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Vintage barges and fantastic events are promised in the line-up as the Mountshannon Arts Festival returns this June Bank Holiday, Thursday 30 May to Monday 3 June.

Inspired by this year’s theme, ‘Roots and Wings’, the festival features all facets of the arts including music, theatre, visual art, sculptures, films, poetry, literature, workshops, puppets, talks, walks, family fun and even a dog show.

And this year it will be almost two festivals in one as a gathering of vintage barges in Mountshannon Harbour on Lough Derg will comprise a floating fringe festival delivering a cargo of poetry, writing and performance.

Mountshannon Arts Festival has been running since 1995, and each year brings a new collection of exhibitions, performances and workshops to inspire and entertain both locals, and visitors to the area.

Rooted in the visual arts, the ethos of the festival is to create access to works and exhibitions that would not be easy to find in a rural area, while at the same time stimulating the creation of works and performances from within the local community.

For more information, visit www.mountshannonarts.net or find the festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Published in Inland Waterways

At 2.30pm, Saturday, May 11 2019, Lough Derg RNLI held their naming ceremony for their new inshore lifeboat, the Atlantic 85 B911 ‘Jean Spier’, in Dromineer.

The new B class lifeboat was donated to the RNLI by Robert Spier and his late wife Jean Spier. As active supporters of the RNLI they had together decided to donate money to the RNLI for an Atlantic lifeboat. Sadly Jean died in October 2017 and Robert dedicated the new boat in her honour.

With fantastic weather, the ceremony was held outside on the lawn of the Lough Derg Yacht Club. Children of the volunteer crew handed out brochures to guests as they arrived.

RNLI lough derg launchGuests on the lawn for the RNLI Lough Derg launch of the new lifeboat Photo: Geraldine Wisdom

Niamh McCutcheon, Lifeboat Fundraising Chair and Irish Council Member opened the ceremony with special thanks to Robert Spier and the late Jean Spier for their generous donation.

Robert Spier expressed his pleasure in handing over the boat to the RNLI and into the care of Paddy McLaughlin, an RNLI Irish Council Member and Coxwain of Red Bay Lifeboat Station. Mr. McLaughlin thanked Robert, saying ‘there is no greater gift that we can receive, no act of generosity more appreciated by the volunteers than the bequest of a lifesaving vessel’.

Lough Derg Lifeboat Operations Manager, Liam Maloney accepted the lifeboat on behalf of volunteer crew, expressing his thanks to Robert and his late wife Jean, saying ‘on behalf of all of us at Lough Derg how proud we are to get this state of the art lifeboat for our station’. He acknowledged the magnitude of the gift, saying ‘This B class lifeboat means we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available’.

RNLI lough derg2Volunteer crew – Doireann Kennedy, Dom Sharkey, Kjell Jimmy Gundergjerde and Joe O’Donoghue Photo: Geraldine Wisdom

On behalf of all station personnel at Lough Derg RNLI, volunteer members Aoife Kennedy, Administrative Officer and Ger Egan, Lifeboat Mechanic and helm presented Robert with the signature Lough Derg jacket with the ‘Jean Spier’ crest as a token of their appreciation, and welcomed him as an honourary member of the Lough Derg Lifeboat team.

The Reverend Roderick Smyth and Father William McCormack were invited to lead a service of dedication before poet and Lough Derg volunteer helm Eleanor Hooker read her poem, Lifeboat: for Robert Spier, i.m. Jean Spier.

Robert then officially named the lifeboat ‘Jean Spier’ in Dromineer before Pat Kelly, Boathouse Manager closed the ceremony with a note of thanks to all involved in making the event so successful.

Following the ceremony, guests were invited for afternoon tea in the Yacht Club, provided by Simply Foods from Nenagh. Fundraising Committee member, and former Deputy Launching Authority Teddy Knight took guests out on the lake in his boat the Ku-Ee-Tu to watch a demonstration of the new lifeboat in action.

