Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Clifden

A three-month-old baby was among a family of six rescued by Clifden RNLI in western Connemara on Thursday evening (9 May).

The volunteer crew were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard at 6.15pm to assist a group who were cut off by the tide on Omey Island.

Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty with Daniel Whelan, David O’Reilly and Shane Conneely as crew.

Weather conditions were good with calm seas, and the lifeboat crew had no difficulty locating the walkers on the island.

The family — which included grandparents, a baby, two young children and their dog — were found to be well and did not require medical assistance.

They were returned to the shore at Claddaghduff where Cleggan Coast Guard and additional lifeboat crew provided further assistance and ensured the family got back to their accommodation safely.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI helm Kenny Flaherty said: “We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out to Omey and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

“If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty.

“Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew in western Connemara launched on Thursday evening (25 April) to rescue a sailor from the upturned hull of his sailing boat in Clifden Bay.

At 8.45pm the lifeboat crew were tasked by Malin Head Coast Guard following a call from a member of the public who had observed the sailor in difficulty from the shore.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Joyce King was quickly launched, helmed by Joe Acton with crew Alan Pryce and Shane Conneely. They were assisted by John Brendan Mannion on the shore.

The lifeboat arrived on scene, a short distance out in Clifden Bay, to find the casualty clinging to the hull of his upturned boat. The sailor, who was wearing a life vest, had been in the water for some time and was cold but in good spirits otherwise.

The crew transported the sailor back to shore to warm up and then set about righting the sail boat and towing it back to a safe mooring in the bay.

Speaking about the call-out, Clifden RNLI helm Joe Acton said: “With this current spell of good weather, we expect to see people enjoying water sports and boating activities around our coasts.

“We want everyone to enjoy the water and come home safely. Please always remember to wear a life jacket when out on the water, always carry a mobile phone or VHF radio to call for help in an emergency. Boats should have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) which is registered and regularly maintained.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew in western Co Galway were tasked just before 2pm on Thursday (11 April) following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation for a casualty on Inishbofin.

Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher was launched under coxswain David Barry with Joe Acton, Dan Whelan, Andy Bell, Neil Gallery and Shane Conneely as crew. The coastguard’s Sligo-based helicopter Rescue 118 was also dispatched.

Weather conditions at the time were poor, with limited visibility and deep swells.

When the lifeboat crew arrived at the island, the casualty was received on board St Christopher and a casualty care assessment was carried out on the person, who was injured from a fall.

The casualty was immediately transported to Cleggan pier and the awaiting ambulance for further treatment in hospital.

Speaking about the call-out, Barry said: “This tasking was a real team effort involving the Cleggan Coast Guard, HSE National Ambulance Service and the local community in Inishbofin who provided great assistance during the transfer of the casualty. My thanks to all involved and I also wish the person a swift recovery.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

At a recent awards ceremony, some 14 members of Clifden RNLI’s fundraising branch received long service medals recognising their combined 400 years of fundraising in Connemara.

As a fully independent charity organisation, the RNLI relies on donations to fund its lifesaving work. The Clifden lifeboat crew are on call 24/7 but they require ongoing training, well maintained equipment, lifeboats and shore equipment to carry out their mission of saving lives at sea.

None of this would be possible without the dedication, commitment and drive of our local fundraisers who have each dedicated many years to supporting their local coastal community.

The commitment and selflessness of Clifden’s fundraising volunteers was acknowledged by Danny Curran, RNLI regional engagement manager.

Speaking at the ceremony, he said: “I know how much thought and effort goes in raising every euro for our charity and I’m extremely grateful to the volunteers here today who have worked tirelessly on this goal for decades. In rain, hail and snow; every week, every month, every year, you have ensured we can keep our life saving services running.

“These awards are not just to celebrate the fundraising volunteers for their incredible achievements over many years but also their families and friends who play a key role in supporting our work.”

Long service award recipients include Padraig Mc Donagh from Kilkerrin who is the longest serving fundraiser in the branch, having dedicated an incredible 55 years to Clifden RNLI; Eileen and Oliver Coyne from Cleggan, who are responsible for the legendary RNLI Christmas hamper raffle; and Anne Marie Bennett, outgoing chair of the fundraising branch and highly valued RNLI volunteer.

