The Office of Public Works has been accused of showing “disdain” for Ireland’s natural heritage over flood relief works on a waterway in Co Limerick.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) criticised the clearing last year of some 3km of wild habitat from the River Newport, east of Limerick city and within the Lower Shannon SAC.
The conservation group accuses the OPW of conducting the clearance works — in which “entire stretches of the riverbank had been stripped down to bare soil” — in the absence of the Appropriate Assessment legally required under Irish and EU law.
It is suggested these works have jeopardised an important habitat for otters and wet Willow woodland, while also potentially exacerbating the spread of invasive plan species such as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed.
The IWT says it visited the River Newport in December and found that “works had greatly exceeded what had been set out” in the OPW’s initial screening report, which the group has branded “largely inaccurate”.
IWT campaigns officer Pádraic Fogarty said: “The OPW is not above the law but yet it seems to think that it can operate with impunity. The damage it has done to our rivers is incalculable; this instance at the Newport in Limerick is not untypical of the distain they show for our natural heritage.”
Similar complaints have been levied against OPW works in Skibbereen, where a stream feeding the River Ilen has been re-engineered as a concrete culvert.
This used to be a small stream feeding into the river Ilen in Skibbereen, home to masses of invertebrates, small trout and sticklebacks, otters and herons, bankside wildflowers, trees and vegetation. This is it after @opwireland finished with it. Absolutely criminal! pic.twitter.com/AEXqLm0oQW— Ireland's Wildlife (@WildIreland) May 11, 2019
It’s understood that she was one of four girls on a boat that overturned in the river near the Old Salmon Weir.
The casualty became trapped underneath as her hair tangled with the boat’s outriggers, according to BreakingNews.ie.
An eyewitness said the girls’ rowing boat was in a fast current and had broken in two.
“I’m haunted all day. It’s the screams. I can still hear the girls screaming, ‘help, help help’,” said local man Danny Ryan, who rang 999 as he watched the scene unfold.
The casualty was freed from the boat by a team of firefighters trained in river rescue who were alerted while on patrol at the time.
Elsewhere, the Irish Coast Guard were involved in a ‘difficult’ rescue of two people from Poll na Péist on Inis Mór in the Aran Islands, which previously hosted the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
#Rowing: Salesian Secondary College in Limerick won the Open/Club boys section of the All Ireland Indoor Rowing Blitz in Trinity College Dublin today. The Limerick school had a best time of 6 minutes 22.4 seconds for the 2,000 metres on the ergometer. Another Limerick school, Laurel Hill College, topped the under-18 girls’ rankings. The best under-16 boys and girls came from Sutton Park School. Competitors from as far away as Skibbereen in Cork travelled to the event.
Carlow mentor Kathryn Wall and Dominican College, Griffith Avenue in Dublin, received special presentations.
All-Ireland Indoor Rowing Blitz, Trinity College (Selected Results; winners)
Open/Club: Salesian One, Limerick 6 min 22.4.
Under-16: Sutton Park School 6:37.8.
Open/Club: Laurel Hill 6:43.5
Under-16: Sutton Park School 8:03.1
Highlights of the city’s premier summer maritime festival include the Riverfest BBQ Competition, the Riverfestival village in Arthur’s Quay Park, the Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run, a spectacular fireworks display.
At the centre of it all is the Maldron Hotel Riverfest on the Shannon, featuring wakeboarding with Irish champion David O Caoimh and pro jetboarders Scotty Knemeyer and Bo Krook, as well as the River Shannon Zipline between Arthur’s Quay and Honan’s Quay for more thrill-seeking visitors.
Exciting and skilful displays by Limerick Marine Search and Rescue, the Defence Forces, Foynes Yacht Club, Limerick’s numerous rowing clubs and yachting and sailability groups will mean all eyes will be firmly focused on the water.
For full details of the festival lineup visit the official website HERE.
And don’t forget the Dublin Port Riverfest that returns for the June Bank Holiday, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
As BreakingNews.ie reports, the casualty had entered the water at Shannon Bridge after leaving a taxi on the bridge around 10pm.
Passers-by threw the man a life buoy which kept him afloat till the rescue boat arrived just minutes later, recovering him to the slipway at St Michael's Rowing Club for treatment before transfer to hospital.
#MCIB - The dangers of boating while under the influence have been highlighted in the official report into an incident on the Shannon near Limerick city earlier this year.
The official report into the incident by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has found that the four men, none of whom had any boating experience, were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when they took the boat from Castleconnell Boat Club shortly before 4am.
The small aluminium boat had its drain plug removed, as is standard when storing such boats ashore, and quickly began taking on water as the four men paddled to an area known as the Gap of the Dam, where the river narrows, and into a torrent fed by heavy rainfall in the previous fortnight.
Losing control of the boat as they guided it to trees on a spit of land in the river, it grounded on submerged rocks and capsized, throwing all four men into the water. None were wearing lifejackets.
One man caught his leg under the capsized boat, another was swept away while attempting to lift the boat off his friend, and a third became entangled in undergrowth after losing his footing, while the fourth managed to contact emergency services with his mobile phone after several attempts.
Gardaí and teams from the Limerick Fire Service and Killaloe Coast Guard arrived between 4:35am and 4:45am but faced great difficulty mounting a rescue attempt due to the fast-flowing water and low light conditions, though all four were recovered by 7am.
Two firemen were commended by the MCIB for their courage in staying in the water for over two hours to assist the man trapped in undergrowth, though he was unresponsive when finally recovered from the water and later pronounced dead due to drowning at Limerick University Hospital.
Impaired judgement due to drugs and/or drink taken over a number of hours was cited as the main factor in the tragedy by the MCIB, explaining the men’s recklessness in taking out a boat in darkness with no experience and lacking safety gear.