We would like to express our thanks to the Commodore Tadgh Murphy and his committee for permitting is the use of Lough Derg Yacht Club’s premises for the occasion, to Gerardine Wisdom, official photographer for the day, and for the support of our friends and colleagues in the RNLI and various rescue agencies who attended and to members of our local community who are unfailing in their support of the lifeboat.

The success of the day was in no small way due to the hard work by the dedicated team of volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI Station and fundraising and by Alex Sivyer and Emily Weaver from the Events and Ceremonies team who travelled over from RNLI Headquarters in Poole. This great team spirit contributed to the great atmosphere of celebration on the day.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A painting by Montague Dawson recently sold at auction may not depict an amateur sailing race on Lough Derg as claimed, according to one yachting historian.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the painting titled ‘Racing for the Corinthian Challenge Cup on Lough Derg’, by the renowned maritime artist, fetched more than €87,000 in the Marine Sale at Bonhams in London last Wednesday (1 May).

The auctioneers confess that “it has not yet been possible to identify the specific race and those yachts depicted”.

But that could be because the race never happened, an expert on Lough Derg has suggested.

In correspondence seen by Afloat.ie, Vincent Delany — a member of the Association of Yachting Historians, author of a definitive history of Lough Derg’s yacht clubs, and a regular contributor to Afloat.ie — identified a number of reasons why he believes the painting takes artistic licence with its title.

Among them are the sail numbers, when Lough Derg boats used house flags; the size of the boats depicted, when there were no six-metre yachts on the lough; and the background, which is “not reflective of the hills of Co Tipperary, or of Cos Clare or Galway or the eastern shorelines of Lough Derg”.

Delany also posits that the quality of the lighting in the painting is more suggestive of the south of England than the lakes of the Shannon.

Afloat.ie awaits Bonhams’ response to Delany’s questions.

Published in News Update

A 21ft motor boat with two people on board was rescued by Lough Derg RNLI after it ran aground in the lough on Sunday afternoon (5 May).

The volunteer crew with helm Eleanor Hooker, Joe O’Donoghue, Doireann Kennedy and Kjell Jimmy Gundergjerde launched their inshore lifeboat at 4.45pm in Force 2 north-north-west winds with good visibility to the location north of the mouth of the Scarriff River, where the 21ft boat was reported to be high on a shoal.

A crew member transferred to the motor boat and found that the people on board were unharmed and wearing their lifejackets.

The motor boat was checked for damage before a tow was set up and the vessel was removed from the rocks into safe water.

Once towed past the middle ground and the drives, steering and rudder were found to be in good working order, the boat was allowed to continue on its journey.

Helm Eleanor Hooker advises boat users “to plan your passage and pay close attention to the navigational marks at the entrance to harbours and rivers on the lake”.

The lifeboat returned to the station and was ready for service again at 7.15pm.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A painting by a renowned maritime artist of yachts racing on Lough Derg has fetched more than €87,000 at auction.

Afloat.ie reader James Gilna tipped us to the sale of ‘Racing for the Corinthian Challenge Cup on Lough Derg’ by Montague Dawson, which was auctioned last Wednesday 1 May at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London.

There is some mystery surrounding the painting, which had been in a private collection since its original sale in 1984, as according to Bonhams “it has not yet been possible to identify the specific race and those yachts depicted”.

But regardless, the “spirited” work will surely bring much enjoyment to its new owner as one of the more lively examples of the famed maritime painter, whose patrons included the British royal family and two US presidents among many others.

Published in News Update

#RescueLough Derg RNLI and Killaloe Coast Guard launched to separate incidents on Easter Monday (22 April) that between them saw four people and a dog rescued on the lough.

In the first incident, Lough Derg’s inshore lifeboat launched to a 37ft cruiser aground north of the mouth of the Scariff River.

With southerly Force 2/3 winds and good visibility, the lifeboat arrived at the scene 45 minutes after its 4pm launch.

