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Displaying items by tag: Galway

#RespectTheWater - The RNLI has placed a tonne of water in Galway and Dun Laoghaire respectively for the summer months in a bid to show visitors and locals alike the power of the water, river and sea.

The tonnes of water, which will be located at the Spanish Arch in Galway and Dun Laoghaire's East Pier until the end of August, forms part of the RNLI’s Respect The Water campaign.

Each tonne is printed with important advice about the power of water, such as how fast a rip current can flow. They will also demonstrate to people how heavy a relatively small volume of water is – one cubic metre of water weighs one tonne.

They were created to be a visual and engaging way of delivering this message that no matter how strong a swimmer you might be, you are no match for the power of the water.

Last month the RNLI launched its annual national drowning prevention campaign, Respect The Water, and this year the charity is warning the public to watch out for key dangers that can catch people out in or near water.

Published in Water Safety

#SeaFest - More than 60,000 visitors flocked to SeaFest, Ireland's national maritime festival, this past weekend to enjoy an action-packed programme centred on Galway Harbour.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said he was delighted at the public response and at the enthusiasm for Ireland's marine heritage that underpinned the festivities.

"SeaFest is all about is increasing participation and engagement with the sea, showcasing Ireland's abundant maritime resources and celebrating our proud maritime heritage," he said.

"As the crowds in Galway showed, the sea is a fantastic source of fun and entertainment and we were thrilled to see so many people – locals and visitors alike – join in the spirited marine-themed fun."

Dr Heffernan added that the second annual SeaFest, following Cork Harbour's hosting of the inaugural event last summer, was "a hugely ambitious venture and Galway rose to the challenge of providing a fabulous weekend which both informed and entertained."

Among the scene-stealing excitement on the water was the spectacle of the Galway Hookers' challenge for the Galway Plate; the arrival of the gracious tall ship Phoenix; and Frank Bölter sailing his quirky large scale origami paper boat into the harbour in partnership with TULCA for Galway 2020.

On dry land, meanwhile, Bord Iascaigh Mhara and Bord Bia's seafood extravaganza was packed with natural produce and cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs, alongside tours of ocean-going vessels and the Marine Institute's 'Our Wild Atlantic – What Lies Beneath' marquee with its interactive exhibits on marine life and creatures of the deep.

Significantly, SeaFest also brought to the city a major focus on research and the marine economy with a number of marine-related business and research events taking place in the lead-up to the public festivities.

The third annual Our Ocean Wealth Conference allowed speakers and delegates of national and international status to delve more deeply into the theme of 'Innovating for our Marine Future', exploring and strengthening Ireland's maritime heritage, economy and identity.

New Marine Michael Creed also welcomed the success of SeaFest, which ran from Thursday 30 June to Sunday 3 July and played host to 750 conference delegates from Ireland, Europe and the USA among the thousands of visitors.

Minister Creed, who spoke at the BIM Seafood Conference, the Marine Industry Awards ceremony and the Our Ocean Wealth Conference, said: “I was greatly encouraged by the energy and enthusiasm which I witnessed at the various events at SeaFest.

"The large attendance of delegates, the quality of presentations at the various events and the general desire to move forward the development of Ireland’s marine economy was very impressive.

"However, the huge response by the Irish people to the public events at SeaFest, with a record breaking 60,000 people attending on Saturday and Sunday, was the greatest testament to the high level of interest amongst the Irish public in all aspects of the marine.”

Minister Creed also launched the SmartBay Ocean Observatory, which will serve as a important element in the development of an Atlantic Ocean Observatory system and facilitate the test and demonstration of pilot-scale ocean energy devices in Galway Bay, before going on to further commercial development.

"The whole idea of SeaFest was to engage, examine and enthuse the public and policy makers about the potential for the development of our marine economy," said the minister.

"The Government strategy for the development of the marine economy is set out in the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth integrated plan for the development of the marine in Ireland, and the success of last weekend’s SeaFest augurs well for the support and interest that exists to grow the marine economy in Ireland."

Published in Maritime Festivals

#MarineAwards - The second annual Marine Industry Awards, hosted last night (Thursday 30 June) at the Radisson Blu Galway, saw Dr Dave Jackson of the Marine Institute named as Marine Industry Leader for 2016.

