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Displaying items by tag: Aran Islands

Volunteering for the RNLI is truly a family affair for lifeboat crews in Co Wexford.

While Robbie Connolly is looking forward to his first Christmas on call since becoming a helm at Wexford RNLI earlier this year, his father-in-law Eugene Kehoe — a seasoned coxswain at Kilmore Quay — will also be ready to answer the call if there is an emergency at sea.

As the lifesaving charity continues its Christmas Appeal, Robbie and Eugene will skip their dinner for the difficult seas of winter should their pagers sound.

And they are urging people across Wexford — home to five stations at Courtown, Wexford, Kilmore Quay, Rosslare Harbour and Fethard — to help their crews, and the thousands of other volunteer crews on call over the Christmas period, to continue their lifesaving work.

“I am 10 years on the lifeboat crew at Wexford RNLI,” says Robbie, who is an engineer by day. “I have always had a love for the sea but when I finished college and started working alongside crew members and a deputy launching authority, I was encouraged to join, and I am delighted to be involved.”

As a helm, Robbie is responsible for the inshore lifeboat and his fellow crew during the launch of the lifeboat and while at sea.

“I have had one callout as helm so far and it was to a yacht with three people onboard that had got into difficulty on a falling tide and ran aground as it was coming into Wexford Harbour.

“Where our station is located, there are shifting sands and the channel is changing regularly so time was of the essence and with the callout happening at night, there was the added challenge of working in the dark. But thankfully, we had a safe and successful outcome.

“There are a few differences in being a helm,” he adds, “you are more conscious of looking after your own crew as well as those you are going to rescue and the conditions at sea.

“However, what my helm’s training taught me was to have more confidence in my decision making and skills ability and I suppose in that sense it is about having self-belief and making your 10 years of training and experience become second nature when responding to a callout.”

Shane Crawford joins his brother Colum on the Aran Islands RNLI crew | Credit: RNLIShane Crawford joins his brother Colum on the Aran Islands RNLI crew | Credit: RNLI

Elsewhere, Aran Islands RNLI will have two new volunteer lifeboat crew on call, ready to drop everything and help launch the lifeboat to save those in trouble at sea.

Fisherman and father-of-five Georgie Gillan and NUIG student Shane Crawford are the most recent recruits to join the lifeboat.

Georgie says: “I’ve grown up around the sea and I’ve seen its power and its potential. I’m enjoying the training, and learning a different set of skills, all based around search and rescue and saving others.

“Being out on the lifeboat, you’re part of a team, the feeling of giving back is a great one. The standard of the kit and the training is so high and the support we get to do this job is amazing. I’m grateful to the people who support the work of the lifeboats and keep them at sea all year round.”

Meanwhile, Shane — a first year Arts student at NUIG Galway — knew from an early age that he would wear a lifeboat pager, as helping others is in his DNA.

His mother is the local community nurse and his father served with the local fire service for many years. Shane's older brother Colum is also a member of the Aran Islands RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew and is currently studying to become a paramedic.

Adding his support to the RNLI Christmas Appeal, Shane says: “It has been a dream for me to be on the lifeboat crew ever since I was very young. I feel very at home onboard the lifeboat even though I’m still new to it.

“The communication between the crew when we are out at sea is incredible and you can see the training and commitment of everyone involved. Every piece of kit has a purpose, and the RNLI are always looking to evolve and improve the equipment. It’s maintained to the highest standard and we are aware of the responsibility that comes with that.

“When the pagers goes, no lifeboat volunteer hesitates to answer the call, and these rescues would not be possible without the donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round. Thank you to everyone who supports the appeal this Christmas.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The Aran Islands RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather Severn class lifeboat yesterday (Wednesday, 8 December) to go to the aid of a fishing vessel in difficulty, during the aftermath of Storm Barra. The request to launch was made by the Irish Coast Guard at 1.14 pm and was to assist a French registered fishing vessel that had got into difficulty in poor weather off Inis Mór.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and immediately made their way to the scene. The French registered fishing vessel, 28.5 metres in length, was experiencing engine difficulty in challenging conditions with an eight-metre swell and a strong North-Westerly wind.

