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Baltimore RNLI were called out to provide a medical evacuation this morning (Friday 30 October) from Heir Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 9.22am following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide medical assistance and evacuation to a man living on the island.

Along with two HSE paramedics, the lifeboat crew arrived at Heir Island pier just 10 minutes later and used a stretcher to transfer the casualty from his home to the lifeboat, and then back to the station and the awaiting ambulance.

Conditions at sea during the callout were calm, with a westerly Force 2 wind and no sea swell, ahead of the strong winds expected with Storm Aiden tomorrow, Saturday 31 October.

There were seven volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat: coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Micheal Cottrell and crew members Aidan Bushe, Brendan Cottrell, Ronnie Carthy, Emma Lupton and Jerry Smith.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide a medical evacuation late last night (Sunday 18 October) from Sherkin Island off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork. 

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 11.39 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide medical assistance and evacuation to a female who had sustained an injury to her arm. 

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew along with two HSE paramedics arrived at Sherkin Island pier at 11.47 pm.  The voluntary lifeboat crew brought the casualty onboard the lifeboat.  After an initial assessment was carried out by the HSE paramedics, a lifeboat crew member assisted in the administration of casualty care and the casualty was able to return home.  The lifeboat then departed Sherkin at 00.07 am and arrived to the station in Baltimore at 00.18 am. 

There were five volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Micheal Cottrell and crew members Ronnie Carthy, Sean McCarthy and David Ryan, along with two paramedics from the HSE.  Conditions in the harbour during the call out were calm with a south-easterly force 5 wind, which created heavy runs at Sherkin pier.

Published in Island News

A memorial to commemorate those lost to the sea is finally in sight for a coastal village in West Cork. For the past twelve months, Baltimore Rath & the Islands Community Council has been liaising with Cork County Council and the community of Baltimore and has now successfully acquired planning permission to erect the memorial within the village.

The memorial, “Croí na Mara” (the Heart of the Sea), a sculpture of copper, bronze and stainless steel, is a collaborative work between the Community Council and two local artists, Helen Walsh and Paddy McCormack. The artist’s sketch shows that the structure made up of two waves (measuring 3m H x 2m L x 3m W) aims to reflect and capture the power and energy of the sea. Further detail shows the parting sea forming two copper and bronze perforated waves rising from the ground into the shape of a heart. Copper rings of varying sizes, representing the souls lost to the sea, are drawn up through the heartstrings and released into the air.

The structure will be located adjacent to the Harbour Building overlooking Baltimore pier and harbour. The aim is to make the memorial area as inclusive as possible for people of all abilities to come and take the opportunity to reflect, contemplate, and remember friends and loved ones by looking at and through the heart-shaped space between the waves, to the water in the harbour and beyond.

The Community Council are currently fundraising to reach a target of €35,000 to see the project completed. This has been a difficult year for everyone, but the community council would be very grateful to those who would consider donating to this community project, which is a thoughtful opportunity to appropriately commemorate those that have been lost to the sea.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide a medical evacuation early yesterday afternoon (Monday, 21 September) from Sherkin Island off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 2.07 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation (Medivac) to an injured female.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat arrived at Sherkin Island at 2.20 pm. The lifeboat crew brought the casualty onboard the lifeboat and they departed the island at 2.30 pm. The lifeboat arrived back to Baltimore Lifeboat Station at 2.45 pm where the casualty was handed over to the care of the HSE ambulance crew.

There were five crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Sean McCarthy, Aidan Bushe and Emma Lupton.

Conditions within the harbour at the time were calm with a westerly force 4 wind and no sea swell.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘This is the third Medivac for Baltimore within a 48 hour period. Previously there were two Medivacs to Cape Clear Island, the first on Saturday evening and the second on Sunday morning. If you find yourself in need of medical assistance whilst on an island, call 999 or 112.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI was called out twice in 14 hours to provide two separate medical evacuations from Cape Clear Island off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork.

The first call out happened yesterday evening (Saturday 19 September). The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 6.49 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation (Medivac) to an islander from Cape Clear.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at Cape Clear Island at 7.10 pm. After an initial assessment, the voluntary lifeboat crew brought the casualty onboard the lifeboat and they departed the island at 7.14 pm. The lifeboat arrived back to Baltimore Lifeboat Station at 7.42 pm where the casualty was handed over to the care of the HSE ambulance crew.

There were six volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Jerry Smith, Aidan Bushe, David Ryan and Jim Griffiths.

The second call-out came earlier this morning (Sunday 20 September) when at the request of the Irish Coast Guard the volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 8.24 am, to provide another Medivac to an islander from Cape Clear.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the island at 8.47 am and transported the casualty back to Baltimore, departing Cape Clear at 8.57 am and arriving back at the Lifeboat Station at 9.26 am. The casualty was handed over to the care of the HSE ambulance crew.

On this morning’s call out were five volunteer crew, Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Micheal Cottrell, David Ryan and Don O’Donovan. Conditions at sea during both call-outs were calm with a northeasterly wind and no sea swell.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Storm Francis hit the West Cork Harbour of Baltimore today with the town's RNLI lifeboat called out to nearby Crookhaven Bay to two yachts in difficulty on moorings as Afloat reported here this morning.

