) to highlight the achievements and activities of their current membership and to introduce members of the general public to the concept of sailing as a viable sport for the disabled.

Irish Marina Operators Association – The IMOA is an associate group of the Irish Marine Federation (IMF) focussing exclusively on the needs of marina operators. Membership of IMOA currently represents coastal marinas, but will eventually be open to Ireland's inland waterway marinas.

Irish Marine Federation – The IMF is the national organisation representing both commercial and leisure sectors of the marine industry in Ireland.

Irish Maritime Law Association – The Irish Maritime Law Association was formed at a meeting in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin on 23 May 1963.

Irish Rowing Union – The IARU is the governing body for rowing in Ireland and represents over 100 Clubs across Ireland. Rowing is one of Ireland’s most successful sports, having won multiple World Championships over the last decade.

Irish Sailing Association – The ISA is the national governing body for all forms of recreational and competitive activities involving sail and engine powered craft in Ireland.

Irish Sea ShippingOnline Shipping Magazine with shipping news and views from the Irish and Celtic Seas since 1995.

Irish Ships & ShippingIrish Shipping Ltd. was set up in 1941 to ensure Ireland could import and export essential goods during World War II. Britain had decided that it could no longer put its ships and men at risk by supplying a country had had decided to remain neutral. So after a meeting held at Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, on the 21st of March 1941, a National Shipping Company was formed called 'Irish Shipping Ltd.' .

Irish Underwater Council – The Irish Underwater Council is the national governing body for recreational underwater sports in Ireland. It was founded in 1963 to organise and promote sport scuba diving and snorkeling. At that time there were only six clubs but the sport has expanded over the years and today encompasses 84 clubs distributed all over Ireland.

Irish Water SafetyIrish Water Safety is the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland. Their role is to educate people in water safety best practices and develop public awareness campaigns to promote necessary attitudes, rescue skills and behaviour to prevent drownings and water-related accidents.

Marine Casualty Investigation Board – The function of the MCIB is to carry out investigations into marine casualties that take place in Irish waters or involve Irish registered vessels. The main purpose of the Board's investigations is to establish the cause or causes of a marine casualty with a view to making recommendations to the Minister for Transport for the avoidance of similar marine casualties. It shall not be the purpose of an investigation to attribute blame or fault.

Met Éireann: Irish Meteorological ServiceMet Éireann, the Irish National Meteorological Service, is part of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is the leading provider of weather information and related services for Ireland.

North West Charter Skippers Association – The North West Charter Skippers Organisation was inaugurated in January 2002, and was formed to enhance and develop Charter Boat Services through the interchange of Information through the promotion of a fleet of fully licensed, insured, and well-equipped Modern Sea Angling Vessels adopting best practice and providing a high quality service in Sea Angling and general tourism charters to the Northwest Coast of Ireland – 'Service with Safety'

Professional Association of Diving InstructorsPADI is the world’s leading scuba diving training organisation. With more than forty years experience and 5,300 dive shops and resorts worldwide, PADI training materials and services let you experience scuba diving from nearly anywhere.

RNLI Ireland – The RNLI is a registered charity that saves lives at sea. It provides a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service 100 nautical miles out from the coast of Ireland and the UK. The RNLI relies on voluntary contributions and legacies for its income.

Royal Yachting Association – The RYA is the national body in the UK for all forms of boating, including dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, ribs and sports boats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and narrowboats, and personal watercraft.

Royal Yachting Association Northern Ireland – The RYA is the national body in the UK for all forms of boating, including dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sportsboats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and narrowboats, and personal watercraft. The RYANI are their Northern Irish branch.

Union Internationale Motonautique/International Powerboat Racing ClubThe UIM is the international governing body of power boating and is recognized as such by the International Olympic Committee. It is also a member of the General Association of International Sports Federations, and the Association of the IOC Recognized International Sports Federations. The sport governs all power boating disciplines including aqua bike, circuit, offshore, pleasure navigation and radio-controlled.