When the lifeboat arrived on scene, a sister ship had taken up the tow of the casualty vessel as Afloat reported earlier here. Following consultation between the casualty vessel and the Irish Coast Guard a decision was made that they would be taken into Galway Harbour under tow. The Aran Islands lifeboat crew stayed with both vessels for the duration of the passage, until they were safely moored, an operation that took over eight hours. The lifeboat crew were met at the docks by lifeboat colleague, Galway RNLI Deputy Launching Authority Paul Clearly, who looked after the crew following the long callout.

Speaking after the callout Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: 'Conditions at sea were extremely challenging and the Coast Guard was right to request the lifeboat to stand by and ensure both vessels got to safety. Towing a vessel in these conditions is slow and difficult work and with the force of the waves, it could have easily parted. If that had happened, we were ready to step in and complete the tow. Thankfully both vessels made it to safety, with the lifeboat staying alongside for the entire journey.

‘The island-based volunteer lifeboat crew didn't hesitate to respond to the callout, in what turned out to be a long day for them in difficult conditions. Thankfully everyone came home safe and well.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Aran island of Inis Mór is moving closer to energy autonomy, with the installation of almost 240 solar panels on 20 buildings on the island.

The scheme is part of a European renewable energy project currently being implemented by Údarás na Gaeltachta and Comharchumann Forbartha Árann.

The EU Horizon 2020 programme is funding the four-year research project known as ReAct (Renewable Energy for self-sustAinable Island CommuniTies).

The State’s Gaeltacht development agency Údarás na Gaeltachta is a partner in association with Comharchumann Forbartha Árann, along with 23 other partners in 11 European countries.

The REACT project began in 2019 to research energy sustainability on offshore islands.

Inis Mór, Árainn is one of three pilot islands participating in the project along with San Pietro (Italy) and La Graciosa (Spain).

Phase two on Inis Mór has been completed, according to Údaras na Gaeltachta, which means that almost 240 solar panels have been installed on four public buildings, 13 dwellings and two commercial units.

“Using innovative renewable energy technology, it is hoped that this project will lower emissions and energy costs on this Gaeltacht island,” the Gaeltacht authority says.

“It is envisaged that when this pilot scheme is completed that Inis Mór will have the potential to prove that the Island could have energy autonomy not to mention the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” it says.

The technology installed recognises how each individual building uses energy by linking technology, weather forecasts and electricity tariffs, it says.

“The system stores energy in batteries and calculates the optimum time for efficient energy usage, taking the weather and electricity tariffs into consideration,” it says.

It pays tribute to the “pioneering work” of the island’s energy co-op Comharchumann Fuinnimh Árann and the main co-op, Comharchumann Forbartha Árann Teo.

Údarás na Gaeltachta is the chief project coordinator in Ireland and is working closely with Comharchumann Forbartha Árainn Teo, NUI Galway, ESBN, SEAI, Spain’s Orduna and Mitsubishi.

The ReAct project is being implemented as part of the strategic project An Ghaeltacht Ghlas (The Green Gaeltacht) which forms a core part of Údarás na Gaeltachta’s Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025, it says.

“This project will demonstrate how renewable energy projects can address climate change, reduce energy costs using innovative technologies and find stable energy sources for small Gaeltacht communities,” Údarás na Gaeltachta’s chief executive officer Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh said.

He referred to the outcome of the recent COP 26 conference in Glasgow demonstrating “the need to act now, not later”.

Such a project could have environmental and economic benefits by linking renewable energy and storage systems with technologies to enable an integrated and digitalised smart grid which could benefit homes in Árainn and along the west coast, he said.

More information is on https://react2020.eu/

Published in Island News
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Aran Islands RNLI came to the aid of two fishermen yesterday evening after their vessel got into difficulty off Nags Head in county Clare.

