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Displaying items by tag: Clifden

Turbot “new” islander Hanneke Frenkel is hosting an exhibition of her “sea carpets” made from ocean flotsam and jetsam as part of this year’s Clifden Arts Festival in north Connemara.

Frenkel, who bought a cottage with her Dutch husband Stefan on Turbot island some years ago, began making the “sea carpets” from washed-up ropes when the couple were confined to the island during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As she has explained in an interview with Afloat’s Wavelengths, she cuts the ropes washed up on Turbot’s shore into loose string and uses the strings to make a pattern - with the ropes “deciding themselves what kind of carpet they want to become".

Sea Carpets Exhibition on Turbot  IslandSea Carpets Exhibition on Turbot Island

Her exhibition includes a tour of the island and the opportunity to forage for lost items in places rarely visited by tourists.

Hanneke  in her workshopHanneke in her workshop

The event is one of a number with a marine theme at this year’s 45th Clifden Arts Festival, the oldest community festival of its type in Ireland.

Turbot IslandTurbot Island

Wildlife cameraman and film maker Doug Allan spoke last week, and this week’s programme includes “The People of the Sea/ Uaisle na Mara”, featuring leading Irish language poet Nuala Ní Dhómhnaill, TG4 2020 singer of the year Lillis Ó Laoire and renowned harper Cormac de Barra.

The story behind a lament for Liam Ó Raghallaigh, a man from Erris, Co Mayo, who was drowned on his wedding day, will be recalled and performed by Ó Laoire.

He will be joined by literary critic Patricia Coughlan and Dr Fidelma Mullane at the afternoon event in Clifden’s Station House Theatre on September 23rd.

Ní Dhómhnaill’s sequence of poems on na Murúcha a thromaigh – the mermaids who became dry land creatures – is said to represent some of her most compelling explorations of linguistic and cultural trauma.

De Barra will also reference some great maritime tunes and harp airs, while Ó Laoire will explore the legend of the mermaid and will sing An Mhaighdean Mhara, a song about the mermaid made famous by Áine and Cití Gallagher of Dobhar in Donegal’s Gaoth Dobhair.

Details on Clifden Arts Festival’s full programme are on www. Clifdenartsfestival.ie

Published in Island News
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Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew launched both of their lifeboats on Sunday (21 August) to reports of a yacht in difficulty three miles north west of Slyne Head off Connemara.

The Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat launched at 2.20pm under the command of Joseph Acton with crew members Chris Nee and Alan Kearney, followed closely by the Shannon Class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher under coxswain John Mullen with crew members Alvin Bell, Andy Bell, John Heffernan and Ash Sweeney.

Both lifeboats arrived at the casualty vessel by 2.45pm to learn that the yacht, which had two people on board, was unable to make headway because ropes were caught in the propeller.

The lifeboat crew removed some rope but were unable to completely free the propeller and shaft. The safest course of action was to establish a towline and bring the casualty vessel and her crew back to Clifden Bay.

The stricken yacht was then towed by Clifden RNLI’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and moored safely in Clifden Bay by 4.30pm.

Commenting on the callout, Mullen said: “The yachtsmen in question did the right thing in calling for assistance and we were happy to be able to bring them to safety.

“It’s very important to be prepared when boating or yachting. Always wear a lifejacket, have a means of calling for help and check the weather and the tides to help ensure you get to your destination safely. In a coastal emergency, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI joined Aran Islands RNLI and the Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter to carry out a search of the waters around Bunowen Bay on Friday night (3 June).

A member of the public reported seeing a distress flare in the area around Bunowen, west of Ballyconneely in Connemara at midnight on Friday.

Shortly afterwards the crew - coxswain James Mullen with Andy Bell, Daniel Whelan, Owen Hayes and Conor Ryan — launched the new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat St Christopher for its first call on service since being brought to Clifden three weeks ago.

With good weather conditions and calm seas overnight, a full search of the area to the south east of Slyne Head was carried out over several hours.

As no evidence of a casualty vessel was found, the crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to stand down. The lifeboat was back at base at 4am where it was refuelled, cleaned down and made ready for the next launch.

