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Displaying items by tag: Achill Island

Four coastal locations around the island of Ireland are in the running to be named Ireland’s best place to holiday this year, with the winner to be announced this August Bank Holiday weekend.
 
Carlingford in Co Louth on the shores of Carlingford Lough joins Achill Island in Co Mayo, Inishbofin in Co Galway and Portrush and the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland in the list of five finalists for the Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland 2022 contest.

For more details and to find out the winner, see the Irish Times website HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

Achill Island RNLI were involved in a 14 hour rescue overnight, (Sunday/Monday 22/23 May), to a lone sailor on board a yacht which had lost power almost 40 nautical miles west of Achill Island.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard to assist the sailor and their racing yacht which was in difficulty almost 40 miles off the west coast, having lost all power. The loss of power meant that the sailor onboard had no means of communication. A fixed wing aircraft located the yacht’s position which was then provided to Achill Island RNLI to assist with planning what became an overnight passage.

The Trent class lifeboat launched at 8.30 pm under Coxswain Dave Curtis with a crew of six onboard including mechanic Michael Cattigan, Terry Hogarth, Ken Quinn, Ivan Swarbrigg, Stephen McGreal and Thomas Ruddy. The Sligo based Irish Coast Guard Helicopter, Rescue 118 was later tasked so that they could confirm the location of the yacht and provide light for the lifeboat crew who arrived in fading light. There were north westerly winds at the time with Force 3-4 sea conditions which began to calm during late morning.

The lifeboat located the yacht at approximately 11pm with the sailor on board. The man was physically well, but tired from his ordeal. Once on scene, Rescue 118 departed and the lifeboat crew carried out an assessment of the yacht, which was found to be in good condition. However, without power, the sailor could not lower his sail, so he had no steering control and was at the mercy of the wind. A risk assessment was carried out and it was decided to tow the yacht to nearest safe port at Clare Island.

Establishing a tow proved challenging with the sail remaining up amid 1.5-2m swells, but the efforts of the crew meant that a safe tow was eventually established and a tow commenced in the early hours of the morning and continued overnight. The lifeboat and the yacht reached Clare Island at 8.55am this morning, where the yacht was safely moored. Happy that the sailor was well and recovering from is ordeal, the volunteer crew left Clare Island at 9.10am and arrived back in Achill Island shortly before 10am this morning, having spent almost 14 hours at sea.

Speaking after the call out, Ciaran Needham, Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘We were delighted to be able to assist in this multi-agency rescue during the night, which thankfully resulted in the safe rescue of a lone sailor. Our crew worked hard in difficult conditions throughout, and we want to thank all those who helped make their task easier than it might otherwise have been. The Irish Coast Guard at Malin Head excellently coordinated the rescue and we are grateful to the crew of Rescue 118 for their help and assistance when we reached the lone sailor, who thankfully, is safe and well.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Usually, it’s the lifesavers of the RNLI who answer Mayday calls – it’s the most serious call for help. But this May, they need the public’s help.

The charity is calling on the people of Achill and its diaspora to support Achill Island RNLI lifeboat crew’s Mayday Mile to help raise vital funds to keep people safe this summer.

Organised by the island’s lifeboat crew, the Mayday fundraiser will see the volunteers rowing a distance of one mile from their lifeboat station in a small flotilla including a currach, some kayaks and other watercraft commonly seen in the pristine waters around Achill Island.

The crew will be carrying their pagers with them so they can respond to a call for help, should the need arise.

Funds raised through Mayday fundraising events will make sure that RNLI lifesavers have everything they need to keep families safe on the water and RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews will drop whatever they’re doing when a call for help comes in.

Eilish Power, Achill Island RNLI’s press officer says: “Summer is our busiest time of year, with thousands of people visiting the area and enjoying the water. A call for help can come from anywhere, from people enjoying days out with family or friends or the medical evacuations on our surrounding islands that our volunteer crew facilitate.

