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Displaying items by tag: Shannon Estuary

The good ship Ilen, the 56ft Trading Ketch of Limerick, has been in the slipway cradle at Liam Hegarty's boatyard in Oldcourt upriver of Baltimore in West Cork this week, enjoying the relatively dry weather and the attention of her crew as they brush on fresh-smelling paint. And she returns to the salty sea on Saturday, confident in the renewal of her Departmental Certificate.

Even with the best-maintained vessels such as Ilen, the annual inspection can bring its challenges. And on Wednesday evening, after very thoroughly spending a day going through the ship, the Department of Transport surveyor descended the ship's ladder to speak softly with the crew.

But it was good news. Ilen, he stated, had passed survey with just the remediation of a few minor matters. Under the Department's Passenger 5 Licence, she can now resume operations for 2021. This survey outcome is directly attributable to her crew's dedicated annual maintenance programme. Considering the severe limitations to travel this year and last, it really is excellent news.

Ilen in the slipway cradle at Oldcourt this week, where she has passed her annual Certification with flying coloursIlen in the slipway cradle at Oldcourt this week, where she has passed her annual Certification with flying colours. Photo: Gary Mac Maho

Ilen makes for the Lower Shannon Estuary in April under the Ilen Marine School's developing community educational Kingship Programme, which takes its name and logo inspiration from the fact that King John's Castle is the most venerable feature of the Limerick riverfront, while King's Island is at the heart of the ancient city.

Subject to variations in pandemic restrictions, the following six weeks of operations await her during Aril and early May:

  • Ilen familiarisation courses
  • Ilen will sail the Lower Shannon on experimental community voyaging.
  • May Weekend sailing demonstration just west of Shannon Bridge, Limerick City.
  • Onboard the Ilen, a marine survey of the tidal Shannon from Loop Head to Thomas Island will also unfold. This schools survey, both actual and online, will - among other areas - focus on water quality, measurements of salinity, and plastic pollution. Ilen is getting fully equipped for such marine surveys.
  • Traditional rigging courses.
  • A navigation course on the Lower Shannon will also unfold.
  • As part of Ilen Marine Schools 2021 Kingship Community Educational Programme, carefully monitored community sailing days on the Lower Shannon will be part of the schedule.

All of the above courses and activities will be delivered, without charge to the communities and individuals who participate, and interest is high.

The Ilen Marine Schools' Kingship Programme symbol draws its inspiration from the city's historic interaction with the River Shannon.The Ilen Marine Schools' Kingship Programme symbol draws its inspiration from the city's historic interaction with the River Shannon

Foynes Yacht Club and Shannon Foynes Port Company are generously collaborating to provide Ilen with berths at the head of the Estuary in Limerick City, and down towards the sea at Foynes in County Limerick on the Shannon Estuary's southern shore.

The remaining season is still at the planning stage in view of the "unknowables" inherent in the emergence from the pandemic restrictions, but all being well the newly-certificated Ilen's 2021 season will be a very active one, built on experience gained with a necessarily limited but successful programme in 2020.

Published in Boatyards
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The Shannon Estuary has the potential to become a global hub for floating offshore wind according to a major new study.

If such a project were to be progressed, writes the Limerick Leader, it could attract up to 12 billion in investment and lead to the creation of up to 30,000 jobs over the next 20 years.

The Offshore Wind Potential Study (download)- commissioned by Shannon Foynes Port Company - by specialist geotechnical engineering consultancy Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions identifies the potential, through capitalising on the unique wind resource and deep-water port in Foynes to turn the State into an exporter of energy and generate unprecedented job creation in the process.

It finds that Shannon Foynes is best placed to service the future offshore floating wind market due to the proximity to resource and market; availability of the deepest watercourse in Ireland and one of the deepest and most sheltered estuaries in the world; extensive future landbank availability; and the existence of Shannon Foynes Port Company as a statutory authority with National Tier 1 port status.

The fact that the port also has European Commission, Trans European Transport Network core corridor status on North/South and East/West corridors and the existing 1.6 GW connectivity to our own national grid were also key findings of the report.

For further reading click the newpaper here.