James Mullen, Clifden RNLI coxswain said: “As a crew we are ready to respond 24 hours a day, whenever the pager goes. The search was stood down last night but it could have been a serious incident, it is so important to call the rescue services on 112 or 999 to report any concerns.

“We are grateful to the person who raised the alarm last night and thank the volunteer crew who sacrificed a night’s sleep to ensure a successful outcome.

“It is also worth reminding people that using fireworks in a coastal area can be mistaken for distress flares which will trigger an emergency response. Please notify the coastguard if you intend setting off fireworks anywhere near the coast.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Clifden RNLI’s new all-weather Shannon class lifeboat arrived to an emotional welcome from crowds gathered in the Connemara community to see it complete its week-long voyage home from the charity’s All Weather lifeboat centre in Poole.

As Afloat reported earlier, the lifesaving vessel is the first ‘Launch a Memory’ lifeboat to be put on service in Ireland. The St. Christopher carries the names of over 10,000 people on its hull, which were put there by members of the public through a special ‘in memory’ fundraising initiative for the charity.

The lifeboat arrived into the West of Ireland town on Saturday afternoon in a flotilla made up of Achill Island lifeboat, Clifden’s inshore lifeboat and the station’s relief Shannon class lifeboat, along with a group of local vessels. Friends, families and supporters lined the quayside to get a glimpse of the new €2.4 million search and rescue asset which arrived bathed in sunshine.

The main part of the arrival was held today (Sunday 15 May) with the new lifeboat beached at Clifden. The Shannon is the first modern all-weather lifeboat propelled by waterjets which allow it to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached. After the tide had receded the 10,000 names on the lifeboat hull were visible and members of the public who had sponsored names were able to view them up close. The names made up the letters RNLI and the number of the new lifeboat, 13-43.

After the tide had receded the 10,000 names on the lifeboat hull were visible and members of the public who had sponsored names were able to view them up close Photo: Andrew DownesAfter the tide had receded the 10,000 names on the lifeboat hull were visible and members of the public who had sponsored names were able to view them up close Photo: Andrew Downes

The lifeboat was funded through a legacy from the south-east of England and will be officially named in a ceremony to be held at a later date. The ten thousand names were provided by people pledging a minimum donation of €30/£30 to have their loved one’s name recorded onboard a working search and rescue lifeboat off the Irish coast. Hundreds of people made the trip to see the lifeboat up close with some travelling over from the UK. It was an emotional trip for many who brought photographs of their loved ones with them.

Clifden volunteer lifeboat crew collected their new lifeboat in Dorset a week ago and sailed it home to Clifden with stops at Plymouth, Penlee, Ballycotton, Kinsale, Valentia and the Aran Islands. While in Penlee the Clifden lifeboat crew paid their respects to the eight crew who were lost from there on 19 December 1981 while attempting to rescue the crew and passengers onboard a stricken coaster.

Commenting on the arrival, Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John Brittain said, ‘This weekend was the culmination of a lot of hard work by the volunteers in Clifden. To receive a new lifeboat is an incredibly exciting time for a station but to receive a launch a memory lifeboat, which carries the names of so many loved ones, is a great privilege and an honour for everyone here in Clifden.’

‘We have been so moved by the stories shared with us in the run up to the arrival and we now take each one of these names out to sea with us every time we launch. We are so grateful of the public’s support of the work we do as we continue to save lives at sea.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A newly built all-weather lifeboat with over 10,000 names on its hull which is due to arrive at the RNLI’s Clifden station in Connemara on Saturday has already recorded its first rescue mission.

The Shannon-class lifeboat named St Christopher escorted a small fishing vessel into Newlyn in Cornwall earlier this week while on its way from the south English coast to Ireland.

Clifden RNLI operations manager John Brittain said that the lifeboat was en route to Newlyn in Cornwall as one of its stopovers on the way to Clifden when it received the call from Falmouth Coastguard.

It was asked to provide an escort to a small fishing vessel with two people on board.

Speaking to Wavelengths, Mr Brittain described how a very special welcome has been planned for it on Saturday, as it carries the names of over 10,000 people on its hull.

These were nominated by members of the public through a special fundraising initiative, known as “Launch a Memory”, which was run by the search and rescue charity back in 2020.