The volunteer crew were asked by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to assess the situation at 3.48pm (Monday 22 November).

A 30ft fishing vessel with two people on board was having engine difficulty off Nags Head.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 115 from Shannon was also tasked and was on scene first, establishing no immediate danger to the vessel or its crew.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell with a full crew and headed straight for the vessel.

Conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas and good visibility.

Once on scene, the crew checked that the fishermen aboard the vessel were safe and well before proceeding to establish a tow line between the lifeboat and the fishing vessel. The boat was then towed to the nearest safe port at Liscannor Harbour.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: ‘The volunteer crew didn't hesitate to answer the call and we were able to get the fishermen back to the harbour before night.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew of Aran Islands RNLI were asked to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat last night, (Sunday 21 November) at 8.17 pm by the Irish Coast Guard.

A resident on the neighbouring Island of Inis Meáin was in need of further medical attention.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for Inis Meáin.

Weather conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas, clear visibility, and a light northerly breeze.

Once at the pier, the crew brought the patient safely aboard following Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and transferred the casualty into the care of the waiting ambulance crew.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: ‘We want to wish the person we helped this evening a speedy recovery. There was a great response time from our volunteers tonight which meant we could get the patient on his way to receive the medical attention he needed quickly.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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An Aran islands energy co-operative has won an international award for its work on renewable fuels.

The Aran energy co-op has secured the National Association of Municipalities of the Minor Islands (ANCIM) prize for having the “best energy system that emphasises the vital role of resident communities in the formulation of local sustainable development plans”

Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árainn Teoranta (CFOAT), as the island co-op is known, set itself a ten-year target of making the Aran islands fossil-free.

Over the past eight years, it has been retrofitting 500 homes and other buildings on the three islands, with retrofits including external wall insulation, heat pumps for hot water and heating and solar PV on rooves.

The island energy co-op has been working with NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology on EU funded research projects, including creating a micro-grid and using smart technologies and exploring seawater and solar panel conversion to hydrogen fuel.

The islands have a number of electric vehicles, serving as both vans and people carriers, over 1,000 bicycles and 30 pony and traps available for hir.

The ANCIM award is part of the “Sun, Sea and Wind awards” linked to the EU’s “Salina Isola Pilot 2019” initiative for energy transition.

The EU programme supports energy transition in smaller islands by 2030.

The contest’s jury is made up of a number of mayors of Italian islands, including Giglio and Ventotene.

The island of Samso in Denmark won an award for the best sustainable energy system with a special focus on respect for the environment and landscape.

The Scottish offshore community of Canna and the island of Palawan in the Philippines also received recognition in the awards.

CFOAT Cathaoirleach or chairman Dara Ó Maoildhia said the Aran co-op was delighted to receive the award.

“It highlights how full community ownership of energy transition projects on islands is the best way forward,” he said.

“The resident community is strengthened and empowered, quality of life improves and the local economy grows,” Ó Maoildhia said.

“Jobs are created, and the islands become a more attractive place to live. We see all of this happening on Aran,” he added.

• Lorna Siggins recently interviewed Dara Ó Maoildhia for an Afloat podcast here

Published in Island News

The Aran Islands volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their All-Weather Severn Lifeboat at 2.48 pm, yesterday (Monday, August 30th). An 11.6 metre angling boat, with nine people aboard, was experiencing engine problems at the back of Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands, while out on an angling trip.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew and headed straight for the boat. Weather conditions at the time of launching were good, with a slight East North East breeze, calm seas and good visibility

Once on the scene, the Volunteer Lifeboat crew checked that all aboard were safe and sound, before establishing a tow line.

With the tow line safely secured, the lifeboat proceeded back towards Kilronan Harbour, where the angling boat was brought alongside the pontoon.

Speaking after the call out Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: 'thankfully the weather was calm and a quick response time from the volunteer crew, meant the angling boat and all aboard were brought safely ashore without delay.'