The Marine Institute was proud to sponsor four prestigious awards at last night's ceremony, held to coincide with SeaFest in the City of the Tribes.

These included the Excellence in Marine Technology Award, which went to Seagull Buoys – JFC Manufacturing, and the Excellence in Marine Education and Training Award presented to the Strategic Marine Alliance for Research and Training (SMART).

The Excellence in Marine Research Award went to the Coastal/Ocean Observing System, NUI Galway, while the award for Excellence in the Provision of Professional Services to the Marine Industry, sponsored by the Irish Maritime Development Office, went to GAC Training and Service Solutions.

Marin eMinister Michael Creed and Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan commended all the awardees on their success.

On Dr Jackson's award, Dr Heffernan said: "This award is a tremendous recognition of the significant role Dave has played in the development of the aquaculture industry both in Ireland and on an international level.

"I would like to personally acknowledge this achievement as a reflection of his career spanning over 30 years, dedicated to the advancement and expansion of the aquaculture industry."

The event was hosted by comic and broadcaster Colm O'Regan, with 19 prestigious trophies presented to the very best leaders and organisations operating across Ireland's marine industry.

According to the organisers, the Marine Industry Awards provide a voice for the individuals and companies that play a significant role in the growth and development of the industry in Ireland while recognising the key functions within the industry that promote growth and sustainability including manufacturing, port operations, logistics and commercial excellence to innovation, tourism and leisure, sustainability, aquaculture, education as well as many others.

A full list of last night's winners is available HERE.

Published in News Update

#Angling - A Mayo man was charged with possession of eight unlawfully caught salmon at Lacken Pier on 22 July 2015 at a sitting of Ballina District Court earlier this month.

Stephen Rooney of Ballina, Co Mayo pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined €160 with costs amounting to €250.

Judge John Lindsay heard evidence that fishery officers had observed a car on Lacken Pier on the night of 21st July 2015. The officers noticed liquid oozing from the underside of the car, which they suspected to be blood and mucous from fish.

The car was kept under observation overnight, and in the morning several attempts were made to contact Rooney, its owner. The car was searched when he failed to respond, and eight fresh net-marked salmon and an undersized lobster were found in the boot.

Commenting on the case, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) chief executive Dr Ciaran Byrne said: “Netting of salmon in the open sea has been illegal since 2007 as it is indiscriminate and takes fish destined for different river systems, some of which have depleted salmon stocks and are under severe pressure.

“Salmon angling is extremely valuable to the tourism industry in North Mayo and provides revenue, employment to local communities, and recreation to thousands of anglers both local and visiting from abroad and other parts of Ireland. Inland Fisheries Ireland will continue to work to protect this resource for the good of the community.”

Elsewhere, at sitting of Galway District Court on 7 June, Judge John King convicted two Galway fishermen of the non-payment of fines issued by fishery officers, and ordered a third man to pay a donation on the same charge.

Leslie Sammon, with an address at Ballinasloe, Co Galway, was before the court over non-payment of a fixed penalty notice of €150 for failing to complete a logbook upon taking a salmon from the Clare River, Claregalway last July. He was ordered to pay €200 to the RNLI by Judge King, who agreed to a donation in lieu of a conviction.

Alekseys Minkevics, with an address at Knocknacarra, Co Galway, was also summonsed in connection with an incident on the Clare River on 30 September last.

Minkevics, who failed to appear in court, had been observed fishing with live perch, in breach of fisheries legislation, and failed to pay the fine within the required timeframe.

Judge King convicted Minkevics and ordered him to pay €300, as well as €600 in costs. His fishing equipment was also ordered to be forfeited.

Viktor Buss, with an address at Headford Road, Galway was charged with a breach of a coarse fish byelaw on 5 October when he was found in possession of 32 coarse fish, eight times the legal limit. He was issued with a fixed penalty notice of €150 which he failed to pay.

Judge King recorded a conviction against Buss, who did not appear in court, and issued a fine of €300 with costs amounting to €600. His fishing equipment was also forfeited.

IFI has a confidential hotline number to enable members of the general public to report incidents - 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24. This phone line is designed to encourage the reporting of incidents of illegal fishing, water pollution and invasive species.

