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13th July 2009

Waterways Ireland

Waterways Ireland is 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.

The headquarters for Waterways Ireland is in Enniskillen, and regional offices are located in Carrick-on-Shannon, Dublin and Scarriff.

Waterways
Shannon Erne Waterway
Erne System
Grand Canal
Barrow Navigation
Lower Bann Navigation
Royal Canal
Shannon Navigation

ACTIVITIES ON THE INLAND WATERWAYS

Powerboat Sports take place on a number of the navigations managed by Waterways Ireland.
From powerboat schools to jet-skis, to waterskiing and wakeboard coaching, there are a multitude of options for getting out on the water on or behind a powerboat.
Irish Waterski Federation (IWSF) govern both the waterskiing and wakeboarding in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can be contacted through Eileen Galvin, Cork PB&WSC, Agherinagh, Dripsey, Co. Cork, email: [email protected]
Details of all course providers offering powerboat and inland waterways helmsman courses and certification to ISA/IWAI/Dept of Marine and Waterways Ireland approved standards can be found on the web at sailing.ie

Cruising/Charter Boating  Chartering a boat on Ireland’s inland waterways is simple. No license is required, no commercial traffic operates, the waterways are a purely leisure experience.
All the waterways where charter boats operate are networked together so you can have a river, lake and canal experience all in the one holiday.
The decision as to which company to travel with is actually a decision about which experience you want most of – the bustle of river life on the Shannon, the tranquility of the island dotted waters of the Erne System, the regular rhythm of the locks of the Shannon Erne Waterway, Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation.

Angling  Waterways Ireland is responsible for angling on the Grand and Royal Canals and on sections of the Barrow Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway. The Central Fisheries Board under contract to Waterways Ireland carry out fisheries development, weed management and manage water quality on these waterways.
The management of angling on the Erne System, Lower Bann Navigations, Shannon-Erne Waterway and Shannon Navigation is managed by a number of different organisations.
On the Lower Bann Navigation and Lough Erne the management and development of the fisheries is undertaken by the Department of Culture and Leisure – Inland Fisheries and is conserved by the Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland, 1 Mahon Road, Portadown, Craigavon, Co Armagh BT62 3EE, tel no 044 28 3833 4666.
For game fishing on the Lower Bann contact Bann Systems, Cutts House, 54 Castleroe Road, Coleraine BT51 3RL, tel no 044 28 7034 4796.
The Ulster Coarse Fishing Federation supports coarse fishing on the Lower Bann and Lough Erne and can be contacted via Robert Buick, Chairman, 7 Knockvale Grove, Belfast BT5 6HL
On the Shannon Navigation the Shannon Regional Fisheries Board manages the fisheries and can be contacted at Military Road, Birr, Co. Offaly, tel no 0353 509 21777. Coarse angling on all the waterways in the Republic of Ireland is supported by the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland and can be contacted through Mark Heffernan, Coistra, Clogherhead, tel no 0252 41 9822772.

Sailing
Sailing is enjoyed on the navigations with established clubs on Lough Ree, Lough Derg and the Erne System as well as a range of outdoor centres on the other navigations.
A large range of classes including Mirrors, Optimists, J24’s, Lasers, Squibs, Fireballs and a multitude others can be found sailing throughout the week from April to October.
The majority of sailing establishments also run sailing courses and teach people from a wide range of ages to sail.
While many boats are sailed for pleasure a great number also compete regularly throughout the season, with some travelling to compete in regattas and championships on the other lakes.
Sailing is governed in the Republic of Ireland by the Irish Sailing Association who can be contacted at 2 Park Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, tel 0252 1 280 0239 Fax no 00 353 1 280 7558, email [email protected]
Sailing in Northern Ireland is governed by the Royal Yachting Association (NI) and can be contacted at House of Sport, Upper Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5LA, tel no +44 28 9038 3812.

Canoeing
Ireland, North and South, has a lot of offer the recreational paddler from the wide open lakes of Lough Erne, Lough Allen, Lough Derg and Lough Ree to the meandering channels of the Lower Bann and the Shannon Navigation, and the still waters of the Grand and Royal Canals, the Barrow Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway.
On the Erne System a way-marked canoe trail has been put in place, and one is planned for the Barrow Navigation and the Lower Bann Navigation.
Clubs offer the newcomer both learning and opportunities to participate with others. Many outdoor centres along the navigations also offer opportunities to learn and improve skills. Hire of canoeing equipment is also widely available
The governing body for canoeing in Northern Ireland is the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland and can be contacted at CANI, Unit 2 River’s Edge, 13–15 Ravenhill Road, Belfast BT6 8DN, tel no 0870 240 5065, email [email protected] In the Republic of Ireland, canoeing is governed by the Irish Canoe Union, and they can be contacted at Sport HQ, Joyce Way, Park West Business Park, Nangor Road, Dublin 12 Tel no 00 353 1 6241105, email [email protected]

Walking
Walking, for leisure, pleasure or for health is the most predominant activity along the banks of Ireland’s inland waterways. Whether walking into town from a mooring, or walking along one of the Waymarked Ways along the waterways which include the Lough Derg Way, the Barrow Way, the Grand Canal Way, the Royal Canal Way, Slí Liatroma, the Miners’ Way Historical Trail and the Cavan Way, the presence of the waterway adds an indefinable extra to the experience.
For information on the way-marked ways contact the National Way-Marked Ways Advisory Committee, Irish Sports Council, Top Floor, Block A, West End Office Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, tel no 0353 1 860 8800, email [email protected]

Waterways Ireland, 2 Sligo Road, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh BT74 7JY, tel: +44 (0) 28 66 323 004, fax: +44 (0) 28 66 346 257

Published in Organisations

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
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]).

11156-2.jpg


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.

Page 15 of 15

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