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Displaying items by tag: Lough Derg

Ten Topper sailors from five clubs in Northern Ireland recently made the long journey to Dromineer in County Tipperary for the Topper Winter Championships at Lough Derg Yacht Club. They all competed in the 5.3 fleets.

Three Belfast Lough competitors fared very well. First overall and first Youth Male in that 53-strong fleet was Luke Simpson from County Antrim Yacht Club, who counted two first places in four races. Emily McAfee from Ballyholme was second overall, 1st Female and 1st Junior Female with a win in the second race and in 6th slot and taking 2nd Junior Male was Tom Driscoll from Royal North of Ireland YC. Another Ballyholme girl, Isabel Nixon, was 8th overall and 2nd Youth Female.

Conditions were challenging on both days, with strong North Westerlies gusting up to 24 knots on Saturday, and in contrast, Day 2 saw lighter shifty breezes.

Tom Driscoll with Declan Mulcahy, Commodore LDYCTom Driscoll with Declan Mulcahy, Commodore LDYC

Isabel Nixon with Declan Mulcahy, LDYC Commodore Isabel Nixon with Declan Mulcahy, LDYC Commodore 

 Maurice Collins (left), ITCA RCYC organiser of the Topper Worlds present Luke Simpson with the prize for First overall and First Youth Maurice Collins (left), ITCA RCYC organiser of the Topper Worlds.present Luke Simpson with the prize for First overall and First Youth

Emily McAfee with Maurice Collins, ITCA and RCYC Topper Worlds organiserEmily McAfee with Maurice Collins, ITCA and RCYC Topper Worlds organiser

The other Northern Ireland competitors were Hugo Boyd, Iseult Speirs, Charlotte Cairns and Sophie Cairns from Ballyholme; Rose Kelly East Down YC and Ronan Hodge from Strangford SC.

Rear Commodore Sailing, Fergal Keating, was complimentary about the competitors; “Wonderful set of kids, when you consider the cold freshwater conditions in the rain and blustery winds. How many adults would tolerate those conditions?”

Published in Topper
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Forty people were rescued after a passenger vessel ran aground in Lough Derg on Saturday afternoon (18 March).

Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was dispatched to the scene where the 40ft passenger vessel was aground on a rocky shoal off Bonaveen Point. Killaloe Coast Guard were also called out to the incident.

Using local knowledge and electronic navigation tools on board, the lifeboat navigated around two shallow shoals to make a safe approach to the stern of the casualty vessel.

It was confirmed that the passenger boat was not taking on any water but there was a significant hazard on its starboard side.

All 40 people on board were confirmed to be safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets.

Given the number of casualties on board, the location and the weather conditions on the lake — with northwesterly Force 4-5 winds gusting Force 6 — the RNLI lifeboat helm decided to take the vessel off the shoal and asled Killaoe Coast Guard to come alongside and take six passengers off to lighten its load.

With the casualty vessel towed off the rocky shoal, the lifeboat crew advised it to centre its rudder and make any adjustments necessary to follow directly behind the lifeboat.

The passenger vessel had no apparent damage to its engine or props and was able to make way under its own power as it was escorted to the safety of Castle Harbour at Portumna.

Peter Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI commended both Lough Derg RNLI and Killaloe Coast Guard “for their swift response and excellent teamwork in effecting a challenging rescue in testing conditions”.

Published in Rescue
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Cyclists will once again ‘Lap the Lake’ to raise funds for Lough Derg RNLI on Saturday, 6 May.

Following on from last year’s successful event, in the 2023 edition participants can choose between a full 120km circuit of Lough Derg to and from Dromineer or a shorter 65km route just beyond Killaloe.

“The scenery along the way is unparalleled and gives participants a chance to appreciate the beauty of the River Shannon,” the organisers say.

Terrain-wise there is one big climb up Portroe Hill to challenge riders “but it is short and sweet and before you know it you will be flying down the other side”.

After a break in Portumna the route becomes undulating, providing plenty of small hills to keep riders working hard right up to the last kilometre.

