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Displaying items by tag: naval service

Ireland has a “vested interest” in joining fellow EU nations and shoring up support to combat the transatlantic drug trade in West Africa.

That’s the message from the head of the EU’s anti-smuggling agency MAOC, who has been outspoken about drug cartels’ use of ‘narco-subs’ to skirt under the gaze of traditional patrol efforts.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Michael O’Sullivan said the discovery of these semi-submersible vessels points to an even greater security threat to the world.

More recently, an article co-authored by O’Sullivan and Naval Service commander Cathal Power has been published in the 2020 Defence Forces Review which outlines the dangers involved, and the outsized burden placed on less wealthy African nations to deal with these threats.

As The Irish Times reports, it calls for Ireland to step up alongside other European nations and commit resources to bolster maritime policing efforts in Cape Verde — the West African islands at one end of the nightly trafficked shipping route known as Highway 10.

“Now is the time for Ireland to join our European partner nations in a more overt, forward presence in the southern part of the North Atlantic,” they write. “The removal of drugs upstream, in bulk, would have an immensely positive impact on European and Irish society.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy

The Naval Service is carrying out an internal investigation into the fire on board the LÉ Niamh moored alongside Cork Dockyard at Rushbrooke in Cork Harbour which occurred on Saturday.

As Afloat reported earlier, Fire service Units from Cobh, Midleton, and Cork City were called.

Defence Forces Press Office said no injuries to naval service personnel or Cork Dockyard staff.

"While a full investigation into the cause of the fire will be conducted, it is thought to have started in a stores compartment adjacent to where cutting work was being carried out by engineers," the spokesperson said."The ships Duty Watch responded to the alarm and carried out firefighting to contain the fire and prevent any spread.

Published in Navy
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Independent.ie reports that a fire which broke out on a Naval Service vessel in Cork Harbour has been brought under control — but the scale of the damage could be significant.

It’s understood that the accidental blaze started in a storage compartment of the patrol vessel LÉ Niamh, which is moored alongside Cork Dockyard at Rushbrooke, shortly before lunchtime today, Saturday 3 October.

Fire brigade units from Cork city and county attended the incident, which was also handed by Navy firefighters. No injuries have been reported.

Published in Cork Harbour
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A French-registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service off the south-west coast.

The LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63) detained the vessel for alleged breaches of fishing regulations after a boarding inspection approximately 11 nautical miles south-west of the Blasket Islands.

The vessel is being escorted to Dingle, Co Kerry, where it will be handed over the Garda, the Defence Forces press office said.

This is the eleventh vessel detained by the Naval Service in 2020.

Published in Fishing
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Roberta O’Brien was one of the first women to enter the Naval Service when she joined as a cadet in 1995.

Then in 2008 she broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first female captain of a navy patrol vessel, the LÉ Aisling.

Now the ceiling is shattered even further as the 25-year veteran has made history as the Naval Service’s first woman to attain the rank of commander, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The move comes just weeks after Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton became the first woman to join the ranks of the Naval Service’s elite diving unit, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

And the now Commander O’Brien hopes that her promotion will be a signal that a career at the highest ranks of the Naval Service is achievable to women.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy
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Ryan Tubridy was a guest of the Irish Naval Service yesterday having taken a private tour and coastal trip onboard LÉ Ciara from Dun Laoghaire Harbour into Dublin Bay before the onset of Storm Ellen, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The broadcaster of the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTE Radio 1, spoke on his programme this morning following his naval tour-trip, citing a limited knowledge of nautical terms. This was clearly demonstrated when boarding LÉ Ciara in Dun Laoghaire Harbour where he mentioned 'boat' but the crew corrected him with a reply of 'ship'.

Despite the introductory slip-up, Ryan was clearly impressed of the work involved in the Naval Service as crew of the LÉ Ciara gave him an insightful tour. This included the bridge, mess-room and the galley, where the menu is constantly changing, given the variety is all too important to keep a crew of 39 (including 5 Officers) content while working at sea.

Among the equipment highlighted on the bridge, was the satelitte tracking of ships represented by 'lights' as Tubridy refered to, however the distinct absence of such notably off the south-west coast was due to Storm Ellen, which kept fishing vessels decidely away from such dangerous seas.

