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Displaying items by tag: west cork

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has warned the public to stay away from the final resting place of a humpback whale carcass that washed ashore in West Cork last month.

And according to the Southern Star, poor weather forecast for later this week has dampened hopes to potentially retrieve the marine wildlife remains for public display.

The carcass of the juvenile humpback whale is only the ninth recorded stranding of the species in Ireland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

First spotted in the waters of Roaringwater Bay, it eventually came to rest on the rocky shore at the foot of steep bank at Colla West near Schull, where IWDG volunteers have examined the remains over the weeks since.

Plans had been mooted to preserve the skeleton as a potential tourism draw for the area, the IWDG’s Pádraig Whooley said, though this would be “at great expense”.

“Although the plan was tentative, if successful, it would be a wonderful opportunity because the only other humpback whale on display is in the Natural History Museum, and that dates back to 1893,” he added.

The Southern Star has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

RTÉ News reports on West Cork farmers’ dismay at the decision to reduce the operating hours of the cable car link to Dursey Island where they graze their livestock.

The winter schedule, which sees the service shut down at 4.30pm daily, usually ends at the beginning of March but has been extended by Cork County Council amid the continued national Level 5 lockdown.

However, mainland farmers argue that the reduced service leaves them little time to manage their animals ahead of the calving and lambing season.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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A 19th-century house in West Cork that once comprised six coastguard cottages is now on the market for €1.95 million.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Rocket House — named for the lifesaving rocket launch that once stood on the grounds — sits in the picturesque environs of Castletownshend on ‘Ireland’s Riviera’.

And it comes at a bargain price for this class of property, as it previously sold to overseas buyers for more than €3.5 million.

That’s quite a deal for a house whose history includes rescues from the Lusitania among other notable disasters off a notorious stretch of coastline.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the home and its history HERE.

Published in Waterfront Property

A woman was rescued from a sea inlet in West Cork after a more than 90-minute ordeal yesterday evening, Thursday 25 February.

The casualty had got caught in the swelling tide just off the slipway at Dunworley Beach near Butlerstown before 5pm.

Fortunately her shouts for help were heard above the sinkhole leading to the inlet a local walker, who immediately called the rescue services.

Courtmacsherry RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat attended the scene alongside the Irish Coast Guard’s helicopter Rescue 115 from Shannon and the land-based Old Head/Seven Heads coastguard unit, who rigged up their ropes to climb down the sinkhole and reach the casualty.

The woman was then successfully raised up the sink hole cliff face to the care of a waiting HSE ambulance crew.

Courtmacsherry RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Vincent O'Donovan said: “It was great to see the total dedication of so many voluntary people from all the rescue services today and everyday in these difficult Covid times, who drop all and rush to the aid of others in difficulties.”

O'Donovan reiterated the importance of calling the rescue services at 112 or 999 quickly once any incident like this occurs, as they are always at the ready 24 hours a day — and every minute is so important to any person in difficulty.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Seabed survey operations in the Kinsale, Greensands, Ballycotton and Seven Heads gas fields off West Cork are set to commence from tomorrow, Sunday 6 December.

PSE Kinsale Energy will undertake the decommissioning works on and around the relevant subsea infrastructure over the next week, weather permitting, from the RV Celtic Voyager (Callsign EIQN).

The surveys will extend over an area of 2.5km radius (including the area required by the vessel to turn) from each well head, towing a submerged cable of up to 500m behind the vessel.

Full coordinates for these survey operations and a map of the area are included in Marine Notice No 56 of 2020, a PDF of which can be downloaded below.

Published in Marine Warning
Tagged under

You can take the boy out of West Cork, but you can't take West Cork - and its boats and sailing - out of the boy. That's especially so if he's one of the O'Keeffes, whose great names in sailing - such as Paddy O'Keeffe of Bantry and Maurice O'Keeffe of Schull - live on afloat through present generations, and in the restored and much-loved classics which they sailed in their day.

An intriguing example of the "Reach of the O'Keeffes" is Don O'Keeffe of the Schull branch. He may have fetched up in Wisconsin in the American Midwest, but by so doing and making a successful career there since 1987 in motor-yacht design, he reminds us that not only are the Great Lakes much more extensive than many of the salty seas that most of the rest of us so proudly sail, but his home port of Manitowoc has also been the setting – since 1968 – of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, an institution which has steadily developed and expanded to put anything comparable in Ireland very much in the shade.

