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Displaying items by tag: Inishturk

Over four years ago, the Mayo island of Inishturk was inundated with inquiries after the word went out that it was offering a safe haven for North Americans who had not voted for Donald Trump. 

Now, even Mr Trump himself might find it hard to find refuge on the island, as all its available rented property is booked out.

US citizens did not take up the island’s reported offer in 2016, which had prompted visits from an American network film crew and calls from The New York Times and CNN.

German families

However, several German families have moved there over the past year, ensuring the one island-born child on the primary school roll has company. 

The “Trump refuge” torch was lit back in Spring 2016 when the island campaigned for more pupils for its primary school. 

It advertised its “excellent broadband”, and a mixed fishing and farming economy – along with 12 weekly ferry crossings on the 14.5km transit between it and Roonagh, Co Mayo. 

Inishturk community development co-ordinator Mary Helena O’Toole says the island has “moved on from all that now”, and there is no available rented property anyway. 

Good tourist season

The island had a very good tourist season this year, in spite of guesthouses being closed due to Covid-19. she says 

"I think a lot of people discovered our island for the first time during day trips, and loved the environment, "she says.

One of the new German residents, Irena Meilick, is delighted with the move that she and her husband Bruno made to the island from Bavaria.

Her husband is a web designer, and can work remotely, and the eldest of their four boys is at the primary school. A second German family has three children at the school.

“I think what the island needs is children, and I hope more islanders who have left move back and rear their families here,” she says. 

Joe Biden connections

While Inishturk’s mainland county of Mayo has welcomed the election of Joe Biden – great-great-great-grandson of Famine emigrant Edward Blewitt - south Connemara has also issued its own good wishes to his campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon (44). 

Ms O’Malley Dillon has connections with Tír an Fhia in Co Galway, where her great grandparents John O’Malley and Bríd Ní Chonghaile came from.

John Bhaba Jeaic Ó Conghaile, director of Ionad Oidhreachta Leitir Mealláin – the Lettermullen Heritage Centre, with a strong maritime dimension – has congratulated her on the success of her campaign.

Published in Island News
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Islanders on Inishturk, Co Mayo, say they cannot risk essential repairs being carried out to a storm-damaged mobile phone transmitter for the west coast due to the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Inishturk development manager Mary Helena O’Toole said that some 60 per cent of the population on Inishturk is over 65 years of age, and cannot be exposed to any risk.

"Islanders are also affected by the loss of mobile phone coverage, but we believe our health has to be the priority, at least while these current measures are in place,” she said.

However, a former Fine Gael councillor Austin Francis O’Malley says many residents on the south Mayo and Connemara mainlands have limited or no phone cover, and fear not being able to call a doctor if the mast is not repaired.

The transmitter on Inishturk, 15 km west of Mayo, was damaged during Storm Dennis in mid-February, which has been classified as one of the most intense extratropical cyclones ever recorded.

Both islanders and mainland residents extending from the little Killary in north Connemara up to an area close to Louisburgh, Co Mayo, lost mobile phone cover in some instances.

Mr O’Malley said that he first became aware of the problem when he encountered difficulties in alerting members of the group water scheme he manages.

“We appreciate the position of the islanders on Inishturk, and we have to credit them for refusing access, but Vodafone did have time to fix this before the COVID-19 restrictions came in,” he said.

Mr O’Malley said he had contacted acting rural affairs minister Michael Ring about the issue.

“I am in the middle of lambing sheep, and I wasn’t able to contact my son by mobile phone when he was close by,” he said. “However, it is elderly and vulnerable residents I am most concerned about, as many don’t have landlines anymore.”

It is understood that initial technical work on the mast was underway, but had not been completed when restrictions were introduced to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Vodafone was informed by Inishturk residents that they could not permit a technician travelling by ferry from Roonagh Pier in Mayo to land, due to risks of infection.

The technician was refused on two attempts to travel.

The ferry service has cut back to three sailings a week, with only once a week return trips, and is not taking any visitors.

Vodafone Ireland said it was “aware of a network issue currently affecting some of our customers in parts Galway and Mayo, due to storm damage on Inishturk”.

“We are working hard to resolve this issue and our network repairs crew are standing by to carry out works and will abide by all COVID-19 health and safety measures,” it said.

“Discussions are ongoing with third parties on the island in relation to access,” it said. It said it “sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused”, and thanked people for their patience.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Two islands off Galway and Mayo face the prospect of no local doctor with the pending retirement of a mainland-based GP.

As the Connacht Tribune reports, Dr Ciarán McLoughlin will end his services to the community on Inishbofin and Inishturk next week after retiring from his Clifden practice earlier this year.

But as of a week ago, the HSE had not found a replacement full-time GP, and it continues to advertise for the position.

Published in Island News
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#FishFarm - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has spent over €200,000 on its application for a proposed salmon farm off Inishturk in Co Mayo, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The planned project, much like the withdrawn proposal for Galway Bay for an even larger-scale fish farm, has faced opposition from local anglers and conservationists, who have lambasted the €216,000 spend — on an environmental study, legal advice and communications consultancy — as a ‘waste’ of taxpayers’ money.

“It is appalling that BIM has wasted more than €216,000 on a salmon farm licence application for Inishturk when it should be the salmon farm operator who is required to apply,” said Billy Smyth of lobby group Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.

BIM, the State agency for Ireland's sea fisheries and aquaculture, says the Inishturk project could produce 4,000 tonnes of farmed salmon annually, and create as many as 75 direct and indirect jobs.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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#RNLI - An island medical evacuation was carried out yesterday (Monday 26 September) by the volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI on the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat Fisherman's Friend.

In calm seagoing conditions, the lifeboat was launched at 1.15pm to attend to a man who had experienced a fall at the north end of Inishturk off the Mayo coast.

On arrival at the pier in Inishturk, the casualty was taken aboard the lifeboat and transferred to Cleggan pier, where he was moved to a waiting ambulance with the assistance of the Cleggan Coast Guard Unit.

Speaking following the callout, Clifden RNLI coxswain Alan Pryce said: “We were glad to be able to transfer this man safely to shore and we wish him a speedy recovery.

“The capability of the all-weather lifeboat in carrying out long-range shouts such as this one is reassuring, both for us as volunteers and all those who live on and visit our offshore islands.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#IslandNews - Some 58 people on an island off west Mayo face their first Christmas in decades without medical cover, as The Irish Times reports.

The residents of Inishturk have been left in the lurch as the HSE West has not filled the vacant nursing post on the island, following the retirement of the community's previous nurse after 30 years in September.

Since then the island has only had two days of medical cover, according to local community worker Mary Heanue – who blamed the wider issue of cutbacks in services to Ireland's offshore island communities.

And last night Clifden RNLI was tasked to provide "urgent and immediate" medical attention to an elderly resident on the island, some 14km off the Mayo coast.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

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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