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A crew of 20 rowers who set off to circumnavigate the island of Ireland – a round trip of almost 1000 nautical miles – in a self-built 15ft skiff to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland (CFI) have today arrived home after a challenging four months at sea.

The team, comprising 20 rowers of mixed ability and experience, set off from Bray, Co. Wicklow on May 30th with crews of two oarsmen/women at a time rowing in relays. The rowers stopped at over 50 designated points along the coast before arriving home to a warm welcome from friends and family and members of the Bray community.

‘Row-A-Round Ireland’ is the brainchild of Bray-based maritime enthusiast Ger Crowley, who says the success of the trip was down to the dedicated crew of rowers and volunteers and the communities who came out to support the Row-A-Round Ireland team nationwide. 

“It’s was an ambitious project, a journey of almost 1000 nautical miles, but I am delighted to say we have arrived home today after completing the challenge safely. I’d like to take this time to thank each and every individual who provided support to this challenge whether it was by offering accommodation or providing invaluable local knowledge – we couldn’t have done it without the Irish people doing what they do best,” Crowley said.

“The other objective, of course, was to raise funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland. At the start of this initiative, we all decided upon a target we would like to hit, and while we have raised a huge amount so far, we are going to give it one last push over the next few weeks to hit that top note,” he said.

Their arrival was met with celebrations as the crew enjoyed a welcome home party on Bray Beach and Harbour with refreshments from Row-A-Round Ireland sponsor, Lyons Tea.

The team heavily relied on local community support along the way, with many members of the maritime community including rowing, sailing and diving clubs around the country providing support by offering food, accommodation as well as valuable advice and local knowledge.

Funds have been made as the boat rowed around the county, with all money going towards fighting Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease that affects approximately one in 1600 births in Ireland, the country with the highest incidence of CF in the developed world.

To donate to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland simply text ROW4CF to 50300 to donate €4 or to get in touch with the crew in relation to the challenge visit www.rowaroundireland.com.

Published in Rowing

#rowingworldmasters – Ireland had an impressive set of wins at the World Masters Regatta, the four-day event which finished today in Hazewinkel in Belgium. There was a notable win in the men’s eight in the E category (average age 55 or more) where the Irish crew beat one of Russia’s best clubs, Dynamo Moscow, by less than a canvas - .31 of a second. The strokeman of the Russian crew, Vitali Eliseev, stroked the World Championship-winning four in 1981. The Irish crew was a composite of Old Collegians, Belfast Boat Club, Neptune, Waterford and Commercial. Denis Crowley – who was in the eight – won single sculls races in three different age categories. 

World Masters 2015

The Irish composite which beat Dynamo Moscow at the World Masters Regatta

World Masters Rowing Regatta, Hazewinkel, Belgium (Ireland Wins):

Men – Eight, E (Average 55 yrs or more): Old Collegians, Belfast BC, Neptune, Waterford, Commercial (John Hudson, Denis Crowley, Gerard Murphy, Michael Heavey, Colin Dickson, Colin Hunter, Francis O’Toole, Donal McGuinness, Al Penkert) 3 min 11.13 (1,000m)

Four, coxed, E (Average 55 yrs or more): Commercial, Belfast, Old Collegians, Waterford. Pair, E: Belfast BC. Pair, D (Avg 50+): Commercial. Pair, F (Avg 60+): Cappoquin.

Sculling – Double, F (Avg 60+): Carlow, Athlone. Single: B (36+), C (43+) and D (50+): Commercial (D Crowley). C (43+): Galway RC (S Heaney). 

Women – Sculling, Single, A (27+): Three Castles (B Quinn).

Published in Rowing

A team of 20 rowers have been circumnavigating the island of Ireland in a small, self-built skiff to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland (CFI). Their plan for today (Thursday) is row up the Co Down coast to Blackhead, and then on to Portavogie.

The rowers, of mixed ability and experience, set off from Bray, Co. Wicklow on May 30th with crews of two oarsmen/women at a time rowing in relays. The rowers have planned stops at 50 designated points along the coast, with support on hand from a shore-based crew as well as cover boats that will escort the boat on some of the more challenging legs.

The team is particularly thankful for the support of local people, and some rowers can join the crew along the way.

‘Row-A-Round Ireland’ is the brainchild of Bray-based maritime enthusiast Ger Crowley, who said the trip was a huge challenge for all involved.

“It’s an ambitious project, a journey of almost 1,000 nautical miles, and the main objective is to safely row an open 15ft timber skiff around the island,” Crowley said. “Each two-person crew will contribute 100 miles towards the overall voyage over a period of a week or so, rowing on average up to 20 miles per day, so it’s a big ask for all our volunteers.

“The other objective, of course, is to raise funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and all our rowers are giving their time and effort for free,” he says.

The Row-A-Round Ireland crew is drawn mainly from the immediate Crowley family and friends, under the watchful eye of team mascot and coxswain Joey the labrador. A true sea dog, Joey has a regular spot in the stern of the boat as it makes its way up and down the Bray coast on training rows. Although the journey will consist of 50 one-day legs, the changeable Irish weather means the crew has allowed 120 days to complete the challenge safely.

round_irl_row1.jpg

“Weather is going to be an issue alright, and there are some treacherous stretches of water to be navigated including Donegal Bay which comprises some 30 miles of the open Atlantic Ocean, Clew Bay, the Cliffs of Moher and from Loop Head across the mouth of the mighty Shannon,” says Ger Crowley, who built the boat.

The challenge also involves shore-based logistical support with a vehicle following the crew on land bringing change-over crews to intended landing areas, spares for repairs, food and also serving as a retrieval vehicle here beach landings are involved.

The team is also counting on local community support along the way, with many members of the maritime community including rowing, sailing and diving clubs around the country having pledged their support by offering food, accommodation as well as valuable advice and local knowledge.

Funds will be raised as the boat makes its way around Ireland, with all money going towards fighting Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease that affects approximately 1 in 1600 births in Ireland, the country with the highest incidence of CF in the developed world.

Published in Rowing
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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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