Published in Shannon Estuary

Steve Morris of Kilrush Boatyard and his lead boat-builder Dan Mill are busy these days, as their team have two further Dublin Bay 21s under construction for the Hal Sisk/Fionan de Barra project, and this week they launched the new "Gleoiteog with a difference" for a local couple who sought a traditional sailing boat with impeccable ecological credentials. Thus while they realised auxiliary power was a requirement, the clients insisted on an electric auxiliary unit, and this has been achieved with a Torqueedo turbine incorporated in the rudder, which suggests there's quite a bit of Antipodean savvy and ingenuity being applied to the boat-building scene down in West Clare.

Steve Morris and Dan Mill are bringing Antipodean skill and ingenuity to the boat-building scene in West ClareSteve Morris and Dan Mill are bringing Antipodean skill and ingenuity to the boat-building scene in West Clare. Photo: W M Nixon

From ahead, the new boat looks like an interesting refinement to the traditional concept for a 23ft gleoiteog, in which the length is 23ft from the aft side of the stem to the transom, meaning that under other jurisdictions she'd be regarded as a 24-footer.

Thus as they have their own way of doing things in Galway Bay, we don't quite know what they'll make of What Steve Did Next. For although he took the lines off a classic gleoiteog belonging to a friend in The Claddagh in Galway City, he subsequently raised the topsides a bit and increased the beam before beginning construction for the Kilrush customers.

Be that as it may, when seen from ahead first while under construction, and then after she'd emerged newly-finished from the shed in recent days, there's no doubt that the true spirit of a curvaceous gleiteog had been achieved, made all the more impressive by gleaming topsides which have been painted in a glorious luminous colour for which "deep yellow" is scarcely appropriate.

Gleiteog_under_buildAlthough some modifications had been made to lines taken off a traditional gleoiteog, as the new boat took shape there was no doubting her true credentials. Photo: Steve Morris

The Naomh Fanchea achieves an elegant balance between traditional precepts and classic boat standardsThe Naomh Fanchea achieves an elegant balance between traditional precepts and classic boat standards, but the view from ahead hides her surprise power-unit feature. Photo: Steve Morris

The Torqueedo power pod may be mounted in and on the lower trailing edge of the rudder, but it is located in such a way that the propeller is working in clear water for maximum thrustThe Torqueedo power pod may be mounted in and on the lower trailing edge of the rudder, but it is located in such a way that the propeller is working in clear water for maximum thrust. Photo: Steve Morris

It's when you go round to the transom that the secret weapon is found, a 4kw Torqueedo pod mounted partially within the foot of the rudder with controls - and power from two Torqueedo lithium batteries in the boat – transmitted by a substantial cable from the transom into the rudderhead and then led down within the rudder itself to the power pod.

The propeller installed, with the transmission cable socketed into the transom and the lower edge of the cheek of the rudder-headThe propeller installed, with the transmission cable socketed into the transom and the lower edge of the cheek of the rudder-head. Photo: Steve Morris

The view from astern reveals the increased beam and the way in which the rudder-mounted propellor is kept in clear waterThe view from astern reveals the increased beam and the way in which the rudder-mounted propellor is kept in clear water, while getting some protection from the fact that the foot of the rudder is fitted a few inches above the bottom of the keel.

In due course, there'll be time to test Naomh Fanchea's performance with the first traditional sunrise sail round Scattery Island under the sails which have been made for her by Yannick Lemonnier of Quantum Sails in Galway, but with such a novel auxiliary motive unit, the immediate curiosity was about performance and range under power.

Torqueedo provides a sophisticated monitoring system which enables you to evaluate speed against range in real-time, which is very much a primary concern at the present developmental stage of battery power longevity. The news is that while Naomh Fanchea could clock 6.5 knots at full power, the available reserves were almost visibly depleting, but at 4.5 knots the unit was confident of 7.5 hours usage, suggesting a range of 33 miles.

Smooth and silent – Naomh Fanchea under way in Kilrush Creek.  Photo: Steve MorrisSmooth and silent – Naomh Fanchea under way in Kilrush Creek. Photo: Steve Morris

For those who think in terms of a range under engine of hundreds of miles, this may seem scarcely worthy of consideration. But for environmentally-conscious owners who live locally and will be using the boat for day sailing with the power unit only essential for accessing or exiting the lock at Kilrush and perhaps getting over the last few miles home on a calm evening, this is all that is required.