The RNLI says people will have an opportunity to “get up close” to the lifeboat on Sunday morning at low tide when the vessel crew will be beached at the back of the lifeboat station on Clifden beach from 9.30 am till about 12.30 pm.

“We have been working towards this day for a long time. It is an honour for us to carry these 10,000 names onboard our new lifeboat the St Christopher,” Mr Brittain said.

“ Every time we launch, they will accompany the lifeboat crew on its lifesaving mission,” he said.

“ I know there are many incredibly moving stories behind each name and we hope to do them all proud,” he said.

He advises members of the public to park in Clifden and walk down to the beach or take one of two shuttle buses which will be running from the town centre to the lifeboat station.

Information on the campaign including a search tool to find where a particular name is placed on the lifeboat, is available on the RNLI website here

You can hear John Brittain on Wavelengths below

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Clifden RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew joined in a multi-agency response to an incident at Clifden Quay yesterday (Tuesday 26 April) where a casualty was injured in a fall from the quayside onto a boat some 15-20ft below.

Mechanic Joe Acton and crew member Andy Bell were in the area carrying out vessel maintenance and responded to the incident with the RNLI Sillinger boarding boat.

The Sillinger is a light and small boat which is usually used to access the Shannon class all-weather lifeboat but it is very suitable for use in shallow water.

The two crew members manoeuvred the boarding boat into position to allow paramedics to access the casualty and transfer him to the ambulance which was waiting at the quay.

The casualty was subsequently airlifted by the Air Corps helicopter 112 to University Hospital Galway for further treatment.

Clifden RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Brittain said: “This is a great example of multi-agency cooperation between the RNLI, HSE/National Ambulance Service, Clifden Fire Service, An Garda Síochána, the Coast Guard and the Air Corps.

“This call demonstrated great teamwork and decision-making and we all wish the casualty a speedy recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to assist with the medevac of a casualty from Inishbofin on Good Friday.

Clifden’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat was launched at 11.30am on Friday (15 April) and the crew made the trip to the island off Connemara in good time.

The weather was quite foggy so the crew stood by to assist the Sligo-based coastguard helicopter Rescue 118 in case conditions and visibility deteriorated.

In this case there were no issues and the casualty was successfully airlifted by Rescue 118 and brought to University Hospital Galway for treatment.

Coxswain Alan Pryce said: “In Clifden RNLI we are always happy to provide support and assistance to our local island communities, a medical evacuation is a time critical event and we will always do what we can to ensure a successful outcome.

“I’d like to thank the crew for their rapid response time and wish the casualty well.”

Clifden RNLI’s crew on this callout were Pryce, Thomas Davis, Daniel Whelan, John Mullen and John Heffernan.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Clifden RNLI’s volunteer crew were called out at the weekend following reports of three teenage kayakers having drifted from the shore in Ballinakill Bay, near Letterfrack in Connemara.

The Shannon class all-weather lifeboat was launched at 4.20pm on Saturday afternoon (19 March) amid good weather conditions, clear and sunny but with a strong off-shore wind.

While the lifeboat crew were making their way to the scene, local fishermen from Mannin Bay Salmon Farm who operate in the bay came to the assistance of the young kayakers and brought all three safely ashore.

The casualties were assessed by paramedics on shore and found to be well.

Clifden RNLI coxswain James Mullen said: “It may sound obvious but it’s worth reminding kayakers that a strong off-shore wind can blow you out to sea very quickly.

“For people using kayaks, paddle boards, basically anything that floats: once you leave the shore and the protection of the bay, you can quickly become powerless against a strengthening wind. A strong off-shore wind, coupled with an outgoing tide, is always a risk for paddlers.

“We would advise anyone enjoying watersports to always wear a life vest and appropriate clothes for the weather conditions, for example a wetsuit or layered clothing.

“Carry a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch on your person, check the tides and the weather and tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.”

Clifden RNLI’s crew on this callout were coxswain James Mullen, Joe Acton, Daniel Whelan, Aisling Sweeney and Connor Ryan. Shane Conneely was the launch vehicle driver.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The volunteer crew of Clifden RNLI were requested to conduct a search operation in response to an EPIRB signal eight miles west of the Connemara town in what was one of their “most challenging” callouts in some time.

