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Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won gold for Ireland at the European Rowing Championships today in Italy, adding to an excellent silver for the women’s four earlier. 

 The Ireland lightweight double saw off a spirited display by Germany, who led early on. Ireland moved decisively through the middle stages and took over the lead at 1300 metres. They then sprinted through the final few hundred metres to win by a length from Germany, with Italy third.

 “It was a decent race, it’s good to be back,” O’Donovan said. “I was off last season so Fintan raced in the single last year. Fintan is just dragging me along in the double. We need bigger biceps. We’re gonna work on some curls which will see us through to the end of the summer.”

 The Ireland women’s four looked impressive as they took silver in Varese.

 The crew of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty raced so well that they pushed up very close to the Netherlands in a push for gold.

 The new Irish combination started slowly, but slotted into the leading trio of the Dutch, British and Irish. In the third quarter the Ireland four pushed through Britain and then tested the Dutch coming to the line. 

 Britain, with Rebecca Shorten of Northern Ireland in the stroke seat, took bronze. 

 Keogh said: “The medal this year means a lot to us because were so close to Olympic qualification. A lot of crews from Ireland are already qualified, and for us to be able to finish that close to the Dutch is a really huge confidence boost.”

 Earlier, the women’s pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska showed well in the early stages of their A Final, but in a hot race they were pushed back to sixth at the finish. Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann justified their favouritism to race to gold – but they were given a battle by Romania, while Spain took the bronze. 

 The racy lightweight double scull of Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen gave a good performance in a superb final. Italy were the surprise winners from Britain and the Netherlands, with Ireland taking fifth. 

 Gary O’Donovan had to settle for fourth in his A Final of the lightweight single sculls. The race belonged to Peter Galambos of Hungary: he led through all four quarters. O’Donovan made ground in the closing stages, but was 4.3 seconds off Galambos at the finish. 

 Lydia Heaphy got off to a great start in the lightweight women’s single and led early on. However, Alena Furman of Belarus moved swiftly into the lead and stretched it down much of the course to win gold. Heaphy finished sixth. 

 Enniskillen woman Holly Nixon teamed up in the Britain double with Saskia Budgett to take a bronze medal in a race won by Romania. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy, Day Three (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – B Final (Places 7 to 12): 1 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:21.47, 2 Italy 6:22.52, 3 Germany 6:23.29. 

Single Sculls – C Final (Places 13 to 18): 1 Russia 7:08.08, 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:09.01. 

Lightweight Double – A Final: 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:18.14, 2 Germany 6:19.94, 3 Italy 6:21.05. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Hungary (P Galambos) 7:01.52; 4 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:05.82.  

Women

Four – A Final: 1 Netherlands 6:27.51, 2 Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:27.96, 3 Britain (4 R Shorten) 6:31.27. 

Pair – A Final: 1 Britain 7:02.73; 6 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska) 7:11.83.

Double Sculls – A Final: 3 Britain (1 H Nixon) 6:55.13. 

Lightweight Double – A Final: 1 Italy 6:58.66, 2 Britain 6:59.56, 3 The Netherlands 7:01.13; 5 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:07.42. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Belarus (A Furman) 7:41.81; 6 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:58.70.

Published in Rowing

The Ireland women’s four took a wonderful silver medal at the European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, today.

 The crew of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty raced so well that they pushed up very close to the Netherlands in a push for gold.

 The new Irish combination started slowly, but slotted into the leading trio of the Dutch, British and Irish. In the third quarter the Ireland four pushed through Britain and then tested the Dutch coming to the line. 

 Britain, with Rebecca Shorten of Northern Ireland in the stroke seat, took bronze. 

 Earlier, the women’s pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska showed well in the early stages of their A Final, but in a hot race they were pushed back to sixth at the finish. Britain’s Helen Glover and Polly Swann justified their favouritism to race to gold – but they were given a battle by Romania, while Spain took the bronze. 

 Gary O’Donovan had to settle for fourth in his A Final of the lightweight single sculls. The race belonged to Peter Galambos of Hungary: he led through all four quarters. O’Donovan made ground in the closing stages, but was 4.3 seconds off Galambos at the finish. 

 Lydia Heaphy got off to a great start in the lightweight women’s single and led early on. However, Alena Furman of Belarus moved swiftly into the lead and stretched it down much of the course to win gold. Heaphy finished sixth. 

 Enniskillen woman Holly Nixon teamed up in the Britain double with Saskia Budgett to take a bronze medal in a race won by Romania. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy, Day Three (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – B Final (Places 7 to 12): 1 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:21.47, 2 Italy 6:22.52, 3 Germany 6:23.29. 

