Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Strangford Lough

Last Saturday (18th), thirty turned out in six classes at Killyleagh Yacht Club on the western shore of Strangford Lough for the Keelboat event, which incorporates the Crooks Cup and Westward Trophy.

A steady Northerly breeze and sunshine made for ideal conditions, and Sharon Bolton was the Race Officer.

The first class away was the over-eager six-strong YTC 1, resulting in an individual recall with a few boats having to dip the line. Mike Spence’s A35 Le Basceleur from the host club dominated the racing, taking the win, closely followed by Peter Holden’s J109, Going to Red and visitor Ryan Wilson from Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough and Quoile YC taking third in his MAT 1010 Elixir. YTC 1 also included a good showing from the Impalas, with six out. This event was the last weekend before the Impala and Sonata European Championships at the neighbouring East Down Yacht Club next weekend.

After a tricky beat to Mark 9 at Taggart Island in the second start, YTC1RS got underway, and it was Stevie Andrews in the Hanse 375 Dark and Scary taking a well-deserved bullet, followed by the host club Commodore Gary Shields in second and Kyle Bolton’s Kilcuan in third. Scott Hagan took a well-deserved first in his Albin Express, Midnight Express, followed by Don Bridges second in the Hunter Delta Mississippi and George Cromie taking a solid third in his Achilles 24 Widgeon.

Mike Spence’s A35 Le Basceleur was the winner of YTC1 at the Killyleagh Open Event on strangfron Lough Photo: Tommy BrownMike Spence’s A35 Le Basceleur was the winner of YTC1 at the Killyleagh Open Event on strangfron Lough Photo: Tommy Brown

YTC2RS had a disappointing turnout of only two entries. Paddy Graham’s Intro 22 Screwball and Adam Morrison's Achilles 24 Kili were the only two entries. Adam Morrison took the win, with Screwball in second.

The last start in the sequence saw the Squibs and Flying Fifteens. In the Squibs, local Simon Watson in Volante took the lead over his clubmate Robert Marshall and took first place. The Fifteens were strongly supported, and Killyleagh Yacht Club wish the fleet all the best ahead of their Northern Championships at that Club in June and the British Championships at Strangford Lough YC nearby, also in June. First overall was the McCarthy/Rodgers duo from Portaferry, SC, and the runner-up was Brian Bailie in Flapping Eagle from the club opposite the Narrows, Strangford, SC.

Race 2 got underway with a steady Northerly breeze, and it was again Mike Spence dominating the start on starboard in YTC 1, soon tacking onto port and crossing the whole fleet to win the second race and win overall. Stuart Cranston’s Melges 24 was second, and the consistent Ryan Wilson was third in Elixir. YTC1RS saw the consistent Stevie Andrews take the race win and overall winner of YTC1RS. It was the local boats, Trevor Hooks Nik Nak, a Bavaria 38 in second and Gary Shields Yabadabadoo (Sigma 33) in third.

Scott Hagan dominated the start of YTC 2 in his Albin Express, Midnight Express, to take another bullet and win that class overall, with George Cromie runner-up in the Hunter Delta Widgeon. In YTC2RS, Adam Morrison took another first, with Paddy Graham in second overall.

The Squib results remained unchanged, with Simon Watsons Volante being first overall and Robert Marshall second in Slipstream.

The Crooks Cups was awarded to Stevie Andrews’ Dark and Scary for first place in YTC1RS, and the Westward trophy went to Simon Watson for the first Squib.

Portaferry RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched on Monday evening to assist a 6-meter fishing vessel which had suffered engine failure close to the Bar Buoy at the entrance into Strangford Lough.

Belfast Coastguard requested the launch of the lifeboat at 6.11 pm, and the lifeboat, with helm Russel McGovern and volunteer crew members Scott Blackwood, Ros Watret, and George Toma onboard, launched at 6.15 pm and immediately made its way to the scene.

According to the volunteer crew, the weather conditions at the time were cloudy but fair, choppy, with a force 4 light breeze from the north. Once on scene, the crew observed the single member of crew to be safe and well.

An assessment of the situation showed that the vessel was unable to continue under its power, so a decision was made to establish a tow. The lifeboat towed the fishing vessel back to the safety of Cook Street Quay.

