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Displaying items by tag: Aran Islands

The volunteer crew at Aran Islands RNLI were asked to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat just after 8pm yesterday (Sunday 4 July) to a woman in need of medical attention on Inis Mór, the largest of the Galway Bay island chain.

With the patient safely transferred aboard the lifeboat by the crew following COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the lifeboat — under coxswain Tommy Dirrane with a full crew — headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Weather conditions at the time of launching were good with calm seas and a light westerly breeze blowing, with fair visibility.

Speaking after the callout, Dirrane said: “There was a great response time from the crew which ensured we could promptly get the patient on her way to the medical attention she needed. We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew on Inis Mór were asked to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat just before noon yesterday (Tuesday 8 June) by the Irish Coast Guard for a medevac.

A woman on the neighbouring island of Inis Oírr was in need of medical attention, and due to fog she was unable to leave by a scheduled flight.

The lifeboat launched under coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew amid good weather conditions with calm seas, a light southerly wind and fair visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Oírr, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat under the supervision of the volunteer crew, following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “The crew responded without delay and we got the patient on her way to the care she needed as quickly as possible. We would like to wish the patient all the best.

“As we head into the summer months, please heed all safety advice for leisure activities on the water. Never swim alone, always let someone know when you are due back ashore if going to sea. Always bring a mobile phone to contact someone and always wear a lifejacket.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Weather permitting, a flotilla of wooden-built Galway hookers will escort an aluminium-built passenger ferry out on the first leg of its maiden voyage between Galway city and the Aran islands this morning.

Several gleoiteogs with Galway Hooker Sailing Club aim to accompany the new Aran Island Ferries fast ship out past Mutton island.

As Afloat reported previously, Named Saoirse na Farraige (freedom of the sea), the 400-seat passenger ferry was built in Hong Kong for Aran Island Ferries, the company run by the O’Brien family of An Cheathrú Rua, Co Galway.

It offers a longer sea trip but faster overall journey west from Galway city to Inis Mor.

It is almost 40 years since the O’Briens took their first passengers in the Galway hooker, An Tonaí, and then purchased their first passenger ferry named the Dún Aengus in 1983.

The family company now has a fleet of five-passenger ferries, and their routes between Ros-a-Mhíl and the three Aran islands will be complemented by the new 40-metre ship on the Galway city- Inis Mór route.

The vessel built in Cheoy Lee Shipyards in Hong Kong has a speed of 20 knots, and its master is Donegal man and former pelagic fisherman Shane McCole.

It has a capacity for 394 passengers – as in a 306 passengers on the main deck, divided into two seating areas, and a semi-covered space for 88 passengers on the top deck.

However, the ferry will be carrying reduced capacity to meet with Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

Passengers leaving for Inis Mór at 9.30am from Galway docks will have the option of a return journey via the Cliffs of Moher in Clare.

The Doolin2Aran Ferries company in Doolin, Co Clare, also offers cruises below the sea cliffs from Doolin pier.

Saoirse na Farraige claims to have “ the cleanest exhaust emission” of any ferry on Irish waters.

It is fitted leather seating, charging points and plasma screens – earning it the local nickname of “GoBus” at sea – and it has a wheelchair lift.

The O’Briens say the new route will create 15 new jobs, after what has been “a tough year for all involved in tourism”.

The Port of Galway has welcomed the first passenger ferry service from the city to the Aran Islands since 2005.

The combined Aran Island Ferries fleet of six vessels has a total facility for 1,420 passengers when at full capacity.

Ticket prices for a return journey on Saoirse na Farraige from Galway docks will be:

Adult: €49, Student/Senior: €44, Child: €25

Published in Ferry
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After 35 years of dedicated service, Aran Islands RNLI mechanic Johnny Mulkerrin retires today.

Johnny is one of Aran Islands RNLI’s longest-serving crew members having first joined the volunteer crew in 1984, as soon as he turned 17. His early passion for the lifeboat came as a child growing up watching his father, John Snr, also an active lifeboat volunteer, respond to his pager and go to the aid of those in difficulty at sea.

Having completed his secondary education on Inis Mór, Johnny went on to do a block laying course and worked in the building trade for a time while continuing to serve as a volunteer crew member on the station’s all-weather lifeboat.

In 1987, he became the emergency mechanic for Aran Islands RNLI and then in 1993 he became the station’s full-time mechanic.

From the Barnett class through to the current all-weather Severn class lifeboat, Johnny has throughout his 35 years with the charity, seen many changes as the technology on the lifeboats advanced bringing huge benefits to the area Aran Islands RNLI covers and the people it serves.

Johnny who has been on over a 1,000 call outs and recently received a 30-year Long Service Award from the RNLI recognising his selflessness, courage and commitment, said it was hard to pick out a stand out rescue. However, his abiding memory will be ‘any call where we brought a person or people home to their families. That was always a good call’.