Single Sculls – C Final (Places 13 to 18): 1 Russia 7:08.08, 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:09.01. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Hungary (P Galambos) 7:01.52; 4 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:05.82.  

Women

Four – A Final: 1 Netherlands 6:27.51, 2 Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:27.96, 3 Britain (4 R Shorten) 6:31.27. 

Pair – A Final: 1 Britain 7:02.73; 6 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska) 7:11.83.

Double Sculls – A Final: 3 Britain (1 H Nixon) 6:55.13. 

Lightweight Single Sculls – A Final: 1 Belarus (A Furman) 7:41.81; 6 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:58.70.

Published in Rowing

On a day of promise for Ireland in A Finals of the European Rowing Championships, Ireland’s Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne finished their campaign with a fine win in the B final of the double sculls.

 Italy set the early pace in Varese, with Ireland and Germany closely tracking them through the middle and later stages. Doyle and Byrne produced a good sprint finish to win. This places them seventh overall. 

 The C Final was won by Norway’s Kris Brun and Are Strandli. The lightweight crew, which finished third at Rio 2016, campaigned in the open weight class at this event. 

 Daire Lynch finished his campaign in the single sculls quite well. He took a close-up second in the C Final behind impressive Russian sculler Nikolay Pimenov, who led down the course from the start. Lynch, who pushed hard at the end, places 14th overall at the Championships in a very tough event. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy, Day Three (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – B Final (Places 7 to 12): 1 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:21.47, 2 Italy 6:22.52, 3 Germany 6:23.29. 

Single Sculls – C Final (Places 13 to 18): 1 Russia 7:08.08, 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:09.01. 

Published in Rowing

Two superb performances by lightweight doubles got Ireland off to an excellent start on day two of the European Rowing Championships in Varese today. 

 The men’s crew of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy would go on to have a great win in their semi-final, but Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen deserve the plaudits for taking second in their semi-final.

 This crew is aimed at the Olympic Qualification regatta next month in Lucerne and looked to be an outside bet initially. Their performances at this regatta changed that.

 In today’s semi, they showed great maturity. Italy took over early and were never headed, while Russia and Ireland tracked them in second and third. But the final quarter Ireland pushed through into a firm second place.

 Cremen and Casey take their place in the A Final on Sunday. The other semi-final, won by Britain from the Netherlands, looked stronger, but Ireland even have an outside chance of a medal. 

 McCarthy and O’Donovan were favourites for gold right from the start. Doubts, if there were some, related to the ability of the 2019 World Champions to turn it on again after effectively missing the 2020 season, such as it was.

 They had a real test in Italy, who led early and might have expected another battle in the closing stages. It never happened. Coming up to halfway, McCarthy and O’Donovan zoomed past the men in blue. They opened up the lead to clearwater and won. 

 Germany, who won the other semi-final, will contend on Sunday. However, their winning time was slower than the Irish today.    

 The Ireland double of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne were well off the pace in their semi-final and finished sixth. France, Britain and Switzerland got off to good starts and duly took the A Final places. Ireland had a poor start. They tried to move into contention in the middle stages but could not get a hold on the contest.  

 Daire Lynch qualified for the C Final (places 13 to 18) of the men’s single sculls, taking second in his semi-final. 

European Rowing Championships, Varese, Italy – Day Two (Irish interest)

Men

Double Sculls – A/B Semi-Final (First Three to A Final; rest to B Final): 1 France 6:10.26, 2 Britain 6:11.17, 3 Switzerland 6:12.79; 6 Ireland (P Doyle, R Byrne) 6:21.38. 

Lightweight Double Sculls – A/B Semi-Final (First Three to A Final; rest to B Final): 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:22.74, 2 Italy 6:25.53, 3 Czech Republic 6:27.14. 

Single Sculls – C/D Semi-Final Two (First Three to C Final; rest to D Final): 2 Ireland (D Lynch) 7:02.22. 

Women 

Lightweight Double Sculls – A/B Semi-Final (First Three to A Final; rest to B Final): 1 Italy 7:11.44, 2 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:14.44, 3 Russia 7:15.46. 

Published in Rowing

Ireland’s good first day at the European Rowing Championships in Varese, Italy, was all the better because two crews targeting qualification next month for Tokyo did the business.

Of the eight Ireland crews competing, the rejigged women’s four were the dark horses. Well, no more. Only by winning their heat would they qualify for the A Final. This was pressure for what is a new formation, but Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty showed none of it. Russia led early, but Ireland took over with good speed in the middle stages and won well – in the faster time of the two heats. The Netherlands, who won the first heat from Britain, are likely to be hunting medals alongside the Irish and British on Sunday. 

