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Cyclists will ‘Lap the Lake’ for the third year running to raise funds for Lough Derg RNLI on Saturday 11 May.

With Lough Derg RNLI marking 20 years of lifeboat service on the lake in the same year that the charity that saves lives at sea celebrates its bicentenary, the 2024 fundraiser will be a doubly special occasion.

As with the 2023 event, cyclists may again choose between a 120km route or a shorter 65km one.

The longer route will take participants on a full circuit of Lough Derg, giving entrants the chance to cycle through three counties: Tipperary, Clare and Galway. The shorter route will take cyclists to just beyond Killaloe, to a turnaround point at the Twomilegate lakeside amenity park.

Whichever route riders chose, they will have the opportunity to delight in the outstanding beauty of the lake and the River Shannon.

Riders’ safety and well-being is also a priority, with first-aid providers, out-riders, marshals and bike maintenance stops along the routes, as well as comfort and refreshment stations.

“We were thrilled with the success of the previous two years’ Lap the Lake cycle,” said Laura Clarke, chair of the event committee. “We were blessed with fine weather so that cyclists were able to enjoy the most breathtaking scenery around the lake.

“2024 is a particularly special year for the RNLI as the charity marks 200 years of lifesaving work. This event, now open for registration, is about raising funds for our local lifeboat on Lough Derg, which celebrates 20 years of service.”

Event tickets are €65 per person for the full route and €50 for the shorter route. All funds raised will go to Lough Derg RNLI. To find out more and to book your place among the riders this year, visit the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A Little Book of Happy Swimming Locations is a new guide to some of the hidden gems and well-known spots ‘for taking a dip’ all around Ireland.

Launched last month, this is the second book on the theme by open water swimmer Catherine Mulcahy. In 2021 her first book, A Little Book of Swimming Happiness, was a great success and raised over €10,000 for the RNLI.

Speaking of her love for open water swimming, the author says: “As long as I remember I have loved the sea. My mother initially introduced me to sea swimming at The Strand when I was a toddler, a local swim spot near our family home in Cork. This ‘grá’ for the sea has since evolved into a genuinely unconditional love!”

A Little Book of Happy Swimming Locations celebrates swimming around Ireland and features 50 contributors favourite swim spots.

The book is beautifully presented with photographs and commentary from swimmers who share their favourite swimming spots with the readers.

The book has a cover price of €20 with 100% of the proceeds going to the RNLI. It is available online from Nourish at and also available to purchase in-store in south Co Dublin at 64 Wine and Cavistons in Glasthule village and Cafe du Journal in Monkstown. All stockists are selling the book at 0% commission.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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

As the RNLI launches its annual Christmas fundraising appeal, with a focus on the generations of families who have volunteered their time and commitment to ensure the charity’s lifesaving service has continued for nearly 200 years, there will be a new coxswain this Christmas on the Aran Islands.

Aonghus Ó hIarnáin started volunteering with the RNLI at 17 and always had a desire to move up in the organisation and become a coxswain.

“When my fiancée Treasa and I had moved home from Australia and then had our daughter, I had to start working away on ferries and research vessels as an engineer again,“ he says. “This wasn’t ideal as I was spending a lot of time away.

“When the coxswain job came, I committed myself to training and preparing for the job. I was fortunate to be offered the job then which I gladly accepted. It suits us as we want to stay on the island to raise the family and stay close to both our parents and this job allows us to do so.”

As coxswain, Aonghus is in charge of the lifeboat and her crew at sea and as such, he is all too aware of the importance of training.

Aran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aran IslandsAran Islands RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI/Aran Islands

“Regular training for everyone on the crew is important,” he says. “Everyone needs to get familiar with the person they are onboard with so that when a call out comes, you know that the person next to you is going to do their part correctly and safely.

“It is rare that the same crew do two call-outs after each other, so knowing that no matter who shows up, they have the same standard of training is important for the search and rescue capability of the station. It allows the coxswain on the day to have full confidence in the crew and allows the crew to have full confidence in whichever coxswain is in command on the day.

“Allowing the crew to get as much time on the lifeboat as possible is important. Practice makes perfect and when you see a trained person in an emergency, its shows by the level of calmness they have at that critical time.”

The role of full-time coxswain can be busy, says Aonghus: “The job is demanding time-wise, and it is difficult for the family more so. There have been several times where we plan on going for dinner, for example, only for the pager to go off and then you are gone for a few hours.

“There is a need to know where somebody is at all times. For example, on a weekend if Treasa goes for a walk or to the shop and I have our baby on my own, if the pager goes off then we need a plan for where Treasa is gone so that I can collect her with our baby and then they come to the station with me and take my car or that I bring the baby to the station and get Treasa’s parents, who are living close the station, to collect her. This is the side that people don’t see when you are full-time on call.

“Credit goes to Treasa for adapting to this and having patience with me as the demands of the job take me at uncertain times day or night. Without her support, it wouldn’t have been possible to take this job and make it work. She understands how vital the RNLI is to the island and the west coast and that we signed up to help keep it going.”