Upon return to the lifeboat station at Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer, participants can shower, relax and enjoy some food and well-earned drinks.

Event tickets are €65 per person (€50 for the shorter route) and include a goody bag. All funds raised will go to Lough Derg RNLI.

To find out more and to book your place among the riders this year, visit the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers have thanked Catherine Gleeson who is retiring after five years as the station’s deputy launching authority.

Following their February monthly meeting recently, volunteers at Lough Derg held a party for Catherine, a lawyer by profession, who said that she was sad to be leaving.

She added that it had been a “great honour to volunteer at the station for the past five years”, that she was “in awe of the dedication of the crew” and has “enormous respect for your bravery out on a shout”.

Catherine said it was a “unique privilege when on duty to monitor and log the radio communications between the crew, the coastguard and casualty vessels”.

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager (LOM) at Lough Derg RNLI said that both she and Catherine joined the lifeboat operations team at the same time. Christine said she valued Catherine as a friend and fellow volunteer who offered sage advice as Christine took up the role of LOM at the station.

On behalf of the crew and operations team, helm Eleanor Hooker presented Catherine with the gift of an oil painting by Tipperary artist Áine Quinlan.

Eleanor thanked Catherine for all her hard work on behalf of the volunteers, her positivity and her brilliant sense of humour. On more than one occasion Catherine had stayed on at the station with Eleanor while she wrote up her press release following a rescue.

Catherine will be missed as a valuable member of the station, Lough Derg RNLI says.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was called out on Thursday evening (19 January) to assist three people on a 16ft speedboat adrift at the most northern part of the lake near Portumna.

Valentia Coast Guard requested the launch following reports that the speedboat had suffered engine failure while towing wakeboarders.

At 6.05pm, the lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Doireann Kennedy, Joe O’Donoghue and Oisín Higgins on board.

The lake was flat calm on a clear, dark night with a star-filled sky. The air temperature was below freezing so the lifeboat crew brought a grab-bag with three blankets.

Valentia Coast Guard provided the lifeboat with a contact for the casualties. The lifeboat requested the casualties to use their phone torches when they saw they lifeboat approaching.

At 6.25pm, as the lifeboat passed Terryglass Bay en route to Portumna, the casualties lit their phone torches revealing their location. They had drifted south of their original reported location and were close to Lough Derg navigation mark J.

Five minutes later the lifeboat was alongside the casualty vessel and the volunteers established that all three people on board were unharmed but were feeling cold.

The casualties were provided with blankets and told to wrap up and sit in a huddle at the bow of their boat. The lifeboat crew then set up an alongside tow and made way to Terryglass Harbour, where the speedboat was safely tied by 7pm.

Having ensured the casualties were safe and ashore, the lifeboat departed the scene and was back at station at 8.15pm.

Jeremy Freeman, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users “to dress appropriately for winter weather and water temperatures. Make sure your engines are serviced and always carry sufficient life jackets for everyone on board and ensure that they are worn.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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An RNLI assessor trainer who has delivered training and assessments at Lough Derg RNLI for almost 20 years was treated to a surprise leaving party by station volunteers this week.

On Wednesday (14 December), Helena Duggan and her fellow assessor trainer Seán Ginnelly came to Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat station as part of a scheduled training session, Helena to give a class and provide assessments for the deputy launching authority volunteers and Seán to assess crew on their latest theory modules.

As this was Helena’s final teaching session with Lough Derg RNLI before she leaves to become the assessor trainer for another group of RNLI stations in the Irish region, volunteers arranged a surprise leaving party in her honour.

Helena has taught and assessed volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI since 2003, a year of intensive preparation before the new station — the second only inland station in Ireland at that time — went live for service on 24 May 2004.

As the classroom session came to a close, RNLI volunteers arrived with homemade cakes and scones. Helena was presented with two specially commissioned pieces of art: a 3D woodcut of Lough Derg by artist Henri Bocxe and a ceramic sculpture by artist Annemarie Mullan.