A special moment was observed for Lavinia Joyce who sadly passed away in August this year. Lavinia was the first chairperson of the Clifden/Connemara fundraising branch, or the “Clifden Ladies Guild” as it was known when she joined in 1992. Her enthusiasm, dedication and sense of purpose to be involved with the RNLI was infectious. She was an inspiration to all of us and an absolute lady. Rest in peace, Lavinia.

Clifden RNLI Long Service Awardees 2023:

  • Geraldine Heanue
  • AnneMarie Bennett
  • Padraic Griffin
  • Stewart Freeman
  • Collin Mullen
  • Paraic Mc Donagh
  • Percy Hyland
  • Oliver and Eileen Coyne
  • Jacqueline Hannon
  • Nancy Duffy
  • Lavinia Joyce
  • Ann Day
  • Thomas King
Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew were tasked by the Irish Coast Guard at 1.45pm on Tuesday (26 October) following a report that three people were stranded on Omey Island.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was launched by volunteer helm Kenny Flaherty with Joe Acton and Neill Gallery as crew.

Weather conditions were good with calm seas and the lifeboat crew had no difficulty locating the walkers on Omey Island.

The casualties were found to be well and did not require medical assistance. They were returned to the shore at Claddaghduff where Cleggan Coast Guard provided further assistance.

Speaking after the shout, Clifden RNLI lifeboat operations officer John Brittain said: “We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out to Omey and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

“If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty.

“Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

New residents of a Connemara island, which was once depopulated, have put an offshore exhibition together for the Clifden Arts Festival.

Four artists on Turbot Island are hoping their work will be viewed on the island, and have organised a ferry timetable from Clifden Boat Club for “InisturbART”, as the event is called.

Turbot or “Inishturbot” is a few miles west of Clifden and south of Omey, and its population of 60 was relocated to the mainland in 1978, four years after three islanders died in a currach capsize.

Patrick O’Toole (58), Patrick Stuffle (48) and Michael Wallace (62) were on their way home to Turbot from watching the All-Ireland football final in Clifden in September 1974 when the incident happened.

Driftwood painted by Dutch island resident Stefan FrenkelDriftwood painted by Dutch island resident Stefan Frenkel

Latterly, seasonal visitors bought property, and Covid-19 transformed Turbot into a refuge from the pandemic.

Among those who found themselves extending their seasonal stay and adapting to island life were Dutch couple Stefan and Hanneke Frenkel, both of whom have worked in advertising and interior design.

They were inspired by the island environment, and the enforced quarantine during the early stages of the pandemic, to develop their creative skills.

Hanneke Frenkel’s sea mats and carpets, woven from rope washed up on the shoreline, caught the eye of the curators of the Irish pavilion at this year’s Venice Architectural Biennale.

Collecting sea rope off Turbot island for the artists' exhibition for Clifden Arts Festival.JPGCollecting sea rope off Turbot island for the artists' exhibition for Clifden Arts Festival

Her husband Stefan has transformed pieces of fish boxes, ropes, nets, buoys, rubber ducks and other beachcombing material into paintings which reflect “small events on Turbot”.

David Wilkinson has recorded his experiences in coming to the west over several decades in a book entitled Island Journal: One Year and a Day. He first came as a child as his parents had a holiday home on Inishlacken, close to Roundstone.

Also participating in the group exhibition is Dublin maths teacher and musician Peter Knox, who spends much of the year now on Turbot. Several years ago, he adapted a poem about the 1974 drownings, which was written by local man Joseph O’Toole, into a song.

The piece entitled “Turbot Men” was recorded on video. Knox has also created a private art gallery in his island home.

The four artists say that living on the remote island has allowed them to “embrace the challenge of limited entertainment” by “unleashing their imagination, resourcefulness, and love for island living in a range of art projects for their group exhibition”.

They have put together a three-and-a-half hour tour on Turbot for Clifden Arts Festival participants, and there will be three ferry crossings a day from Clifden Boat Club on September 16th, 19th and 24th, with tickets at 20 euro.

Another Connemara island, Omey, will be venue for an illuminated procession by landscape theatre specialists LUXE which will celebrate the Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society’s centenary as part of the arts festival programme.

Christy Moore, Clare Sands and Johnny Óg Connolly are among musicians performing at Clifden, while Séamus Ó Flatharta (voice and whistle), Caoimhe Ní Fhlatharta (voice and fiddle), Pádraic Keane (uilleann pipes) and the ConTempo Quartet (viola, violin, and cello) will present “Stolen Hearts,” a new piece by Grammy Award winning composer Bill Whelan.

