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Displaying items by tag: Donegal

An Omagh man who was rescued by the Irish Coast Guard after he was caught in a rip current off a Donegal beach in July has completed the Dublin Marathon in his bare feet to raise awareness of water safety and to raise funds for the RNLI.

A seasoned open water swimmer, Chris Gallagher was visiting Murder Hole Beach when he got caught in a rip current.

“I am an experienced swimmer, having previously been a lifeguard and a world record swimmer as well as swimming all over the world including in Australia but I have never been caught like this before,” he said of his ordeal.

“I wasn’t even 10 metres out into the water when the ferocious rip caught me and threw me about like what I can only describe as being in an industrial washing machine and a racing car at the same time, it was powerful, and I had absolutely no control.

“I felt calm initially as I know how to work my way out of a rip curl as I was caught in Australian waters 22 years ago but nothing I tried worked.

“By the grace of God, a rock was in my grasp as I was being pulled into the rip roaring waters and I managed to get my body out of the water onto that wee rock but I was fighting the waves to stay on as they threw me on and off like a rag doll. I was clinging to the rock for dear life for two hours.”

Given the conditions, the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 was tasked to the scene and rescued Gallagher from the water.

‘I am an experienced swimmer…but I have never been caught like this before’

Since he was rescued, Gallagher has signed up to be a water safety volunteer with the RNLI with a particular interest in highlighting the dangers of open water swimming.

He has also taken part in a series of inspiring fundraising events with his most recent venture to not only undertake the Dublin Marathon but to do it in his bare feet, which he completed successfully last Sunday (30 October). He also completed the Kerry Hardman Ironman triathlon on his birthday in August and in September a 5k swim of Glencar Lough in Sligo.

To round off his series of events, he is running an Eighties-themed night this Saturday 5 November in the Village Inn in Killyclogher. Proceeds from all events will go to Bundoran RNLI and Lough Erne’s two RNLI lifeboat stations, at Enniskillen and Carrybridge in Northern Ireland.

Speaking of Gallagher’s efforts to raise both funds and water safety awareness, RNLI community manager Nuala Muldoon said: “Chris really is an inspiration and his own rescue story highlights how even the most experienced water users can still find themselves in difficulty.

“We are delighted that he is now promoting water safety and are in awe at how adventurous he has been in setting himself courageous challenges in his pursuit to raise funds.

“Thanks to Chris, the proceeds raised will now power our lifesaving volunteer crews to continue their good work in saving lives both at sea and on inland waters.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has opened a new footbridge over the Owenea River near Glenties in Co Donegal.

In a welcome boost for angling access on the Owenea fishery, the new steel footbridge was commissioned by IFI to replace the former ‘Green Bridge’, which was constructed in the 1970s but had fallen into disrepair.

The new steel footbridge is now officially open to anglers and the public.

Funded through the National Strategy for Angling Development, the custom-designed footbridge will provide safe access to both banks of the Owenea fishery between Beats 4 and 5, near Glenties.

The Owenea fishery, which is directly managed by IFI, remains one of the most productive salmon rivers in Co Donegal.

The fishery has a good run of salmon and sea trout as well as a resident stock of small brown trout and is popular with local anglers as well as visiting sport fishers travelling from abroad.

Milton Matthews, director of the North-Western River Basin District with IFI, announced the opening of the bridge, saying: “The Owenea fishery in Donegal is a popular destination for both local and visitor salmon anglers to the area.

“Installation of this new bridge is the culmination of over four years of work in terms of completion of the various safety, engineering and associated environmental reports and planning permission requirements needed.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to acknowledge the contribution and support of various local landowners, contractors, Donegal County Council, local angling clubs and dommunity development groups, who have all contributed to and welcomed the successful delivery of this project.”

IFI has an ongoing programme of maintenance and upgrading of angling access along the Owenea River, including the improvement of angling infrastructure such as stiles, footbridges and walkways.

Constructed in the 1970s, the Green Bridge was used extensively over the years by anglers, recreational walkers and local residents.

However, following safety audits conducted by IFI, consultant engineers were commissioned in 2021 to conduct a full examination of the structural integrity and suitability of the structure as a pedestrian footbridge. The report confirmed that the steelwork of the existing bridge was severely corroded and no longer fit for purpose.

Although IFI didn’t own or manage the Green Bridge, the State agency responsible for the conservation and protection of freshwater fish and habitats — and the development and promotion of angling — undertook responsibility for its removal and installation of a replacement galvanised footbridge to ensure safe access to both banks of the Owenea River for the angling community.

Before the old footbridge could be removed however, IFI had to commission several reports and surveys, including Appropriate Assessment Screening, a freshwater pearl mussel survey and Natura Impact Statement (NIS). Planning permission was then sought through Donegal County Council for removal and replacement of the old bridge.

Following a public procurement process, Source Civil Ltd was appointed as the contractor to remove the original Green Bridge and to prefabricate and install a new custom-designed footbridge from W.D. Buchanan & Co Ltd. This necessitated a temporary road closure and traffic diversion whilst the Green Bridge was removed and the new bridge was lifted into place by Quinn Crane Hire.  

