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Displaying items by tag: Blasket Islands

One of the ferry companies that services the Blasket Islands is up for sale, as RTÉ Nuacht reports.

Bádóirí an Bhlascaoid Teo operates a 48-passenger ferry between the island of Great Blasket and Dunquin in Co Kerry and is the longest established company running to the islands.

Great Blasket Island has been uninhabited for nearly 70 years but for caretakers to manage the busy tourism season — which was bolstered last year by Irish people holidaying at home during a brief relaxation of pandemic restrictions.

RTÉ Nuacht has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Today’s Sunday Independent reports that Government ministers have shot down proposals for a seal cull by rifle from boats off Cork and Kerry.

Internal emails show that Minister of State Malcolm Noonan rejected the suggestion as being “politically unacceptable”.

And both he and Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien shared the view that a compensation scheme for fishermen who say seal predation on fish stocks has harmed their livelihoods “would be a better approach”.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, inshore fishermen in Kerry have argued that the depletion of fishery stocks and damage to nets in and around the Blasket Islands is “unsustainable”.

But suggestions that fishermen be given the green light to cull seals from their vessels with high-powered rifles were branded as “insane” by a conservation expert.

The Sunday Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

As if there wasn’t enough Kerry sadness with Fungie’s disappearance, along comes Peig Sayers...

As The Sunday Independent reports today, a newly published collection of stories by one of the Great Blasket’s best-known residents shows her “grámhar or more flirtatious side.

The new dual-language publication, entitled Níl Deireadh Ráite/Not the Final Word, is published by New Island Press.

It has been collated by Dr Pádraig Ó Héalaí of NUI Galway (NUIG)and the late Prof Bo Almqvist of University College Dublin (UCD) and includes recordings of Sayers on audio CDs.

A woman who liked a sup of whiskey and was a feminist of her time, Sayers is still synonymous with nightmares among past generations of secondary school students who studied her autobiography, Peig.

“The image of her created by the text on the Leaving Certificate curriculum was unfortunate, as it didn’t give a good indication of the woman she really was, “ Dr Ó Héalaí says.

A tale of a woman who had a child with a merman, and other stories which showed a more open, complex and often defiant character, are among the accounts gathered.

Ó Héalaí and Almqvist drew on remastered recordings by the Irish Folklore Commission, which were taped in 1952 when Sayers was being treated for cancer in St Anne’s Hospital in Ranelagh, Dublin.

The two men had published a previous collection, entitled Labharfad le Cách / I will Speak to you All, over a decade ago. This work referred to BBC, RTÉ and UCD archives of Sayers’s stories – now translated into many languages including Esperanto.

Sayers, who died in 1958, was born near Dún Chaoin and married a Blasket islander Pádraig Ó Guithín. The couple lost five of ten children – three in infancy, one of measles, and their teenage son Tomás died when he fell down a cliff.

Although she knew much poverty and hardship, she was well able to have a laugh, was “interested in lads”, had an emerging sexuality and a gift for language which included being able to utter a “good curse”, Ó Héalaí adds.

The stories are “not all entertainment” as one very touching account is of a farming couple whose three children all died young, and were helped in their grief by a story from a stranger, Ó Healái says.

Four of Sayers’s surviving five children emigrated to the US, and she related her autobiography – published in Irish in 1936 - to Maidhc, the only one who stayed at home.

Fellow folklorist and sean nós singer Lillis Ó Laoire of NUIG’s school of Irish says the new release deserves to be a “Christmas bestseller”.

Sayers’s warmth and humour and ability to be “sexy” are well reflected between its pages, he says – noting that one of the great “myths” is that her biography was compulsory for Leaving Certificate Irish.

“It never was – it was up to the individual teachers to select texts,” Ó Laoire says.

“There are about 5,000 pages of manuscript in the Irish Folklore Commission, so this is only touching on what is still there,” Dr Ó Healaí explains.

“Hence the title of the book!”

Níl Deireadh Ráite/Not the Final Word (New Island Press) is on sale for €25

Read The Sunday Independent here

Published in Island News

Plans to allow for the culling of seals by fishermen with high-powered rifles have been branded as “insane” by a conservation expert.

According to the Irish Examiner, the Government is looking into the granting of licences that would permit fishermen to shoot seals in order to protect their catches.

The move follows claims by local fishermen in Kerry that seal colonies in the Blasket Islands — a Special Area of Conservation — and elsewhere are largely responsible for depleted fish stocks and damage to nets, a situation which they say is “unsustainable”, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

While a licence for the Blaskets was refused, one of four others this year has been approved, and the rest — across Kerry and Cork — are being considered by Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien.