EPIRB is a device carried on vessels to alert search and rescue services in case of an emergency out at sea.

The lifeboat crew launched their Shannon Class all-weather lifeboat at approximately 10.20am yesterday (Tuesday 22 Feburary) into extremely strong winds and heavy seas.

Despite a Force 8 wind and seven-metre swell, a full search of the area west of Turbot Island was carried out by the volunteer crew.

Thankfully, no evidence of a vessel in distress was found in the area and the operation was stood down by the Irish Coast Guard at midday.

Nessa Joyce, Clifden RNLI’s deputy launch authority, said: “In terms of weather, this operation was one of the most challenging we have dealt with in a while.

“It was a successful operation and a testament to both the training of our crew and safety and reliability of our rescue craft.

“All-weather lifeboats are made for conditions like this and everyone in Clifden RNLI is really looking forward to bringing a brand new Shannon Class ALB into service later this spring. My thanks to the crew for braving the weather today to ensure a successful outcome.”

The operation was carried out by John Mullen (coxswain), Tom Davis, Owen Hayes, James Mullen, Andy Bell and Kenneth Flaherty.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A dad’s passion for the old Clifden RNLI lifeboat he served on has passed to the next generation as his son has purchased the first lifeboat his father helmed in 1996.

James Mullen, a coxswain at Clifden RNLI in Co Galway with over 27 years voluntary service saving lives at sea on the West Coast of Ireland, is also a proud dad to four boys who have inherited their father’s remarkable passion for the sea, the RNLI and everything to do with boats.

It’s this passion which inspired James’ 14-year-old son Ronan to track down and buy the C-class 522 inshore lifeboat which was stationed in Clifden between 1989 and 1997.

The boat holds so many memories for James as a teenage RNLI recruit and when his sons would ask him for the history of the station and his favourite lifeboat, the stories he told them always came back to the C-class.

Remembering his early crew years, James said: “I loved the sea, I had lived beside it my whole life and [then] finally, at 17 years old and with my parent’s consent, I was lifeboat crew.

“We had many call outs on the C-class and she was an amazing boat; she was hard on the back but she never failed to bring us home. This craft was the finest money could buy and I was so impressed with her.

“I remember a call one winter’s night in 1995, we were going to rescue a boat that had gotten into difficulty at sea. The weather was terrible with Force 7-8 westerly winds. It was up to us and our trusty C-class inshore lifeboat to get everyone home safe.

“As the seas got rougher, the C-class dug in deeper and when we were all safely back at shore I remember thinking what an incredible boat she was to stand up against those huge waves.”

Clifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/ClifdenClifden lifeboat crew at the old D-class station in 1995, when James was 18 years old | Credit: RNLI/Clifden

James’ beloved C-class was retired from service and left Clifden in 1997 but not much was known about her fate after that. So young Ronan, inspired by his father’s stories, embarked on an internet search to track her down.

Through various searches and online forums, Ronan established that the lifeboat went from Clifden to Ballyglas RNLI in Co Mayo for a short period, from there to the RNLI Museum in Poole and eventually to a private owner in the UK. Ronan located and struck up a friendship with the owner, who happened to be a fellow RNLI crew member based in Weston-Super-Mare.

Eventually, a deal was done, Ronan purchased his father’s favourite old lifeboat and the family brought her back to Clifden to the delight of the whole Mullen clan, Clifden RNLI crew and the many locals who remember her dutiful service.

Ronan describes the moment he found a photo of the lifeboat online: “I was so shocked, I had been looking online for ages and when I finally came across a photo of the C-class I said to Dad, is that her? And he said, it definitely is. After that I knew we had to have that boat. I love the boat, I love being out on the water and the minute I am old enough I will be joining the RNLI.”

James added: “Our station has grown a lot over the years thanks to the dedication of our volunteer crew, we now use an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, a Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and are awaiting delivery of a very special boat next spring.

“Our new Shannon class ALB is being built at the moment and when she comes to Clifden she will carry the names of 10,000 loved ones from the launch a memory campaign.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see the next generation of lifeboat enthusiasts coming up, when I look at my four boys now I think, was I like they are now 27 years ago? Their whole life ahead of them and a future filled with love for the sea and the RNLI.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

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