The lifeboat departed the scene at 7:25 p.m. and was back in the station at 7:30 p.m. Russell McGovern, Portaferry RNLI volunteer lifeboat helm, said, "We would commend the crew onboard the fishing vessel for having a means of calling for help and for raising the alarm when the engine failed."

"We would remind all boat owners to check their vessel's engine to ensure they are ready for summer. Always check the weather and tides before venturing out. Always wear a lifejacket or suitable personal flotation device for your activity and always carry a means of calling for help. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard," he added.

The incident highlights the importance of being prepared while venturing into the sea, and the tireless work of the RNLI volunteers who are always ready to assist those in need.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Plans to increase fares for passengers on the Strangford Ferry by as much as 32 per cent have provoked a strong reaction, as Belfast Live reports.

The RORO ferry operated by Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure provides a crucial link across the Strangford Narrows between the village of Strangford and the town of Portaferry in Co Down.

But Stormont plans to raise fares across single and multi-journey tickets could see regular users of the ferry link paying an extra £400 a year.

The move has prompted a letter of objection from Ards and North Down Borough Council, with the increase described as “shocking” by one councillor.

Another councillor — the SDLP’s Joe Boyle, who forwarded the motion — argues that any price rise should be based on the prevailing rate of inflation, which in the UK is 3.9 per cent.

“Whilst it is accepted there has not been an increase in some years, for many of those years it has been seen as quite expensive. But a 30 to 32 percent increase, while many are still finding things difficult, is unacceptable,” Boyle says.

Belfast Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ferry

Portaferry RNLI came to the aid of two people on Saturday evening (21 October) after they got cut off by the tide at Rough Island at the northern end of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 5.25pm at the request of Belfast Coastguard.

Helmed by Dave Fisher and with crew members Molly Crowe, Rosslyn Watret and George Toma onboard, the lifeboat launched immediately and made its way to the scene at Rough Island, which has a causeway that covers a period of 2-3 hours before high tide.

Weather conditions at the time were good with a Force 3-4 wind and a slight sea state.

Once on scene, the crew observed that the man and woman were both safe and well before taking them onboard the lifeboat and bringing them safely back to shore.

Speaking following the call-out, Heather Kennedy, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “We were delighted to be able to assist both people safely back to shore.

“We would remind anyone planning a walk to always check weather and tide time signage before venturing out as it can be easy to get caught out by the incoming tide at high water.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Any sailing competition for young people that began in 2008 and is still going strong must have an attractive format. The Strangford Lough Youth Series is still drawing sizeable turnouts, and maybe it’s because the timing, on the day after, and at the location of five of the Lough Regattas, suits well.

This is a club team race series organised by a cooperative of clubs on the lough and is designed to encourage young people to progress into racing. The SLYS allows junior sailors to develop their sailing and racing skills in a competitive but fun environment.

This season, the winning club was the Whiterock-based Strangford Lough YC. Killyleagh, Quoile, East Down and Strangford were all involved.

Toppers at Strangford Sailing Club at the Strangford Lough Youth SeriesToppers at Strangford Sailing Club at the Strangford Lough Youth Series

The initiative for this series came from Davy Young from Killyleagh YC and Roger Chamberlain from SLYC. Gerry Reilly and Jane McMeekin, who had coached Strangford Sailing Club youngsters for years, got involved later. They realised that after initial instruction and Championship racing, there was nothing much in between, and the Lough series adequately filled that gap.

 A dinghy capsize during the Strangford Lough Youth Series  A dinghy capsize during the Strangford Lough Youth Series 

Over 50 young people between 8 and 18 have taken part over the years, and many have progressed to National and International competitions, and indeed, their children are now sailing. This season, over 20 took part in three classes of dinghies – Lasers, Fevas and Toppers.

The format also acts as informal training, and although scoring isn’t easy, a system was satisfactorily devised.

Strangford Lough Youth SeriesStrangford Lough Youth Series

Published in Youth Sailing

No sooner than the 40 Wayfarer dinghies left East Down Yacht Club last weekend after their successful International rally, it’s the turn of bigger boats to step up for a Ladies’ Cruise in Company.

On Sunday 25th June, the club, which is situated in a very sheltered passage inside Island Taggart on the west of Strangford Lough, will organise a fun day on the water to give the lady members experience of sailing big boats for all levels, from beginners up to racers.