It was during yesterday morning that Afloat routinely tracked online shipping, among them LÉ Ciara to Dun Laoghaire Harbour and by concidence this took place shortly before listening to the Tubridy Show discussing the pending invite from the Naval Service.

Prior to this, LÉ Ciara had sailed from Cork Harbour to Dun Laoghaire Harbour where the radio presenter (to grace TV screens in September with RTE's flagship 'Late Late Show') was taken out on a short coastal trip into Dublin Bay. This included a transit through Dalkey Sound which took place before noon which then led the Coastal Patrol Vessel (CPV) return to Dun Laoghaire Harbour having rounded Dalkey Island.

It was in these same waters where Afloat reported last week, a rockfall incident within Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey which forced the temporary closure of the passenger ferryboat service to the island 300m offshore. This remains so also given the tail end of Storm Ellen.

As for LÉ Ciara, the sleek CPV has been in the Naval Service for more than 30 years, following an initial career albeit brief of just 4 years with the UK Royal Navy's Hong Kong Patrol Squadron before its Irish role where the ship was not the only ship in Dun Laoghaire Harbour yesterday as outlined below.

Firstly though was the excursion vessel, St. Bridget of Dublin Bay Cruises that was berthed ahead of LÉ Ciara while routinely alongside St. Michael's Pier, though given the increasingly inclement weather not surprisingly no cruises took place among them around Dalkey Island. The bad weather led St. Bridget yesterday afternoon make a 'repositioning' short passage across Dublin Bay to take a berth in the capital port next to the tug, Giano as Afloat has also reported.

While back in Dun Laoghaire Harbour the homeport of ILV Granuaile which berthed at Carlisle Pier and where nearby the Commissioners of Irish Lights operate the tender from their headquarters located beside the port's marina. Asides leisure craft and yachts is the former Dutch barge Stella at the 'Coal' Harbour and a former UK based Thames lighter tug, Swiftstone which is undergoing restoration as a 'heritage' tug.

The UK connection continues as L.É. Ciara was formerly a Royal Navy vessel HMS Swallow stationed in the waters of Hong Kong as part of a coastal patrol squadron based at the former colony. The 62m vessel which has a shallow draft of 2.7m, was acquired by the Irish Government in 1988 and the CPV celebrated more than three decades in service as Afloat previously highlighted in recent years.

L.É. Ciara's primary armament consists of a 76mm OTO Melara compact gun mounted at the fo'c'sle near the bow in addition a Canon Radamec Fire Control System. As for service speed is given as 25 knots but can be more.

Following the media-naval rendez-vous, Afloat observed the L.É. Ciara re-enter Dublin Bay yesterday as the CPV at almost 14.15 was offshore of The Muglins where a lightbeacon is located on the rocky islet to the east of Dalkey Island.  For more on local coastal matters, see: 'Maritime' Dalkey series (2011-2016) published in the Dalkey Community Council Newsletters.

According to online tracking, L.É. Ciara headed back to its homeport of Cork Harbour as Storm Ellen progressed, though the CPV arrived just before 2300hrs last night where the small ship remains at anchorage.

Published in Navy

A gunnery officer from Donegal has become the first female diver in the history of Ireland’s Naval Service, as RTÉ News reports.

Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton received her diving log book along with two other newly qualified divers in a ceremony at Haulbowline yesterday, Friday 14 August.

It came after all three had graduated from an 11-week course noted for its difficulty and high attrition rate — and now they will become part of the Naval Service’s elite diving service.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving
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A German-registered Spanish fishing vessel detained last week by the Naval Service near Rockall had been at the centre of an alleged confrontation off the Scottish coast last month.

As The Irish Examiner reports, the 29-metre Pesorsa Dos was detained by Irish navy patrol ship LÉ William Butler Yeats some 250 miles off Malin Head, Co Donegal for “alleged infringements of EU fishing regulations in Irish waters” on July 16th.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has highlighted the Irish detention, noting the British authorities said they could not take any action over an incident involving the same Spanish vessel off Scotland.

However, defence force sources have said the Irish detention was for a separate alleged infringement.