‘For the time you give at the RNLI, you will receive good training, good memories, and a great sense of achievement after every call as you know you are making a difference’

As for what he finds most rewarding, Aonghus says it’s a combination of the people you meet, the training and skills you gain and the opportunity to make a difference.

“You also have the chance to work alongside members of the community ranging in ages and experiences and backgrounds that you would normally never get the chance to work with,” he says. “Along with this, you are keeping a vital lifesaving service going on an island which needs it.

“For the time you give at the RNLI, you will receive good training, good memories, and a great sense of achievement after every call as you know you are making a difference. I started my journey in the RNLI 13 years ago and I have never looked back and it has served me well.”

Whatever weather winter throws at them, RNLI crew members like those on the Aran Islands are ready to battle the elements to save lives at sea. Their rescues are only made possible by the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews.

As he prepares for his first Christmas on call as coxswain, Aonghus says: “There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families — especially at Christmas. But as crew we couldn’t launch our lifeboat without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our own families.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, and enable the charity to continue its lifesaving work, visit RNLI.org/WinterAppeal.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

At a recent awards ceremony, some 14 members of Clifden RNLI’s fundraising branch received long service medals recognising their combined 400 years of fundraising in Connemara.

As a fully independent charity organisation, the RNLI relies on donations to fund its lifesaving work. The Clifden lifeboat crew are on call 24/7 but they require ongoing training, well maintained equipment, lifeboats and shore equipment to carry out their mission of saving lives at sea.

None of this would be possible without the dedication, commitment and drive of our local fundraisers who have each dedicated many years to supporting their local coastal community.

The commitment and selflessness of Clifden’s fundraising volunteers was acknowledged by Danny Curran, RNLI regional engagement manager.

Speaking at the ceremony, he said: “I know how much thought and effort goes in raising every euro for our charity and I’m extremely grateful to the volunteers here today who have worked tirelessly on this goal for decades. In rain, hail and snow; every week, every month, every year, you have ensured we can keep our life saving services running.

“These awards are not just to celebrate the fundraising volunteers for their incredible achievements over many years but also their families and friends who play a key role in supporting our work.”

Long service award recipients include Padraig Mc Donagh from Kilkerrin who is the longest serving fundraiser in the branch, having dedicated an incredible 55 years to Clifden RNLI; Eileen and Oliver Coyne from Cleggan, who are responsible for the legendary RNLI Christmas hamper raffle; and Anne Marie Bennett, outgoing chair of the fundraising branch and highly valued RNLI volunteer.

A special moment was observed for Lavinia Joyce who sadly passed away in August this year. Lavinia was the first chairperson of the Clifden/Connemara fundraising branch, or the “Clifden Ladies Guild” as it was known when she joined in 1992. Her enthusiasm, dedication and sense of purpose to be involved with the RNLI was infectious. She was an inspiration to all of us and an absolute lady. Rest in peace, Lavinia.

Clifden RNLI Long Service Awardees 2023:

  • Geraldine Heanue
  • AnneMarie Bennett
  • Padraic Griffin
  • Stewart Freeman
  • Collin Mullen
  • Paraic Mc Donagh
  • Percy Hyland
  • Oliver and Eileen Coyne
  • Jacqueline Hannon
  • Nancy Duffy
  • Lavinia Joyce
  • Ann Day
  • Thomas King
Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The volunteer crew of Sligo Bay RNLI served up another fish supper last Friday (6 October) to 200 guests at The Strand Bar in Strandhill.

The seafood night raised an amazing €6,587, all of which will go towards training and equipping the lifeboat station’s volunteers to help save lives at sea.

This year, Starcrest Seafoods was the main sponsor for the night with some of their team accompanying the crew on the night.

Sligo Bay is celebrating 25 years of service in Rosses Point this year. Between its founding in 1998 and ythe end of 2022, Sligo Bay’s volunteers launched 420 times on service, with 368 people rescued, 28 of whom were lives saved.

Starcrest Seafoods was the main sponsor for the seafood supper hosted by Sligo Bay RNLI volunteers at The Strand Bar in Strandhill on Friday 6 October | Credit: RNLI/Donal HackettStarcrest Seafoods was the main sponsor for the seafood supper hosted by Sligo Bay RNLI volunteers at The Strand Bar in Strandhill on Friday 6 October | Credit: RNLI/Donal Hackett

Over the years, the lifeboat crew have spent 1,592 hours at sea on call-outs, not counting the twice-weekly training that takes place throughout the year.

But all of this would not be possible without the support and donations for which the team is extremely grateful.

Speaking after the seafood night, organiser Mark Ballantine said: “The support that Sligo Bay RNLI received is just tremendous. I would like to thank Starcrest Seafood for their sponsorship this year and all our other sponsors: The Strand Bar for hosting and cooking for us, those who donated raffle prizes and all who turned out and supported our night. Tickets sold out incredible fast this year. I am looking forward to next year already.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Musician Niall Breslin has set out on a challenging 300km voyage kayaking the River Shannon from Dowra to Limerick to raise funds for mental-health resources.

