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Displaying items by tag: Achill Island

One of Achill Island’s last hunters of basking sharks has welcomed the recent resurgence of the now-protected species, as The Guardian reports.

Brian McNeill once joined the currach crews armed with harpoons who slaughtered hundreds of the marine wildlife giants for their livers and fins, the sale of which made a good living for the Co Mayo islanders and others along the West Coast.

That was until the 1980s, when some three decades of hunts came to an end due to the dwindling numbers of basking sharks in Achill and elsewhere along the Atlantic coast — a situation McNeill blames on harmful salmon trawling practices.

But the endangered fish has rebounded in Irish waters in the 21st century, with this year’s first sighting off the West Coast as early as mid February.

As marine science experts probe the mystery as to their return, basking sharks have also been afforded greater protection by both the Irish and British governments.

And from Achill’s terra firma, Dooagh resident McNeill is more than content to hunt them with his eyes rather than a harpoon.

“It’s lovely to see them,” he says. “I’m just happy that we’re not killing them any more.”

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Two men were rescued off the coast of Achill Island on Sunday, April 14th, when their small open pleasure craft began drifting off Old Head. The Irish Coast Guard requested the assistance of Achill Island RNLI, who quickly launched their all-weather lifeboat 'Sam and Ada Moody', with a six-man crew on board.

The drifting vessel was located around two miles east of Old Head, and on arrival, the crew observed that the two men on board were both wearing Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and were in good health. After assessing the situation, the Westport Coast Guard Delta was called to establish a tow and take the men and their small craft back to the safety of Old Head, with the lifeboat standing by in case further assistance was needed. 

Once the two men were safely back on shore, the lifeboat departed for Achill Island, arriving 25 minutes later. Ciaran Needham, Achill Island RNLI's volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, praised the crew and their colleagues in the Westport Coast Guard for their speedy response. He emphasised the importance of wearing PFDs and calling for help when needed, saying: "Even with the very best of plans and preparations, the most experienced boat users can find themselves in need of help at sea. If you see someone in need of help on or near the water, don't ever hesitate to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard. Our crew are always happy to respond if requested to help."

The incident took place in good visibility, with a westerly Force 6 wind and moderate sea conditions. Thanks to the quick thinking and collaborative efforts of the RNLI and the Coast Guard, the two men were safely rescued and brought back to shore.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island RNLI carried out a medical evacuation off Clare Island on Monday night (25 March).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch the station’s all-weather lifeboat just before 9pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to medevac a casualty who had sustained an arm injury.

The lifeboat launched shortly after under coxswain Patrick McNamara and with six crew members onboard.

There was poor visibility at the time with the darkness of night and rain. The wind was blowing south-westerly Force 4 and there were calm to moderate seas.

Once on scene, the crew assisted the casualty onto the lifeboat where they were then safely transferred to Roonagh.

Speaking following the call-out, Michael Cattigan, Achill Island RNLI mechanic who was on the lifeboat said: “This was the first call-out of the year for the station and we were delighted to be able to help. We wish the patient a speedy recovery.

“As we approach the Easter weekend and start to enjoy the longer evenings, we also want to remind anyone planning a trip or activity at sea, to enjoy themselves but to respect the water.

“Always wear a lifejacket or suitable flotation device and always carry a means of calling for help. If going out on a boat, check your engine in advance and make sure you have enough fuel for your trip.

“Always check the weather and tide times before venturing out and make sure someone on the shore knows where you are going and when you are due back. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Mayo’s Achill island is first stop on a tour of Ireland’s holy wells for a new documentary series on TG4.

“As islanders we have a special draw to the sea, the sea attracts people and has kept us alive,” the makers of the new documentary series, presented by Manchán Magan, state..

“ Even today more than two million people live within five km of the coast,” they state, and the first episode profiles the wells on the Irish coastline.

“Ag Triall ar an Tobar” “dives into the myths and legends associated with Ireland’s holy wells and asks what is it about these therapeutic landscapes that retain a presence in today’s world”.

In the first episode filmed on Achill island, Magan meets John Twin MacConmara and Mary Jo Uí Chaoimh.

Michéal Ó Maoileáin recounts the importance of holy wells to Connemara’s history and Liam Suipéil speaks about St. Declan and his reign in Ardmore, Waterford.

Holy wells in Ireland hold a unique role as symbols of Irish culture and a connection with the natural environment. These sacred wells pre-date the Christian era, usually dedicated to Saint names that still echo like Bríd, Pádraig and Colmcille, and there is clear evidence that they were originally pagan sites.

"Ag Triall ar an Tobar" is produced by Ann Ní Chíobháin, and directed by Medb Johnson of Midas Productions.


The first episode will be broadcast this Thursday, March 14th, on TG4 at 8pm.

Published in Maritime TV
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A long-standing volunteer fundraiser for Achill Island RNLI has been honoured by the charity’s chief executive for her generous support of the Co Mayo lifeboat station and its work in saving lives at sea.

Alexandra Van Tuyll, who has been volunteering for the charity that saves lives at sea since 1999, was presented with a framed Certificate of Thanks by the RNLI’s head of region Anna Classon during a recent visit to the lifeboat station.