Published in Angling
Tagged under
23rd June 2016

SeaFest Sails into Galway

Prepare to ‘sea’ it all in Galway over the first weekend in July as the city welcomes SeaFest maritime festival, and plunges into a weekend of ocean-themed activities and entertainment.

A key goal of ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth: An Integrated Marine plan for Ireland’, SeaFest is all about increasing participation and engagement with the sea, showcasing Ireland’s abundant maritime resources and celebrating its proud maritime heritage – but there’ll be plenty of light-hearted fun too.

Preparing to sail his quirky craft straight into maritime history will be artist Frank Bôlter. His ‘On A Voyage’ project is a whimsical, epic and heroic attempt to build and sail a giant paper boat which he has made with members of the Kinvara Sailing Club.

The craft is a grown-up, giant-scale and, hopefully, seaworthy, version of the traditional folded paper yachts made by children. Despite its unlikely appearance, crew confidence in its reliability is high, for Frank has travelled the world with his project creating giant paper boats in Europe and Sri Lanka. Here in Galway, ‘On A Voyage’ is a pilot programme within the Galway 2020 project ‘Every Place’, a project devised by Neil Butler, Artistic Director of UZ Arts, and produced in partnership with TULCA for Galway 2020.

The giant paper boat will be launched at Kinvara Pier on Saturday 2 July at 12noon and will sail proudly into Galway Harbour alongside a flotilla of Galway Hookers. Always a favourite with locals and visitors alike, the Hookers will be showing off their speed and style with a series of races including the chase for the historic Galway Plate.

When you’ve done your share of cheering from the shoreline, there will also be opportunities to step on board craft which are usually closed to the public. Tours are free of charge but capacity will be limited.

The 15m survey catamaran, The RV Keary, will be berthed in Galway docks throughout SeaFest. With an open invitation to step on board, visit to see how and where seabed data is acquired and gain an insight into the work of marine surveyors. The aluminium boat is crewed by scientists from the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland as part of the joint seabed mapping project – INFOMAR. Equipped with state of the art sonar mapping systems as well as seabed sampling capabilities, The RV Keary works mostly in inshore waters which can be as shallow as 2 metres. The vessel has also played its part in charting our maritime history, hosting archaeological dives on historical wrecks around the coast.

The Commissioner of Irish Lights, who maintain all the lighthouses across the country, will be bringing their exhibition of the role of Irish lighthouses from 1911 to 1923 and their own ship, The Granuaile, to SeaFest, providing a unique opportunity to see on board one of the most advanced marine vessels of its kind in the world.

Both of the Marine Institute’s (Foras Na Mara) Research Vessels, the Celtic Explorer and the Celtic Voyager will also dock at Galway, with the Celtic Explorer conducting hourly open house tours throughout the festival weekend. The national research vessels will be a familiar sight to many locals as Galway Harbour is their home port between surveys which include fish stock assessments, mapping Ireland’s seabed, surveying deep sea habitats, and oceanographic research, including the survey of the Whittard Canyon system with NUIG scientists earlier this month. The 65m RV Celtic Explorer can accommodate up to 35 personnel including crew and scientists and can spend 35 consecutive days at sea. The 31.5 m RV Celtic Voyager will also be open to the public. The Marine Institute’s unmanned submarine, the ROV Holland I will be on display alongside the research vessels. It’s normally deployed from the deck of the RV Celtic Explorer and piloted remotely to capture high definition video footage of the deep ocean as well as collecting samples from the seabed.

Adding drama to the line-up of vessels in port will be the naval service ship, L.É. Niamh. She is built to the successful RóisÁn design which optimises her year-round patrol performance in Irish waters which are among the roughest in the world. For that reason L.É. Niamh has a greater length overall (78.8m), giving the ship a long sleek appearance.

If its appearance is dramatic then so too are the roles of the vessel and its ship’s company. During a 10-week mission to the Mediterranean late last year 2015 the L.É. Niamh crew delivered a baby, named Destiny, rescued more than 4,100 people at sea and had to recover 39 bodies in the course of tasks requested by the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

If you’re tempted to have a go on the water, then try Tri Sailing. A 20 foot keelboat (also known as a Sonar), will be close by the Tri Sailing promotional stand in the Inner Harbour, ready to give experiential trips for up to five people at a time. Demand is sure to be high, but the experience promises to be well worth a wait – especially as the Inner Harbour area will be packed with entertainment.

