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Displaying items by tag: Liffey Descent

#Canoeing: Ronan Foley (19) and Nikolai Thomsen (18) of Denmark were the fastest home as the Liffey Descent celebrated its 60th birthday today. The 32-kilometre test, with 10 weirs and a portage on the journey from Straffan to the Garda Boat Club in Islandbridge, sometimes rewards experienced competitors, but this was an exception. Both young men were competing for the first time in a K2 (double kayak) on this course, but they took advantage of the fast conditons to win a battle with experienced hands Barry Watkins and Neil Fleming. Foley and Thomsen moved in the final 1,000 metres to win in one hour 46 minutes and 40 seconds. Watkins and Fleming came home in 1:46.49.

The entry of 472 boats was blessed with a beautiful day, and there were some excellent peformances. Jenny Egan continued her record of wins in the mixed K2; she and fiance Jon Simmons were fourth at Lucan weir and fifth overall in a new best time for this boat. Malcolm Banks in the men's over 49 K1, also placed high in the overall rankings, while Peter Egan won the men's K1 on his first attempt at the class.

Liffey Descent 2019, Detailed Results (selected)

K2 – Men’s: 1 Ronan Foley (Salmon Leap CC)/Nikolai Thomsen (Denmark) 1:46.40, 2 Neil Fleming (Celbridge Paddlers)/ Barry Watkins (Salmon Leap CC) 1:46.49, 3 Sebastien Fergauven/Sebastien Jocano (Argentina) 1:47.16. Men’s O39: 1 Simon van Lonkhuyzen/Gary Mawer (Salmon Leap CC) 1:55.59, 2 David Francis/Declan Halton (Salmon Leap CC) 1:59.28, 3 Lutz Erichsen/Peter M. Jensen (Denmark) 2:04.09. 

Mixed: 1 Jonathan Simmons/Jenny Egan (Salmon Leap CC) 1:51.52, 2 Deaglan O Drisceoil/Aisling Smith (Salmon Leap CC) 1:57.58, 3 Nicky Cresser/Alison Chmiel (Nottingham CC) 2:07.20.

K1 – Senior Men: 1 Peter Egan (Salmon Leap) 1:57.43, 2 Donnacha Brennan (Thomastown CC) 2:00.22, 3 Odhran McNally (Salmon Leap CC) 2:01.33. O39 men: 1 Dermot Hudson (Salmon Leap CC) 1:59.36, 2 Stewart O’Regan (Salmon Leap CC) 2:04.12, 3 John Parker (Worcester CC) 2:13.19. O49: 1 Malcolm Banks (Salmon Leap CC) 2:02.50, 2 James Butler (Nottingham CC) 2:06.38, 3 Neil Blackman ( Royal Leamington Spa) 2:08.39. Junior men: Senan Forristal (Thomastown Paddlers) 2:01.04, 2 Matthew McCartney (Celbridge Paddlers) 2:08.077, 3 Alex O’Brien (Celbridge Paddlers) 2:20.15. 

Senior women: 1 Margaret Farrell 2:56.23, 2 Sara Griffin 3:10.46, 3 Amy Walsh 3:21.38.Junior women: 1 Aoibhin Ni Broin (Galway CC) 2:39.23.

T2 – Sean Martin/Eddie Martin (Piragua Madrid/Richmond CC) 2:14.39, 2 Fergus Cooper/Morgan Cooper (Canoeing Ireland) 2:16.07, 3 Lar O’Brien/Michael O’Farrell (Kilcullen CC) 2:19.00.

Wildwater – Open: 1 Darragh Clarke (Wild Waater KC) 2:15.4, 2 Maggie Dilai (Nottingham KC) 2:17.49, 3 Alex Sheppy (Devizes CC) 2:26.26

K1 Class B – Men: 1 Colin Wong (Canoeing Ireland) 2:29.46, 2 Mark Redmond (Wild Water KC) 2:30.45, 3 Padraig Dunne Athy Rowing and CC) 2:37.25. O39: 1 Gerry Murphy (Canoeing Ireland) 2:32.12, 2 Edward Broekaart (Canoeing Ireland) 2:34.33, 3 Gary McClure (Belfast CC) 2:36.05 Junior men: 1 Cameron Bannatyne (Soar Valley) 2:18.33, 2 Ethan Dowling (Ribbontail Paddlers) 2:47.03, 3 Michael O’Herlihy (Wild Water KC) 2:48.18