The award — which was arranged by the chairperson of the Fundraising Branch, Anthony McNamara — came as a surprise to Alexandra, who was honoured in front of many of her fellow fundraising volunteers and the coxswain and mechanic of the island lifeboat station.

The official citation records that Alexandra Van Tuyll is awarded the RNLI’s Certificate of Thanks in recognition of her generous support of Achill Island Lifeboat Station since 1999.

Alexandra Van Tuyll with RNLI head of region Anna Classon, fundraising volunteers and representatives from station management and operational lifeboat crew | Credit: RNLI/Niamh StephensonAlexandra Van Tuyll with RNLI head of region Anna Classon, fundraising volunteers and representatives from station management and operational lifeboat crew | Credit: RNLI/Niamh Stephenson

Her contributions have included Christmas card sales, art exhibitions and donations. In 2012, she produced a book titled Sea meets Land: Around Ireland In Aid of the RNLI, showcasing her extensive visits to the stations around the coast of Ireland. Her valued contributions help the RNLI to save lives.

Speaking on presenting Alexandra with her award, Anna Classon said: “I feel I have come full circle in presenting this award. I started my career with the RNLI as a fundraising manager on the West Coast of Ireland and Alexandra was someone I came to know early on in that role.

“The lifeboat is a hugely important part of this community and having a fundraising group who will step up and support the lifeboat crew, to ensure that they can save lives at sea, means that this work continues. From the range of fundraising activities that Alexandra has supported and continues to champion, that future is in good hands. This recognition is very much deserved and I am delighted to be here to present it.”

Adding his thanks on behalf of the Achill Island RNLI fundraising branch, Anthony McNamara said: “This is a fitting tribute to the work Alexandra does on behalf of the lifeboat service here in Achill. We have a wonderful team and the community are very generous in their support of our lifeboat crew. We couldn’t do it without volunteers like Alexandra and her endless enthusiasm and dedication for raising vital funds for saving lives at sea. Long may it continue.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today announced that the application for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for “Achill Island Sea Salt” has been successful. The European Commission Regulation advising of the registration of “Achill Island Sea Salt” as a Protected Designation of Origin has been published today in the Official Journal of the European Union and will come into force on the twentieth day following its publication.

“Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) is a name which identifies a product: (a) originating in a specific place, region or, in exceptional cases, a country; (b) whose quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors; and (c) the production steps of which all take place in the defined geographical area. Achieving PDO status will mean that producers of “Achill Island Sea Salt” may use the PDO logo on their products.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted to announce that Achill Island Sea Salt has been successful in their application for PDO status, further strengthening Ireland’s reputation for quality food products. I would like to congratulate the applicant, Achill Island Sea Salt, on this substantial achievement. PDO status provides both recognition of the exceptional quality and unique characteristics of this hand harvested sea salt from the waters around Achill Island and reflects the dedication of our local producers.”

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as the Competent Authority for Geographical Indications, guided the applicant through the application process. Following the National Opposition Procedure in 2020, the application was submitted to the European Commission for scrutiny following which the Member State/Third country opposition procedure was completed without opposition.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Achill Island RNLI came to the aid of an unmanned fishing trawler in severe weather conditions on Friday, August 11th, following a call from the Irish Coast Guard. The 36ft trawler was moored between Purteen Harbour and Inishgalloon at Achill Island and was in danger of drifting dangerously close to the rocky shore in stormy conditions, pulling its anchor in the process.

The volunteer crew of the all-weather lifeboat ‘Sam and Ada Moody’, led by Coxswain Dave Curtis and consisting of Michael Cattigan, Mechanic, Thomas Ruddy, Stephen McGreal, Ivan Swarbrigg, and Terry Hogarth, launched shortly before 1.30 pm. Despite storm force winds and 3-metre swells, the crew assessed the situation and decided to put two crew members on board the drifting trawler.

The trawler was then taken on tow and brought to another mooring nearby, where it was safely secured. The two crew members returned to the lifeboat, and the team made its way back to the station, arriving shortly before 4pm.

Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran Needham, praised the crew's bravery in challenging conditions, saying, "Our crew train for all eventualities and they were delighted to be able to come to the rescue of this vessel this afternoon. If you see someone, or some vessel in need of help, don’t ever hesitate to call the Coast Guard and ask for help. Our crew are always happy to respond when needed."

Thanks to the quick thinking and bravery of the Achill Island RNLI crew, the unmanned trawler was saved from certain disaster. The RNLI remains committed to providing a vital, life-saving service to all those in need, no matter the weather conditions.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the European Commission’s recent publication for a three-month member state/third country opposition procedure of the application for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for Achill Island Sea Salt.

Achill Island Sea Salt is the name given to a hand-harvested sea salt from the waters around Achill Island in Co Mayo.

Minister McConalogue said: “I am delighted that the European Commission has finalised its scrutiny of the PDO application for Achill Island Sea Salt and that the application has reached this stage of the procedure. The publication is a requirement under EU rules.”

The publication of the application represents the next phase of consultation on the application for PDO status for Achill Island Sea Sal”.

