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Displaying items by tag: Galway

The Galway Sea Scouts took a trip to Nawaka, the National Sea Scouts Festival in Netherlands as Damien McCoy reports

Like Disneyland for Sea Scouts is how one of our Sea Scouts described Nawaka, the National Water Camp they attended in Zeewolde, Netherlands. Held every 4 years and running for 10 days, the Sea Scout festival is one of the largest of its kind and this year, Port of Galway Sea Scouts returned with 27 Scouts and 8 Leaders to represent Ireland at the event.

With 7,000 Scouts and Staff on site, the Nawaka village had a real festival feel, complete with popup shops, exhibitions and activities to keep everyone entertained and provided for. The opening ceremony saw the entire festival flotilla descend upon the local harbour of Zeewolde, which was awash with the brightly coloured Lelievlet Boats that each Sea Scout group paints in their group colours.

Nawaka 2022 Opening ceremony, Zeewolde harbour

The Lelievlet has been the standard boat of the Dutch Sea Scouts since the 1950s, with its steel hull providing lower maintenance than wooden predecessors and its 6 person capacity ensuring that younger scouts have the opportunity to sail with and learn from their older crewmates. Its design also offers the opportunity for Scouts to gain proficiency in sailing, rowing and stern sculling all in a single vessel. Stern sculling was the required way to enter and leave port and it was amazing to see very young scouts powering boats out of harbour using this technique.

Galway Sea Scouts aboard Barbarossa and Grace O’Malley - Dutch Sea Scout Lelievlets

There was a previous effort to introduce Lelievlet’s into Irish Sea Scouting, but to our knowledge only two of the boats remain operational and are now based on the Shannon in Limerick City with 25th Limerick Scout Group since the withdrawal of sailing from the Killaloe Scout Centre. Given the suitability of this boat type for youth mentoring and participation in sailing, we’re now investigating how we can revive their use in Ireland.

The generosity of numerous Dutch Sea Scout groups also ensured that we got the use of Lelievlets for the duration of the festival, with many of the Galway kids electing to join Dutch crews, enabling them to learn the best way to rig and handle these unfamiliar boats.

Mixed Irish & Dutch crew aboard a Dutch Sea Scout Lelievlet

The exchanges went beyond nautical knowledge however, with our Scouts also learning about Dutch culture and building new friendships which will endure long after Nawaka is over. We’re expecting a few of the groups to visit Galway over the next year so that we can return the hospitality they extended to us and give them a chance to experience the mountains and ocean which is not part of their usual scouting program.

We also had a fantastic opportunity to provide the Dutch a taste of Irish nautical heritage as we brought Loveen, the Port of Galway Sea Scout Gleoiteog to Nawaka this year. Supported by a crew from Galway Hooker Sailing Club we were able to ensure that many of our new Dutch friends had the opportunity to experience sailing in the traditional Galway Hooker.

Aboard Loveen the Port of Galway Sea Scout Gleoiteog at the Nawaka 2022 Parade of Sail

An interesting feature of Sea Scouting in the Netherlands is the use of large barges, tugs and other retired commercial vessels by Groups as their Scout Den, many of which had made long trips through the canals and waterways of the country to bring the sailing and camping equipment required by their team. 

Dutch Sea Scout Tug boat, which serves as their Scout Den

Sailing events during Nawaka included the Vlettenrally, where Sea Scouts are challenged to sail the greatest distance in 8 hours, resulting in one crew taking the directions literally and making it half way to Belgium before being intercepted and brought back late at night by powerboat. Other days were spent by the kids honing their tacks, jibes and reaches, while other times they simply enjoyed the freedom of swimming off the side of the anchored boats as a way to cool off from the high temperatures. For many of them it was the first sailing experience outside of Galway Bay and the absence of our usual wetsuits, hats and gloves was welcomed by all.

The parade of sail towards the end of the festival involved the entire flotilla of Nawaka craft making their way up to Zeewolde for a night time display of lights, decorations and music for the families of Scouts and local residents who had assembled on shore to watch. Explorers Scouts, the equivalent of our Venture Scouts, provided entertainment on barges as we paraded past, including a rock band and disco.

