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Displaying items by tag: Omey Island

Cleggan Coast Guard team were tasked earlier in the week to a collapsed horse on Omey Island off Claddaghduff in western Connemara.

The fallen horse was in grave danger with a fast incoming tide, so the coastguard team members worked quickly with assistance and guidance from two vets from Western Veterinary and the owner to bring the horse safely ashore.

Cleggan Coast Guard later commented on social media: “Thankfully the horse is doing well. We’re delighted to be part of this unusual rescue.”

Also this week, Cleggan Coast Guard welcomed Minister of State and Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton to its base in north-western Co Galway.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton is presented with a locally made miniature model currach by Cleggan Coast GuardMinister of State Hildegarde Naughton is presented with a locally made miniature model currach by Cleggan Coast Guard

During her visit, the minister was shown the range of services and facilities the volunteers at Cleggan provide for Connemara, including a demonstration by the unit's drone search team.

In honour of her visit and in light of the minister’s Department of Transport leadership of the Irish Coast Guard, Minister Naughton was presented with a locally made miniature model currach.

Officer in Charge Michael Murray commenting on the visit said: “It’s great to see the minister make such an effort to get out and meet the people who volunteer their time. We are so proud that she is a TD for our constituency as well.”

Published in Coastguard

Relatives of Omey islanders have renewed their appeal for a return of bones taken by the State in an emergency excavation three decades ago.

As The Sunday Times reports, a professor of archaeology has been contacted about human remains removed from Omey off Claddaghduff in Connemara in 1992, which residents have campaigned for years to be returned.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said last week that it had approached Tadhg O’Keeffe, a University College Dublin professor, to discuss his excavation on the Co Galway tidal island and “the matter of the burials in the context of the local interest”.

It told the newspapers it has received “a suite of technical reports” from O’Keeffe. The documents will be reviewed by the National Monuments Service and National Museum of Ireland.

The department said the remains analysed so far dated from the early medieval period and Bronze Age, “not to recent burials”.

Maggie Coohill, whose father was born on Omey, said: “Islanders were told in the early 1990s that these bones would be returned. They didn’t expect they would still be waiting 30 years later.”

Conservation expert Deirdre McDermott said she had been asked to pursue the issue on behalf of Cleggan Claddaghduff Community Council.

She is a local resident and former president of the Irish national committee of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and involved in its working group on rights-based approaches.

“Omey is an important site, with burials there straddling two millennia, but the local community supported an emergency archaeological dig and removal in good faith, on the understanding the bones would be reinterred in due course,” she said.

“Even as recently as 2019, the UNESCO World Heritage Operational Guidelines were changed to acknowledge community participation, and rights,”McDermott said.

Prof O’Keeffe said the return of the material was in the hands of the State’s chief archaeologist Michael McDonagh.

O’Keeffe also said that the first paper in a planned series of five articles outlining the results of the research had been published in the Journal of the Galway Historical and Archaeological Society.

Asked if the community had been informed, he said both he and McDonagh had discussed producing a small booklet on the island’s archaeology when the last or second last scientific paper has been published.

Read more in The Sunday Times here

Published in Island News
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Clifden RNLI came to the aid of two walkers who got cut off by the tide yesterday evening (Sunday 11 April).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch the lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard at 5.50 pm following a report that two people were stranded on Omey Island.

The inshore Atlantic 85 class lifeboat helmed by Kenny Flaherty and with three crew members onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene.

Weather conditions at the time were good with a northerly Force 5 wind.

Once on scene, the lifeboat crew checked that the two people were safe and well before proceeding to transfer them on to the lifeboat and bring them back to shore at Claddaghduff.

Speaking following the call out, John Brittain, Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘The two walkers were not in any immediate danger and we were happy to help and bring them safely back to shore.

‘We would remind locals and visitors to always check tide times and heights before venturing out and to always make sure you have enough time to return safely.

‘If you do get cut off by the tide, it is important to stay where you are and not attempt a return to shore on your own as that may be when the danger presents and you get into difficulty. Always carry a means of communication and should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

On the eve of Connemara’s Omey island races, relatives of islanders have initiated a petition seeking the urgent return of bones removed during an archaeological excavation writes Lorna Siggins

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan has also been urged to intervene to ensure that the bones, excavated in the 1990s, can be brought back for a Christian burial.

Ms Maggie Coohill, whose father was born in Omey, says she has spent the last five years seeking action and has now initiated the petition.

“Islanders were promised 30 years ago that these bones of their relatives would be returned,” she said.

Omey, a tidal island off Claddaghduff, lost its last full-time resident when stuntman Pascal Whelan died in 2017. Poet Richard Murphy built a hexagonal granite studio on the island.