Video footage of the gill netter, from the Spanish port of La Coruna, filmed on June 11th, showed it allegedly trying to foul the propeller of a Scottish fishing vessel, Alison Kay, some 30 miles west of the Shetland islands.

The British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was urged to investigate the incident, which Scottish skippers claimed to be the latest in a series of such confrontations over fishing grounds.

However, the MCA said it had no jurisdiction to investigate it as it was outside the 12-mile jurisdictional limit in which it could take action against foreign-flagged vessels.

It said its maritime investigations team had written to the German maritime administration “to raise its concerns”, as it was the responsibility of the flag state.

The German federal police department for maritime security has been reported as stating there is “no suspicion of an offence under German law”.

It is understood the vessel was gillnetting near Rockall, and had ten tonnes of monkfish on board when it was boarded and detained by the LÉ William Butler Yeats.

The vessel was escorted to Killybegs, Co Donegal and handed over to the Garda and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA).

Mr Carmichael said the fact that “the Irish authorities were able to detain the Pesorsa Dos entirely undermines the argument of the UK and German authorities that there was nothing to be done about its dangerous activities”.

He told the MCA in a letter that the actions of Spanish fishermen had “caused a great deal of anger and frustration for trawlermen in my constituency and across the north of Scotland in recent years”, due to both “aggressive acts such as those outlined, and the wider use of gill-nets which can cover large areas and thus prevent other fishermen from working in those areas”.

The SFPA said that a 24-hour detention order for the vessel was granted on July 21st at Carrick-on-Shannon district court in Co Leitrim. It said it could not comment further as the case was before the courts. It was the Naval Service’s seventh detention at sea this year.

Read more in The Irish Examiner here

Published in Navy
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The Naval Service patrol ship LÉ James Joyce prepared to depart Galway port at the weekend, as COVID-19 virus test centres in the west were scaled down.

The LE James Joyce berthed in Galway on April 8th, replacing the LÉ William Butler Yeats which set up the first field hospital in Galway for the Health Service Executive last month (march).

It is understood the test facilities at Galway’s dockside were used minimally over the ten days, and the LÉ James Joyce was informed at the weekend that its services were no longer required.

Two other patrol ships are still providing assistance to the HSE – the LÉ Niamh on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin, and the LÉ Eithne on Albert Quay in Cork.

Testing is not taking place at the LÉ Eithne, but the ship’s crew has been assisting with storage of personal protection equipment and decanting hand sanitisers.

.Galway had 273 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus as of yesterday, an increase of seven over a 24-hour report period.

Both Galway and Mayo are said to be at the lower end of the scale of confirmed cases of the virus.

The HSE has said it is up to date on COVID-19 test referrals, with waiting time for an appointment at under 24 hours.

Paying tribute to all staff involved, it said that community test centres could be stepped up again if required.

Published in Galway Harbour

Crew of the LÉ Eithne, which EchoLive.ie reported earlier today, have been tasked to deliver personal protective equipment to HSE locations across Cork city.

The Naval Service vessel is docked in Cork city since March 20, awaiting a tasking from the HSE as part of the Covid-19 operation.

Since Tuesday, the vessel’s crew has been delivering PPE and alcohol-based handrub to numerous locations.

A spokesman for the Defence Forces said the locations change every day.

He also said it is unlikely that the LÉ Eithne will be used as a test centre in the immediate future. 

The LÉ Samuel Beckett (Afloat adds recently taken over by LÉ Niamh) in Dublin and LÉ William Butler Yeats in Galway are already being used as test centres. (Albeit Afloat adds using field tents set up on quaysides)  

Two weeks ago, the Defence Forces notified the Navy to place vessels in Cork, Dublin, and Galway for a possible tasking by the HSE.

For more on the story click here. 

Afloat previously stated incorrectly that LÉ Eithne is been used as a test centre. 

This afternoon Afloat confirmed with the Naval Service which said that LÉ Eithne remains alongside Cork City as part of the Defence Force’s efforts to generate more capacity to help the HSE to fight Covid-19. To date the vessel has not received any tasking relating to a testing centre. 

Published in News Update
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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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