Irish & Dutch mixed crewed Lelievlets, under tow for the parade of sail

Sunset at the Parade of Sail in Nawaka 2022

 Lelievlets under tow to join the Nawaka flotilla

 The 27 Sea Scouts who attended have all vowed to return in 2026, either as Scouts again, or in the case of the older ones as leaders and staff volunteers. Nawaka 2022 has ensured that they have not just expanded their knowledge of sailing and scouting and gained an appreciation of Dutch culture, but have also grown and developed the life skills they will need as they become young adults.

Flying the Ireland & Scouting Ireland flags at Zeewolde Scout Centre Marina

The trip would never have happened without the dedication, time and efforts of the Leaders and parents of the Port of Galway Sea Scouts, with Denis Murphy who worked tirelessly during COVID to ensure we made it to Nawaka worthy of a special mention.

Denis Murphy, Nawaka 2022 Camp Chief for Port of Galway Sea Scouts

If you’d like to find out more about Nawaka, please visit nawaka.scouting.nl and to learn about Port of Galway Sea Scouts you can find us at galwayseascouts.com

Published in Galway Harbour
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Galway adventurer and former professional rugby player Damian Browne and his friend and fellow rugby player Fergus Farrell have set off from New York on their unsupported row across the Atlantic.

The pair are attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft, and estimate it will take 1.5 million oar strokes to complete the 5,000 km crossing.

They are also raising funds for four charities – Ability West, the Galway Simon Community, Madra animal rescue and the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) foundation.

Browne is well familiar with what is ahead, having spent 63 days 6 hours and 25 minutes at sea completing the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge to Antigua in 2017-18.

The existing world record for an unsupported row was set over 120 years ago by Norwegians George Harboe and Frank (Gabriel) Samuelsen who were the first pair to attempt it.

The Norwegian crossing from New York to the Scilly Isles in 1896 took 55 days and 13 hours. After a short break in the Scillys they rowed another five days to Le Havre in France.

Browne and Farrell say there have been 52 previous attempted crossings by way of an unsupported row, with 11 of these attempts by pairs. Only six of those pairs managed to complete the row.

There have also been successful crossings by six solo rowers, five fours and one crew of five.

Browne, who spent 16 years on the rugby pitches of the Celtic League, English Premiership and French Top 14 Championship and was part of the winning 2012/13 Heineken Cup team with Leinster Rugby, has climbed in the high altitude Pamir mountains in Afghanistan.

He has summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mont Blanc in France and Gran Paradiso in Italy.

After retiring from rugby, he completed the six day, 257 km Marathon des Sables in the Sahara desert, also known as the “toughest footrace on Earth”. He then spent 18 months preparing for his solo row across the Atlantic.

At sea, he endured nine-metre swells, a badly cut head, capsizes, encounters with whales, sea and pressure sores, lost an oar and experienced complete steering failure with still over 2000 nautical miles to go to Antigua.

“A hell of an experience, hell of an adventure and a hell of a challenge,”he describes it on his website.

“It was exactly what I wanted from the challenge, I wanted to be pushed to my limits mentally and physically and I got exactly what I wanted,”he said.

Fergus Farrell, his partner on “Project Empower” as this new transatlantic crossing is called, is a lifelong friend of Browne’s. Both played underage rugby together for Connacht and Farrell was a self-employed business man who experienced a traumatic spinal injury.

On October 26th 2018, Farrell ruptured his T9, T10 and T11 spinal discs in the middle of his back. One of the ruptured discs leaked into his spinal cord. After an operation in the National Spinal Unit at the Mater Hospital, Farrell says he noticed his motionless feet and asked his surgeon if this is how he would be for the rest of his life?

He says the surgeon put his hand on Fergus’s shoulder and “calmly told him he had been extremely unlucky”.

Farrell, who was then paralysed from the waist down, moved to the NRH and set about his recovery.

On October 26th 2019, a year after his surgery, he miraculously completed a 206km walk from the site of the injury at his yard in Athenry, Galway to the NRH in Dún Laoghaire.

Farrell attributes his recovery to his “stubbornness, thickness and determination”, and he also raised €70,000 for the NRH.

Farrell says he is determined to give his second chance of life everything he can give. He says he wants to show people that “the mind is a positive and powerful part of everybody’s lives” and that “when challenged correctly there are no limits to what you can achieve”.