Matthews added: “Completion of this new footbridge is a vital element in the overall management and development of the Owenea salmon fishery and a welcome addition for angling access and the local community.”

Published in Angling

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) says it is investigating a major fish kill incident that’s claimed over 2,000 juvenile brown trout and Atlantic salmon in a Co Donegal river.

Environmental and fisheries officers from the North-Western River Basin District were alerted to the incident in the Glenagannon River at Inishowen by a member of the public via IFI’s 24-hour confidential hotline number on Friday (26 August). 

Following patrols conducted along the river on Friday and Saturday (27 August), the State agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats has confirmed that over 2,250 juvenile brown trout and Atlantic salmon were killed in the incident.

The fish kill covered some four kilometres of the river and comprised several year classes of fish, IFI said, adding that is following a definite line of inquiry to determine the cause which may result in legal proceedings.
 
Milton Matthews, director of the North-Western River Basin District acknowledged the ongoing support of the public in reporting suspected cases of water pollution and fish kills.

“We would like to thank the member of the public who alerted us promptly to this serious incident through our 24-hour confidential hotline last Friday,” he said.

“This enabled our environmental team in Letterkenny to instigate our investigations without delay. This can be critical in identifying and confirming the underlying cause of fish kill incidents such as this one on the Glenagannon River.”

To report fish kills or water pollution, members of the public are encouraged to call IFI’s 24/7 hotline on 0818 34 74 24.

Published in Angling

The north Donegal coast has been identified by the Fair Seas coalition as a high biodiversity “Area of Interest” for potential Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation.

Only 2% of Irelands' seas are currently protected. The Fair Seas environmental NGO coalition says it is urging the Government to meet its target of increasing this to at least 30% by 2030, informed by the best scientific data and early and continuous stakeholder engagement.

Fair Seas has identified 16 “Areas of Interest” for MPA designation in Irish waters.

The north coast “Area of Interest” covers 3,744km² and is rich in biodiversity, it notes.

“Basking sharks are seen in large numbers, especially around Malin head, where between 60 to 75 individuals have been seen in a single sighting. Bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises are found along the north coast year-round, with particularly high numbers at the mouth of Lough Swilly,”it says.

“Marine Institute surveys found this area to have one of the highest average catches per haul of tope shark. The tope shark is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),” it notes.

“ The main threat to this species is overexploitation from commercial fishing as there is still allowable catch even though evidence shows it is declining. Thornback skate are found across this area, and Lough Swilly is a refuge site for the critically endangered flapper skate, the largest skate in the world, reaching up to 2.85 metres in length,” Fair Seas says.

It says that the largest herring spawning grounds in the country are located north of Donegal. Some of these grounds are located within this proposed MPA.

“Whiting spawning grounds also cover this entire area. Historic herring spawning grounds have disappeared from much of the Irish coast; therefore, protection must be given to ensure the last of these areas are not lost forever,”it says.

“The cliffs from Horn Head to Fanad Head are home to important colonies of seabirds of high conservation concern such as kittiwake, razorbill and puffin. Lough Swilly provides sanctuary for breeding terns, black guillemots and black-headed gulls,” it says.

“Tory Island and Inishtrahull are rich in seabird diversity. Bloody Foreland is of major importance to migrating birds with more than 31,000 seabirds and 24 species recorded over a four-year period,” it says.

“MPAs allow species and habitats to recover and thrive while benefiting fishing communities and coastal economies,” Fair Seas points out.

“ The ocean is the largest carbon store on Earth, so MPAs have huge potential to fight climate change,” it says.

“As noted by Professor Mark Costello in the foreword of Revitalising Our Seas, the Fair Seas report: “If properly planned, MPAs can lead to more stable and sustainable coastal fisheries, with added benefits of increased tourism and public enjoyment of marine life.”

“There is no evidence of any MPA anywhere in the world reducing fishery catch. There are many examples of MPAs restoring fished populations and these restored stocks consequently repopulating adjacent areas where they contribute to fisheries,” Prof Costello has said.

Full details on the ‘North Coast Area of Interest’ are available in the Revitalising Our Seas PDF here

Published in Marine Planning

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it’s clarified its opinion on recent whale strandings in Donegal, explaining that the evidence does not suggest an “unusual mortality event” or UME.

It has been feared the strandings of two female sperm whales — at Maghery and on Malin Head respectively — were linked to Russian military exercises in the North Atlantic, as Afloat.ie reported last weekend.

But upon reviewing the data of marine wildlife strandings on the Irish coast between 15 and 21 February, including a female Cuvier’s beaked whale and a female long-finned pilot whale, the IWDG says that the incidents do not deviate from the expected annual stranding figures.

“Before any claims can be made calling this a UME or linking these current deaths to the military testing, additional evidence is needed,” IWDG strandings officer Stephanie Levesque said.

“We must wait to see if any further deep diving species wash up over the next few weeks as these numbers themselves currently are not out of the ordinary.”