Pleasure craft in Baltimore Harbour itself were also in difficulty in the storm-force winds.

Last week Storm Ellen felled trees and flooded towns, with Cork receiving the worst battering, and now the arrival of Storm Francis has caused even more damage in some of the worst-hit places.

A RIB broke its mooring in Baltimore. this afternoon but was towed safely back out to sea after some quick thinking seamanship as seen in this reader vid below.

Unfortunately, a classic yacht also broke its moorings in the West Cork marine leisure centre and has been damaged according to eyewitness accounts. See the reader vid below.

Published in News Update
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Baltimore RNLI’s volunteer crew launched to the aid of two yachts in difficulty in Crookhaven Harbour as Storm Francis passed over West Cork this morning (Tuesday 25 August).

The two vessels, one with four on board and the other with two, were dragging their moorings in the strong Force 9 winds, gusting up to Force 11, and rough sea conditions with a five-metre swell.

RNLI volunteers at the scene launched the smaller Y-boat from the all-weather lifeboat to get close enough to secure extra lines from the yachts to nearby moorings, and helped stead one of the yachts by dropping and extra anchor upwind.

Lifeboat crew member Micheal Cottrell said: “The skippers did the right thing in looking for assistance as soon as they knew their moorings weren’t holding, especially considering the storm hadn’t reached its full force at the time.”

A Status Yellow gale warning remains in place with Met Éireann forecasting cyclonic variable winds to reach gale or strong gale this afternoon, on Irish coastal waters from Carlingford Lough to Valentia to Belfast Lough and on the Irish Sea south of the Isle of Man.

The meteorological service also issued a Small Craft Warning as southeasterly winds were expected reach Force 6 or 7 for a time early this afternoon on coasts from Belfast Lough to Carlingford Lough, and on the Irish Sea north of the Isle of Man.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Baltimore RNLI was launched this afternoon following the activation of an alarm from a positioning beacon off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 4.04 pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to help locate an active Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB) two nautical miles west of the Calf Islands off the coast of West Cork.

Baltimore lifeboat proceeded to the area and started to search under the direction of the Irish Coast Guard and the Irish naval vessel the LÉ Samuel Beckett. Also assisting in the search were Schull Coast Guard and an Irish Coast Guard helicopter. After an extensive search was carried out by all agencies the search was stood down at 6.43 pm and Baltimore lifeboat made its way back to the station arriving at 7.05 pm.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Pat O’Driscoll and crew members Eoin O’Driscoll, David Ryan and Kieran O’Driscoll. Assisting at the boathouse were Jerry Smith and Marty O’Driscoll. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with a south-easterly force 2-3 wind and 0.5m sea swell.

Speaking following the call out, Pat O’Driscoll, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Helm said: ‘Thankfully the activation of the alarm today was not due to the loss of a vessel. It is important to ensure the secure fastening of an EPIRB on board a vessel and to regularly check that it is in good working order. With storm Ellen approaching, bringing strong winds and potential coastal flooding in combination with spring tides, the RNLI is urging people to exercise extreme caution. If you think someone is in difficulty at sea or along the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI was called out earlier this morning (Saturday, 15 August) to provide assistance to a yacht in difficulty off Baltimore Harbour in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 8.05 am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to assist a 37-foot yacht, with three people on board, which had suffered engine failure just off Baltimore Harbour.

The Baltimore inshore lifeboat arrived at the casualty vessel at 8.12 am and voluntary lifeboat crew member Eoin O’Driscoll was put aboard to rig a tow. The inshore lifeboat towed the casualty vessel back to Baltimore Harbour and put them on a mooring off Sherkin Island. Once the casualty vessel was secured, the lifeboat returned to the station, arriving at 8.59 am.

There were four volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Micheal Cottrell and crew members Pat O’Driscoll, Eoin O’Driscoll and Kieran O’Driscoll. Conditions at sea during the call were calm with an easterly force 1-2 wind and no sea swell.

Speaking following the callout, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: "The skipper of the yacht did the right thing in requesting assistance as he felt winds were too light to allow him to safely access the harbour. If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard."

The previous day, Friday 14 August, Baltimore's lifeboat crew launched to their second medical evaculation of the week from Sherkin Island – bringing an islander to the mainland and the care of paramedics for further attention.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Baltimore RNLI was called out to provide a medical evacuation this afternoon from Sherkin Island off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew, under Coxswain Kieran Cotter, launched their all-weather lifeboat at 3.06 pm, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide medical assistance and evacuation to a woman who had sustained an injury following a fall.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at Sherkin Island pier at 3.15 pm and reached the casualty at the same time as a First Responder team who were also in the area. An initial assessment was carried out by one of the First Responders and then the voluntary lifeboat crew, assisted by the First Responder team, transferred the casualty onboard the lifeboat.

The lifeboat then returned to the station in Baltimore and the casualty was handed over to the care of HSE Ambulance crew at 4.30 pm.

Conditions at sea during the call out were calm with a south - south-westerly force 3-4 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Speaking following the call out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘If you find yourself in a medical emergency whilst on an island call 999 or 112 and explain to the operator what the nature of the call is. The operator will then make sure that the call is directed to both the Coast Guard and the National Ambulance Service. We would like to thank the First Responders for assisting in this call and we wish the casualty a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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