Helena was also presented with this ceramic sculpture by artist Annemarie Mullan | RNLI/Eleanor HookerHelena was also presented with this ceramic sculpture by artist Annemarie Mullan | RNLI/Eleanor Hooker

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI thanked Helena for her “years of teaching and preparing volunteers, for your wisdom and advice, your stories and laughter”.

Helm Owen Cavanagh said he was “sad to be saying goodbye” and gave his and the crew’s warmest thanks for her “years of friendship and teaching”.

The only remaining crew from the 2003 intake, volunteer helm and lifeboat press officer Eleanor Hooker shared memories of how Helena prepared her and other volunteers for their roles ahead with great patience and commitment.

“As was mentioned at the party, Helena is an inspirational character, she sets a standard to which all of us aspire, but as she said last evening, she is still around and will be there for any of us should we need to chat,” Eleanor said.

“Seán Ginnelly is the new RNLI assessor trainer for the station and it was wonderful to see the comfortable and immediate rapport with him and all at Lough Derg RNLI.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels and waterway users on the Shannon Navigation that jetty upgrade works at Coosan Point on Lough Ree are under way as of Tuesday 25 October.

Originally set to continue to next Wednesday 2 November, the works were completed ahead of schedule on Friday 28 October.

The jetty lights that were turned off to facilitate these works have now operating again, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways confirmed.

Elsewhere, re-decking of the floating jetties in Dromineer on Lough Derg will commence on Tuesday 1 November.

Security fencing will be erected around the front of the gangway to restrict access onto the floating jetties for the duration of the works, which are expected to take around six weeks to complete.

This story was updated on Friday 28 October to note the early completion of works at Coosan Point.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Lough Derg Freshwater One Design regatta last weekend was, for most, a two-day event reduced to one, and for the Northern Ireland sailors who made the long journey to Dromineer somewhat disappointing, especially for the Belfast Lough Flying Fifteen entries, Bryan Willis and Trevor D’Arcy.

But it would seem it was better not to argue with the gale force gusts on the Saturday of the eighteen Flying Fifteens entered, ten actually turned out. Of those, one of the Northern boats, Bryan Willis and David McFarland in Simply Gold had a frightening experience when Bryan was swept overboard while hoisting the spinnaker and got tangled with the spinnaker sheet as the spinnaker was still up. As it was trying to fill, it pulled the sheet tightly around him. The County Antrim Yacht Club helm Bryan said, “ If David moved from the weather side to try to pull me in, the boat threatened to capsize on top of me. It was a relief to be rescued by the Safety Boat”. He continued, “All the boats that went out on Saturday got into trouble at some point, and one was completely upside down”.

Bryan Willis in Simply Gold (4074) neck and neck with Trevor D'Arcy in Don't Look Back (3782) in the lighter winds on Sunday at Lough Derg Yacht Club's Freshwater One Design Regatta Photo Olly KierseBryan Willis in Simply Gold (4074) neck and neck with Trevor D'Arcy in Don't Look Back (3782) in the lighter winds on Sunday at Lough Derg Yacht Club's Freshwater One Design Regatta Photo Olly Kierse

Trevor D'Arcy and Alan McLernon from Carrickfergus, also on Belfast Lough, did finish, though, at second behind Niall and Ronan O’Brien. But they retired from the second race.

As Afloat reported earlier, Sunday’s conditions were the opposite, with light fluky winds, and on that day, D’Arcy scored another second, 6, 5 and 10 to finish fifth overall. Willis and McFarland redeemed themselves with a 2,3, 6 and 8 to finish ninth.

Some of the Northern Ireland Squib fleet, decided not to travel, leaving the Strangford Lough entry, Robert Marshall from Killyleagh, along with Peter Wallace Gordon Patterson, Terry Rowan and Stephen Stewart from Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough to compete in the 32 strong fleet.

With no racing on Saturday, all of day 2’s four races counted and coming out on top by one point was Royal North’s Toy for the Boys with Peter Wallace and crew Fiona Ward from Kinsale. Peter won the 2018 Squib Nationals at Royal Irish. Runner up was David Stewart in Granat from Royal Irish with the far travelled Dick Batt from Royal Victoria YC on the Isle of Wight in third slot.

