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Galway's Sailing Community Pays Tribute to Late RTÉ Western Editor Jim Fahy

17th January 2022
The late Jim Fahy and his wife Christina, both keen sailors
The late Jim Fahy and his wife Christina, both keen sailors Credit: Pierce Purcell

Tributes have been paid among the west coast’s sailing community to former RTÉ western editor Jim Fahy who died late last week at the age of 75.

The journalist’s association with Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) since its foundations were recalled at the weekend by Pierce Purcell.

“The early days were noted for the lunchtime gatherings at the Lenihan family ‘Tavern’ on Eyre Square,” Purcell said.

“It was here that so many of those younger members got to know each other, learn about people who had sailed from the docks and on the Corrib,” he said.

“Dickie Byrne who was an early contributor to The Galway Advertiser with the column “There Ye Are Again”, and had some interest in sailing, introduced the local face of the RTÉ to us,” Purcell recalled.

“Jim became a lunchtime contributor to the interests of the enthusiast sailors whose club was developing at a rake of knots, expanding its dinghy and cruiser racing calendar and organising boat shows,” he said.

“By the time Tavern closed and the club group moved down town, John Killeen had recruited Jim to join a few adventures afloat including the “Spirit of Galway” campaign in the Round Ireland Sailing race which listed Government minister Bobby Molloy amongst the crew,” Purcell said.

Bobby Molloy was needed back in Dublin by Taoiseach Charlie Haughey for an important Dail vote and had to jump ship off Westport. Our man Jim was on the spot to inform the nation and GBSC’s involvement in the race in an age before mobile phones,” he said.

“Jim Fahy clocked up more miles cruising with his wife Christina than most members have ever done sailing, with on average 1500 miles a season over the last fifteen years researching places to visit and often imparting local history to the interested crew,” Purcell added.

“Jim became an important member of the Volvo Ocean Race communications team in 2009 and 2012, impressing the Volvo teams with the hourly updates from a small dockside office which was put together on a shoestring,” he said.

Jim Fahy, who began his journalistic career with The Tuam Herald newspaper, was RTÉ’s longest-serving regional correspondent when he retired in 2011.

He reported on national and international events, ranging from his "Looking West" series of interviews to issues affecting Irish emigrants in Britain to famine in Somalia and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York in September 2001.

President Michael D Higgins had described him as "one of Ireland's finest broadcasters, a fact attested to by the over 40 national and international awards which he won over the course of his outstanding career".

"For generations of people he was a familiar voice, indelibly associated with the reporting of events across the west of Ireland during his 38 years as RTÉ’s first western news correspondent,” the president said.

"It will be as RTÉ's voice of the west of Ireland that Jim will be most fondly remembered," he said.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that his "distinct voice and eye for a story uncovered every facet of life in the west of Ireland, as well as major international events like 9/11".

Purcell said that “Jim’s many sailing friends extend their deepest sympathy to Jim’s wife Christina , his son Shane and daughter Aideen”.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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