Browne and Farrell’s progress can be tracked on their website here

Regular Afloat readers will recall the pair previously rowed a currach from Aran islands to Galway here

Published in Coastal Rowing
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NUI Galway has applied for planning permission for a new watersports facility on the city campus.

As Galway Bay FM reports, the development at the college’s upper Newcastle campus would involve the construction of a rowing storage shed, along with two floating platoons on the bank of the Corrib river.

A pedestrian and cyclist greenway along Corrib would link to an existing footpath, and the plans include equipment storage facilities, changing rooms, drying room, bathrooms, reception, first aid and a café.

A gym training room, function room, kitchenette, mother and baby room, communications room and offices are also provided for in the application, which has been submitted along with an environmental impact statement.

Galway city planners are expected to rule on the application in July.

Read more on the Galway Bay FM website here

 

Published in Galway Harbour
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The first sod has been turned on constructing a new pedestrian and cycleway across the river Corrib – the first new bridge over the Atlantic coast river in over 30 years.

The new Salmon Weir crossing will “draw pedestrians and cyclists and facilitate a seamless and natural flow from either side of the river, while creating an iconic focal point for locals and tourists alike”, according to Galway City Council.

The project is funded by the European Commission through the European Regional Development Fund, and the National Transport Authority.

“This world-class bridge will remove current conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, and traffic, and will enhance links between both sides of the river, as well as facilitating the Cross-City Link public transport corridor over the existing 200-year-old bridge,” Galway city council chief executive Brendan McGrath said.

Minister of State for Transport and Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton also welcomed the construction.

“Anyone who has, like me, walked across the old bridge, will have been conscious that one slip could lead to a collision given how narrow the footpaths are,” she said.

“ This new shared-use pedestrian and cycle bridge at the Salmon Weir Bridge will bring a number of significant benefits to Galway city, including offering a dedicated safe crossing point for pedestrians and cyclists alike,” Ms Naughton said.

“This is one of over 1,200 projects across the length and breadth of the country to receive targeted funding towards making walking and cycling in our villages, towns and cities safer, more sustainable and enjoyable,” she added.

Planning consent for the new bridge was approved by An Bord Pleanála on August 16th last year, and the construction tender was issued in December.

A contractor was appointed in March of this year, and some advance works, including tree felling, took place before the end of February. Galway City Council anticipates the bridge will be “substantially completed by early 2023”.

Published in Galway Harbour
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A crew of nine were rescued by Galway RNLI last night (Tuesday 24 August) after their RIB ran aground in Ballyvaughan Bay.

With the boat’s propeller and engine damaged, the crew used VHF communications to alert the Irish Coast Guard who immediately sought the assistance of Galway RNLI's inshore lifeboat.

The lifeboat launched from Galway Docks at about 10pm. Conditions were calm and dark when the lifeboat crew located the stricken vessel some 20 minutes later.

All nine crew on board the 6.5m boat were wearing lifejackets and did not need any medical assistance.

Galway RNLI's volunteer lifeboat crew of helm Brian Nilan, James Rhattigan, Dave McGrath and Cathal Bryne took the boat in tow to Parkmore Pier near Kinvara.

Galway RNLI deputy launching authority Seán Óg Leydon said: “The crew of the vessel acted quickly by dropping anchor straight away and contacting the Irish Coast Guard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Galway City Council has welcomed An Bord Pleanála’s approval for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge adjacent to the Salmon Weir Bridge over the River Corrib.

The council’s chief executive said the new bridge is a part of its Galway Transport Strategy, which aims to “enhance sustainable travel within the city centre and reduce dependency on the private motor vehicle, in line with national transport and planning policies”.

Brendan McGrath added: “This decision to approve the project is great news, and now allows us to progress it to the next stage.

“This significant development will tie in closely with other projects such as BusConnects Galway, public realm improvements on Newtownsmith and the creation of a civic plaza at the cathedral/Gaol Road.

“These will all work together to create safer spaces for pedestrians and cyclists as they move through the city, as well as a more enjoyable public realm for all.”

The bridge will be co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund with matched funding from the National Transport Authority.