The festival’s extensive arts trail includes work by Seán Ó Flaithearta in Clifden Court House and Connemara Muses, an initiative led by 16 female artists.

Talks and readings will include sailor and explorer Kevin Cronin, speaking on his new book, In Search of Franklin: An Irish Connection, and James Morrissey, author of Real to Reel:Garech Browne and Claddagh Records.

Michael Viney’s last book completed before he died will be launched by Irish Times group managing director Deirdre Veldon on September 24th .

The Clifden Arts Festival will be opened by broadcaster, uilleann piper and musical historian Peter Browne on September 13th, and it runs until September 24th.

More details here

Published in Island News
Tagged under

The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were called out on Friday morning (25 August) at 7.30am to assist a stranded yacht off Connemara.

The vessel with two sailors on board had come into difficulty to the south-west of Inishark, which is west of Inisbofin.

Both of Clifden’s lifeboats launched: the inshore Atlantic 85 helmed by Daniel Whelan with Shane Conneely and Chris Nee as crew; and the all-weather Shannon class St Christopher with John Mullen as coxswain, James Mullen, Joe Acton, Neil Gallery and Alan Kearney as crew.

They were assisted from the shore by Tom Guy, John Heffernan and Sean Mercer.

Sea conditions at the time were moderate, with Force 5 winds and good visibility.

On arriving at the scene, the crews found the sailors to be well and in good spirits however the propeller and rudder on their yacht had become badly entangled with ropes.

The lifeboat volunteers set about establishing a tow line and brought the casualty vessel and the passengers back to safety at Cleggan Harbour.

Speaking after the rescue, Mullen said: “The sailors today did the right thing in calling for assistance when they ran into difficulty and I am delighted we were able help. Our volunteer crew did a great job of ensuring a speedy, safe and successful operation this morning.

“I’d like to thank the two sailors who kindly offered to buy breakfast for the crew after we reached the shore. The breakfast was most welcome after an early start saving lives at sea.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were called out on Tuesday (11 July) to assist a vessel with three anglers on board suffering mechanical failure at the mouth of Killary Harbour.

Weather conditions at the time were very poor with heavy rain and limited visibility.

While preparing to launch on a training exercise on their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, the Clifden crew were tasked to assist a small angling vessel with mechanical failure at the mouth of Killary Harbour, 22 nautical miles away.

It was reported that the casualty boat had three people on board and was drifting towards the rocks.

The Atlantic 85 was immediately away under the helm of Alan Pryce, with crew Chris Nee, Shane Conneely and Connor O’Malley.

While en route, the lifeboat crew were informed that the casualty vessel had drifted onto the rocks and immediate assistance was required.

Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat was also tasked to provide additional cover with John Mullen as coxswain and crew members Joe Acton, Dan Whelan, James Mullen and Brian Ward. They were assisted by John Heffernan and Neil Gallery on the shore. The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 also made its way to the scene.

The inshore lifeboat crew arrived at the location to find the fishing boat on the rocks and the three fishermen had climbed onto the rocky shoreline.

The situation was precarious and the weather conditions were poor. However, the volunteer crew managed to extract the three casualties and put the stricken vessel under tow.

The casualties were cold and wet but in otherwise good form, and they were brought, along with their boat, to Rossroe pier to safety.

Speaking about the call-out, Clifden RNLI helm Alan Pryce said: “I’d like to commend the crew on a well-executed rescue in very tricky conditions. The crew and the lifeboat performed incredibly well and the top cover of R115 and Clifden ALB ensured a swift response and successful outcome.

“The volunteer crew at our station are on call 24/7. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI in Co Galway towed a broken-down boat with two people on board to safety yesterday evening and were tasked again at midnight to a medevac from the island of Inishbofin.

At 6.45pm on Friday (26 May), Clifden’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was tasked by Malin Head Coast Guard to assist a boat that had broken down.

The crew launched Joyce King in beautiful sunny conditions, helmed by David Barry with crew James Mullen, Joseph Acton and Brian Ward. They were assisted by Neil Gallery and John Brendan Mannion on shore.

The crew arrived on scene to find the casualties had anchored and did not require medical attention. The stricken vessel was taken under tow back to a mooring in Clifden Bay, arriving without incident at 8.45pm.