K1 Class C: Men: 1 Craig Stratford (Virginia KC) 2:54.10, 2 Brian James (Cabra KC) 2:56.59, 3 Wojciech Szydlo (Silverbridge KC) 2:59.48. O39: 1 Terry Smith (Athy Rowing and CC) 2:37.10, 2 Andrew Redmond (Wild Water KC) 2:39.30 3 Dermot Forristal (Thomastown Paddlers) 2:39.44. Junior men: 1 Daniel Stratford (Virginia KC) 2:38.40, 2 Barry Stratford (Virginia KC) 2:41.29, 3 Alex Russell (Canoeing Ireland) 2:44.35. 

Women: 1 Ciara Gurhy (Wild Water KC) 2:47.45, 2 Helen Flanagan (Share Centre) 2:55.53, 3 Yvonne Crosse (Phoenix KC) 3:04.21. O39: 1 Fiona Kelly (Wildwater KC) 2:49.50, 2 Yvonne Kelly Castleknock Community Collge KC) 2:50.38, 3 Mary Fitzgerald (Athy Rowing and CC) 2:58.27. Junior women: 1 Emma Fay (Ribbontail Paddlers) 3:14.20, 2 Rachel Alexander (Virginian KC) 3:20.04. 

C1 – 1 Stephen Dunne (Mullingar CC) 3:11.16, 2 Andy Jeffers (Phoenix CC) 3:26.30, 3 Paul Magee (Canoeing Ireland) 4:05.55

C2 - 1 Ben Boland/Roger McClure (Kilkenny Aqua CC) 2:37.26, 2 Gearoid Jones/James Dillon (DIT CC) 2:47.54 3 Gerry Coonan/Gerry O’Brien (Wild Water KC) 3:00.42. C2 (mixed) – 1 Elaine Alexander/Richard Hobson (CANI/Lisburn City Paddlers) 2:57.58, 2 Colin Lively/Jacqui McVicar (Share Centre) 3:06.04, 3 Eamonn Dodd/Lynda Byron (Wild Water KC) 3:15.50.

C3 – 1 D Comerford/S O’Neill/S O’Neill (Thomastown Paddlers) 2:48.24, 2 Y Kalogerakis/ D Holden/B Comerford (Canoeing Ireland) 2:51.20, 3 K Durkan/S Durkan/M Fitzsimon (Celbridge Paddlers) 3:00.20.

Best Club (combined K1 and K2 times) : Salmon Leap Canoe Club, Leixlip

International Trophy: Ireland.

Published in Canoeing

#Rowing: Jenny Egan and Jon Simmons of Salmon Leap Canoe Club defend their mixed K2 title at Saturday’s 60th anniversary Liffey Descent, which starts from Straffan at 12 o'clock and finishes 32 kilometres later at the Garda Boat Club in Islandbridge. 

Egan is going for a third consecutive victory in this category - in 2017, she paired up with brother Peter to win in a course record time of 1 hour 55 minutes. Also competing in this category are Deaglan O Drisceoil and Aisling Smith of Salmon Leap, who finished second in the world renowned Sella Marathon in Spain earlier this summer. Both are previous K1 winners. 

It will be an eleventh “Liffey” for Egan, who is attempting to win selection for the Tokyo Olympics and spent the summer competing at races around Europe. 

Peter Egan, who finished second in men’s K2 last year, goes in K1 this year. Tadhg de Barra and Donnacha Brennan, both from Thomastown Paddlers, look like the other main contenders. 

Barry Watkins, another Salmon Leap paddler, won his first K1 title last year, but reverts to K2 this time, where his partner is previous K1 winner Neil Fleming of Celbridge Paddlers. This could prove to be the most competitive class of the day with a number of strong Irish boats as well as at least four entries from the UK, two from Argentina, and one each from Spain, the Czech Republic and Germany. 

Among the local entries, former European junior marathon champion Ronan Foley teams up with Nikolai Thomsen of Denmark for his first attempt at senior K2, while Michael Brennan, winner of the open canoe singles last year, takes to the water this time with his Thomastown club mate Anthony Forristal. 