As for general handling and manoeuvring under power, this is described as excellent. And as Naomh Fanchea will be based in Kilrush Marina, access to shore power is immediate for connection to each lithium battery's own unit, which enables recharging from totally flat - something only rarely achieved - within 11 hours. In other words, you simply leave the boat plugged in overnight.

In addition, a separate 12-volt battery which is kept up to power by its own solar panel is used to service lights and instruments, the final addition to a very eco-friendly setup which sits well within the ambience of this particularly elegant example of the classic gleioteog.

A sacred place – the Round Tower on Scattery Island off Kilrush in the Shannon EstuaryA sacred place – the Round Tower on Scattery Island off Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary. In keeping with local tradition, the new Naomh Fanchea will be christened by having her first sail at sunrise round Scattery.

Published in Boatyards

The 56ft Trading Ketch Ilen has had a busy couple of days of cultural and educational activities in Kilrush during her current two-week cargo cruise, with performances including shows and workshops with noted Limerick Boy and contemporary dancer Tobi Omoteso. The next stage on her programme came up yesterday (Friday) evening with the epochal visit across the Shannon Estuary to Foynes for her first time berthed there in 94 years.

Contemporary Limerick dancer Tobi Omoteso goes through one of his routines aboard Ilen in KilrushContemporary Limerick dancer Tobi Omoteso goes through one of his routines aboard Ilen in Kilrush

The Shannon Estuary had been in a lively mood earlier in the day with at least one waterspout seen whirling its way up past Tarbert. But things had quietened down when Ilen made her short but historic passage to bring her to a berth just across the channel at Foynes from the little house of Barneen on the island where Conor O’Brien designed both Saoirse in 1921-22, and Ilen in 1925-26. It is also where he lived out his last days in 1952, and his graveyard is on the mainland in the churchyard near Foynes Yacht Club. The programme with Ilen today (Saturday) in Foynes includes tours of the vessel, a DJ set in Foynes Yacht Club, stories from Foynes island with the O’Brien family, and a Sea Shanty Workshop with William Howard.

Lively weather to greet Ilen as she crossed from Kilrush to Foynes. Yesterday (Friday) evening, her Shannon Estuary passage past Tarbert took her straight through this area where a waterspout or two had been busy earlier in the dayLively weather to greet Ilen as she crossed from Kilrush to Foynes. Yesterday (Friday) evening, her Shannon Estuary passage past Tarbert took her straight through this area where a waterspout or two had been busy earlier in the day Lively weather to greet Ilen as she crossed from Kilrush to Foynes. Yesterday (Friday) evening, her Shannon Estuary passage past Tarbert took her straight through this area where a waterspout or two had been busy earlier in the day. Photo Eamonn Barry

Published in Shannon Estuary
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The Shannon Estuary is king size and clearly defined. Where some other great rivers gradually broaden as they near the sea, sometimes dissipating further into a delta, the Shannon Estuary affirms its individuality with a rapid change as it emerges between mountains and hills from river to sea in Limerick. And yet that first taste of real sea is still a very long way from the open ocean, for the geography between the counties of Limerick and Kerry on the south shore and Clare on the north is such that a majestic waterway – a superhighway of the sea – is developed to such an extent that the distance from river to ocean is almost one hundred kilometres.

It comes tantalising close, at 97 kilometres. But that figure hasn’t registered really registered with the city and its area’s schoolchildren, for down the centuries they’ve had it drummed into their minds that the Shannon Estuary is sixty miles long, and that’s it. But even at sixty miles, it makes it seem so enormous that they can scarcely grasp what it means, and its full significance in the economy and ecology of the region. So for the next four days, the restored 56ft trading ketch Ilen of 1926 vintage is the focus of Scairt na hOige, a Creative Youth Festival around the Shannon Estuary.