Eight cruisers varying in size from 26 to 40 footers will be used, and the ladies will be sailing the boats themselves, taking turns to helm, crew and use the radio, and the owners will be on board to advise. It is a great opportunity for our new lady members to meet others: it is not a training day, just a fun experience, and there will be a RIB with the boats.

Margie Crawford, who is organising this event, says she hopes that this might be an annual event for the benefit of our ladies.

For more detail, see East Down Yacht Club and the flyer below

EDYC Ladies’ Cruise in CompanyEDYC Ladies’ Cruise in Company flyer

Published in Women in Sailing

Last week, the International Wayfarer gathering in Strangford Lough attracted over 40 visitors from as far away as the USA and from mainland Europe. The event was hosted by East Down Yacht Club on the west side of the Lough.

Club members lent boats to those flying in from overseas, which is a traditional feature of the International Rally. Mixing and sailing with Wayfarer enthusiasts from different countries and with different experiences keeps people coming back year after year and is a great learning experience.

The Wayfarers approaching the lightship at Ballydorn, home of Down Cruising ClubThe Wayfarers approaching the lightship at Ballydorn, home of Down Cruising Club

The kind sunny weather meant the fleet could explore much of the Lough though there was considerable time spent waiting for the wind to fill in. The Lough, which is the largest sea inlet in the British Isles, empties 350 million cubic meters of water through a five-mile-long channel, the Narrows, into the Irish Sea and on the rising tide repeats the process. Thus the tidal flow can reach eight knots in the fast stretches and lower, though noticeable speeds elsewhere. This made for an interesting experience for many of the crews.

The week began with a talk by Ralph Roberts, the Wayfarer International Committee Secretary, who gave a talk 'Nine Lives of a Wayfarer Cruiser' on his lifetime's cruising experiences and the lessons learned. The Wayfarer dinghy is particularly suitable for cruising and family sailing as well as for open sea voyages in the hands of those with suitable experience, as Ralph Roberts demonstrated in having crossed the English Channel six times and sailing to Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Some of the numerous islands in the Lough were ideal spots for picnics and after waiting for the wind on Monday last, the fleet sailed inside Island Taggart north to Long Sheelagh island, then on to the west side of Pawle Island for a lunch stop. Lots of light wind tactics were seen as the fleet slowly returned to EDYC, rounding Don O’Neill island.

On Tuesday on a break from sailing many if the group climbed Slieve Binnian or visited the easier option of the trail to the Blue Lough for their first experience of the Mountains of Mourne in the South of County Down.

Other outings in the exploration of the Lough included a sail south past Killyleagh to land on Gore's Island for lunch, during which time the new Wayfarer Weekender dinghy was demonstrated. The trip back was a long reach.

Ringhaddy Sound on Strangfrod lough Photo: Michael HarpurRinghaddy Sound on Strangfrod lough Photo: Michael Harpur

The ‘adventure’ north through Ringhaddy Sound, home of the Ringhaddy Cruising Club, took the fleet past the famous Blue Cabin on Islandmore. The Cabin was acquired in 1969 by the late Brian Faulkner, the last Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and it served as a haven for him and his family during the tumultuous years which followed. The sight of 30 Wayfarer dinghies threading through the moored boats was great. After rounding Rainey Island and passing the lightship, the home of the Down Cruising Club, before the tide was too low, there was a glorious return leg passing Darragh and Castle Islands.

The change in the weather on the last day to a southeasterly Force 3 to 4, which funnelled up the Narrows, made for a sparkling beat across the lough to the eastern shore at Ardkeen. Ardkeen includes a fine example of a Bronze Age double-ditch hill fort, which was subsequently developed by John de Courcy as a principal Norman castle. The 30 Wayfarers beating into the narrowing Dorn at Ardkeen was a fine sight that seemed to bring out some racing tendencies! There are other places called Dorn in Strangford Lough; the word is from the Gaelic for a narrow channel.

Awards to Ralph Roberts (L) and John Miller (EDYC) and lead organiser Monica Schaefer, the UKWA Irish RepresentativeAwards to Ralph Roberts (L) and John Miller (EDYC) and lead organiser Monica Schaefer, the UKWA Irish Representative

The Rally concluded with a farewell meal at which a special award was made to Ralph Roberts, the International Rallies' originator. He has attended all but a couple of the 30 held.