Another callout came at midnight when Clifden’s all-weather lifeboat St Christopher was tasked to evacuate an injured person from Inishbofin. The casualty had sustained a head injury from a fall.

The lifeboat slipped her moorings under the command of coxswain James Mullen with John Mullen, Joseph Acton, Dan Whelan and Neil Gallery as crew.

The weather was calm en route with a beautiful night at sea, and the lifeboat made it to Inishbofin in excellent time. The crew met with the island nurse who provided a handover and then proceeded to transport the patient back to Cleggan pier. An ambulance was waiting to bring the patient to hospital for further treatment.

Speaking about the shouts, James Mullen said: “It was a busy night for our volunteer crew and I want to thank everyone involved, in particular the island nurse, An Garda Síochána, the National Ambulance Service and the coastguard who assisted in the multi-agency medical evacuation.

“Our volunteer crew remain on call 24/7, with the good weather promised we urge everyone to be safe around the water. If you get into difficulty, or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

A special ceremony and service of dedication was held yesterday (Saturday, 22 April) at Clifden RNLI, when the Connemara lifeboat station’s new all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, St Christopher, was officially named. The lifeboat, which went on service in May last year, was funded by a legacy from Christopher Harris, in admiration for the lifesaving work of the RNLI.

The lifeboat has been named St Christopher, as per his family’s wishes and reflects his lifelong love of travel. Born in March 1939, Christopher was evacuated during the war but returned to live with his aunt, who ran a farm. Upon qualifying as an accountant, marrying and starting a family, he combined his career with travel, before eventually settling in Surrey. He had a strong calling to look after others, and it is believed this is what influenced his support for the work of the RNLI.

During the ceremony, the lifeboat was handed into the care of the RNLI by Christopher’s daughter, Phillipa Harris. Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain then accepted it on behalf of the Galway station, before the lifeboat was officially named by Gill Hinton, another of Christopher’s daughters. Commenting on naming of the St Christopher, Philippa Harris said, ‘We’re incredibly proud to be here on behalf of our father, Christopher Harris, and we’re so happy that the boat will be used by such brave and generous people, as the RNLI volunteer crew.’

Philippa Harris, Gill Hinton, and Cox James Mullen at the naming ceremony of the Clifden RNLI LifeboatPhilippa Harris, Gill Hinton, and Cox James Mullen at the naming ceremony of the Clifden RNLI Lifeboat

Speaking at the event, Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain said, ‘This is a proud day for everyone at Clifden RNLI, for our families and the local community. We are honoured to be the custodians of this magnificent lifeboat, which will save many lives on this part of the coast and which will bring our lifeboat crews home safe in all weathers. It is an incredible gift to give a community. We have a very special community here in West Connemara - in the lifetime of this station, our fishing community, local businesses, friends and supporters, has never let us down. From fund-raising to donations of services and all manner of dig outs, whatever we have asked for, our community has delivered. I am incredibly proud that this new state-of-the-art Lifeboat is here in Clifden.

The donor family with Clifden RNLI St. Christopher after the naming ceremonyThe donor family with Clifden RNLI St. Christopher after the naming ceremony

He added, ‘Our thanks to the late Christopher Harris and to his family, some of whom have travelled here for this occasion. There will always be a welcome for Christopher’s family and friends at Clifden RNLI.’

RNLI Head of Region Anna Classon said, ‘Congratulations to everyone involved with this wonderful occasion. This lifeboat is a huge addition to lifesaving on the west coast of Ireland. Behind every lifeboat is a team of people working together to ensure that when the call for help comes, the response is immediate. To all the lifeboat volunteers, shore crew, station management, fundraisers and donors, this day is the culmination of years of hard work and commitment.’

Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John BrittainClifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain

Tributes were also paid to Saul Joyce and Bernard Whelan who were the first two volunteers to join Clifden RNLI back in 1989 and who retired earlier this year.

The € 2.7 million Shannon class lifeboat is the most recent class of all-weather lifeboat to join the RNLI fleet. It is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it more agile and manoeuvrable.

Following the ceremony, the public had an opportunity to view the lifeboat, which is usually moored afloat, up close. The lifeboat was brought onto Clifden beach to allow the public to view the names of over 10,000 loved ones, which were pledged on the lifeboat through a special fundraising initiative. ‘Launch a Memory, which was run by the charity back in 2020.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
Page 1 of 10

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