The quality of the WMM's dynamic interaction with the local community and the world beyond is well illustrated in this museum-produced video of a project that Don O'Keeffe recently brought to completion:

It tells us a lot, and very eloquently too, for Don has a lovely way with words. But for those who seek even more background, his 25ft 6ins Heir Island Lobster Boat Fiona is based on the lines – taken off by the Traditional Boats of Ireland Project – of the 1893-built Hanorah, which was re-built in 2003 in Oldcourt as part of a course run by owner Nigel Towse of Sherkin Island, and master boatbuilder Liam Hegarty.

traditional lines of Hanorah have been replicated in Don O'Keeffe's new boat Fiona in WisconsinThe traditional lines of Hanorah have been replicated in Don O'Keeffe's new boat Fiona in Wisconsin. Plans: Traditional Boats of Ireland

Hanorah (left) and new-build sister-ship Saoirse Muirreann (Cormac Levis) in perfect summer sailing conditionsHanorah (left) and new-build sister-ship Saoirse Muirreann (Cormac Levis) in perfect summer sailing conditions off Sherkin Island. Photo: Robby Murphy

In recent years we've had two links to Don O'Keeffe, as this most recent Wisconsin project came to us through Simon O'Keeffe of Schull, Don's nephew, who currently has a project under way with Tiernan Roe of Ballydehob to restore the famous gaff cutter Lady Min, which Simon's great grandfather Maurice O'Keeffe designed and built at Schull in 1902. 

The Lady Min – currently under restoration with Tiernan Roe of Ballydehob The Lady Min – currently under restoration with Tiernan Roe of Ballydehob – was designed and built by Maurice O'Keeffe of Schull in 1902.

But while Maurice O'Keeffe is now best known for his personal creation of the Lady Min 118 years ago, across the hills in Bantry Paddy O'Keeffe was linked to several notable boats, most notably the Albert Strange-designed yawl Sheila II which later was sailed to New Zealand in the 1950s, the handsome Robert Clark-designed 16-tonner John Dory, and designer-builder John B Kearney's own pet boat, the 1925-built 38ft yawl Mavis, which went to America in 1956.

We have of course been following the saga of the restoration of Mavis in Camden, Maine by Ron Hawkins. But while she finally sailed again in September of this year, when she was launched for the first time in her restored form back in 2015, as Ron Hawkins shepherded her down the harbour with a little outboard-driven tender alongside, at the helm of Mavis was Don O'Keeffe no less, keeping in touch with the boats of his youth and the special sailing to be found in West Cork.

The newly-restored John B Kearney 1925 yawl MavisThe newly-restored John B Kearney 1925 yawl Mavis – owned for some years by Paddy O'Keeffe of Bantry – is shepherd to her mooring in Camden, Maine by restorer Ron Hawkins, with Don O'Keeffe on the tiller.

Published in Historic Boats

The Irish Coast Guard has revealed further details over an incident involving the activation of an emergency positioning beacon off West Cork last month.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Baltimore RNLI was called out to search or the EPIRB which activated two nautical miles west of the Calf Islands on the afternoon of Wednesday 19 August.

Despite an extensive operation which also involved Schull Coast Guard, a coastguard helicopter and the Naval Service vessel LÉ Samuel Beckett, nothing was found and the search was stood down by early evening.

‘…it is highly unusual to have detections of the type that was encountered on 19 August’

In response to further enquiries from Afloat.ie, the Irish Coast Guard said the EPIRB in question, which was last detected at Coosnagulling on the southwest of Long Island, “did not appear to be fully functional and the homing signal was not active.

“It was not registered in Ireland and registration details were not available. It was not of Irish origin.”

Confirming that the search was terminated with “no further action being deemed necessary”, the IRCG added: “Accidental activations of EPIRBs are not unusual but it is highly unusual to have detections of the type that was encountered on 19 August.

“Every effort was made to locate the device both inland and on the coast but as outlined above, the search proved to be unsuccessful given the operational gaps in the information that was available.”

Published in Water Safety

The West Cork harbour of Crookhaven took a hammering earlier this week in Storm Francis with at least one sailing boat lost from its mooring on Tuesday.