“There are concerns about this approach to seal management, given the potential safety concerns arising from using high-powered rifles on moving platforms,” the minister said in a written response to Kerry TD Micael Healy-Rae.

"Nonetheless, my department is examining the potential for a pilot scheme which would test this approach and determine its efficacy in protecting fishermen’s catches.”

However, Irish Wildlife Trust’s Pádraic Fogarty said the idea of “shooting seals with rifles from boats is insane”, and suggested that chronic overfishing and bottom trawling have had a greater impact on available catches.

His comments echoed those of the Irish Seal Sanctuary earlier this year. Its co-founder Brendan Price told RTÉ that culling seals by gun is “essentially wasting a bullet, it’s futile”.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

The Irish Seal Sanctuary has said a seal cull is not the answer to the woes of Dingle Peninsula fishermen, who claim a booming population of the protected marine wildlife is putting their livelihood at risk.

Sanctuary co-founder Brendan Price told RTÉ News that “you’re essentially wasting a bullet, it’s futile” as “an apex predator such as a seal is controlled by the available food source”.

Late last year, inshore fishermen who work around the Blaskets, which is a Special Area of Conservation, blamed the local seal colonies for depleted fish stocks and damage to their nets, arguing the situation was “unsustainable”.

Now the fishermen say they are “at breaking point”, with one claiming that seals actively follow their boats to target their catch.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

Depleted fish stocks and damage to nets in and around the Blaskets are “unsustainable”, argue local fishermen who have called for a cull of the area’s seal population, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The inshore fishermen allege that colonies of grey and common seals in the Blaskets — both protected marine wildlife species in the EU and within a Special Area of Conservation — are responsible for depleted pollock stocks, among others, which it is said is forcing smaller fishermen out of the industry over winter or even permanently.

Fisherman Adam Flannery told a public meeting in Dingle before Christmas: “We are looking for a cull. Because if we do not get a cull in six to eight months, within a few years there won’t be any inshore boat in Dingle.”

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

#Lusitania - A deck chair recovered from the wreck of the Lusitania by Blasket islanders and restored a century later is planned for public display, as RTÉ News reports.

Master craftsman Pat Broderick says he was able to save most of the original timber from the beech frame, and replaced the rattan seat with the same material woven in identical fashion.

Broderick’s handiwork will shortly be put on display by the Office of Public Works, either at the Blasket Centre in Dunquin or in the restored home of Tomás Ó Criomhthain on Great Blasket Island.

The deckchair was taken from the water with other flotsam and jetsam by islanders on Great Blasket not long after the Lusitania was torpedoed off Kinsale in May 1915.

It was used as a fireside chair for almost four decades before the island was evacuated in 1953, when it went into storage before the Blasket Centre received it as a donation.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#FerryNews - Ferries from Dunquin to the Blasket Islands were cancelled this morning – not on account of the weather, but a motorist who managed to wedge their car on a tight bend on the pedestrian-only path to the pier.

Blasket Island Ferries shared a photo of the unfortunate vehicular mishap on their Facebook page, where it's since gone viral with almost 8,000 likes.

According to TheJournal.ie, the driver in question was forced to spend the night in his motor, which was eventually removed with the help of a local tractor at lunchtime today.

"It would be the busiest week of the year for us, so plenty of people were a little annoyed at not being able to catch the ferry this morning," as Sibéal Ní Lubhaing of the ferry company told BreakingNews.ie, which has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ferry

#WildAtlanticWay - Minister of State for Tourism Patrick O’Donovan has announced almost €1.125 million in funding from Fáilte Ireland’s Capital Grants Allocation for two key projects along the Wild Atlantic Way.

A grant of is being made available to Galway County Council will receive €896,000 for the Connemara Greenway, while a grant of €225,000 is being allocated to the Office of Public Works (OPW) towards the first phase of development of new visitor facilities on Great Blasket Island.

“I am delighted to announce these grants today as these two important tourism attractions will provide a serious contribution to the future success of the Wild Atlantic Way," said the minister last Wednesday (13 July).

"Tourism moves in a very competitive global market and capital development is one means by which we can ensure that we are fighting fit to win a good portion of overseas visitors and, thereby, gain a return on this investment through increased revenue and jobs regionally.”

The grant for the Connemara Greenway will fund a new section of the route from Cloonbeg to Athry, running adjacent to Ballynahinch Castle, with a view to completion in May 2017.

This development is part of a wider plan for the Clifden to Oughterard Greenway that will link up with the planned Greenway from Galway city to Oughterard – ultimately resulting in a 78km Galway to Clifden Greenway offering a cycling experience from city to coast with international appeal for cycling enthusiasts.

The Blasket Centre, meanwhile, is located on the Wild Atlantic Way at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula. It was developed as a heritage and visitor centre honouring the unique community who lived on the remote Blasket Islands until 1953.