The other Northern Ireland Squibs who travelled to Dromineer finished at eighth, 11th 12th and 13th, respectively: Terry Rowan in Dogwatch, Stephen Stewart in Second Chance, Gordon Patterson’s Fagin (last year’s winner), all from Royal North, and Slipstream with Robert Marshall from Killyleagh. Patterson’s crew Ross Nolan said, “ It was great to get back to Dromineer for the annual season closer and catch up with everyone. Challenging racing in light and shifty conditions, especially with shorter races due to the compressed schedule. This was typical close Squib racing and another great regatta”.

Result sheets are downloadable below

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers were called upon to assist a lone sailor on a 36ft yacht aground at Bonaveen Point on Tuesday afternoon (11 October).

At 4.45pm the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier was launched with helm Steve Smyth, Eleanor Hooker and Richard Nolan on board, headed for the reported location at the northwestern shore of Lough Derg above Cloondavaun Bay. Winds were southerly Force 4/5 and gusting, with good visibility.

The lifeboat arrived on scene 20 minutes later at Fowler Island, north of Bonaveen Point on the Co Clare shore.

Two local people, in their lake boat standing off in safe water, came alongside the lifeboat and informed the volunteers it was they who called for assistance after they were unable to assist the person on board the yacht.

They expressed their concern for the skipper on the yacht, who had been aground for the three hours and who they could not safely take off under the conditions due to the casualty’s limited mobility. They had attempted an approach but damaged their propeller on rocks that extend 30 metres from Fowler Island into the lake.

Valentia Coast Guard offered an airlift for the casualty but the RNLI volunteers felt that would prove difficult due to the location and the height of the mast on the yacht.

Studying their lake charts and using their local knowledge, the lifeboat volunteers planned a route to the yacht with the intention to evacuate the casualty.

The helm requested the crew to take up positions in the bow, port and starboard, to take soundings and to report sightings of hazards in the water. Then the helm lifted one engine and skilfully navigated a course around rocks to the casualty vessel.

At 5.41pm the lifeboat reached the stern of the casualty vessel. An RNLI volunteer boarded the yacht to assist the skipper and, with an RNLI volunteer in the bow of the lifeboat, they helped the casualty transfer to the lifeboat.

Once everyone was recovered to the lifeboat, the helm, with one crew member at the stern on the lookout for hazards, immediately began a route back to safe water, after which they assessed the casualty for any injury. The sailor was feeling cold but otherwise well.

Just before 6pm the lifeboat arrived at Cloondevaun Harbour and left the casualty in the care of their friend. The two people in their lake boat also arrived safely to shore, ahead of the lifeboat.

Catherine Gleeson, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “carry a means of communication and let someone know your destination and your planned time of arrival”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers were requested on Saturday afternoon (8 October) to assist two people on a 16ft yacht aground on a shoal near Terryglass Harbour.

The inshore lifeboat Jean Spier was launched at 5.05pm with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Tom Hayes, Joe O’Donoghue and Richard Nolan on board. Winds were southeasterly Force 3-4 and visibility was good.

Twenty minutes later the lifeboat located the yacht on a shoal north of Terryglass Harbour. With a crew member taking soundings off the bow, the lifeboat made a cautious approach to the casualty vessel.

Both people on board the yacht were safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets. A lifeboat volunteer boarded the vessel and established that it was not holed.

It emerged that the skipper had been hoisting the yacht’s sails when its outboard engine failed, and the wind pushed the yacht onto the shoal.

The lifeboat attempted to free the yacht from the shoal but it was evident that the bow keel plate was stuck fast.

Two RNLI crew rotated the bow and used the wind and wave to lift the yacht off the shoal before taking it out into safe water, where volunteers set up an alongside tow to Terryglass Harry, where it was tied safely alongside at 6.45pm.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users: “If you find yourself in difficulty on Lough Derg, dial 999 or 112 and ask for marine rescue.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.


While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset


While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020