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A long-standing volunteer fundraiser for Achill Island RNLI has been honoured by the charity’s chief executive for her generous support of the Co Mayo lifeboat station and its work in saving lives at sea.

Alexandra Van Tuyll, who has been volunteering for the charity that saves lives at sea since 1999, was presented with a framed Certificate of Thanks by the RNLI’s head of region Anna Classon during a recent visit to the lifeboat station.

The award — which was arranged by the chairperson of the Fundraising Branch, Anthony McNamara — came as a surprise to Alexandra, who was honoured in front of many of her fellow fundraising volunteers and the coxswain and mechanic of the island lifeboat station.

The official citation records that Alexandra Van Tuyll is awarded the RNLI’s Certificate of Thanks in recognition of her generous support of Achill Island Lifeboat Station since 1999.

Alexandra Van Tuyll with RNLI head of region Anna Classon, fundraising volunteers and representatives from station management and operational lifeboat crew | Credit: RNLI/Niamh StephensonAlexandra Van Tuyll with RNLI head of region Anna Classon, fundraising volunteers and representatives from station management and operational lifeboat crew | Credit: RNLI/Niamh Stephenson

Her contributions have included Christmas card sales, art exhibitions and donations. In 2012, she produced a book titled Sea meets Land: Around Ireland In Aid of the RNLI, showcasing her extensive visits to the stations around the coast of Ireland. Her valued contributions help the RNLI to save lives.

Speaking on presenting Alexandra with her award, Anna Classon said: “I feel I have come full circle in presenting this award. I started my career with the RNLI as a fundraising manager on the West Coast of Ireland and Alexandra was someone I came to know early on in that role.

“The lifeboat is a hugely important part of this community and having a fundraising group who will step up and support the lifeboat crew, to ensure that they can save lives at sea, means that this work continues. From the range of fundraising activities that Alexandra has supported and continues to champion, that future is in good hands. This recognition is very much deserved and I am delighted to be here to present it.”

Adding his thanks on behalf of the Achill Island RNLI fundraising branch, Anthony McNamara said: “This is a fitting tribute to the work Alexandra does on behalf of the lifeboat service here in Achill. We have a wonderful team and the community are very generous in their support of our lifeboat crew. We couldn’t do it without volunteers like Alexandra and her endless enthusiasm and dedication for raising vital funds for saving lives at sea. Long may it continue.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today announced that the application for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for “Achill Island Sea Salt” has been successful. The European Commission Regulation advising of the registration of “Achill Island Sea Salt” as a Protected Designation of Origin has been published today in the Official Journal of the European Union and will come into force on the twentieth day following its publication.

“Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) is a name which identifies a product: (a) originating in a specific place, region or, in exceptional cases, a country; (b) whose quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors; and (c) the production steps of which all take place in the defined geographical area. Achieving PDO status will mean that producers of “Achill Island Sea Salt” may use the PDO logo on their products.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to announce that Achill Island Sea Salt has been successful in their application for PDO status, further strengthening Ireland’s reputation for quality food products. I would like to congratulate the applicant, Achill Island Sea Salt, on this substantial achievement. PDO status provides both recognition of the exceptional quality and unique characteristics of this hand harvested sea salt from the waters around Achill Island and reflects the dedication of our local producers.”

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as the Competent Authority for Geographical Indications, guided the applicant through the application process. Following the National Opposition Procedure in 2020, the application was submitted to the European Commission for scrutiny following which the Member State/Third country opposition procedure was completed without opposition.

Published in Island News
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Achill Island RNLI came to the aid of an unmanned fishing trawler in severe weather conditions on Friday, August 11th, following a call from the Irish Coast Guard. The 36ft trawler was moored between Purteen Harbour and Inishgalloon at Achill Island and was in danger of drifting dangerously close to the rocky shore in stormy conditions, pulling its anchor in the process.

The volunteer crew of the all-weather lifeboat ‘Sam and Ada Moody’, led by Coxswain Dave Curtis and consisting of Michael Cattigan, Mechanic, Thomas Ruddy, Stephen McGreal, Ivan Swarbrigg, and Terry Hogarth, launched shortly before 1.30 pm. Despite storm force winds and 3-metre swells, the crew assessed the situation and decided to put two crew members on board the drifting trawler.

The trawler was then taken on tow and brought to another mooring nearby, where it was safely secured. The two crew members returned to the lifeboat, and the team made its way back to the station, arriving shortly before 4pm.

Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran Needham, praised the crew's bravery in challenging conditions, saying, "Our crew train for all eventualities and they were delighted to be able to come to the rescue of this vessel this afternoon. If you see someone, or some vessel in need of help, don’t ever hesitate to call the Coast Guard and ask for help. Our crew are always happy to respond when needed."

Thanks to the quick thinking and bravery of the Achill Island RNLI crew, the unmanned trawler was saved from certain disaster. The RNLI remains committed to providing a vital, life-saving service to all those in need, no matter the weather conditions.

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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the European Commission’s recent publication for a three-month member state/third country opposition procedure of the application for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for Achill Island Sea Salt.

Achill Island Sea Salt is the name given to a hand-harvested sea salt from the waters around Achill Island in Co Mayo.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted that the European Commission has finalised its scrutiny of the PDO application for Achill Island Sea Salt and that the application has reached this stage of the procedure. The publication is a requirement under EU rules.”

The publication of the application represents the next phase of consultation on the application for PDO status for Achill Island Sea Sal”.

It is now open to other EU member states and third countries having a legitimate interest to make submissions on the application with the Commission, within a three-month period from the date of publication.

The minister added: “The PDO application for Achill Island Sea Salt indicates the preservation of traditional production methods, promoting heritage and supporting local economies. I commend all those who have been involved in bringing the application to this stage.”

PDO status was previously granted for Oriel Sea Salt harvested at Clogherhead in Co Louth, as reported on Afloat.ie in August 2016.

Published in Island News
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Achill Island RNLI responded to a request to assist a woman requiring medical evacuation from Inishturk this morning, Friday, 14 July. The request came from the Irish Coast Guard, who had also requested the assistance of Sligo based helicopter, Rescue 118.

The volunteer crew launched shortly after 7.30am under the command of Sean Curtain, Relief Coxswain, with six additional crew on board. Sea conditions were moderate at the time with a gentle to moderate breeze. There was some cloud but visibility was good. The passage took the all-weather lifeboat, ‘Sam and Ada Moody’ south-west of Clare Island, arriving at Inishturk Island shortly before 8.30am.

On arrival at Inishturk, the lifeboat was met by the casualty’s nephew, who transported four of the crew to the casualty’s house on the other side of the island, where Rescue 118 had already landed.

The woman was assessed by the crew of Rescue 118 and the lifeboat crew assisted with transferring the woman to the helicopter. They then secured the area for a safe take-off for the aircraft.

The crew returned to the lifeboat and the lifeboat departed Inishturk Island for Achill Island, arriving back at the station at 10.30am.

Speaking after the call out, Michael Cattigan, Achill Island RNLI Mechanic said: “This is another excellent example of inter-agency cooperation. We train regularly with Rescue 118 for various situations both at sea and on land and we were delighted to be able to offer our assistance again on this occasion for the benefit of this woman who needed help. We wish her well for a speedy recovery.’

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Achill Island and Ballyglass RNLI in Co Mayo are among six charities that will benefit from the proceeds raised from the hugely popular annual 5k Runway Fun Run, which will take place on the runway at Ireland West Airport this September.

Ireland West Airport made the announcement about this year’s fun run on Thursday (22 June) in partnership with Portwest.

Runners and walkers will take-off down the runway at 7pm on Saturday 9 September and complete a 5km course with a difference.

All are welcome to attend what promises to be a fantastic evening for all the family, raising much needed funds for our charity partners in 2023.

The airport charity partners for 2023 are the RNLI lifeboat stations in Achill Island and Ballyglass, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Diabetes Ireland, Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Children’s Cancer Fund and Mayo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Registration is now open but placs are limited. Entry costs €20 per adult and €5 for under-16s. A special family rate of €40 will be available for families of two adults and two kids.

All participants will receive a race T-shirt and complimentary car parking and refreshments at the airport will be provided on the day.

To mark the special event, all participants who register online to take part will be entered into a draw to win two return flights to London Heathrow with Aer Lingus — the airport’s newest daily service launched in March of this year.

A ‘virtual option’ will also be available again this year for those who wish to support the charities but are unable to make it on the day and would like to do a virtual run or walk.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Achill Island RNLI responded to a request to assist two people drifting on their 7m vessel off Keel Island after experiencing engine failure. The request came from the Irish Coast Guard, who also requested the support of the Irish Coast Guard Helicopter, Rescue 118 and Achill Island Coast Guard.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched shortly after 2 pm on Monday afternoon,15 May, with Dave Curtis, Coxswain, and five crew onboard the all-weather lifeboat, ‘Sam and Ada Moody’. Weather conditions were slightly overcast then, with light winds and 1.5m to 2m swells. While underway, the lifeboat was stood down when a local fishing vessel came to the aid of the two people and towed their boat back to the safety of Purteen Harbour. Happy that everyone was safe and well and that no further assistance was required, the lifeboat then returned back to the lifeboat station at Kildownet at approximately 3.30 pm.