 

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew were called to two medical evacuations from Inis Oirr and Inis Mór yesterday (Sunday 22 August).

At 3.42 pm the crew were asked by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat to a medical evacuation of a young male on a day trip to Inis Oirr who had sustained an injury to his arm after a fall from a bicycle.

The lifeboat launched under Coxswain Tommy Dirrane and a full crew onboard and headed straight for Inis Oirr. Conditions at the time of launching was good with calm seas and good visibility.

With the lifeboat alongside the pier in Inis Oirr, the patient was brought safely aboard the lifeboat by the crew. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

The second call came at 7.46pm, when the crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to transport a patient from Inis Mór who was in need of further medical attention.

With the patient safety transferred aboard the lifeboat, the lifeboat launched under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew.

Conditions at this time of launching were also good with calm seas, light winds, but a low dense fog which reduced visibility greatly.

Speaking after the call outs both Aran Island RNLI Coxswains commended the speedy reaction time from the volunteer crew members to launch the lifeboat: ‘Minutes can make all the difference and our crowd never let us down,’ said Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain Tommy Dirrane. ‘We would like to wish both patients a speedy recovery.

‘As we head into another fine weather spell, we would like to advise visitors to respect the water. If planning a trip to the beach or sea, never swim alone and always let someone know where you are going and when you are due back. Always carry a means of calling with you in a waterproof pouch or bag and always wear a lifejacket at sea.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Two Italian brothers rescued after they were knocked into the sea in the Aran Islands have returned to meet the coastguard crew who saved them.

In February 2019, Giovanni and Ricardo Zanon were struck by an unexpected wave at Poll na bPéist on Inis Mór, falling 20 metres off the cliff into the cold Atlantic.

Despite sustaining serious injury — Ricardo Zanon broke his tibia and pelvis in the fall — the brothers survived to tell the tale thanks to the swift actions of the crew of the Irish Coast Guard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Rescue 115’s winchman Philip Wrenn won a prestigious award earlier this year for his role in the rescue.

The Zanon brothers and their parents returned to Inis Mór today (Wednesday 11 August) for the first time since the incident to give thanks to Wrenn and the rest of the crew.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ricardo said of that fateful day: “I just remember a big, huge wave like a grey wall coming towards me and then it was completely dark and I thought I was going to die.”

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Rescue

Clusters of Covid-19 have resulted in medical evacuation of two young people from the largest Aran island of Inis Mór at the weekend.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, the HSE has confirmed an “increase in Covid infection activity” on Inis Mór.

The two medical evacuations took place in separate airlifts to University Hospital Galway. It is understood that both patients are in their early twenties.

The hospitality sector has been identified as the source of a number of clusters of Covid-19 on the island over the past fortnight, although the HSE said it could not comment on individual cases or outbreaks.

It is believed that the outbreaks occurred when the island’s vaccination programme was almost complete. A minority of cases were among fully vaccinated people, while several were among people who had received only their first dose of a vaccine.

The two smaller islands of Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr have remained clear of any similar outbreak to date.

The HSE told The Times that its public health and community healthcare west sections had been “liaising with businesses and health professionals” on Inis Mór to ensure “testing and tracing are being carried out promptly”.

HSE personnel have conducted Covid-19 PCR swab tests on Inis Mór on a number of days over the past week.

Inis Mór and Mayo’s Achill island have been booked as locations during the months of August and September for filming The Banshees of Inisherin, starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. The film is based on an unpublished play written by Martin McDonagh, as part of his Aran Islands trilogy.

Heather Humphreys, the rural development minister, cancelled a scheduled trip to Inis Mór last Friday, but visited Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr to approve a series of new projects as part of the government’s “Our Rural Future” programme.

Two weeks ago the HSE West director of public health, Dr Breda Smyth, warned of a “dramatic increase” in cases across the western region in a five-day period, with figures doubling in Co Mayo and tripling in Co Galway.

Read The Times here

Published in Island News
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