Waterways Ireland – one of the six North/South Implementation Bodies established under the British Irish Agreement in 1999, Waterways Ireland has responsibility for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of inland navigable waterways principally for recreational purposes. The waterways under the remit of the body are the Barrow Navigation, the Erne System, the Grand Canal, the Lower Bann, the Royal, the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the Shannon Navigation.

 

Published in General
7th July 2009

Irish Underwater Council

The Irish Underwater Council is the national governing body for recreational underwater sports in Ireland. It was founded in 1963 to organise and promote sport scuba diving and snorkeling. At the time there were only six clubs but the sport has expanded over the years and now encompasses 84 clubs today distributed all over Ireland.

Training

The Irish Underwater Council courses provide today’s sports person with recreation and fun in a friendly environment while maintaining a safe and cautious attitude to Irish waters. We emphasise experience rather than theory. The basic objective of the training system is to demonstrate, teach and practice all the necessary abilities until the beginner is comfortable with the equipment and the basic safety skills. There is no pressure or time limits, the training is at your own pace.

Organisation

The council is administered by an Executive Committee comprising the directors of the organisation who are assisted by four commissions: Technical, Medical, Sporting & Scientific.

The Irish Underwater Council is affiliated to Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques (CMAS) . This is the world federation of national diving organisations and operates in some 80 countries on all continents.

Irish Underwater Council, 78A Patrick Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Tel: 01 2844 601, fax: 01 2844 602, email: [email protected]

Published in Organisations

The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) (Garda Cósta na hÉireann) is part of the Department of Transport.

All the latest Irish Coast Guard news is here.

The Irish Search and Rescue Region, which includes most of the Republic of Ireland and parts of Northern Ireland, is the area over which the coast guard has authority. This area is bounded by the UK Search and Rescue Region.


The Coast Guard is responsible for:

– Search and Rescue

– Marine communications network

– Marine safety awareness

– Mountain and Cave Rescue

Pollution and Salvage response in the marine environment (the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre [MRCC] in Dublin coordinates all pollution and salvage control in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone [EEZ]).

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Note that not all Irish Coast Guards have enforcement powers – only some officers under warrant.


The Coast Guard (Garda Cósta) does not form part of the Irish Defence Forces, rather it operates as an agency of the Department of Transport under the Maritime Safety Directorate. The Maritime Safety Directorate comprises two main sections, the Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Division (MSED) and the Marine Survey Office (MSO). The Marine Survey Office also includes the Marine Radio Affairs Unit (MRAU). The Mercantile Marine Office (MMO) also works under the Directorate.

- The Maritime Safety and Marine Environment Division is responsible for maritime safety, security policy and legislation (including leisure safety), aids to navigation and corporate governance of the Commissioners of Irish Lights and marine environment protection issues.

- The Marine Survey Office deals with the inspection, survey, certification and licensing of vessels and vessels radio equipment; the examination and certification of seafarers competencies; enforcement of standards by way of audits on organisation and facilities and prosecutions for breaches of regulations.

While in some jurisdictions they are the responsibility of the Coast Guard, in Ireland, fisheries patrols are carried out by the Navy and drug smuggling patrols by Customs, the Gardaí and the Navy. However, all the above government services can at any time request assistance from each other when needed.

(The above information and image courtesy of Irish Coast Guard) 


Irish Coast Guard, MRCC Dublin, Coast Guard Headquarters, Department of Transport, Leeson Lane, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 678 2303, Fax: 01 678 3459

Published in Organisations

Irish Water Safety is the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland. Their role is to educate people in water safety best practices. They develop public awareness campaigns to promote necessary attitudes, rescue skills and behaviour to prevent drownings and water related accidents. Activities include:

Teaching swimming and lifesaving courses to children and adults. Recipients build skills in swimming, water confidence, safety, survival, rescue skills and resuscitation. Participants can progress to qualify as Pool and Beach Lifeguards, there are 27 qualifications that are internationally recognized and are available to children and adults nationwide.