Scair na hOige’s busy programmeScair na hOige’s busy programme

Currently, Ilen is in County Clare where - as reported in Afloat.ie - she had very efficiently delivered a cargo of West Cork produce from Baltimore for discharge on Monday morning in the ancient but now up-dated port of Kilrush. But for now and until Sunday afternoon, she is being re-focused as an educational centre, and on Saturday she’ll have crossed the estuary to Foynes and a berth at Foynes Yacht Club to continue the work, while adding a further very significant historical element. For this is her first stopover visit since her restoration to Foynes, which was the home port of Conor O’Brien, designer and skipper of Ilen and of the world-girdling Saoirse before her, and though the official versions of the voyages of Saoirse and Ilen would have it that they started in some other major ports, as far as Conor O’Brien was concerned, the voyages were properly underway once he sailed each vessel away from Foynes.

From Foynes, Ilen will sail to Limerick for a two-day visit to take on cargo and a ceremony on September 1st in the Hunt Museum (the former Limerick Customs House) finalising her registry in that historic port, and then she resumes her trading activities with the delivery of a cargo to Kilronan in the Aran island on a working voyage which will eventually see the main part of her cargo discharged in Cork.

 Pioneering global circumnavigator Conor O’BrienPioneering global circumnavigator Conor O’Brien always made a point of starting his major voyages from Foynes. From the painting by Kitty Clausen

Published in Shannon Estuary
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When the restored 56ft ketch Ilen of Limerick gets worthwhile wind conditions, she can give a good account of herself in terms of sailing speed. Yet no-one would claim that her rate of knots on passage afloat remotely compares to the speed and raw efficiency of pollution-emitting lorries ashore, buzzing along Ireland’s roads.

But Ilen Project Director Gary Mac Mahon – current holder of the Irish Sailing Presidential Award for his unflinching determination in restoring the Conor O’Brien-designed, Oldcourt West Cork 1926-built ketch to full seagoing conditions – reckons that the steady global movement in slow food and local artisan products makes for a good fit with Ilen’s ability to carry cargo to remote little quays - or indeed quays of any kind – at a leisurely but environmentally-friendly pace.

Gary Mac Mahon of LimerickGary Mac Mahon of Limerick – current holder of the Irish Sailing Presidential Award – aboard the restored Ilen in Nuuk in Greenland, July 2019

In this he is partially inspired by the example of the last Shannon sail-only cargo vessel, the trading cutter Alzina, owned and sailed by Captain John Davis of Labasheeda, that useful little port on the Clare coast midway between Limerick and the open Atlantic.

Alizina was working under sail until the 1950s, and Gary’s father Joe got some photos of this intriguing vessel and her activities in the mighty estuary. In those days, when “Just In Time” was an unimaginable concept in the deep heart of rural and coastal Ireland, there were enough consignments and cargoes and harvested crops coming in from the west at a leisurely pace to keep Alzina in business.

The sailing trading cutter Alizina of Labasheeda on the Shannon EstuaryThe sailing trading cutter Alizina of Labasheeda on the Shannon Estuary, seen in the early 1950s in Limerick making best use of the guaranteed power of the tide. Photo: Joe Mac Mahon

However, an element of urgency came into it all when she was docked in Limerick and gradually taking on board outward-bound cargo and goods, for the ideal was to have everything together and destined for Labasheeda for a single unloading at the quay there, as John Davis prided himself on being able to do the Limerick-Labasheeds passage on one good ebb tide.

So to emphasise the extra urgency - even in the already bustling atmosphere of Limerick - Alzina carried a ship’s bicycle, and it was the task of the ship’s boy – or whoever happened to be available – to hop aboard this iron steed as high water approached, and race round any shops where they knew specific personal orders for folk downriver were being put together at the last moment.

Despite the inevitable bicycle race, it all suggests an environmentally-friendly way of doings things which increasingly chimes with some of today’s mood, and Ilen in turn can become part of that.

When she made her first voyage in restored form last year to West Greenland – a voyage which in itself garnered several awards – the theme was Salmons Wake, as 2019 was the Year of the Atlantic Salmon, and any cargo carried on Ilen was cultural and creative material to strengthen links with schools and communities in Greenland.

Ilen's SailsAboard Ilen in Greenland, with the squaresail doing great work. Photo: Gary Mac Mahon

But for 2020’s necessarily shortened season, a project has been devised which gives an acknowledgement of Ilen’s first sixty-five years of life as the freight and passenger vessel for the Falkland Islands, and combines it with the central concept one of her 2020 roles – four days as a youth educational vessel with the Limerick & Clare Education & Training Board.