After a long dry summer, last year’s Liffey Descent was the driest on record which meant times were slow and fewer recreational boats entered. This year, low water won’t be a problem, thanks to plenty of rainfall in the past few months which means the ESB can release a small flood. Spectators on the banks of the Liffey may have good entertainment on Saturday. Premium spots are at the bridge in Straffan just down from the start and at Lucan weir.

Published in Canoeing

#Canoeing: On Easter Monday 1960, eight boats took part in a race on the river Liffey organised to coincide with the first Dublin Boat Show at nearby Busáras.

 From that modest start evolved the Liffey Descent - a marathon canoe race of around 17 miles that celebrates its 60th anniversary on September 14th., 2019.

 As part of the celebrations, veteran Liffey Descent competitor, Iain Maclean has written a comprehensive history of this unique event, detailing the changes down the years, the financial crises, the dramas behind the scenes and the big names who have come a cropper on the giant weirs of the Liffey. 

 An invaluable part of the book is a meticulously researched record of every medal won in each category down the years. More than 30,000 paddlers from 17 counties and four continents had take part in this great race down the years.

 On Saturday, August 31st, the pioneers of this great race will assemble for the official launch of “The Liffey Descent – 60 Years of Ireland’s Toughest Canoe Challenge” in Dublin’s City Hall (7pm-8.30pm).

 Those attending will include Audrey Lawrence, one of the first female winners of the race, and Roger Green, who also competed in those early days, along with multiple “Liffey” winners like Tony Maher, Tom Egan, Martin Bosher, Carmel Vekins, Mick Feeney,  Gerry   Collins, Derek Martin, Martin Bosher, Howard Watkins, Ian Pringle, Mick and Breda Keating, Eileen Murphy, and Malcolm Banks, who competes at masters level internationally and who at the age of 56, won his class in the race last year. 

 Also attending will be current Irish international canoeists, among them Jenny Egan, many times winner at the Liffey Descent both in a single boat and a double, Barry Watkins, the current K1 champion, and up and coming star Ronan Foley. 

Published in Canoeing
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On a day when low water caused carnage, British pair Nicky Chesser and Tom Lusty were the winners of the K2 class at the 59th Liffey Descent canoe marathon today.

Irish pair Jenny Egan and John Simmons were first in the mixed K2 race while their Salmon leap club mate Barry Watkins took his first win in men's K1.
"I won the K2 a few years ago with Gary Mawer and I wanted to do the double - a win in both K2 and K1 - before I turned 30. My 30th birthday is next April so the pressure was on," said Watkins after his win."

Like all the paddlers in the race, he found the lack of water a challenge, but he decided to race it as a time trial. "I thought it would be won in 2 hours 20 mins and I finished in 2:10 so I'm pleased." He hit a low between Wren's Nest and the Palmerstown weir but recovered. "Someone shouted that I had a five minute lead so I pushed on. "

Finishing second was Tom Brennan who has been going for a fourth consecutive win.

In the mixed K2, Jenny Egan was winning for a second year. Last year, she won with her brother Peter; this year her partner was Jon Simmons, to whom she became engaged earlier this week.
" Because of the lack of water it was a very different race to the usual - we were 30 minutes slower than last year and it was a long, hard slog. We knew were the first mixed boat all along the course and we finished fifth boat over the line which isn't bad".

Race winners Chesser and Lusty were delighted just to finish the race and take a first win.

"We were fourth going into the first weir at Straffan and got our line right and found ourselves in the lead. After that we kept pushing -and no-one caught up with us," the pair said after their win.

Cresser is a Liffey veteran but for Lusty, who is the fastest 1000m man in Britain, it was a first.

"We lost time on the portages, but were strong on the flat water," said Chesser.

Published in Canoeing
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#Canoeing: Overseas crews took some of the big prizes in the Liffey Descent today. The fastest crew home was the K2 (racing kayak) of Luis Perez and Miguel Llorens, who finished fourth at the recent World Marathon Championships. They covered the 30 kilometres from Straffan to Islandbridge in a fine time of 1 hour and 46 minutes exactly.

Keith Moule and Nicky Cressler of Britain took second place, while Sean Rice from South Africa and Tom Sharpe of Britain were third.