Currently there are no visitor facilities on the island but the new grant will assist the OPW in their overall development of the site by funding new facilities and services on the island, expected to be completed later this summer.

“These grants are an investment in the visitor experience on the ground," said Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn. "While the Wild Atlantic Way has been warmly received at home and abroad, it is still an evolving project. It is vital that we continue to invest in the project to ensure that we open up its full potential.

"We have great natural landscapes along the west coast but we must also ensure that we have top class tourism infrastructure, whether facilities or interpretation, to match them.”

Minister O’Donovan also recently launched a new Fáilte Ireland Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects, which will provide a pool of €65 million in investment to develop new, or boost existing, tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland.

The scheme, which will run from 2016-2020, is now open for applications from the public, private and voluntary sectors including community groups. Under the scheme, capital grants in excess of €200,000 and up to a maximum of €5 million will be available.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#islandnation – We were beating on port tack up past Cobh. It was a pleasant night's sailing in Thursday night's cruiser league race out of Monkstown Bay Sailing Club. Then the VHF came alive with the first radio call I have heard from the new Naval vessel, 'SAMUEL BECKETT' which had come up astern, returning from sea. The Naval voice courteously requested if 'ODD JOB,' the yacht on which I was crewing, would alter course, so that the State's ship could make her approach to the Naval Base at Haulbowline, off to our port side.

Our Skipper, John Hegarty, former Class Captain of MBSC Cruiser Fleet, acknowledged with equal courtesy and called a tack so 'ODD JOB' came about to go astern of 'L.E SAMUEL BECKETT' which could then swing across river, gliding into her berth at the Base.

We then brought 'ODD JOB' about again and returned to the racing fray. The alteration cost us first place on handicap by two minutes and forty seconds, but it was the courtesy of good seamanship and it set me to thinking again about the names which are attached to boats, remembering the controversy there had been about the naming of the 'SAMUEL BECKETT.'

I have written about the issue in the current, Summer edition, of Afloat, asking "What's In a Name?" also raising the issue of being called an "islander" and about which it is worth listening to the interview on the July edition of my radio programme, THIS ISLAND NATION on this website (Click HERE to listen), with the last man alive of the islanders who were evacuated from the Blaskets, Gearóid Cheaist Ó Catháin.

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Gearoid Cheaist O Cathain - The Last Blasket Islander

The names attached to boats – and ships – are interesting when you study them.

Ships' names are changed so regularly these days that a vessel can have a string of them and former names can be seen, painted over, on the bow and stern of ships. The old adage that it was unlucky to change the name of vessels no longer seems to apply, though there are quite a few who still believe in this.

I don't, I have changed the name of every boat I owned and still own.

So, how are names chosen and what do they mean?

There is still a fair degree of annoyance in Naval circles about the name Samuel Beckett being applied to their new ship and that the next one is to be called 'L.E JAMES JOYCE.'

The belief, amongst those who have been in regular touch with me about the names, is that it was former Defence Minister, Alan Shatter, T.D., who insisted on these choices, against strong feelings in the Naval Service for continuance of the tradition of mostly naming vessels after figures from Celtic mythology.

In the United States the politically-appointed Secretary of the Navy has the right by law to name its warships. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the U.S. Navy had no formal procedure for naming ships. It wasn't until 1819 that Congress passed an act stating that "all of the ships, of the Navy of the United States, now building, or hereafter to be built, shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy." The Secretary has fulfilled this role ever since, even though the passage expressly assigning authority for designating ship names was omitted when the U.S. Code was revised in 1925.

THE_LUNA.jpg

The Luna

The biggest superyacht registered under the British flag is now the 'LUNA,' built originally for the Russian billionaire, Roman Ambramovich, which was switched from Bermuda registration in a process handled by Watkins Superyachts, the London-based agency which is Luna's management and central charter agent. It is the world's largest charter expedition yacht in the world, 115 metres, built in 2010 by the German Lloyd Werft yard, at a cost of $185m.

Abramovich's 'other yacht' is named 'ECLIPSE,' which has its own advanced –missile system. Could that be to deal with Chelsea's misadventures?

The co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, had his super yacht named 'OCTOPUS.' It has hatches at waterline level to form a dock for jet skis.

Amongst Richard Branson's stable was 'NECKER BELLE,' a catamaran for sailing around Necker Island which he owns in the Caribbean.

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The Seven Seas

Steven Spielberg has 'SEVEN SEAS' which includes an indoor cinema.

Oracle boss Larry Ellison, whose funding of the winning of the Americas Cup dominated the sailing news last year, had 'RISING SUN' built, featuring an extensive wine cellar amongst other luxuries.' It is now owned by film producer, David Geffen.