Ilen’s main cargoes were sheep and people For the first 65 years of her working life in the Falkland Islands, Ilen’s main cargoes were sheep and people – in that order. Photo courtesy Ilen Project

The concept that’s emerging is the Ilen Community and Cargo Voyage 2020, whose final form is still taking shape. Currently, Ilen is back with builder Liam Hegarty in Oldcourt near Baltimore for her annual refit and some adjustments. But on August 24th she’ll head west with a first call at North Harbour on Cape Clear, home port of Conor O’Brien’s 1926 Ireland-Falklands crew of Con and Denis Cadogan, where she’ll take on board her first consignment, Cape Clear Gin.

Then it’s on for a long hop to Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary (August 26th), followed by a crossing to Foynes (August 29th) for the first time berthed there since 1926, Kilrush and Foynes being among the focal points for the Education & Training Board involvement, and Foynes Island being home for Conor O’Brien, who died there in 1952.

Ilen Cargo SymbolA symbol for all sailing cargo vessels? Ilen’s new Community & Cargo Voyage logo

Then from Foynes it’s upriver to Limerick itself, where some of the Cape Clear Gin will be discharged, while additional products taken on board will include Ishka Spring Water, Limerick Beer, and Thomond Gate Distillery Whiskey, while other specialist quality products will doubtless be added as the voyage plan develops.

The Limerick visit has an added significance as it is hoped that on September 1st in a ceremony in the Hunt Museum (originally the Customs House), the official registration of Ilen (No 146843) will see the Port of Registry formally transferred from Skibbereen to Limerick.

The Hunt Museum in LimerickThe Hunt Museum in Limerick - formerly the Customs House – will see a celebration of the official transfer of Ilen’s Port of Registry from Skibbereen to Limerick on September 1st.

The business done and cargo stowed away, Ilen heads down the estuary and then sails north around Loop Head for Kilronan in the Aran Islands, where more of the Cape Clear Gin will be unloaded. The course is then shaped south for Dingle where the spirit of Cape Clear is awaited, and then if time serves there’ll be a call to historic Derrynane, much associated with Conor O’Brien and last visited by Ilen in 1926. However, the primary purpose of the second half of the voyage is the delivery - under sail - of cargo from Cape Clear and primarily Limerick to Cork City, and the date set for the completion of that at the Cork quays is September 7th.

Conor O’Brien used to say that he always preferred to have a purpose over and above the pleasure of simply sailing when he went to sea, and it looks as though the Ilen Community and cargo Voyage 2020 is going to be fully in line with his philosophy. Meanwhile, dare we suggest that the manufacturer or distributor of a handy little transport bicycle might find a promotional opportunity in Ilen’s Community and Cargo Voyage 2020…….

Almost-laden Alzina awaits the last of her cargo for Labasheeda“On your bike!” The pace quickens as high tide approaches in Limerick, and the almost-laden Alzina awaits the last of her cargo for Labasheeda. Photo Joe Mac Mahon

Published in Ilen
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Kilrush Maritime Ltd has received two Blue Flags for its operations on the West coast of Ireland at Kilrush Marina on the Shannon Estuary and Portmagee pontoons in County Kerry.

Kilrush Marina, in Co. Clare, which was built in 1991 came under the ownership of Mr. Louis Keating in 2014 and has seen significant investment in infrastructure since. The marina has been managed since 2018 by former Commodore of West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA), Simon McGibney. Kilrush Marina last held Blue Flag status in 2005.

Portmagee visitors pontoons

Kilrush Maritime Ltd also manages the seasonal 16-berth visitors pontoons in Portmagee, Co. Kerry. The pontoon, opened in 2014, operates annually from 1st April to 31st October. The berths provide shelter for visiting boats along the west coast and also provide a base for local Skellig tour operators.

The Blue Flag programme administered in Ireland by An Taisce, promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas first started in France in 1985. It is run by the non-profit organisation FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) and has become a global programme with an ever-increasing number of countries taking part.

Published in Shannon Estuary

Dublin may have the highest number of cases of Covid-19 infection, but it is least exposed of all Irish counties to the economic impacts, a new report says.