Winds had pushed the cruiser close to shore and raised it high out of the water, so the lifeboat approached with caution while the volunteer crew assessed the depths.

One the casualty boat’s sole occupant and skipper was confirmed safe and unharmed, and the boat was checked for damage and lightened for tow, the cruiser was taken off the rocks into deeper water and shortly after was allowed to continue its passage unaided.

At the same time, Killaloe Coast Guard was tasked to assist three people and their dog whose cruiser lost engine power and was blown onto the Clare shore of the lough.

The Killaloe Coast Guard rescue boat launched shortly after the 3.30pm alert and was alongside the casualty vessel within seven minutes.

Once all on board were confirmed safe and well, their boat was safely towed back to Killaloe.

It was the second callout of the Bank Holiday weekend for the Killaloe coastguard unit after a search for a missing person on Friday night (19 April) that concluded on a positive note as the individual was found safe on Saturday (20 April).

A few days previously, Lough Derg RNLI launched to a 60ft cruiser with seven on board that had run aground in Coose Bay.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

At 3:40pm Thursday 18th April, Lough Derg RNLI was requested by Valentia Coast Guard to assist 7 people on a 60-ft cruiser aground in Coose Bay, between Split Rock and Hagen Rock.

Volunteer crew, with helm Eleanor Hooker, Owen Cavanagh, Keith Brennan and Doireann Kennedy arrived on scene and assessed the situation. Two experienced marine engineers Fergal Kearney and Will Ellis were also at the scene.

Visibility was good, with easterly winds, force 2/3.

The lifeboat took soundings of depth as it approached the casualty vessel which was aground on an extremely hazardous shoal. All passengers were wearing their lifejackets and were found to be well and unharmed. Two RNLI volunteers and Mr Kearney transferred to the cruiser and checked for ingress of water, found none but established that there was significant damage to the rudder.

Lifeboat crew set up for tow and eased the cruiser off the rocks and into safe water. The tow was passed to the rescue vessel from the cruiser company. An RNLI crew member remained with the casualty vessel until they were satisfied that the handover was complete.

The lifeboat returned to the Station and was ready for service at 6 pm.

Volunteer helm, Eleanor Hooker advises boat users ‘to remain with the navigation marks, and to ask locals about hazards before setting out from harbour’.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI was requested by Valentia Coast Guard to assist four people, three adults and a child on a 35ft cruiser aground behind the Corrakeen Islands in Dromineer Bay yesterday.

The lifeboat was launched at 5.39pm with helm Eleanor Hooker, Dom Sharkey, Owen Cavanagh and Joe O’Sullivan on board. Winds were easterly, force 2 and visibility was good.

The crew arrived on scene within three minutes. The crew took soundings of depths as they approached the casualty vessel. An RNLI volunteer transferred to the cruiser and established that all passengers were safe and unharmed. He requested them to put on their lifejackets.

Once the lifeboat volunteer was satisfied that the cruiser was not holed, he set up for the tow. The lifeboat then took the cruiser off the rocks and into safe water, where its drives and steering were checked, and found to be undamaged.

 With two volunteers on the cruiser with her passengers, the lifeboat accompanied them to Dromineer Harbour where the vessel was safely tied up alongside at 6.20pm. 

The lifeboat returned to the station as was ready for service at 7 pm. 

 Volunteer helm Eleanor Hooker advises boat users to ‘remain within the navigation marks, and to ask locals about hazards before setting out from harbour’.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A new Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat has officially gone on service at Lough Derg RNLI. The volunteer crew at Lough Derg have had intensive training over recent months in preparation for the new lifeboat Jean Spier to be officially declared a search and rescue asset.

The lifeboat will now replace Elsinore, the station’s outgoing Atlantic 75 lifeboat which while on service on Lough Derg since November 2015, launched 51 times with her crews coming to the aid of 163 people.