If you’d prefer to keep your feet on dry land while you gain your maritime experience, then what about captaining a remote control boat? There will be five fabulous model craft doing duty at the weekend at the Inner Harbour, with experts on hand to help ‘newbies’ get to grips with the complexities of steering and manoeuvring the mini-vessels.

As any seafarer will confirm, the sea demands our respect, with safety always the key priority. The RNLI will reinforce that message with their engaging Respect the Water Campaign Roadshow and a packed programme of activities both on and off the water, including an awe-inspiring Air/Sea Rescue demonstration staged in collaboration with the Coast Guard and RNLI on Saturday 2 July, starting at 2.30pm.

To see the full SeaFest programme and check out ‘On The Water’ events visit www.seafest.ie.

Published in Maritime Festivals
Tagged under

#SeaFest - A wave of excitement is about to break over Galway as the city prepares to host SeaFest, Ireland's national maritime festival, docking in the city over the action-packed weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 July.

Following a successful inaugural event in Cork last year, SeaFest is now firmly established as an annual celebration of all things nautical, honouring Ireland's multi-faceted relationship with the sea.

Launching the packed programme for Galway, new Marine Minister Michael Creed said: "SeaFest is all about raising our awareness of the value and opportunities provided by the sea, giving locals and visitors alike fresh opportunities to engage in sea-themed events and activities.

"We're making a splash with a programme of events which will include an array of seafaring family fun, on the water activities plus a seafood fair packed with great natural produce and cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs.

"We'll be hosting tours of ocean-going vessels; offering new opportunities to get afloat on leisure craft and boats, showcasing exhibits on marine life and creatures of the deep and providing all manner of festival fun and entertainment for all the family.

"Importantly, we're proud to be playing our part in the wider Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth initiative, providing opportunities for people of every age and interest to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of the ocean, building on how we can each act to protect our abundant maritime resources."

The SeaFest programme will run from 9am to 6pm daily with Galway Harbour providing a focal point of activity.

All things fishy will be celebrated at the festival's BIM/Bord Bia Sea Food Extravangza, located in a Big Top marquee at The Docks. Here celebrity chefs Martin Shanahan and Rory O'Connell will be rolling out recipes and cookery demos to tempt seafood lovers' tastebuds, while Michael O'Meara from Oscar's Bistro in Galway and the author of the top-selling Sea Gastronomy (nominated for Best Cookbook in the World) will also share his knowledge and favourite dishes.

BIM's 2015 Young Fishmonger Of The Year, Gerard Collier from The Fisherman's Catch in Clogherhead, Co Louth will take the mystery out of preparing fish and shellfish at home. Visitors will also get to taste the best of Irish seafood from some of Ireland's best seafood producers.

The inner pier at Galway Harbour is where you will find ship tours, free screenings of Jean Michel Cousteau's film Secret Ocean (see HERE for tickets) and 'Beneath Our Wild Atlantic', an exciting, new, interactive, family-friendly exhibition from the Marine Institute.

Linking the Big Top and Inner Harbour will be a linear quayside Festival Village, a mini market of crafts and culinary temptation, all served up with nautical style and relaxed entertainment, and complemented with regular personal appearances by the RNLI's Stormy Stan character.

Intrepid SeaFesters will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a range of vessels, invited to hop on board for show-and-tell tours.

The Marine Institute's research vessels, the Celtic Explorer and the Celtic Voyager, will be conducting open house tours of the ships over the festival. The Commissioner of Irish Lights, responsible for lighthouses right around the country, will be bringing its own ship, the Granuaile, into the harbour and will present a 'Safety at Sea Through War and Upheaval' exhibition from Irish Lights and the Royal Irish Academy, on the role of Irish lighthouses in the period 1911-1923.

'On A Voyage' will be a chance to watch on in awe as Frank Bölter sails an extraordinary large scale origami paper boat. This unusual sailing craft is made out of giant sheets of folded paper using origami techniques and reinforced with metal poles.

Enthusiasts of the traditional sailing won't be disappointed, with a gathering of Galway Hookers in the harbour, and a day of racing culminating in the challenge for the historic Galway Plate.

