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Displaying items by tag: Lifeboats

The RNLI has issued a plea for the public to take heed of important water safety advice as schools begin the mid-term break and the Government has introduced Level 5 restrictions to deal with Covid-19.

With the Government restriction on exercise to within 5 kilometres of home, the lifesaving charity is reminding the public that water temperatures can be very cold and to be aware of the dangers if they are within the limit and able to exercise near the coast or inland waters.

RNLI Water Safety Lead Kevin Rahill said: ‘With the mid-term break and the increased restrictions it is understandable that people may wish to try and get outdoors to enjoy the coast or our inland waters. However, the water can be cold and there are no lifeguards on the beaches.

‘We would ask those planning to use the water or exercise near the coast to continue to be aware of the dangers and to avoid taking risks. By being aware of some key safety advice we can keep safe.’

The RNLI’s key water safety messages are:

  • If you are heading to the water always check weather and tides or currents
  • Have a plan and let someone know where you are going and when you will be back
  • If swimming, check for rip currents and strong tides and always be accompanied
  • If you are walking along the coast be aware that rocks and paths may be slippery
  • If you are going on the water, wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid
  • Always carry a reliable means of raising the alarm
  • If you see someone in trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Like most other charities, the volunteers of Kinsale RNLI have had their fundraising activities curtailed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

So it came as a welcome surprise to learn that local steam engine enthusiast Rory Nagle had launched a special mission to help replenish the lifeboat station coffers.

Accompanied by two young assistants, Frank Sullivan and Billy Twomey, Rory embarked on a tour of the town aboard Old Mac, Ireland’s oldest surviving steam engine, which was built by McLaren in Leeds and lovingly restored by Rory.

Despite the inclement weather over the weekend (Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 October), they raised donations of €440 from members of the public eager to have their photographs taken alongside the historic engine.

Rory said: “The RNLI have been on duty throughout lockdown and are there day and night when we need them. It’s a pleasure to be able to do something for people that really deserve support, especially at this difficult time. I believe that we all need to remember the people that look after us.”

Old Mac on the pier in Kinsale (Photo: RNLI/Nuala McAloon)Old Mac on the pier in Kinsale | Photo: RNLI/Nuala McAloon

Photographs of Rory’s expedition were widely shared on social media, with Niamh Henderson of the Kinsale Advertiser cheekily suggesting that some generous benefactor might round up the sum to €500.

Her appeal was immediately answered by John Farley, a Kinsale man who has been living in San Francisco for the past 30 years.

John said: “I always hit the lifeboat boxes when I’m home, but I didn’t make it back this year, so this makes up for it. The lifeboat lads rescued my sister, my niece Rachel and me off the Old Head about eight or nine years ago when our engine died. I also know Rory well and he’s a great guy, so this is a good opportunity to show my support.”

Kinsale RNLI’s press officer Tricia Tyson added: “This is not the first time Rory has raised funds for us. Last year he took part in the Celtic Steamers run from Baltimore to Kinsale, a spectacular cavalcade of vintage engines that raised over €5,000 for the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea.

“We also appreciate all the hard work of Billy and Frank who helped him both days, and the generosity of the public who filled the buckets. The RNLI relies on the support of the public, and that is one thing that is never lacking in Kinsale.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteers were called twice in succession to aid two people in need of medical attention in the Galway Bay islands yesterday morning, Monday 19 October.

The lifeboat crew were tasked to launch their all-weather vessel David Kirkaldy from Kilronan on Inis Mór at 11.31am, to assist an elderly man on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin.

A second call came in quick succession when a woman on Inis Mór also required medical evacuation.

This second patient was attended to first and safely secured on board before the lifeboat launched for Inis Meáin under coxswain John O’Donnell and a full crew.

Weather conditions at the time of launching were moderate with poor visibility, but with calm seas and a south-east wind blowing Force 4–5.

Once alongside the pier at Inis Meáin, the male patient was transferred safely aboard and under the supervision of the volunteer crew, observing all coronavirus safety guidelines.

The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour on the mainland and an awaiting ambulance.

Speaking later, O’Donnell said: “A double callout to start the week — the volunteer crew members train regularly to make the minutes count and get to the incident and patient as fast as possible.

“We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.

“Never hesitate to call 999 or 112 if you see someone in trouble and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI recorded one of their more unusual launches yesterday evening (Saturday 17 October) after a World War II-era seaplane made a distress call from Loch Ness.

It emerged that the aircraft, the PBY Catalina, had experienced engine issues while attempting to take off from the loch in the Scottish Highlands.

With the plane sitting exposed in the middle of the water, not far from Loch Ness RNLI’s lifeboat station, it was decided the safest way to assist would be to establish a tow with the inshore lifeboat RIB to the shelter of Urquhart Bay close by.

Typing up at a harbour or pontoon was ruled out, however, due to the flying boat’s massive 32-metre wingspan — so a mooring buoy was decided as the best option.

Lifeboat crew member David Ferguson later spoke of the challenges involved in towing a craft as big and unusual as this.

“Towing the Catalina would prove to be no easy feat,” he said. “Fixing points are few and far between on such an aircraft, and the best option was underneath the tail, which barely cleared the bow of the lifeboat.

“Nevertheless, with some care, we managed to establish a towline.”

Elsewhere in Scotland this weekend, Oban RNLI in Western Scotland launched on Friday evening (16 October) after a small boat was reported drifting through the Falls of Lora.

With a flooding tide and strong currents from the falls, it was believed the boat had been carried into Loch Etive, which is where Oban’s all-weather lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald headed to conduct the search.

The lifeboat searched the area the boat was seen drifting towards, but with nothing found they continued further into the loch where they spotted the boat adrift to the west of Ardchattan church.