However, Levesque added: “Two female sperm whales washed up at the same time is unexpected as most stranded sperm whales in Ireland are mature males.”

Meanwhile, it’s believed that “souvenir hunters” may be responsible for removing jaw bones from the two female whales washed ashore in Donegal.

Levesque told Donegal Live that such practice is common but it’s not known why.

“I don't know who does, but it is something that happens with sperm whales when they strand — the lower jaw is the first thing to go,” she said. “I don’t know if people think they are worth something.”

Donegal Live has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Tagged under

It’s feared that at least one whale stranded in Donegal in recent days may have died as a result of Russian military exercises in the North Atlantic.

According to The Irish Sun, a marine wildlife expert investigating the stranding of a female whale at Maghery on Wednesday (16 February) said it appeared “deflated” and that its internal organs had “liquefied”.

Stephanie Levesque, a strandings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), noted that it is not yet confirmed how recently the animal died but said: “We can’t rule anything out at this point.”

It’s understood that sperm whales, which can dive as much as 800 metres in search of food, can risk their lives by surfacing too fast when disturbed by sonar often employed by military vessels.

But disturbances caused by this week’s double whammy of Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice may have played a significant role.

A second sperm whale found at Malin Head on Thursday (17 February) was also deemed unusual.

Commenting on social media, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA) Ireland said: “What stood out was this animals teeth were very worn! Sperm [whales] are the largest toothed predator in the world.”

Before Russia agreed to move its planned military exercises out of Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone, Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan warned that the activity could have “devastating consequences” for marine mammals in the area.

Such concerns prompted the IWDG to back the call from the fishing industry for a moratorium on any and all military exercises within the Irish EEZ.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is seeking submissions in relation to a proposal to restrict the commercial salmon draft net season on the Loughros estuary in Co Donegal in 2022 to fishing between 1 and 21 July.

The proposed changes are to reflect the limited overall salmon quota available for 2022 and the number of commercial draft nets available.

An overall surplus of 340 salmon has been advised for 2022 to be divided between the commercial draft net and recreational angling sectors.

The commercial draft net season for the fishery normally opens on 12 May and closes on 31 July.

A copy of the draft proposed bye-law is available for public inspection at the IFI offices in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal as well as on the IFI website HERE.

Any person wishing to make observations on the proposed regulation may make submissions before 5pm on Friday 18 February, either by email to [email protected] or to the address below:

Loughros estuary Commercial Salmon draft net fishing season 2021 Public Consultation,
Inland Fisheries Ireland,
Station Road, Ballyshannon,
Co Donegal
F94 WV76

Published in Fishing

Works to restore watercourses impacted by a bogslide in the North West last year could take “a number of years” to complete, according to the Loughs Agency.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, anglers in Donegal and Tyrone fear that the peat slippage near a wind farm development at Meenbog has made an important salmon fishery uninhabitable.

Video of the incident, which saw thousands of tonnes of bogland slide into the River Derg system, went viral on social media in early November 2020.

A working group was established in the wake of the incident and this multi-agency, cross-border group continues to meet on an ongoing basis to coordinate the plan of action, the Loughs Agency says.

“Construction works on the windfarm site where the peat slide originated remain suspended, with the exception of the maintenance of measures required to mitigate the threat of further pollution or those required to safeguard health and safety,” it adds.

Following a direction to the windfarm developer from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), an updated assessment by independent consultants of peat stability on the site is currently under way.

In addition, a “phased approach to the restoration of areas impacted by the peat slide” has been adopted, the Loughs Agency says.

The first phase began in the last few weeks, undertaken by the windfarm developer under direction of Donegal County Council and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and involves restoration of the lower reaches of the Shruhangarve stream and a planting scheme “to mitigate against the deterioration of the peat slide scar”.

The Loughs Agency says it has appointed a fisheries scientist to coordinate further restoration works that may be required for the Mourne Beg and other rivers downstream, and which may require statutory consent.

But it also advises that “given the seasonal restrictions that may apply”, such remediation works “will take a number of years to complete”.

Published in Angling

Visitors to a beach recently named among the 10 best in Ireland were shocked to discover the remains of three whales washed up on the strand, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The three carcasses found on Trá Mór in Donegal at the weekend are understood to be Cuvier’s beaked whales, a deep-ocean marine wildlife species that is rarely spotted in the wild and which was at the centre of a concerning mass stranding event two-and-a-half years ago.

Trá Mór is included, along with Ballymastocker Bay on the nearby Fanad Peninsula, in Lonely Planet’s list of the 10 best beaches in Ireland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Anglers in Donegal and Tyrone fear a recent bogslide near Ballybofey has made an important salmon river uninhabitable for fish.

Footage of the peat slippage on Mourne Beg at the Donegal/Tyrone border, which went viral on social media over the weekend, shows some of the thousands of tonnes of bogland that slid into the River Derg system.

And according to BreakingNews.ie, a local angling representative said one dead fish had already been found ahead of more they expect to discover in the coming days.

The Loughs Agency said its staff are “evaluating the environmental effect” of the incident along with Donegal County Council and other agencies.

Published in Angling
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