Its annual Omey island races across the strand at low tide take place this Sunday from 1 pm

The island has evidence of occupation from the Bronze Age, up to 2000 BC, up to the Great Famine, when there were 400 residents. Its monastic site dating from about the 6th century is named after its founder, St Feichín.

The medieval site, which included one of the few reported burials of a woman within monastic ground, was excavated in the 1990s by Prof Tadhg O’Keeffe of University College, Dublin (UCD) after concerns that rabbits and erosion were causing damage.

The site was one of a number of west coast archaeological features damaged during severe winter storms of January 2014.

Ms Coohill said she was on holidays on Omey with her father when the excavation began on the north side of the island.

“My uncle, my dad and other locals were not in favour of the bones being taken off the island, but were assured that after they had been examined they would be returned to Omey and given a Christian burial,” she said.

“On January 16th, 2014, I contacted Prof O’Keeffe, and he informed me that it was always his intention that the bones would be returned to Omey,”

Ms Coohill said she now believed that “more than enough time” had been spent to conclude the research. She contacted Ms Madigan several months ago and asked her to intervene, and was told the decision was one for the National Museum of Ireland.

The Department of Cultural, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said the excavations in the 1990s were “commissioned by this department due to the damage and irreparable loss that was occurring to the human remains buried at the location”.

“The archaeological excavations confirmed large scale disturbance of the remains on account of erosion and burrowing activity,” it said.

The excavator in UCD is overseeing the completion of the various specialist analyses of the remains,” it said, and “this post-excavation analysis has benefited from advances in analytical and scientific techniques”.

“The department expects to receive final excavation reports later this year, subject to final completion of the specialist analysis, which will ensure that the story of the inhabitants of Omey is told”, it said.

“Any decision on reburial would then ultimately be a matter for the National Museum of Ireland to adjudicate on,” the department said.

The museum’s decision would be predicated on consideration of “all relevant factors.. as per the conditions of the excavation licence issued by this department”, the department said.

Prof O’Keeffe said the full report was almost complete and ready for publication, and as many individuals as possible had been identified by two professional osteologists (bone experts).

He said it was his personal hope to have repatriation in consultation with the National Museum of Ireland.

Publication of the findings would take place in the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society's journal, he said.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#OmeyIsland - Omey Island’s last resident has died, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Retired stuntman Pascal Whelan was found at his home on Saturday (5 February) after a long illness, bringing to an end centuries of continuous habitation on the West Connemara tidal island that saw a steep decline in population over the last 100 years.

Whelan was the subject of a book by photographer Kevin Griffin two years ago, according to TheJournal.ie, which charted his rugged lifestyle.

A more recent book plots the remarkable history of Omey Island itself, which at its peak had over 100 residents a century ago, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#Archaeology - It was quite a turn-up for the books on Omey Island recently as a US student found a 12th-century brooch in the sand on the Connemara tidal island.

As The Irish Times reports, the rare kite brooch was discovered by chance by McKenna McFadden while on a field trip with fellow New York University students led by Michael Gibbons, a local archaeologist.

It's since been identified as being 900 years old, and will be offered to the collection of the National Museum.

Omey Island is also the subject of a new book charting its remarkable history, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Island News

#OmeyIsland - Omey Island in Connemara is the subject of a new book by a local woman charting its remarkable history.

Strands of Omey's Story by Bernadette Conroy shows there's much more to the lands off Claddaghduff than the annual beach horse race, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Despite not being a true island, as its only cut off from the mainland when the tide is in, Omey has seen its population dwindle from over 100 a century ago to just a single resident in more recent years.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The Irish Times reports that the sperm whale that was stranded in Connemara at the end of last year has been buried at sea.

The 13-metre whale carcass has attracted thousands of onlookers to Omey Island in Co Galway.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the sperm whale was found beached with a broken lower jaw and shed of its skin.

The whale carcass was towed out to sea west of High Island on Thursday after being deemed too large to bury on land.

"Chances are it died offshore and got washed in with the wind," said Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

The IWDG added that such strandings were relatively common, although as reported on Afloat.ie last year there has been growing concern over the rising number of dolphin deaths along the south coast in particular.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#MARINE WILDLIFE - Three whales and a dolphin were found beached over the past few days along Ireland's west coast, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group confirmed that reports had been received of a bottlenose whale on White Strand in Co Clare, a pilot whale on Fintra Beach in Co Donegal and a dolphin in Silverstrand, Co Galway - all found dead.

The latest find was a male sperm whale stranded on Omey Island in Co Galway, shed of its skin and with a broken lower jaw.

"Chances are it died offshore and got washed in with the wind," said Berrow.

The IWDG said such strandings were relatively common, although as reported on Afloat.ie earlier this year there has been growing concern over the rising number of dolphin deaths along the south coast in particular.

Published in Marine Wildlife

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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