The lightweight women’s double is another boat targeted at the Olympic Qualifier in Lucerne, and Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey did themselves no harm at all in their heat. They had a fuss-free qualification for their semi-final, slotting in behind the outstanding winners, Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands. Saturday’s semi-final will be a big test of whether this crew can look to go to Tokyo: an A Final place would be hugely promising. 

The draw pushed Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy into an easy heat of the lightweight double sculls, and the world champions ate up the challenge and won easily to qualify for the semi-finals. 

 The heavyweight double will be disappointed to have to negotiate a repechage, but they made it through by taking second behind Serbia. Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle were the world silver medallists in 2019; in this morning's heat only a win would take them straight through to the semi-finals and their sprint finish left them short by .72 of a second, with Russia the surprise winners.  

 The next man up in this heavyweight group is Daire Lynch. He had a fifth-place finish in a tough heat of the men’s single sculls, which was won by Kjetil Borch of Norway. In the repechage, Lynch finished fourth and missed out on a place in the A/B semi-finals.  

 The women’s openweight pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska took second in their heat to go straight to the A Final, while lightweight single scullers Lydia Heaphy and Gary O’Donovan both did well. 

 Heaphy looked like she might have made it hard for herself by leading to halfway, with France and Poland challenging her in the third quarter. However, Heaphy is a sterling competitor and she held off her opponents to win and go straight to the A Final. 

 Gary O’Donovan took the second qualification spot in his heat. 

European Championships 2021, Varese, Italy

Men

Double Sculls – Heat Three (Winner to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechages): 1 Russia 6:17.24, 2 Ireland (R Byrne, P Doyle) 6:17.96. Repechage Three (First Two to A/B Semis; rest to C/D Semis): 1 Serbia 6:33.47, 2 Ireland 6:36.22. 

Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat Three (Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage) 1 Ireland (F McCarthy, P O’Donovan) 6:54.75.

Single Sculls – Heat Two (Winner to A/B Semi-Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Norway 7:43.60; 5 Ireland (D Lynch) 8:14.87. Repechage Three (Two to A/B Semi-Final; rest to C/D Semi-Final): 4 Ireland 7:19.74.  

Lightweight Single Sculls – Heat Two (First Two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Germany 7:06.17, 2 Ireland (G O’Donovan) 7:07.23.  

Women

Four – Heat Two (First to A Final; rest to Repechage): Ireland (A Keogh, E Lambe, F Murtagh, E Hegarty) 6:36.98. 

Pair – Heat Two (First two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Romania 7:16.40, 2 Ireland (A Crowley, M Dukarska)  7:22.04.

Lightweight Double Sculls – Heat One (Three to A/B Semi-Finals; rest to Repechage): 1 Netherlands 7:52.01, 2 Ireland (A Casey, M Cremen) 7:56.41, 3 Germany. 

Lightweight Single – Heat Two (First Two to A Final; rest to Repechage): 1 Ireland (L Heaphy) 7:50.15, 2 France 7:50.40. 

Published in Rowing

The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) will fly athletes, including rowers, canoeists and sailors, in business class to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. With less than five months left until the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, the composition of Team Ireland is starting to take real shape.

Qatar Airways, who will fly the team, has a 5-star rating by Skytrax, which also awarded the airline World’s Best Business Class

Athletes will benefit from full lie flat beds and catering to suit their nutritional routine. The mood lighting in the cabin will help adjust athletes’ body clocks to the Tokyo time zone and the cabin is pressurized to a lower altitude which equates to more oxygen and less travel and fatigue.

Speaking today, Sarah Keane, President of the Olympic Federation of Ireland said,

“We as a board and executive really want to give our athletes every opportunity to arrive in Tokyo rested and ready for what for many will be the most important competition of their lives. This is their time, and we are proud to support them with business class travel amongst other things.”

Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO Peter Sherrard said,

“For the first time, we are able to provide business class travel for our athletes, and the upgrade is thanks to the support of our sponsors, FBD, and partners Indeed and Circle K. Our shared goal is to do everything in our power to enhance the performances of our athletes.

“While we would like to be able to provide the same for the support staff, everyone on Team Ireland agrees that our priority needs to be the athletes who will be competing to represent the whole country at Tokyo 2020.”

The OFI has also teamed up with Vita to offset the carbon emissions involved with travelling to Tokyo and will make a contribution of €10,000 to support their work. Vita is a next generation Irish overseas development agency working in Africa. Their innovative programmes transform lives of women and their families in Africa by providing food security as well as access to clean water and clean cooking, while also, generating carbon emissions savings that are sold as certified carbon offsets. 