And of course there were the Irish super yachts of Celtic Tiger times, such as 'THE ULYSSES,' once the subject of discussion in NAMA.

SHE_GOT_THE_HOUSE.jpg

There are some clever names on boats – 'SHE GOT THE HOUSE' – now there must be a story behind that; 'CIRRHOSIS OF THE RIVER' and for those superyachts – 'WHO CARES.

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CIRRHOSIS_OF_THE_RIVER.jpg

Then there are the regulars to be seen around marinas – 'AQUAHOLIC,' 'CAST AWAY,' 'DUN DREAMIN'; 'HAPPY HOURS'; 'SEA KNIGHT'; ' SEA MIST' 'Y KNOT' 'ALOAN AGAIN'; 'TOYSFORBOYS' 'DARK SECRET' and so on amongst them.....

So, what is in a name?

It should be indicative of confidence, I think, as well as of uniqueness and pride, without arrogance showing of course, unless that is you own a superyacht, when arrogance and naming seem to go together!

Fishing boats are often named by owners after their wives or children, or in a combination of both.

Owners of leisure craft vary widely in their choices, from the predictable to the somewhat bizarre and many shades between.

Commercial reasons can be used to name ships and change them to avoid legal difficulties.

But, does anyone notice what is in a name?

The public was not really energised by the Naval naming controversy.

The first boat I named was a 12 ft. Vagabond dinghy – 'LEGAN SCRIBE.' 'Legan' being traditional in the townland name of Monkstown so the local sailing club took pride in using it. This class of boats, unique at the time in Ireland, insisted that a name must indicate something about the owner. Being a reporter, mine was 'Scribe. The owner of a plumbing business had 'LEGAN LOO' and a butcher's boat was 'LEGAN LAMB'.

When I owned a Ruffian 23 I re-named it 'SCRIBBLER,' ignoring warnings about dangers inherent in changing the names of boats. I did similarly when moving onto a Sadler 25, which I re-named 'SEASCAPES,' as the purchaser of the Ruffian insisted on keeping its name - though a later owner changed it. I was then broadcasting a programme of that name. When I sold the Sadler, its new owner kept the name. So on the Sigma 33 which I now own, I changed its name to 'SEASCAPES II'. The purchaser of the Sadler later changed its name back to an original name it had.
'
While my new radio programme is named 'THIS ISLAND NATION' I won't be re-naming my Sigma. Not for the present anyway. I have thought about it, but the family who sail with me are firmly against it.

THE COAST GUARD CRIER

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Cliff Winser, Afloat's Tom MacSweeney visiting Youghal Coast Guard station, Mike Lee, officer-in-charge and Tony Lawlor Coast Guard

What's in a name anyway?

For example, the name of Town Crier,' where a maritime man is to represent Ireland at the World Town Crier Tournament in Chester in England next month:

Youghal Coast Guard Station is located on the seafront, overlooking the harbour and Cliff Winser is an ardent believer in the importance of the service:

"There are two things I am particularly proud of in my life, being Receiving Officer for this station when it began operations and being Town Crier. I have been associated with the Coast Guard for a long time and have seen a lot of changes. This station was the first in the country to be completed and handed over to the service which was re-organised in the late 90s. The Coast Guard is not really sufficiently appreciated by the public, but then is any emergency service appreciated by the public until it is needed?" he told me.

"I have been Town Crier in Youghal since the 80s. It was historic and traditional to have a Town Crier and when it was being revived for a festival, I was chosen. Maybe it was my beard that got it for me! Anyway, it has been going since and the townspeople and tourists seem to like it and, with support from the town, I have been nominated for the world competition."

Cliff will be amongst 36 Town Criers from England, Wales, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Channel Islands and the USA, taking part:

"I'm doing a fair bit of practice at present. It all starts on August 15 and continues until a winner is chosen by the 25th, so it is a long tournament."

TIMELY RADAR WARNING

CHIRP Maritime is the Maritime Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme operated from the UK. It is a non-profit organisation which issues reports about safety-related issues or 'near misses' in all aspects of the maritime sphere. They published a 'FEEDBACK' newsletter which in its current edition has a detailed account of the close encounter which two yachts, travelling in company, had with a bulk carrier in fog in the English Channel. They were a 30ft. cutter and a 33ft.sloop. Even though they took what they thought to be avoiding action, the ship passed within a hundred yards, without seeing them. All three vessels, watching radar, in altering course to avoid each other, actually altered into the paths of each other at the same time.

The yacht crews were experienced, including an Ocean Yacht Master, an experienced professional Master Mariner and two Day Skippers. All concluded that fog at sea is frightening.

Published in Superyachts
Page 1 of 2

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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