A public consultation on the bridge plans ran last summer via virtual ‘information rooms’ to compensate for the lack of in-person events due to the pandemic.

Following completion of design documents, the construction contract will be opened to tender early next year, the council says.

Published in Inland Waterways
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A local community in eastern Co Mayo rallied to attempt to save as many as 13 common dolphins that live-stranded near Blacksod on Friday (13 August).

As Mayo IWDG’s Facebook reports, the family group comprising 13 dolphins — mainly mothers and calves with a large male — stranded at Tarmon Beach with the tide dropping.

Sadly three of the dolphins died before they could be helped, but the rest responded to being cooled with buckets of seawater by local volunteers assisting the area’s Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) members.

As the tide was still dropping for over an hour, it was quickly decided to move the dolphins 2km by road to the slipway at Blacksod where they could be more easily immersed and cared for.

The local IWDG team used their new wheeled dolphin stretcher to transport the larger marine wildlife to a horse box, while the juveniles were carried in beach towels.

Once carefully released back into the water, all were seen to swim quickly and without obvious distress, and by 9pm the pod had left the area.

“Tarmon and the surrounding beaches on the east side of the Mullet Peninsula are notorious for common dolphins live-stranding due to the topography of the beaches,” Mayo IWDG said.

“The beaches are large flat expanses so during spring tides especially, the water can level can drop uniformly and recede up to 1km in parts. Common dolphins being an offshore dolphin species often get caught out on such difficult-to-navigate shallow terrain.

“When a dolphin live-strands it puts immense pressure on their bodies. They can become very disorientated and have muscle spasms from the stranding event making it difficult to swim, which is why this group were given recovery time at Blacksod before being released.

“Thanks again to everyone who helped out today; it was so humbling to see everyone work together to get this pod back to the sea.”

Juvenile dolphins cooled down with wet towels and seaweed were given recovery time with their pod before release | Credit: Mayo IWDG/FacebookJuvenile dolphins cooled down with wet towels and seaweed were given recovery time with their pod before release | Credit: Mayo IWDG/Facebook

Elsewhere, the IWDG reports on two separate strandings of Sowerby’s beaked whales in Co Galway. The first was found washed up on Inisbofin at the end of the week while the second was reported yesterday (Saturday 14 August) across the water in Cleggan.

Commenting on the former report, the IWDG said: “Beaked whales are not stranded that frequently but this individual had evidence of rope marks on its body.

“As [they are] an offshore deep-diving species we don’t expect beaked whales to get entangled in fishing gear or interact with offshore activity.

“Maybe these rope marks were not from fishing but some other source. Hard to tell, but without a full post-mortem examination the cause of death will remain speculative.”

Published in Marine Wildlife

Irish Water has been asked to explain why the Connemara harbour of Roundstone may end up with two wastewater treatment plants in a bid to meet EU water quality standards.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, Bord Pleanála has queried why Irish Water would not work with the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) on its plans for a treatment plant instead of opting for its own separate location.

Roundstone’s existing sewerage scheme dates from 1929, discharging wastewater directly into the sea at three locations.

As Afloat reported in March, Irish Water told residents at an information meeting two years ago that treatment would stop the discharge of the equivalent of “645 wheelie bins” daily of wastewater into the bay.

It explained that a proposed plant designed for a population of 1,000 people would comply with the Urban Wastewater Treatment directive.

Irish Water then sought compulsory acquisition of private land to the north of the village, overlooking inner Roundstone Bay.

An oral hearing on this acquisition application was held by An Bord Pleanála in March of this year.

The State body said if its application for the land was approved, it would then seeking planning permission with a target completion date for construction of 2024.

The King family, who are opposing the compulsory acquisition of their property, have accused Irish Water of a lack of transparency.

Some residents have questioned why Irish Water could not cooperate with the IDA on its plans for a treatment plant on State land to the south of the village.

The residents argue that inner bay site is unsuitable, citing data showing a projected increase in sewage discharge from 86 to 106 cubic metres per day - as in a 23% increase.

Local fisherman Pat Conneely has said that the IDA location would be more suitable on an environmental basis than the proposed inner bay location, given that the latter is tidal.

Roundstone Community Council, which has been campaigning for a treatment plant for 20 years, has said it supports the democratic right of local people to object to the choice of location.