Lectures and demonstrations to members of the Public and other interested parties.

Publishing literature to promote water safety and target at-risk groups. Popular posters include safe boating, safe swimming, and lifejacket posters. A Cold shock/hypothermia leaflet is also available as are many other publications.

Volunteers carry out Risk Assessments on all Bathing Areas nationwide, free of charge in order to make them safer by the erection of ring buoys, signage and other necessary action. The Local Authorities are most helpful in this regard.

Advise and assist Local Authorities on all matters relating to water safety.

The Nation’s Beach Lifeguards are tested by IWS examiners for the local authorities, free of charge prior to the annual summer season.

A programme exists in which National School teachers are coached in teaching water safety principles to their pupils.

Training all the boats crews for the Inshore Rescue Boat Service nationwide. The IWS also train and examine the Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Boats crews.

Promoting water safety along with other members of the Marine Safety Working Group and the Irish Marine Search and Rescue Committee.

National and local media actively communicates IWS safety messages to the public.

Issuing advice on all aspects of water safety. Press Releases are available all year round, which target the seasonal hazards on Irish waterways.

Organising the Annual National Lifesaving Championships; some members thn go on to compete in international events each year.

Awarding the ‘Just in Time’ Rescue Award to rescuers nationwide; other awards recognise work promoting Water Safety in Ireland.

The IWS develop a partnership approach with private sponsors to deliver safety messages to the public.

Providers of information on the locations of Lifeguarded beaches in Ireland.

History of Irish Water Safety

Before 1945, life-guarding was confined to a few counties in Ireland – that is, in Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Dublin and Clare. Indeed, the teaching of swimming and water safety as we know it was done on an ad hoc basis around the country, but mostly in the cities of Dublin and Cork where indoor swimming pools were available. It was only when a member of An Garda Síochána, Mr Harry Gillespie (who was Chairman of a small Water Safety Committee in County Clare) decided to approach the Irish Red Cross Society in May 1945 that Water Safety was established in Ireland on a formal basis.

Under the auspices of the Irish Red Cross Society, local Area Water Safety Committees were established in all of the counties of Ireland. Naturally, there was very little expertise in this country in the matter of water safety and swimming rescue, so it was decided that the American Red Cross should be approached as they had an excellent Water Safety Service running in the USA for many years. From them came the necessary approach to teaching water safety, then generally known as swimming rescue. Their booklets were also used as the basis for the first water safety manuals published by the Irish Red Cross Society (Water Safety Service).

It is worthy of note that several present members are recipients of the ‘Service Medal of Honour’ being founding members of the Water Safety Organisation in Ireland. For twenty-six years, Water Safety operated under the auspices of the Irish Red Cross Society and it was during this period that the structure of Examiners, Instructors and other voluntary (non-technical) personnel was established. During those early days, there were few indoor swimming pools in this country for the teaching of swimming and lifesaving. Much of the work was done during the Summer months at piers, quays, beaches, on riverbanks, and at lake sides. It was also during those first twenty-six years that we saw the increase in the use of lifeguards around the coast of Ireland during the summer. It must be remembered that few people could swim and fewer still could swim and save a life. Indeed, in many of the coastal towns and villages, particularly where their livelihood was derived from the sea, there was an old superstition, that it was better not to learn how to swim as it only prolonged the agony in the water when in difficulty.

Change was slow due to a lack of resources, but voluntary commitment was strong among the members, as it is to day. With time, improvements followed and a more conscious awareness of water safety began to unfold throughout the country, particularly as the seventies approached and the work of the Water Safety Service expand to every county throughout the country. The leading light at that time was a man called Plunkett Walsh, an employee of the Irish Red Cross Society with special responsibility for Water Safety. His great enthusiasm was an inspiration to all involved in the Water Safety Service to promote water safety awareness. However, his untimely and sudden death left a great void within the organisation.