Jenny Egan and Peter Egan won the mixed K2. They had a good run and recorded a creditable time of 1 hour 55 minutes – but it would have been better had they not got stuck in the bank after the lake. “We nearly broke the boat,” said Peter.

Tom Brennan retained his title in the men’s K1. “That’s three in-a-row,” the Celbridge man said. He said he had concentrated on being fast in the second half, while others had put their energy into the first. Ronan Foley was the best by far in the junior K1.

Liffey Descent 2017, Selected Results:

Men – K2: 1 L Perez, M Llorens 1 hour 46 mins, 2 K Moule, N Cresser 1:46.49, 3 S Rice, T Sharpe 1:48.39. Masters: G Mawer, S Van Lonkhuyzen 1:50.57. Veteran K2/T2: D Francis, M Banks 1:53.42.

K1: T Brennan 1:54.43. Jun: R Foley 1:57.11. Masters: D Hudson 1:58.24.

Wildwater, K1: F Cooper 2:15.20. Jun: C Cummins 2:14.13.

Mixed K2/T2: J Egan, P Egan 1:55.04.

Women

K1: J Swarbreck 2:14.14.

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Published in Canoeing
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#Canoeing: Fans of the Liffey Descent can now follow it from anywhere in the world. The 30-kilometre canoeing race tomorrow (September 23rd) features live tracking all the way from the start at Straffan (12 o’clock) to Islandbridge, where boats will arrive from about 1.45. Twelve of the top crews have been fitted with GPS units and their progress through the twists and turns of the course will be mapped.

 The service is being provided by Primal Tracking from Portadown. You can find a link on the Liffey Descent Facebook page.

 Competitors in the race take on 10 weirs, and paddlers must scramble out and carry their boat down the bank at Leixlip. Spectators can view the race from the bridges and the banks.

 

Published in Canoeing

#Canoeing: An international contingent will take on the Liffey Descent this Saturday, September 23rd. A Spanish crew who are determined to beat all comers in the canoe race will contend with a world champion from South Africa in a field of over 500 competitors. The Irish resistance will include a first time pairing in the race of world championship medallist Jenny Egan with her brother Peter – a winner last year.

 Top competitors will be fitted with GPS trackers so the public can follow their progress down the course. 

 The race from Straffan in Kildare to Islandbridge in Dublin is one of the most spectacular events of the Irish sporting calendar. Kayaks and canoes will hurtle down the 30-kilometre stretch. They will find their way over 10 weirs, and paddlers must scramble out and carry their boat down the bank at Leixlip. Spectators can view the speed and the spills from the bridges and the banks. The start is at 12 o’clock. 

 The line-up for the K2, the racing kayak which is set to be the fastest boat of the day, should make for an exciting race.

 Ireland international Barry Watkins teams up with Jon Simmons, who has been coaching developing paddlers in Ireland system. They take on the accomplished Spanish pairing of Luis Amado and Miguel Llorens, who took fourth in the World Marathon Championships in South Africa earlier this month. From South Africa comes Sean Rice, a world champion in surfski racing, who teams up with Briton Tom Sharpe. 

 Last year Peter Egan was in the front of the K2 which won – this time the paddler behind him will be his sister, Jenny, in a mixed K2. “We’ve always wanted to do it, but the circumstances were never right before,” Jenny said.

 The Egans come directly from the World Championships, where Jenny took a bronze medal. But they will be tested on Saturday. From Germany comes Andreas Heilinger and Inez Bauerle; from the Netherlands, Pascal Lucker and Eef Haaze.

 Ireland international Tom Brennan will hope to retain his title in the K1 (individual racing kayak). He fell in at Straffan last year and then got back on track to win. Ronan Foley, who was the fifth best junior at the World Championships in South Africa, could test him. 

 They will be competing for silver trophies, back as rewards in this race after a time when they were not presented. 

 

Published in Canoeing

#Canoeing: It’s 30 kilometres of high-adrenaline challenge; two hours of torture for arm muscles. Yes, it is time for the Liffey Descent, when hundreds of competitors will career down the river from Kildare into Dublin.

 The race on Saturday, September 23rd, runs from Straffan to Garda Boat Club in Islandbridge. Canoeists in everything from wildwater boats to the speedy racing kayaks (K1 and K2) will carefully negotiate or plunge over 10 weirs. Above the dam in Leixlip they must pull their boat out of the water and carry it for 500 metres. The top competitors will take just two minutes before plunging their craft into the water again.  