Breslin, or Bressie as he’s widely known, is part of a group with five other inexperienced kayakers taking part in The Rising charity challenge, as Newstalk reports.

“I haven’t thought it through in any shape,” Bressie told Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder before heading to the start in Co Cavan,

“I don’t fit in a kayak as well which is a bad starting point - so, I’m kind of squeezing myself into it.”

Commenting on social media on Friday (30 June) after his first day on the paddle, from Dowra to Carrick-on-Shannon, Bressie said: “It was no what I expected. A real challenge.”

He added: “We had to talk the first 3km because of rocks and how shallow it was. Lough Allen hit us hard. Wasn’t in a great mood. We had to fight every second to get across. We are all exhausted and I also sprained [an] ankle but we are still rocking.

“Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support us today. Really helped get us through.”

Newstalk has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

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

Dublin Bay sailor Guy O’Leary is already a third of the way into his MileADayInMay fundraiser, in which he’s challenging himself to swim a mile each day during the month of May in aid of cancer research.

And this year he will be joined by 70 swimmers both in person and around the world doing their own miles to support his important fundraising effort.

As regular Afloat readers will know, Guy — son of Dun Laoghaire Marina developer and local sailing stalwart Michael O’Leary — was diagnosed with cancer after a routine check-up in November 2017 at the age of 34.

Thanks to the efforts of an “incredible surgeon” and other specialists, not to mention 11 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, Guy has long since regained his health.

And he’s been determined to give back to those who helped keep him alive — starting with first fundraiser in May 2019 when he swam a mile each day in May in various locations, whether in pools, inland waters or the sea.

“Having been through the horrors of cancer, I want to do everything I can to help the research effort,” Guy says. “Over the past few of years, we have raised enough money to fund 8 years of PhD cancer research.”

For the third year running Guy is fundraising both for cancer research in Ireland, which has garnered more than €12,000 already, and for Cancer Research UK which has raised another £1,900. Follow his progress on Instagram.

Published in Sea Swim

Final preparations are under way at the three Donegal-based RNLI lifeboat stations at Bundoran and Lough Swilly and Arranmore for the charity’s Mayday Mile challenge which will see six volunteer crew — two from each station — climb Donegal’s highest summit, Errigal, this Saturday 13 May in full RNLI crew kit.

Since the fundraiser was announced a few weeks ago, the six lifeboat crew members — Chris Fox and Brian Fowley (Bundoran), Stephen Quigley and Barry Nixon (Lough Swilly) and Aisling Cox and Brian Proctor (Arranmore) — have been psyching themselves up for the challenge. Gym sessions have been completed and many steps have been climbed in preparation for the event.

Killian O’Kelly, RNLI water safety education manager and organiser of the fundraiser has been encouraging the six crew as they ready for the challenge.

“We’ll be right there with them on the day — we know it’ll be a tough one for them,” he said. “I’d like to thank everyone who has donated so far and remind people who would like to contribute that the JustGiving page remains open and details can be found on each station’s Facebook page.

“A massive thanks also to the crew from each station who have volunteered to complete the challenge. It’s not what the crews are used to, they face challenging conditions at sea when they go and help those in trouble on the water, but this is very different for them. We also want to show people where their funds go and that we are grateful for every cent to give us.”

During the month of May the RNLI is encouraging members of the public to complete their own ‘Mayday Mile’ however they see fit. The money raised could help RNLI lifesavers have everything they need to keep families safe this summer. Warmer weather draws more people to the water and RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews will drop whatever they’re doing when a call for help comes in.

For updates on the Errigal climb on the day, keep an eye on the social media channels of Arranmore RNLI, Bundoran RNLI and Lough Swilly RNLI.

Donations to the Errigal challenge can be made via the JustGiving page and the final sum will be divided equally between the three Donegal stations.

Elsewhere, volunteers with Dunmore East RNLI are preparing for their own vertical Mayday Mile by summiting the highest peaks in both the Comeragh and Knockmealdown mountains, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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THE RORC:

  • Established in 1925, The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) became famous for the biennial Fastnet Race and the international team event, the Admiral's Cup. It organises an annual series of domestic offshore races from its base in Cowes as well as inshore regattas including the RORC Easter Challenge and the IRC European Championship (includes the Commodores' Cup) in the Solent
  • The RORC works with other yacht clubs to promote their offshore races and provides marketing and organisational support. The RORC Caribbean 600, based in Antigua and the first offshore race in the Caribbean, has been an instant success. The 10th edition took place in February 2018. The RORC extended its organisational expertise by creating the RORC Transatlantic Race from Lanzarote to Grenada, the first of which was in November 2014
  • The club is based in St James' Place, London, but after a merger with The Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes now boasts a superb clubhouse facility at the entrance to Cowes Harbour and a membership of over 4,000