Following this, in 1971 an approach was made to the Minister of Local Government who agreed to the establishment of the Irish Water Safety Association under the auspices of the Department of Local Government. This move was universally welcomed, albeit tinged with certain sadness on leaving the Irish Red Cross, with whom water safety had been for twenty-five years. The first Chairman of the Irish Water Safety Association was Mr Desmond Kenny who was from Galway.

With the establishment of the Irish Water Safety Association came an upsurge in membership, to meet the growing demand for swimming and lifesaving instruction throughout the country. In turn, this demand led to the construction of many indoor swimming pools and improved bathing facilities in many parts of Ireland. Shortly after the establishment of the Irish Water Safety Association, it was invited to join both Federation International De Sauvetage and World Life Saving, both international bodies dealing with water safety and rescue.

In 1987, a Government decision was made resulting in the IWSA being amalgamated with fire and road safety under the auspices of the National Safety Council. The members continued to give exceptional time and effort on a voluntary basis to ensure that swimming and lifesaving was taught nationwide and Water Safety went from strength to strength and the number of voluntary members involved continued to grow. Certificates issued for swimming and lifesaving increased annually, and the ‘Water Safety Awareness’ campaign was promulgated nationwide. With the encouragement of the National Safety Council, water safety personnel played an active role in the formation of the new International Life Saving Federation, which was established in 1994.

1995 was the 50th anniversary of the formation of Water Safety under the auspices of the Irish Red Cross, the Irish Water Safety Association and the National Safety Council. To mark this occasion, a suitable medal was struck to honour those who had given long and valued service throughout those fifty years. In November 1996 at a meeting of the Board of the National Safety Council, it was agreed that Water Safety be known as Water Safety Ireland. In the National Budget of 1998, it was announced that the Government had set a side the necessary finance to re-establish Water Safety as a singular organisation. The effect of this decision being that Water Safety was to leave the National Safety Council. The decision to establish Water Safety as the Irish Water Safety Association with its Headquarters in Galway took effect in November 1999. A Council of 12 persons was appointed with Mr Frank Nolan (a retired member of An Garda Siochana) being appointed as Chairman. The functions of the new body are similar to those that have been traditionally carried out over the past fifty-five years.

The new Association, which is the Statutory Water Safety Body for Ireland, is financed by Government, Local Authorities, fund-raising and sponsorship. The Association continues to be actively involved with International Life Saving (the world body) and co-operates with the other national organisations involved in water safety and rescue.

On the 25th August 2000, in front of a large audience, Minister of State, Mr Robert Molloy, TD, opened the new Headquarters of Irish Water Safety close to the Spanish Arch in Galway City. Irish Water Safety is governed by the Council, which is appointed by the Government for three years, supported by a full-time permanent staff. The functions of the Association are supported nationwide on a voluntary basis through 28 area Water Safety Committees and two special Committees (one within the Irish Police Force and the other within the Defence Forces). Persons who give exceptional Service over 25 to 50 years receive the ‘Medal of Honour with Bar’. Persons outside the Association, who have been supportive of Irish Water Safety over a number of years, can be honoured with a Life Governorship of the Association. Ten persons so far have been conferred with this honour.

The Irish Water Safety Motto: 'Every Person a Swimmer and Every Swimmer a Lifesaver' 

Irish Water Safety (IWS), The Long Walk, Galway. Tel: 1890 420202, Fax: 091 564700, Email: [email protected]

 

Other IWS Afloat posts here:

Summer Rain adds to danger

Published in Organisations

It has been confirmed that Ireland will have a second entry in the Volvo Ocean Race. Fastnet winner, twice Afloat sailor of the year, and national offshore-sprint hero Ger O’Rourke will use the title-holding boat, ABN Amro 1 (aka Black Betty) to take on the new generation of VO70s. Let speculation commence, says Markham Nolan.

The Irish Times reports this morning has confirmed that a second Irish entry in to the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) will be made this week following the purchase of the winning boat from the 2005/6 race by offshore sailor Ger O'Rourke.

O'Rourke was crowned Afloat sailor of the year in 2007, becoming the first sailor to win the coveted trophy twice.

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