It is now open to other EU member states and third countries having a legitimate interest to make submissions on the application with the Commission, within a three-month period from the date of publication.

The minister added: “The PDO application for Achill Island Sea Salt indicates the preservation of traditional production methods, promoting heritage and supporting local economies. I commend all those who have been involved in bringing the application to this stage.”

PDO status was previously granted for Oriel Sea Salt harvested at Clogherhead in Co Louth, as reported on in August 2016.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

Achill Island RNLI responded to a request to assist a woman requiring medical evacuation from Inishturk this morning, Friday, 14 July. The request came from the Irish Coast Guard, who had also requested the assistance of Sligo based helicopter, Rescue 118.

The volunteer crew launched shortly after 7.30am under the command of Sean Curtain, Relief Coxswain, with six additional crew on board. Sea conditions were moderate at the time with a gentle to moderate breeze. There was some cloud but visibility was good. The passage took the all-weather lifeboat, ‘Sam and Ada Moody’ south-west of Clare Island, arriving at Inishturk Island shortly before 8.30am.

On arrival at Inishturk, the lifeboat was met by the casualty’s nephew, who transported four of the crew to the casualty’s house on the other side of the island, where Rescue 118 had already landed.

The woman was assessed by the crew of Rescue 118 and the lifeboat crew assisted with transferring the woman to the helicopter. They then secured the area for a safe take-off for the aircraft.

The crew returned to the lifeboat and the lifeboat departed Inishturk Island for Achill Island, arriving back at the station at 10.30am.

Speaking after the call out, Michael Cattigan, Achill Island RNLI Mechanic said: “This is another excellent example of inter-agency cooperation. We train regularly with Rescue 118 for various situations both at sea and on land and we were delighted to be able to offer our assistance again on this occasion for the benefit of this woman who needed help. We wish her well for a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island and Ballyglass RNLI in Co Mayo are among six charities that will benefit from the proceeds raised from the hugely popular annual 5k Runway Fun Run, which will take place on the runway at Ireland West Airport this September.

Ireland West Airport made the announcement about this year’s fun run on Thursday (22 June) in partnership with Portwest.

Runners and walkers will take-off down the runway at 7pm on Saturday 9 September and complete a 5km course with a difference.

All are welcome to attend what promises to be a fantastic evening for all the family, raising much needed funds for our charity partners in 2023.

The airport charity partners for 2023 are the RNLI lifeboat stations in Achill Island and Ballyglass, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Diabetes Ireland, Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Children’s Cancer Fund and Mayo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Registration is now open but placs are limited. Entry costs €20 per adult and €5 for under-16s. A special family rate of €40 will be available for families of two adults and two kids.

All participants will receive a race T-shirt and complimentary car parking and refreshments at the airport will be provided on the day.

To mark the special event, all participants who register online to take part will be entered into a draw to win two return flights to London Heathrow with Aer Lingus — the airport’s newest daily service launched in March of this year.

A ‘virtual option’ will also be available again this year for those who wish to support the charities but are unable to make it on the day and would like to do a virtual run or walk.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Star keelboat is a 6.9 metres (23 ft) one-design racing keelboat for two people designed by Francis Sweisguth in 1910.

The Star was an Olympic keelboat class from 1932 through to 2012, the last year keelboats appeared at the Summer Olympics at which Ireland's representatives were Peter O'Leary and David Burrows.

Ireland has performed well in the class internationally thanks to some Olympic campaigns including a bronze medal at the Star World Championships in 2000, won by Mark Mansfield and David O'Brien.

The boat is sloop-rigged, with a mainsail larger in proportional size than any other boat of its length. Unlike most modern racing boats, it does not use a spinnaker when sailing downwind. Instead, when running downwind a whisker pole is used to hold the jib out to windward for correct wind flow.

Early Stars were built from wood, but modern boats are of fibreglass and carbon construction.

The boat must weigh at least 671 kg (1,479 lb) with a maximum total sail area of 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft).

The Star class pioneered an unusual circular boom vang track, which allows the vang to effectively hold the boom down even when the boom is turned far outboard on a downwind run.

Another notable aspect of Star sailing is the extreme hiking position adopted by the crew and at times the helmsman, who normally use a harness to help hang low off the windward side of the boat with only their lower legs inside.

At A Glance – Star Specifications

Designer Francis Sweisguth
Year 1910
Crew 2 (Skipper + Crew)
S + 1.5 C ≤ 250 kg (550 lb)[1]
Draft 1.016 m (3 ft 4 in)
Hull Type keelboat
Hull weight ≥ 671 kg (1,479 lb)
(including keel)
LOA 6.922 m (22 ft 9 in)
LWL 4.724 m (15 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.734 m (5 ft 8 in) at deck
1.372 m (4 ft 6 in) at chine
Hull appendages
Keel/board type bulb keel
401.5 ± 7 kg (885 ± 15 lb)
Rig type sloop
Mast length 9.652 m (31 ft 8 in)
Mainsail area 20.5 m2 (221 sq ft)
Jib/genoa area  6.0 m2 (65 sq ft)
Upwind sail area ≤ 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft)

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