The Atlantic seaboard reliance on tourism and recreation, including the marine sector, and service industries is making it more vulnerable, with Kerry has been identified as the hardest hit, the report by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly says.

It identifies Galway as the city most likely to be severely affected, followed by Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Dublin in that order.

The report bases its information on numbers of commercial units operating in sectors which are likely to be worst affected, including mining and quarrying, construction, non-essential retail and wholesale services, food and accommodation, arts, recreation and entertainment, hairdressing, beauty and fitness.

It notes these are sectors which rely on human interaction and have been forced to close or downsize dramatically, due to social distancing measures. The nature of their business largely prevents them from operating remotely.

The report calculates that Kerry has 53.8 per cent of its commercial units operating in the sectors, and is likely to be hardest hit as a county.

It is followed by Westmeath at 51 per cent, Donegal at 50.6 per cent, Cavan at 50.5 per cent and Clare at 50.4 per cent, the report estimates.

The report says that exposure is “generally lower in more urban-based counties” as “such counties rely more on economic activities that are capable of operating remotely” – as in activities such as finance, ICT and professional and technical services.

It says the county with the lowest “Covid-19 exposure ratio” is Dublin, with 39.4 per cent of its commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected.

It calculates Cork is also cushioned, with 44.4 per cent of its commercial units in worst affected sectors, while Carlow is at 44.7 per cent, Waterford is at 45.8 per cent and Wicklow is at 46 per cent.

It says that in “absolute terms”, Dublin has the highest number of commercial units operating in the most exposed sectors at 14,360 units, followed by Cork at 8,144 units, Galway at 4,253 units, Kerry at 3,263 units and Donegal at three.

It says that Galway city and suburbs have 46.1 per cent of commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected, “in line with the corresponding ratio for the State as a whole”

The report for three regional assemblies by economist John Daly was prepared to identify which geographical areas in Ireland are more likely to be exposed to economic disruption caused by the necessary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It uses information from the GeoDirectory commercial database, as of September 2019.

Analysing the impact on a regional basis, it says the northern and western region has the highest “COVID-19 exposure ratio”, with 48.6 per cent of its commercial units operating in the worst affected sectors.#

The southern region has 47.2 per cent of its commercial units operating in the most affected sectors, while the eastern and midland region has the lowest “COVID-19 exposure ratio” at 43.6 per cent, the report says.

It notes that in absolute terms, the eastern and midland region had the highest number of commercial units operating in the sectors likely to be worst affected at 29,637 units, followed closely by the southern region at 27,583 units and the northern and western region at 16,515 units.

Published in Shannon Estuary

The latest build from the West Clare Currach Club was launched at the weekend when a replica four-hand Scattery pilot "canoe" took to the water at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary.

The Club is an umbrella organisation for a growing number of rowing clubs based along the coastline of County Clare.

The replica historic craft was built by James Madigan with help from club members.

Published in Historic Boats
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Irish Sailing President Jack Roy officially opened the Kilrush Marina Training Centre on the Shannon Estuary in County Clare last Sunday.

“This is another great addition to the Clare region and an addition to the services provided at Kilrush Marina”, explained Training Centre Principal and Marina Manager Simon McGibney.

“We are delighted to be a recognised Irish Sailing Training Centre and look forward to providing courses in Powerboat, Shorebased Navigation and Keelboat instruction.”

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy has always been an advocate for shore-based courses giving a sound foundation in navigation and the large attendance at the official opening heard from Jack Roy of the importance of these foundations in emergency situations.

Jack also complimented Kilrush Marina for the boost it has given to sailing in the estuary in recent times, supporting local sailing club events and bringing new visitors cruising up and down the estuary. The attendance at the opening was from the general public, local businesses, local sailing clubs including the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland and Cullaun Sailing Club, members of the local RNLI, and junior and senior members of the local currach club who had been out training that morning in the marina.

Local councillor Mr Ian Lynch stated, “it’s great to see the marina bringing more courses to the maritime town which in turn brings more activity to the area”.

Kilrush Marina Training Centre also provides VHF and First Aid courses. For further information on Kilrush Marina Irish Sailing courses check out www.kilrushmarina.ie

Published in Shannon Estuary
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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.

FAQs

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

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