In an eight-page letter to Irish Water, An Bord Pleanála refers to an“inconsistency” in its approach and seeks detailed answers to a series of technical questions which must be received by July 7th.

Bord Pleanála notes that Roundstone is on the Wild Atlantic Way - attracting the second-highest landscape rating in the Galway County development plan - and asks Irish Water to comment on “the potential for alternative sites”.

It also asks Irish Water to comment on a recommendation by RPS Consultants that a site to the south of the village – where the IDA has land – is the “only viable” option.

Irish Water confirmed it had “received a number of queries from An Bord Pleanála” and said “the project team are currently reviewing these queries and will submit detailed responses in the coming months in accordance with the timeline requested”.

Read The Times here

Published in Coastal Notes
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The Limerick Trading ketch Ilen has reached Galway in the first stage of a programme which will eventually see her call at all the Irish ports which, in Mediaeval times, were a remarkable mixture of defensive walled towns and actively-functioning seaports. The Irish Walled Towns Network, a grouping operated through the Heritage Council, seeks to emphasise the aspects are shared by those historical port, and the voyage of the Ilen round Ireland, coupled with a wide variety of events at the ports visited, will be tangible evidence of this ancient reality, with the mayor of Limerick, Councillor Michael Collins, aboard Ilen to be greeted on arrive by Galway’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Colette Connolly.

The Mayor of Limerick, Councillor Michael Collins, links up with Galway’s Deputy Mayor Colette Connolly at the Ilen in the Port of Galway with Ilen Marine School Director Gary Mac Mahon.   The Mayor of Limerick, Councillor Michael Collins, links up with Galway’s Deputy Mayor Colette Connolly at the Ilen in the Port of Galway with Ilen Marine School Director Gary Mac Mahon.

Ilen is a fine sight on Galway Bay. Photo: Deirdre PowerIlen is a fine sight on Galway Bay. Photo: Deirdre Power

Published in Ilen
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Weather permitting, a flotilla of wooden-built Galway hookers will escort an aluminium-built passenger ferry out on the first leg of its maiden voyage between Galway city and the Aran islands this morning.

Several gleoiteogs with Galway Hooker Sailing Club aim to accompany the new Aran Island Ferries fast ship out past Mutton island.

As Afloat reported previously, Named Saoirse na Farraige (freedom of the sea), the 400-seat passenger ferry was built in Hong Kong for Aran Island Ferries, the company run by the O’Brien family of An Cheathrú Rua, Co Galway.

It offers a longer sea trip but faster overall journey west from Galway city to Inis Mor.

It is almost 40 years since the O’Briens took their first passengers in the Galway hooker, An Tonaí, and then purchased their first passenger ferry named the Dún Aengus in 1983.

The family company now has a fleet of five-passenger ferries, and their routes between Ros-a-Mhíl and the three Aran islands will be complemented by the new 40-metre ship on the Galway city- Inis Mór route.

The vessel built in Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong has a speed of 20 knots, and its master is Donegal man and former pelagic fisherman Shane McCole.

It has a capacity for 394 passengers – as in a 306 passengers on the main deck, divided into two seating areas, and a semi-covered space for 88 passengers on the top deck.

However, the ferry will be carrying reduced capacity to meet with Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

Passengers leaving for Inis Mór at 9.30am from Galway docks will have the option of a return journey via the Cliffs of Moher in Clare.

The Doolin2Aran Ferries company in Doolin, Co Clare, also offers cruises below the sea cliffs from Doolin pier.

Saoirse na Farraige claims to have “ the cleanest exhaust emission” of any ferry on Irish waters.

It is fitted leather seating, charging points and plasma screens – earning it the local nickname of “GoBus” at sea – and it has a wheelchair lift.

The O’Briens say the new route will create 15 new jobs, after what has been “a tough year for all involved in tourism”.

The Port of Galway has welcomed the first passenger ferry service from the city to the Aran Islands since 2005.

The combined Aran Island Ferries fleet of six vessels has a total facility for 1,420 passengers when at full capacity.

Ticket prices for a return journey on Saoirse na Farraige from Galway docks will be:

Adult: €49, Student/Senior: €44, Child: €25

Published in Ferry
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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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