Fast, manoeuvrable and reliable, the Atlantic 85 operates in rough weather conditions, capable in daylight up to force seven and at night, to force six winds. 

The new lifeboat, an Atlantic 85 is the latest version of the B class, introduced into the fleet in 2005. The lifeboat is 8.5 metres in length and weighs 1.9 tonnes. Improvements on its predecessor include a faster top speed of 35 knots, radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for casualties.

She is powered by two 115 horsepower engines and has a stronger hull and greater top speed than her predecessor. The added radar allows the crew to operate more effectively in poor visibility and she also has VHF direction-finding equipment. 

The vessel also has a manually operated self-righting mechanism which combined with inversion-proofed engines keep the lifeboat operational even after capsize. The lifeboat can also be beached in an emergency without causing damage to its engines or steering gear.

The Atlantic 85 carries a full suite of communication and electronic navigation aids, as well as a searchlight, night-vision equipment and flares for night-time operations. 

The new lifeboat was donated to the RNLI by Robert Spier and his late wife Jean Spier. In 2016, Robert and Jean who were active supporters of the RNLI, intended that together they would donate a new lifeboat to the charity, and were delighted when the Atlantic 85 became available to support. Sadly, Jean died in October 2017. The new lifeboat is named Jean Spier in her honour.

 Speaking following the new lifeboat going on service, Liam Moloney, Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘We are delighted following the excitement of our lifeboat arriving and now after months of preparation and intensive training by our committed volunteer crew, that our lifeboat is officially on service.

‘While we had an excellent search and rescue asset in the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, the 85 has the improvements of four stroke engines, radar, room for four crew and an extra metre of length. We are confident this will be a great resource on the lake and appreciate the RNLI's investment in our lifeboat station.

‘The crew would like to express a special thanks to Helena Duggan, the RNLI’s Trainer Assessor and her training colleagues for their continued dedicated support and specialist guidance over the last few months in preparation for the lifeboat to go live.’ 

Niamh McCutcheon, Lough Derg RNLI Fundraising Chair added: ‘I welcome the arrival of the Atlantic 85 kindly donated in memory of the late Jean Spier to Lough Derg.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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#RNLI - Lough Derg RNLI assisted four people after their boat ran aground when they took a wrong turn above Victoria Lock on the River Shannon yesterday (Sunday 9 September)

Water levels at the casualty vessel’s location were very low when the lifeboat arrived at 2.11pm, a little over an hour after launch.

All four on board the casualty boat were safe and unharmed. The skipper had dropped anchor as there was a strong flow, combined with wind, at the location.

While the vessel had sustained damage to its propellers and drive, its hull was not holed.

The lifeboat took the casualty vessel under tow back to the main navigation channel and onwards to Shamrock Marina at Banagher, the closest safe harbour and where the vessel had a mooring at which it was safely tied alongside at 4pm.

Peter Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg Lifeboat Station, advises boat owners to carry up-to-date charts and to familiarise themselves with the buoyage on the Shannon.

Meanwhile, Baltimore RNLI launched their inshore lifeboat around 2.50pm to a sailing sloop that had filled with water near the West Cork harbour.

Within three minutes the inshore lifeboat reached the casualty boat, a 6m sailing vessel with two on board which had been caught up on pot buoys and knocked over by a strong gust.

Another RIB with a Baltimore lifeboat crew member was an ready on standby as the sailors bailed out their vessel, and after helping to speed up the process, they soon had the boat clear of water and ready to sail back to Baltimore Harbour unassisted.

Much earlier on Sunday, Portaferry RNLI were part of the multi-agency response to a Mayday call from a lone sailor on a 20m act grounded at Phennick Point near Ardglass in Co Down.

Due to the vessel’s position on dangerous rocks and with fishing gear in the area, only Portaferry’s inshore lifeboat was small enough to manoeuvre through the rocks and rough seas to retrieve the sailor and transfer him safety to Ardglass Marina.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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