At the event were representatives from sister associations of the UKWA (UK Wayfarer Assoc): NEDWA (Netherlands Wayfarer Assoc), and North American Wayfarer Assoc. The Chair of UKWA, John Mellor, also visited as did the Chair of NEDWA, Joke Peers. During the week, it was learned that the RYA has awarded John Mellor a Lifetime Commitment Award.

Published in Wayfarer
Tagged under

Hot on the heels of the very successful Leisure 17 50th Anniversary event at East Down Yacht Club on Strangford Lough, a fleet of 12 Impalas and Sonatas gathered for a two-day Open Event last weekend (27th/28th May.

The club lies on the western shore of Strangford Lough.

Imp, owned by Grant McCullough, Philp McIlvenna and David Maxwell, won the Impala eight strong event with two firsts and a fifth.

Ian Smyth’s Sonata, MouseMary Martin’s Sonata, Mouse

In the Sonatas, the top boat was Mary Martin’s Mouse posting three firsts and a second from the five races.

The first four races were windward/leeward, and the final race was around the fixed Strangford Lough racing marks.

Commodore Keith Carr was pleased with how the event went. “A very successful event; a wind shift on the first day added fun to it. Breezy enough on the second day".

Leisure 17s form a sizeable fleet at East Down Yacht Club, which is tucked away on a nine-acre site on the western shore of Strangford Lough, with an anchorage in Holm Bay between Island Taggart and the coast. It is reached by a laneway off the Killinchy to Killyleagh Road.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Leisure 17s at East Down, with the first being introduced in 1973 via the then Ireland distributor for Leisure 17s, North Down Marine, Dundonald, County Down.

Last year was the 40th anniversary of the Leisure Owners Association, for which there were multiple local events across the UK and Ireland. EDYC hosted a 40th anniversary day sail in August last year, followed by a BBQ at the club.

East Down has enjoyed much L17 activity over the last half century, with at times a 30-strong fleet in a very active club and Strangford Lough Regatta Conference racing scene. Since 2019 EDYC has seen a resurgence in numbers of Leisure boats, growing from 15 in 2019 and now numbering 25 plus two Leisure 20s.

Leisure 17 crews raft up for lunch at East Down Yacht Club on Strangford LoughLeisure 17 crews raft up for lunch at East Down Yacht Club on Strangford Lough

The fleet began the anniversary year with the first of the cruising activities on Sunday, 7th May. It was a glorious start to the season on Strangford Lough, with blue skies and a steady breeze in the late teens. Five of the 25-strong fleet embarked upon the 15-mile round trip from their anchorage in Holm Bay to Whiterock farther north.

In the company of two like-minded Drascombes on a flooding tide with a southerly wind, they headed north through the main body of Strangford at a comfortable 7 knots SOG. Eddie McWatters’ Bumblebee sailed faster as he deployed her spinnaker.

All seven boats made for the windward north shore of Conly Island near Strangford Lough Yacht Club dropped anchor and rafted up to enjoy refreshments and banter. Then it was home through Ringhaddy Sound, in the face of a stiffening breeze.

Further cruising dates are 1st July, 6th August, 9th and 23rd September, alongside Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon Club racing. These cruises will be mostly inside Strangford Lough with one through the Strangford Narrows out of the Lough to Ardglass Marina on the southern County Down coast.

The 50th year of activities will be celebrated with a gathering at the club.

Class Secretary, Stephen Perry said, “To encourage participation from farther afield would be wonderful. It is understood, although not verified, that at East Down, we are the largest fleet of Leisure 17s in the UK and Ireland. There are many more L17s in England, with a concentration on the East Coast, but no one club on record has the numbers of EDYC”.

Strangford Lough in East County Down is the largest sea lough in the British Isles, and last week the lough's bottlenose dolphins were joined by a Scottish visitor called Squiggle, previously known as Tyler from Moray Firth.

The dolphin with the white marking on its fin is Squiggle. It was last seen at Port Appin north of the Lynn of Lorne in Western Scotland on January 23rd.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group in Northern Ireland say that this information shows the power of Citizen Science recordings of coastal bottlenose dolphins to help track individual animals around the UK and Irish coasts. Citizen science is scientific research conducted with participation from the public.

Both top marine predators, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises, are highly protected in Northern Ireland, so it is important not to approach these animals on the water or try to interfere with their natural behaviour.

More information here

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under
Page 1 of 12

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