The board recommends the issue of a Marine Notice reminding the public of the dangers of operating any water craft under the influence.
The full report from the MCIB is available to download below.
#Rowing: Eoghan O’Connor of Castleconnell came agonisingly close to a remarkable feat at the Irish Provinces Indoor Rowing Championships at the University of Limerick today. The Castleconnell man missed setting a time of six minutes for the 2,000 metres by just one tenth of a second. Cathal Cummins of Lee Valley set a fine time of six minutes 30.5 seconds in the under-18 grade.
Jess O’Keeffe of University of Limerick won the women’s open grade in 7:20.1, but Margaret Cremen of Lee was the fastest woman, with an excellent time of 7:15.2.
Irish Provinces Indoor Rowing Championships, University of Limerick
Open: E O’Connor 6:00.1. Lightweight Open: D O’Connor 6:30.5. Under-23: G Patterson 6:18.9. Lightweight Under-23: B McKeon 6:42.9. Jun 18: C Cummins 6:20.5. Jun 16: R Tummon 6:31.8. 30-39: R Corcoran 6:30.8.
Open: J O’Keeffe 7:20.1. Under-23: H O’Sullivan 7:21.8. Lightweight Under-23: E McGiff 7:43.3. Jun 18: M Cremen 7:15.2. Jun 16: C Kirwan 7:27.9. 30-39: M Tritt 7:40.3.
#InlandWaters - Waterways Ireland advises that remedial works have commenced on the stretch of the Shannon Navigation between Limerick City and Parteen Weir after significant storm and flooding damage over the winter.
The closure had caused some consternation within the boating community as it effectively excluded Lough Derg sailors from this summer's WIORA races, and threatened to hit maritime revenues in Limerick.
But it was announced recently that design options had been advanced to provide for works to be completed this month.
It's believed that works on the affected infrastructure will be completed by the week beginning Monday 25 July. Prior tooth time, a schedule of opening times will be published for Sarsfield's Lock.
In other inland waterways news, the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal has been closed since Monday 11 July until forth notice due to a culvert collapse between Locks 22 (Glenaree Bridge) and 23 (Spencer Bridge). Further notice will be issued once the damage has been assessed.
Meanwhile, on the River Bann, Carnroe Lock has been closed for emergency repair works, which are expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
#Rowing: The Victor Ludorum Trophy for best school was won by St Joseph’s of Galway at the Irish Schools’ Championships at O’Brien’s Bridge in Clare today. Daire Lynch of Clonmel CBS was the best single sculler. Methodist College, Belfast, won the women’s under-23 eight.
#Rowing: A horde of Irish records fell at the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships at the University of Limerick today. Sanita Puspure set a new time for the women’s open category of 6 minutes 36.7 seconds. The second fastest time was also a record, as 17-year-old Emily Hegarty clocked 6:57.0, lopping over two seconds off the old junior record set by Lisa Dilleen. Claire Lambe’s time of 7 minutes 12.6 seconds was a new Irish record for a lightweight woman.
Paul O’Donovan set an excellent time for the lightweight under-23 category – 6:07.5 – over two seconds better than his previous personal best. His brother and soon-to-be Olympic crewmate, Gary, had been the fastest in the open lightweight section, with a time of 6:14.6. The men’s junior 18 category was won by Cathal Cummins in a new Irish record of 6:16.2. Sam McKeown’s hopes of breaking six minutes in the men’s open category fell short, though his time of 6:02.9 was 1.8 seconds better than his previous best.
Other record breakers on the day included Paul Gallen (lightweight men, 60 to 69), Niall O’Brien (open, 50-59), Priscilla O’Sullivan (women’s open, 50-59) and Catherine McKeon (pararowing, legs trunk and arms).
Irish Indoor Rowing Championships, University of Limerick, Saturday (Selected Results)
Open: 1 S McKeown 6:02.9, 2 T Oliver 6:03.2, 3 P Buchanan 6:09.6, 4 P Doyle 6:10.7, 5 D Brown 6:13.0, 6 K Coughlan 6:13.1. Under-23: 1 J Casey 6:18.3, 2 D Mitchell 6:18.5, 3 P Munnelly 6:19.7. Junior 18: 1 C Cummins 6:16.2, 2 R Byrne 6:16.7, 3 D Lynch 6:18.3. Jun 16: R Tummon 6:38.2.
Lightweight – Open: 1 G O’Donovan 6:14.6, 2 M O’Donovan 6:18.0, 3 S O’Driscoll 6:18.8, 4 L Keane 6:24.8.
Under-23: 1 P O’Donovan 6:07.5, 2 S Mulvaney 6:21.8, 3 L Seaman 6:25.7
Pararowing – LTA (1,000m): S Ryan 3.30.6.
Open: 1 S Puspure 6:36.7, 2 M Dukarska 6:58.9, 3 L Kennedy 7:01.9, 4 A Keogh 7:06.1, 5 S Bennett 7:13.8, 6 R Maguire 7:15.0. Under-23: 1 S Bounane 7:16.8, 2 E Lambe 7:18.6, 3 S Murphy 7:30.1. Junior 18: E Hegarty 6:57.0, 2 H Scott 7:20.7, 3 M Cremin 7:23.6. Jun 16: C Nic Dhonncha 7:35.6.
Lightweight – Open: 1 C Lambe 7:12.6, 2 Sarah Dolan 7:17.0, 3 S McCrohan 7:18.4. Under-23: E McGiff 7:41.9.
Pararowing – LTA (1,000m): C McKeon 3:37.1.
Best Overall Club (Eddie Crean Trophy): St Joseph’s, Galway