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Displaying items by tag: Lough Neagh

Yesterday (Sunday 18th) Lough Neagh Rescue came to the aid of a Bayliner speedboat with one person and a dog on board in the vicinity of Rams Island on the Lough. The vessel was experiencing engine difficulties.

Rams Island is about one mile long by a quarter of a mile wide and is the largest island on Lough Neagh. It lies approximately one mile offshore from Lennymore Bay and Sandy Bay on the eastern shore.

Lifeboats launched and proceeded to the area, quickly locating the Bayliner on the west of the island. When they arrived one crew member boarded the casualty vessel, a tow line was prepared and the lifeboat towed the vessel safely to the 60 berth Sandy Bay marina, just opposite the island. When the vessel was moored the Lifeboats were stood down, returned to base and prepared for the next tasking.

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Last Sunday (4th October) Lough Neagh Rescue Lifeboat was tasked to two people stranded on Coney Island as their vessel had mechanical issues. Coney Island is owned by the National Trust and lies in the south-west corner of Lough Neagh about 1km from Maghery, a village on the Co Armagh shore.

Due to the adverse weather conditions, it was decided to take the persons off the island and bring them to Maghery. With the two people safely ashore and handed into the care of the Lough Neagh Coastguard team it was decided that the vessel could be brought to Maghery also, so the crew went back to the island, rigged a tow and brought the casualty vessel safely to the shore in Maghery.

Lough Neagh Rescue is a charitable 24-hour voluntary search and rescue service operating from three stations on the Lough - one at Ardboe in County Tyrone, one at Antrim in the North and the other from Kinnego Marina in the south near Lurgan, County Armagh.

Lough Neagh is the largest lake in the British Isles being about 32 km long and 14 km wide. It is mostly shallow with an average depth of 9 m. It is very exposed and in windy conditions can become extremely rough very quickly. It is used extensively by a wide variety of recreation and commercial craft with two sailing clubs, one at either end – Antrim Boat Club in the north and Lough Neagh Sailing Club at Kinnego in the south.

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Environmental campaigners have hit out at a Stormont decision to approve sand dredging in Lough Neagh, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Sand dredging has been practiced in Lough Neagh since the 1930s, with no permission needed until after the lough was designated as a Special Protection Area for wildlife in 1999.

Most recently the practice has been subject of a years-long legal battle, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, with Friends of the Earth claiming that as much as 1.5 million tonnes of sand are removed from the lough each year.

The final say on the matter was left to Northern Ireland’s Department of Infrastructure, whose minister Nichola Mallon signed off on the approval and said the decision was a “finely balanced” one “where I had to weigh up the various benefits with the potential for harm to the designation features of the lough”.

Among those criticising the move was Green Party NI leader Clare Bailey.

She said that sand dredging has “a devastating impact on the entire ecosystem of the lough”, and claimed the situation underscored the notion that “Northern Ireland is disintegrating into an environmental wasteland”.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways
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An open water swimmer has hailed her crossing of Lough Neagh as a triumph — despite being whisked to hospital after breathing water into her lungs.

As BelfastLive reports, Lurgan woman Alison O’Hagan was 13km into her 14km endurance swim on Saturday morning (11 July) when she inadvertently took a lungful of water in a sudden swell.

A paramedic on the RIB accompanying O’Hagan throughout her challenge was swift to act, and got her ashore and into an ambulance within minutes.

O’Hagan — who had trained for 18 months for her long-distance swimming feat — underwent a series of tests in hospital and was discharged yesterday (Monday 13 July), being told “everything is great and I have a good strong heart”.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

Published in Sea Swim
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#LoughNeagh - Ten thousand years after the Irish elk became extinct, the remains of one of its number have been fished out of Lough Neagh this week.

As BelfastLive reports, the remarkable find — comprising the whole skull and antlers of the giant deer — was caught in the net of Ardboe, Co Tyrone fisherman Raymond McElroy somewhere between Salterstown Castle and Ballyronan on Wednesday 5 September.

A jawbone taken from the lough in the same area four years ago has been dated to at least 14,000 years — and it’s possible the latest discovery could be from the same animal.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
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#LoughNeagh - The UK’s National Trust is seeking a new warden — or wardens — to care for the historic Coney Island in Lough Neagh, as Belfast Live reports.

The island’s restored 19th-century cottage, which until last year was home to warden Peter McClelland for almost two decades, is now available for rent.

“If you’re into gaming and watching box-sets this probably is not the place for you,” says the trust’s Edward Mason on the house, which is powered by a generator and heated by a wood-burning stove.

There will also be plenty of chores to do throughout the seasons, not least being handy with an axe.

But the mainland, an hour from Belfast, is only a 10-minute boat trip away.

And for nature lovers, the nine-acre island — also an important Neolithic site — could make the perfect home away from it all.

Belfast Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#LoughNeagh - The PSNI is investigating an alleged attack on three men as they recovered a destroyed fishing patrol boat from Lough Neagh last week, according to BelfastLive.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the patrol vessel belonging to the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-Operative was burnt out in an arson attack by masked men in the early hours of Saturday 27 January, just weeks after it was delivered.

It’s now emerged that three men from the co-operative who attempted to retrieve the sunken pilot boat from the lough at Anneter were reportedly assaulted as they did so last Wednesday (31 January).

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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#Fishing - “An attack on fishermen” is how the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative described the the loss of their new fishing patrol boat by arson, as BelfastLive reports.

The pilot boat was delivered to the co-op only two weeks before the incident in the early hours of Saturday morning (27 January) at the Co Tyrone quay where it was moored.

The PSNI is appealing for information on the arson attack perpetrated by two masked men in the Anneter area of Cookstown shortly after midnight on Friday night.

BelfastLive has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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#LoughNeagh - After two decades as warden of Coney Island in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ has sailed on, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Peter McClelland won out over 400 applicants in 1998 for the prize position of caretaker of the National Trust-owned island, which has a rich history dating back to Neolithic times.

The Co Antrim man, from nearby Aghagallon, says the last 19 years “were the best years of my life” as he spent his days contentedly alone and occupied by the tasks at hand.

Indeed, from his new home in Portadown, McClelland is planning to write a book about his remarkable experience as the island’s lone resident.

The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#RNLI - Skerries RNLI launched yesterday evening (Sunday 22 October) after receiving reports of a medical emergency on Lambay Island.

Shortly after 8.30pm, the alarm was raised by a member of the crew when they received a call from Lambay Island, indicating that a person was unwell and requiring immediate medical assistance.

Skerries RNLI volunteers launched their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Louis Simson with David Knight at the helm and crewed by Steven Johnston, JP Tanner and Jack Keane.

The lifeboat proceeded to the island where they went ashore and began to administer first aid to the casualty — as well as prep a landing area for the Dublin-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116, who transferred the casualty to a waiting ambulance on the mainland for treatment at Beaumont Hospital.

“There were multiple rescue agencies involved in this rescue and it’s great to see everyone working so well together,” said Skerries RNLI lifeboat press officer Gerry Canning. “Our thoughts are with the casualty tonight and we wish them a speedy recovery.”

In other rescue news, PSNI officers have been praised for their “swift action” in saving a man whose car entered Lough Neagh in the early hours of yesterday morning.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, four officers entered the water to free the man, who was unresponsive, from the partial submerged Volkswagen. He was later transferred to hospital with suspected hypothermia.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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