Paying tribute to Johnny this week, Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager said: ‘Johnny has made a significant contribution to saving lives at sea off the Aran Islands for more than three decades and we are extremely grateful to him for his dedicated service throughout that time. His job as full-time mechanic ensured the operational effectiveness of the station through the operation, maintenance and repair of the lifeboat and its associated machinery and equipment. As he embarks on a new chapter, we want to thank him and wish him every good health and happiness.’

Michael Hernon, Aran Islands RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager added: ‘Over the years Johnny would have experienced all types of call outs and braved all sorts of weather and challenges at sea to help those in need. All at Aran Islands RNLI would like to wish Johnny the very best for the coming years and thank him for his years of service.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Volunteers from Aran Islands RNLI had a call out in the early hours of this morning (Monday 24 May) to medically evacuate three people involved in an accident from Inis Mór.

The crew were requested to launch their all-weather Severn class lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard at 3.50 am. The Inis Mór Fire Service was also tasked.

Three casualties were transferred aboard the lifeboat at the pontoon at Kilronan Harbour. The transfer between the crew of the Inis Mór Fire Service and the lifeboat crew proved challenging due to poor weather conditions at the time with very heavy rain and a strong wind blowing.

Once the casualties were safely onboard, the lifeboat under Coxswain John O'Donnell and a full crew, proceeded in sea conditions that were described as choppy with a south-westerly Force 6 wind blowing. There was a 2.5m sea swell and poor visibility due to the heavy rain.

Once at Rossaveal Harbour, the casualties were transferred by the lifeboat crew to the waiting ambulances.

Speaking after the call out, Aran Islands RNLI Coxswain John O'Donnell said: ‘This was a challenging call out for all involved this morning. The darkness of night and the poor weather conditions made the transfer difficult, but we are trained for situations like this and were glad to be able to help and we wish the casualties a speedy recovery.

‘Despite the early hours and the poor weather conditions, our volunteers answered their pagers this morning without hesitation or delay and I would like to commend them for that as well as thank our colleagues in the other emergency services with whom we worked with to bring the three people to safety.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Connacht Tribune reports that Inis Mór in the Aran Islands will receive some €165,000 for road resurfacing works.

Bóthar Cill Mhuirbhigh gets the largest share — €90,000 — of the allocation from the Department for Rural & Community Development.

Works on the island’s ‘Low Road’ will receive €45,000, while Bóthar Iar Airne gets €31,000.

Published in Island News
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The Aran island of Inis Oírr is facing a water shortage with night-time rationing introduced this week.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, Irish Water and Galway County Council have appealed to the islanders to conserve water for essential use.

Night-time restrictions came into place last night (May 3) from 11 pm to 7 am and will remain indefinitely. Tourism has not yet resumed on the island, although several school tours have taken place within county boundaries.

Inis Oírr, which is the southernmost of the three Aran islands with a population of just under 300, has experienced periodic water shortages over the past decade.

It has had to receive shipments of water to relieve the situation during the summer months.

However, the extent of this shortage at an early stage of the year and with few visitors due to Covid-19 has taken the community by surprise.

Although many elderly and vulnerable islanders are now vaccinated, there is also concern among residents about the availability of water for hand-washing during the pandemic.

It is understood a site was acquired for new storage tanks and it was then deemed too expensive to construct them.

Irish Water says it is committed to a “ long term solution for the provision of drinking water on Inis Oirr”, which “will be developed” as part of a national water resources plan.

However, it is expected this will take some time, as submissions on a national draft framework plan for water resources are currently being reviewed.

Sewage Treatment on Inis Mór

On neighbouring Inis Mór, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated legal proceedings over sewage treatment.

The EPA has confirmed that the waste water works serving the public toilets and a number of properties in Kilronan village on Inis Mór are “not authorised”.

The works are “subject to a legal action in the district court with an initial date set for June 3rd, 2021”, the EPA said, stating it could not comment further.

However, the EPA confirmed it has also initiated an investigation of a separate waste water works at the Kilronan Cottages complex, which took place on April 22nd.

The Kilronan Cottages system is operated and maintained by Irish Water and the water services section of Galway County Council.

Irish Water said that Galway County Council are responsible for the collection, treatment and disposal of waste from the public toilets system on Inis Mór.

It said that Galway County Council has agreed to undertake a number of “actions” to address issues at the separate Kilronan Cottages waste water system.

Read The Times here

Published in Island News
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Arklow RNLI’s volunteer crew launched their lifeboat within minutes of receiving a report that a sailing vessel was in danger and aground at Clogga Bay last Tuesday afternoon, 20 April.

Upon entering the bay south of Arklow Harbour, the crew on the Trent class lifeboat Ger Tigchlearr quickly identified the casualty vessel — a 24ft sailing yacht with one person aboard — and made best speed to the area.

Coxswain Ned Dillon and crew made their way up as close to the casualty vessel as possible. Given it was aground in shallow waters, the lifeboat’s inflatable XP boat was deployed for the crew to check the casualty vessel and pass on a towline.