CEO of Vita, John Weakliam said,

“We are very proud that Team Ireland has chosen Vita to collaborate with on climate action. By offsetting their travel with us, the Olympic Federation of Ireland is supporting some of the world’s most disadvantaged families while demonstrating the importance of flying responsibly.”

To date Team Ireland has made one official team announcement – with Liam Jegou competing in the Canoe Slalom in Tokyo. Further team announcements will be made in the coming months once final rankings, selections and nominations have been completed by athletes and sports.

Published in Olympic

#Rowing: Ireland will have crews in five A Finals at the World Coastal Rowing Championships in Hong Kong on Sunday. Men’s crews came through well on Saturday, qualifying two solo scullers and Myross in the coxed quadruple. The Arklow double of Alan Goodison and John Whooley had made it through as a fastest loser in the double in Friday’s session. Two women’s coxed quadruples and four women’s solo scullers had also made it through on Friday.  

World Coastal Rowing Championships, Hong Kong, Day Two (Ireland crews)

Men

Quadruple, coxed – First Eight to A Final; rest to B Final: Heat One: 7 Myross 16:22.17; 11 Galley Flash/Kilmacsimon 17:34.57.

Double – B Final: 7 Kilmacsimon/Ring 19:35.10; 13 Courtmacsherry 21:05.76; 14 St Michael’s, Dublin 21:41.30.

Solo – First Five to A Final; 7 plus to B Final; 11 plus B Final or eliminated: Heat Two: 13 Portmagee 23:14.19. Heat Three: 3 Bantry (A Hurley) 20:02.92; 5 Galley Flash (J Harrington) 20:40.77; 13 Myross 25:21.83.   

Women

Double - First Eight to A Final; rest to B Final – Heat Two: 9 Castletownshend  20:36.64; 11 Arklow (Kinsella/Kinsella) 21:47.40; 13 Arklow (Jordan/Reid) 22:54.85.

Mixed

Double – Heat One – 7 to 10 to B Final: 10 Kilmacsimon 19:21.81

Published in Coastal Rowing

#Rowing: Five Ireland entrants in the women’s solo single made it through heats into Sunday’s A Final of the World Coastal Rowing Championships in Hong Kong. Miriam Sheehan of Castletownbere placed best, taking third in the first heat, one place ahead of Sionna Healy. The Arklow sculler was one of three from her club to make it to the A Final in this class. Both women’s coxed quadruples, from Belfast and a composite of Castletownbere and Myross, also qualified for the A Final.  

 The Ireland men’s crews found the going tougher. Only the top five in the heats of the men’s double were guaranteed places in the A Final. John Whooley and Alan Goodison finished sixth in their heat - making it through. The three other Ireland crews missed out.

World Coastal Rowing Championships, Hong Kong – Day One, Heats (Ireland crews)

Men

Double (Five to A Final) – Heat One: 6 Arklow 19:04.39; 10 St Michael’s, Dublin 21:28.54.

Heat Three: 8 Kilmacsimon/Ring 21:15.37; 11 Courtmacsherry 22:53.45.  

Women

Quadruple, coxed (Eight to A Final) – Heat One: 7 Belfast BC 19:33.28.

Heat Two: 7 Castletownbere/Myross 20:40.31.

Solo (Eight to Final) – Heat One: 3 Castletownbere (M Sheehan) 22:07.48; 4 Arklow (S Healy) 22:16.07; 7 Galley Flash (N Hayes) 23:13.68; 8 Arklow (MA Kent) 24:41.77.

Heat Two: 6 Arklow (X Jordan) 24:02.30.

Published in Coastal Rowing

#Canoeing: Ronan Foley and Jonathan Simmons took 14th place in the men’s K2 at the canoe marathon World Championships in Shaoxing in China today. Quentin Urban and Jeremy Candy of France won in under two hours, while Simmons, a former British international, and Foley covered the course in two hours six minutes and 16.97 seconds.  

Published in Canoeing

#Canoeing: Robert Hendrick qualified Ireland for an Olympic place in canoeing at the World Championships in La Seu d’Urgell in Spain this morning. Going off first in the C1 competition, the Kildare man put down a nerveless run of 95.12 seconds without a time penalty. It stood up as a fine time even as 29 more paddlers came down the course. The top 11 nations qualified for the Olympic Games and Hendrick gave Ireland 9th overall in this ranking. His personal placing of 11th saw him miss out by one place on an A Final place.  

Canoe Slalom World Championships, La Seu d’Urgell, Spain (Irish interest)

Men

C1 – Semi-Final (First 11 nations qualify boat for Olympic Games; First 10 to A Final): 11 (ninth nation) R Hendrick 95.12 seconds.

Published in Canoeing
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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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