The unoccupied boat was then taken under tow to a nearby nearby pier where it was recovered by Oban’s HM Coastguard team.

Published in Scottish Waters
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Skerries RNLI recently launched to the rescue of a yacht with one person aboard that was adrift in the Skerries Islands.

The incident occurred on Thursday morning 15 October, when the yacht made a VHF distress call that was relayed to the local lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard in Dublin.

Lifeboat volunteers launched the Atlantic 85 inshore vessel Louis Simson shortly before 10am and headed to the reported location, some two miles east of the islands.

As they rounded the headland at Red Island, however, they spotted an eight-metre yacht between Colt Island and Shenick Island that did not seem to be making way.

The crew checked on this yacht in case the initial information given to the coastguard had not been accurate, and it was quickly determined to be the same vessel.

It emerged that the yacht’s engine had suffered a “sudden and complete” loss of oil pressure, so a tow was established and the vessel was bright to the safety of Rogerstown harbour — where it has already been schedueld for lift-out for the winter months.

Speaking after the callout, Skerries RNLI press officer Gerry Canning said: “Things can go wrong at sea no matter how prepared you are. Always carry a means of contacting the shore to raise the alarm, like this gentleman did.

“Our volunteers are always ready to respond to that call.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The team at Newcastle RNLI in Northern Ireland is calling for a new volunteer lifeboat press officer to help them to save lives at sea.

This role will help raise awareness of the RNLI through the promotion of the lifeboat station’s vital work, including newsworthy rescues carried out by the crew.

Newcastle RNLI is seeking someone who can produce and distribute regular new releases, be available to answer media enquiries, work to support media opportunities and facilitate interview requests.

The role is best suited to someone with good writing and communication skills, who lives locally and can be flexible with their time.

Lisa Ramsden, Newcastle RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager, said: “Volunteering with us gives people the opportunity to make a real difference in their local community, to save lives and become part of the larger RNLI family.

“We can’t keep people safe without the support of our wonderful volunteers, who truly make a difference every day no matter which role they are fulfilling.

“Becoming a volunteer lifeboat press officer is a great chance to play a crucial part in helping to save lives.

“We’re looking for an enthusiastic person with good writing and interpersonal skills and who enjoys working with people and at times under pressure to inform the media and update our community on the various lifesaving activities that are happening at the station from rescues to fundraising, community safety to events.”

Anyone interested in finding out more or wants to apply should follow the link to the RNLI website HERE.

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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 4.43pm yesterday (Thursday 8 October) to assist a 38ft fishing vessel that was drifting “dangerously close” to Eagle Rock, just off Golam Head in Co Galway.

Under coxswain John O'Donnell and with a full crew, the lifeboat headed straight for the fishing vessel amid moderate conditions, with a two-metre sea swell.

Once on scene, lifeboat crew found that both people aboard the fishing vessel were in good health and observing coronavirus guidelines.

A tow line was set up and the lifeboat brought the casualty vessel to the safety of Rossaveal Harbour in Connemara.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “This was a good outcome as the vessel was drifting dangerously close to Eagle Rock after losing the use of their engines.

“Our volunteer crew members never hesitate to get to the call as quickly as possible. If you see someone in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI has encouraged the public to always call for help when they believe they’ve seen someone in distress at sea.

The message follows a callout across Galway Bay to Rossaveal in Connemara last night (Monday 5 October) that turned out to be a false alarm with good intent.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 7.45pm to reports of a flare sighting near Great Mans’ Bay, amid choppy seas with a two-metre swell and 22-knot northwesterly winds.

The crew were joined in the search by Costello Bay Coast Guard and the Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115.

But after an extensive search of the area by all three rescue services working together, the operation was stood down.

“Thankfully the call out was a false alarm with good intent,” said Aran Islands RNLI press officer Lena O’Connell.

“It is always better to be safe than sorry. The volunteer crew members didn't hesitate to get the lifeboat to the search area as quickly as possible.

“We would remind everyone if you see someone in trouble or see a distress signal, don’t hesitate to call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Kayakers have been urged to always carry some means of attracting attention in an emergency, such as flares or a torch.

The call from the RNLI came after an incident off Somerset in the UK last month in which two kayakers were swept out into the Bristol Channel by strong currents in choppy waters.

Lifeboat volunteers from Minehead RNLI, joined by a rescue helicopter from HM Coastguard, had difficulty determining the kayakers’ location as darkness fell fast on the evening of Wednesday 2 September.

“Even when the helicopter found them and illuminated the area we couldn’t see them until we were about 30 yards away,” said lifeboat helm Phil Sanderson.

The two casualties, clad in T-shirts, were found cold but unharmed by their ordeal amid “nasty” conditions.

Minehead RNLI’s Chris Rundle added: “We would stress the importance of kayakers preparing for all eventualities by wearing proper clothing and buoyancy aids.

“And above all they should always carry some means of attracting attention, such as a flare pack or a good waterproof torch.

“It’s only a small investment but one which could make all the difference between life and death.”

Published in Rescue
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Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launched to reports of a yacht in difficulty off Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland last night (Friday 2 October).

The volunteer crew were in the water just before 9pm, half an hour after paging, and headed to the location of the single-handed yachtsman four miles north-west of Rathlin in moderate to rough seas.

Cox Dave Robinson and his crew arrived on scene at 10pm and established that the yachtsman was able to manoeuvre himself into Rathlin Harbour, on the island off mainland Co Antrim, but requested their guidance.

“The yachtsman did the right thing in contacting the coastguard as he was experiencing some difficulties getting into harbour, and we were glad to provide the support,” said Portrush’s new lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister.

“We would prefer that people were safe than sorry and would ask that they dial 999 and ask for the coastguard if help is required.”

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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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