The lifeboat then proceeded to slowly pull the sailing vessel to deeper water. Once it was established the boat was dry and not taking on water, it was taken under tow back to Arklow within 40 minutes.

Following the callout, Dillon said: “Thanks to our crew, this was an excellent successful service, where we got to deploy and use very many of the safety critical tools and lifesaving equipment we carry aboard the lifeboat.

“In all my years I’ve never seen all these items being deployed at once and never so successfully. It’s a real testament to our crew and the excellent training we get from RNLI.”

Bringing the casualty vessel ashore in Arklow HarbourBringing the casualty vessel ashore in Arklow Harbour Credit: RNLI/Mark Corcoran

In other recent RNLI news, the Skerries lifeboat was tasked on Monday evening (26 April) after a report of a person stranded on Shenick Island and trying to make their way ashore in the rising tide.

On approach to the island, the lifeboat crew were notified by the coastguard that the individual has made it safety to the beach at Skerries.

But as a number of other people were spotted on the island, the lifeboat put two crew ashore to check on their wellbeing and confirmed they were not planning on returning to shore until the next day.

It followed a busy weekend for Skerries RNLI which saw the North Co Dublin volunteers rescue nine people in two separate incidents.

In the Aran Islands, meanwhile, a late-night medevac for a woman on Inis Mór saw the local lifeboat crew paged in the early hours of yesterday, Tuesday 27 April.

The patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew, following all strict COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The lifeboat then headed straight for Rossaveal Harbour and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, Aran Islands RNLI coxswain John O’Donnell said: “Time is always of the essence and the volunteer crew are ready to go when called upon. We would like to wish the patient well.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Irish offshore islands may have mixed feelings about hosting school tours, but the Department of Education says they can take place within Covid-19 guidelines.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, The department says that “educational trips” by both primary and post-primary schools are a matter for “each individual school authority”.

Transition year students visited the largest Aran island of Inis Mór on two consecutive days last week.

The transition students from Presentation College, Athenry travelled by ferry from Ros-a-Mhíl in south Connemara to Inis Mór, and hired bikes on the island.

All activity on the island was outdoors, with students wearing masks, and cycling, swimming and sending a postcard home, the principal said. The students took a picnic with them.

The school enjoys a close relationship with the Aran Islands, and sent first-year pupils in four separate groups to the Aran Islands during the first term of 2020, the school confirmed.

These first-year trips are designed as a familiarisation exercise, and as an educational experience of an Irish-speaking community, the school explained.

In a statement, the Department of Education said it has “published guidance for schools that provide various teaching and learning approaches, including bringing pupils/students outdoors and to local amenities to enhance learning, support social distancing, promote physical activity and help positive wellbeing”.

“Decisions in relation to educational trips are a matter for each individual school authority and it is the responsibility of each school authority to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place while pupils/students are participating in school trips and that all such activities are in line with public health guidelines,”a department spokesman said.

However, there has been some confusion among schools, and it is understood that the education unions met department officials last week and raised concerns about the "lack of clarity" in the wording of the guidelines.

Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, the Irish Island Federation, said that once school tours were to islands within the same county and within current guidelines, its members have no issue.

“Mayo pupils can visit Mayo islands, Galway pupils can visit Galway islands, since county-wide travel has been permitted,” federation secretary Rhoda Twombly said.

However, businesses are still very restricted on many of the islands, she pointed out.

Most offshore islands were restricted to “essential visits” only during several phases of the Covid-19 lockdown from Spring 2020.

Early last year, a vote by residents on the Aran islands was overwhelmingly in favour of restricting visits – at the expense of tourist revenue.

When the National Public Health Emergency Team’s approved an early lifting of travel restrictions from June 29th last year, island communities were thrown into confusion – having planned for a re-opening on August 10th.

In Mayo, the island of Inishturk opted to keep guesthouses closed and host day-trips only.

The cautious approach largely paid off, with only one or two cases on some islands.

However, relaxation of national restrictions over Christmas resulted in an outbreak on Mayo’s Clare island, with 20 positive cases reported in January.

Large numbers of elderly and vulnerable island residents have now been vaccinated, as the roll-out of vaccines continues on offshore communities.

Read The Times here

Published in Island News
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Aran Islands RNLI’s volunteer crew were asked to launch their all-weather lifeboat from Inis Mór last night (Sunday 21 March) for a local man on the neighbouring island of Inis Meáin who sustained a facial injury and 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. Conditions at the time of launching were good, with calm seas, a slight breeze and clear visibility.

Once at the pier in Inis Meáin, the patient was transferred safely aboard the lifeboat by the volunteer crew.

Following all strict Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, the lifeboat then processed straight for Rossaveal Harbour on the mainland and the waiting ambulance.

Speaking after the callout, O’Donnell said: “There was a quick response time by the volunteer crew to get the patient to the medical attention needed. The crew never hesitate to answer their pagers when they go off.

“We would like to wish the patient a speedy recovery.”

The callout came just days after the lifeboat crew were tasked with a double medevac amid poor visibility last Monday, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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