After the call out, Ciaran Needham, Achill Island RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “Even the most experienced boat users can encounter difficulties when out on the water, despite carrying out all the necessary checks before launching. The right decision was made on this occasion to call for help, and our crew will always be happy to launch and assist whenever requested to do so.”

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The RNLI has been chosen as one of six charity partners for Ireland West Airport this year.

Funds raised for the RNLI by the airport in Knock, Co Mayo will be donated to and shared by the two lifeboat stations in the county, at Achill Island and Ballyglass.

Ireland West Airport made the announcement in late April with Breakthrough Cancer Research, Diabetes Ireland, The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, The Children’s Cancer Fund and the Mayo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also selected by airport staff as its charity partners for 2023.

The airport is extending its charity partners from three to six in 2023 in recognition of the fantastic work the charities do at both a local and national level.

Several events will take place during the course of 2023 which will engage passengers and staff with the aim of raising as much money as possible for all charity partners.

The headline event for 2023 will be their annual 5k runway fun run which will take place on the runway at Ireland West Airport in September.

Speaking following the announcement, RNL community manager Brian Wilson said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the RNLI and we are so grateful to all at Ireland West Airport for choosing the charity that saves lives at sea as one of their charity partners for 2023.

“Any funds raised will help to power the lifesaving work of our volunteer crews at Achill Island and Ballyglass RNLI. We wish all in the airport the best of luck with the fundraising events they have planned for the year ahead.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Oscar-nominated film The Banshees of Inisherin has given tourism on the Aran island of Inis Mór and Mayo’s Achill island a boost, but such good fortune doesn’t extend to the island’s fishing vessels.

As The Examiner reports, third-generation Aran fisherman John Conneely of Inis Mór will deliver two fishing vessels to yards where they will be broken up, piece by piece, in a few weeks’ time.

One of Conneely’s two vessels, the 17-metre Connacht Ranger, has been in the family for over half a century. It was one of a fleet of timber boats built at boatyards then run by the State’s sea fisheries board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

John Conneelys's Connacht Ranger, one of two vessels he has to scrap as part of the Brexit decommissioning scheme.JPGJohn Conneelys's Connacht Ranger, one of two vessels he has to scrap as part of the Brexit decommissioning scheme

The same State board - which had been tasked with building up a much-neglected industry half a century ago - is now responsible for the scheme to slim it back down.

The whitefish decommissioning scrappage scheme was drawn up by a Government seafood task force to pay up to 60 skipper owners compensation for destroying their vessels - due largely to the loss of quota caused by Brexit.

Conneely is one of a total of 42 owners who have accepted offers, out of 57 letters of offer issued by BIM.

Padraic's cottage, built from scratch for the Banshees of Inisherin film set at Gort na gCapall on Inis Mor close to the Conneely family homePadraic's cottage, built from scratch for the Banshees of Inisherin film set at Gort na gCapall on Inis Mor close to the Conneely family home

The Brexit Adjustment Reserve, as Brussels calls the compensation fund, amounts to almost 1 billion euro and must be spent within two years. However, only a small percentage of this has been allocated for the fishing vessel scrappage scheme, in spite of the major impact of Brexit on coastal communities.

Read more in The Examiner here 

Published in Island News

Achill Island RNLI went to the assistance of a man on Clare Island off the coast of County Mayo, requiring medical evacuation on Monday, 23 January. The request from the Irish Coast Guard was the first call out for the year for the volunteer lifeboat crew and their all-weather lifeboat, the ‘Sam and Ada Moody’.

With moderate sea conditions to contend with, as well as patchy mist and fog, the lifeboat made its way to Clare Island shortly before 2 pm. The casualty had been assessed and treated by the island nurse, and he was then transferred to the care of the lifeboat crew, who brought him to Roonagh Pier, southeast of Clare Island, for onward transport to Galway University Hospital. The lifeboat then headed in a northerly direction across Clew Bay to Achill Island, passing Clare Island again on its left on the return journey.

Speaking after the call out, Maria Kilbane, Achill Island RNLI’s volunteer Deputy Launch Authority, said: ‘Achill Island RNLI has always had a very close relationship with the people on our local islands, including Clare Island. Our crew are always happy to assist, and we wish the casualty well with his recovery.’

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