Underpinning the fun of SeaFest will be a serious four-day focus on research and the marine economy with a number of marine-related business and research events taking place around the city starting Thursday 30 June, each seeking to explore and strengthen the maritime heritage, economy and identity.

The third annual Our Ocean Wealth Conference will feature a number of sessions where speakers and delegates can delve more deeply into the conference theme of 'Innovating for our Marine Future'.

To whet the appetite, 'The Longest River' will be performed at St Augustinian Church (Middle Street) on Wednesday 29 June at 7pm. The performance will provide an opportunity to reflect on our maritime history and the opportunities ahead for mankind and our relationships with the earth, ocean and seas.

Visit SeaFest's 'What's On' page for the latest details as they are added to the event's programme of free activities, times and locations. Join in the fun on Facebook or follow SeaFest on Twitter.

SeaFest is supported by the Port of Galway, National University of Ireland, Galway, Department of Defence and Irish Coast Guard.

Published in Maritime Festivals
Tagged under

#CruiseLiners - Galway welcomed its first cruise liner call of 2016 last weekend in the shape of the 'luxury mega-yacht' L'Austral, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

Though the vessel only stopped for a day, its 400 passengers and crew made the most of their visit, with sightseeing in the city and a tours to the Burren Kylemore Abbey among their options.

L'Austral's subsequent port of call is Cobh this Sunday (15 May), while Galway's next visitor is as soon as tomorrow (Saturday 14 May) when the Azores calls on the City of the Tribes.

That's one of six remaining cruise calls for Galway in the 2016 season, with Bremen on 11 June, Astor on 10 July, the Pacific Princess and Albatross on 2 and 8 August respectively, and the Prinsendam on 2 September all set to follow.

Published in Cruise Liners

#Inishbofin - Inishbofin has become the first Irish island to be recognised for its sustainable tourism efforts in an international awards scheme.

As The Irish Times reports, a number of the Connemara island's residents and local organisations will share in the Ecotourism award sanctioned by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Angling, sailing and stand-up paddle boarding are some of the aquatic activities that helped clinch the accolade that's already gone to sustainable seaside attractions in Spiddal and Clifden.

In other news, county councillors are mooting a programme of safety works on slipways across Galway, according to Galway Bay FM.

The move follows the controversial restriction of access to the slipway at Galway Docks last month in the wake of the Buncrana tragedy in March.

Published in Galway Harbour

#MarineScience - Galway's Oslo Bar will host an evening of marine science talks on Tuesday 24 May as art of the international Pint of Science festival.

Taking place simultaneously over three evenings in May in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Canada, the USA, Brazil, Australia and South Africa, Pint of Science aims to encourage engagement with science beyond the lab or the lecture hall in the more approachable environment of a local pub.

The Oslo Bar in Galway city centre will host two evenings, one on the science of the human body on Monday 23 May, and a series of marine science topics from 7.30pm on Tuesday 24 May, MCed by Dr Nóirín Burke of the Galway Atlantaquaria.

Niall Keogh of GMIT will discuss the seabirds and cetaceans that populate Ireland's offshore waters, and Raissa Hogan of NUI Galway celebrates the diversity of Irish cold-water corals.

Representing INFOMAR and the Marine Institute, Oisín McManus will talk mapping the mountainous terrain that lies beneath the waves around Ireland, while Dr Tríona McGrath broaches the serious subject of ocean acidification.

For ticket information see the Pint of Science website HERE.

Published in Marine Science

#Galway - Galway Harbour Company has blocked open access to a slipway in Galway Docks weeks after the Buncrana tragedy, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

The move was made a month after five members of the same family, including three children, died after their car slipped into Lough Swilly from the open slipway at Buncrana, Co Donegal on Sunday 20 March.

Galway's docks slipway had been used freely by recreational boaters – but as of last Thursday (21 April) local sailing clubs have been informed that the slipway can only be used with permission.

Access times have also been restricted to 9am-5pm on weekdays and by appointment on Saturdays in what the harbour company says is a move to avoid "risk to life".

But one local user has branded the locking-up of the slipway as "ridiculous" and said "there should have been a more measured response and consultation".

The Connacht Tribune has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour
Page 7 of 31

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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