 Capsizes are inevitable, and spectators have a ringside view of the unexpected swims at the start, at 12 o’clock at the bridge at the K Club, and down the course at weirs at Lucan and Palmerstown.

 Jenny Egan, the bronze medallist at the World Marathon Championships in South Africa last weekend, will be a star attraction. “I’m really looking forward to it,” said the Ireland international. She won the women’s K1 in the Liffey Descent last year.

 Competitors from Spain, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, South Africa and Britain will line up with paddlers from all over Ireland in an event which has been running for more than five decades. 

 “We will have GPS trackers on selected lead competitors and internationals so the public can view their profiles and follow every step of their journey live online,” says Shane Cronin, the new Liffey Descent coordinator. 

 “We have world-class competitors involved and there could be very fast times. I think this could be one of the best races in recent times.”

Published in Canoeing
Tagged under

#Canoeing: Peter Egan and and Mads Brendt Pedersen won the Liffey Descent today. The K2 paddlers beat Nicky Cresser and Jonathan Boyton in a sprint finish at Islandbridge. The recently-crowned K1 and K2 World Champion, Hank McGregor finished fifth in partnership with Lee Furby. The race featured a spectacular start, with craft after craft crashing after coming over Straffan weir. The K1 of Tom Brennan was one which suffered, but Brennan got back on track and was the fastest in this class. Jenny Egan had a clean run down the course and won the women's K1.

Liffey Descent 2016 (Selected Results; CORRECTED)

Men

K2 - Senior: 1 M Brandt Pedersen, P Egan 1 hour 48 minutes 08 seconds, 2 J Boyton, N Cresser 1:48.14, 3 Z Chmiel, B Oakley 1:50.37, 4 M Fitzsimons, M Brennan 1:51.39, 5 H McGregor, L Furby 1:51.11, 6 A A Heilenga, P Luckar 1:52.13. Masters: 1 D Francis, L Erichsen 1:57.35, 2 J Christie, N Blackman 1:57.57, 3 J Morrissey, S Dark 1:59.42.

K1 - Senior: 1 T Brennan 1:58.21, 2D Corrijn 1:59.22, 23 S McCarthy 1:59.26, 4 J Simmons 2:02.18, 5 J Laenen 2:03.27, 6 E Berezvay 2:03.56. Masters: 1 D Hudson 1:59.55, 2 J Butler 2:03.29, 3 M Banks 2:04.13. Junior: R Foley 2:02.49.

Wild Water - Senior K1: 1 R Millar 2:05.25, 2 C Ryan 2:16.30, 3 T de Barra 2:17.43. Junior: C Cummins 2:08.02.

General Purpose - Senior: 1 J Ringwood 2:26.17. Masters: M Redmond 2:31.41. Junior: A Kennedy 2:32.32.

Women

K2 - Senior: 1 M Van Niekerk, A Smith 2:04.31.

K1 - Senior: 1 J Egan 2:03.44, 2 B Beavitt 2:10.52.

Wild Water - Senior K1: 1 S Eichenberger 2:18.01.

General Purpose - Seniors: L O’Connor 2:53.09. Masters: E Kelly 2:47.45. Junior: C Gurhy 2:52.19.

 

Published in Canoeing

#LiffeyDescent - The Irish Mirror has posted footage of a daring rescue of two kayakers stranded after their tandem canoe crashed into a bridge support during the recent Liffey Descent.

The incident occurred at Leixlip bridge on the Dublin/Kildare border during the annual canoe and kayak race on Saturday 26 September.

In the video, British kayakers Sam Weller and Steven Bush can clearly be seen fighting against the fast current after their boat crashes into the bridge and splits in two.

But volunteers from Dublin Scouts immediately raced into action from the bridge overhead, abseiling down to the water to ensure the men's safety.

Bush confirmed that their brush with danger "hasn't put us off kayaking and we can't wait to come back next year and hopefully complete the race."

Neil Fleming and Robin Koenders's K2 was the fastest vessel home at this year's Liffey Descent, the 56th running of the canoe and kayak race, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Kayaking
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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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