Footage online shows the village pontoon swaying in the Force 11 gusts (see vid via Facebook below) as Cork County battled with a Status Yellow Weather Alert.

As Afloat previously reported, Baltimore's all-weather lifeboat was called to two yachts in difficulty in Crookhaven. The two vessels, one with four onboard and the other with two, were dragging their moorings in the strong Force 9 winds, gusting up to Force 11, and rough sea conditions with a five-metre swell.

It's not the only West Cork Harbour affected either in this month's storms. More boats were damaged at nearby Baltimore.

In a tough month for Cork sailing, as Tom MacSweeney reports, the new Cove Sailing Club marina in Cork Harbour was damaged in the earlier Storm Ellen.

Published in News Update
Tagged under

Historial Castle Island in Roaringwater Bay off the coast of Schull, West Cork is on the market for offers in excess of €1m.

The island is located immediately east of the entrance to Schull Harbour and south-west of Horse Island. It is readily accessed from either Schull Harbour or Rossbrin Cove.

It is one of very few privately owned islands in the area.

The island, which extends to approximately 123.85 acres or c. 50.12 hectares, was home to a small community of approximately fifteen families who were last resident on the Island up to the year 1870.

A substantial Pier and Slipway that offers very considerable shelter and access to the island in most weather conditions at all tidal stagesA substantial Pier and Slipway that offers very considerable shelter and access to the island in most weather conditions at all tidal stages

According to the auctioneer Dominic Daly, the ruins of the original three clusters of houses which made up the community are situated in three distinct locations the first at the pier where the original O’Mahony Castle stands and the other two at each end of the island. Lazy beds can be detected near one of the clusters of houses which look out across Roaringwater Bay and onward to Fastnet lighthouse a naturally beautiful landscape. Currently, the island is in use for agricultural purposes. Tillage was undertaken there in the past. It is now used for grazing.

There is a substantial Pier and Slipway that offers very considerable shelter and access to the island in most weather conditions at all tidal stages. A number of adjoining islands in Roaringwater Bay are inhabited – some with small communities (Long Island, Heir Island, Sherkin Island, Cape Clear Island) and others by single families (West Skeam Island, Horse Island).

Castle Island, Roaringwater BayCastle Island, Roaringwater Bay

Castle Island is home to one of a number of ruined O’Mahony Castles – one of a string along the coastline, all within sight of each other and sited strategically to control the waters of Roaringwater Bay and their abundant resources. The O’Mahony’s became extremely wealthy in their day, charging for fishing and fish processing facilities and for supplies and fresh water. They also formed strong alliances with the Spanish and French fishing fleet and any visitors who worked these waters an alliance that came to the attention of the English crown, which lead to the O’Mahony’s demise in the area.

It is a great opportunity for anyone interested in all water sports particularly sailing and fishing. It also benefits from the warm Gulf Stream and mild south westerly winds. The island can offer total solitude with substantial scope to develop it’s considerable amenities. There are extensive amenities in the area with multiple Harbours in Schull and Baltimore and also good shelter in Rossbin & Crookhaven as well as Cape Clear. In the far distance, the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse can be seen.

West Cork is a predominantly tourist area. It has rugged peninsulas, sandy beaches and bustling market towns. Future use of the island could be for private occupancy or tourism-related development or outdoor pursuits and/or agricultural use.

More details from auctioneer Dominic Daly here

Published in Waterfront Property
Tagged under

The first race of the West Cork sailing season took place on Saturday in murky conditions with intermittent foggy spells and light rain making it a tough return to sailing for the Schull harbour sailing fleet.

The seven yachts had a tough double beat up Long Island Sound in a freshening southwest wind. In a time of necessary adherence to social distancing, the club ran a ferry service limiting the transfer of each crew as a single pod.

The seven boat fleet had a tough windward leg up Long Island SoundThe seven boat fleet had tough windward legs up Long Island Sound

The traditional apres sail prize presentation is currently cancelled with Tony O Brien's Excelsior on his first outing with the club receiving his victory news online.

The Schull Harbour Race Committee for the first race of the 2020 seasonPreparing to go afloat at Schull Harbour for the first race of the 2020 season

Published in Racing
Tagged under
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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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