“Mayday is our own call for help, as we rely on the generosity of the public to support events like the Achill Island RNLI lifeboat crew’s Mayday Mile, and raise the funds that allow us to be there when we’re needed most.

“But we need to be ready. Training, kit, stations, fuel: these are just some of the things we need to save lives, and that your fundraising can help provide.”

The RNLI’s Mayday national fundraiser begins on Sunday 1 May and will run for the whole month across Ireland and the UK.

You can show your support for the Achill Island RNLI lifeboat crew’s Mayday Mile by giving what you can via the donation page, and visit the station’s Facebook page for details.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Achill Island RNLI medically evacuated a man from Clare Island on Friday afternoon (28 January), in what was their first call out of 2022.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat, Sam and Ada Moody, at 3.26 pm on Friday following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to evacuate the man who was in need of medical assistance, from the island. Sea conditions were moderate at the time with 1½-2 metre swells in southeasterly winds with mist and fog.

The casualty was taken onboard the lifeboat and received medical treatment from the crew while being transferred to Roonagh Pier. The casualty was then brought to hospital by the National Ambulance Service for further treatment.

The lifeboat crew consisted of five volunteers and included Ken Quinn, who took part in his first rescue since he re-joined Achill Island RNLI following a three-year break for work purposes. Ken, who had previously volunteered with the Achill RNLI crew for six years said: ‘The relationship between Achill Island RNLI and those on our islands has always been a special one. It is a privilege to be able to respond when the call for help comes in. We wish the casualty well with their recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Inishturk islander John O’Toole will enjoy his 89th Christmas at home with his wife Mary, his children and grandchildren in the coming weeks.

He and his family won’t take this for granted. however, since John spent several weeks in hospital during the summer after his medevac by Achill Island RNLI when he became seriously unwell in June this year.

As thanks to the lifeboat crew that came to his aid, John and his family are supporting the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal.

John spent almost two months being treated for his illness in Mayo University Hospital before recuperating in a nursing home and finally becoming well enough to return home courtesy of Achill Island RNLI to Inisturk in August.

Speaking about her father’s dramatic recovery, John’s daughter Annie Maher said: “On that day in June when Dad took ill, the Achill Island lifeboat was called to transfer Dad from home to the mainland to get medical attention at Mayo University Hospital.

“Without the quick response of the lifeboat on that day, it may have been a very different outcome.”

Supporting the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal comes easy to the O’Toole family, who have been long-standing supporters of the charity that saves lives at sea.

Having John at home brings back fond memories of Christmases in the past, and that unique relationship that exits between the islanders and the RNLI.

File image of Achill Island RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLIFile image of Achill Island RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat | Credit: RNLI

Annie recounts stories of how the young children on Inisturk would donate all the money they gathered on their traditional Wren Boys Day collection to the RNLI, which they affectionally refer to as ‘the lifeboat’.

She said that the islanders were always assured that even in really bad weather conditions, ‘the lifeboat’ would always come to their aid. “What a wonderful service it is to all still living on the islands around Ireland.”

She also spoke about the RNLI collection box which was always on the counter in the local pub, and the islanders happily popped their change into it.

“Dad has made a remarkable recovery following his return home,” Annie said. “He enjoys daily short walks with mum and the dogs while keeping an eye on the sheep. He is looking forward to spending time with family and friends and maybe have a little glass or two of rum.”

She concluded: “Dad, Mum and all of us understand the commitment and dedication of the Achill lifeboat crew and all involved with the lifeboat. We wish them all a very Merry Christmas and safe New year. May God watch over them all while at sea.”

These callouts would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, lifeboat crews have remained on call, available to launch at any hour, day, or night, to help those in trouble at sea.

Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, the RNLI can continue to operate the lifesaving service and work towards the charity’s goal, to save every one.

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

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Achill Island RNLI evacuated a male patient from Inishbofin late last night and into this morning, (Tuesday 5 October). The patient was brought to Cleggan Pier in Galway for further transport to University College Hospital, Galway.

The volunteer lifeboat crew of six with Dave Curtis as Coxswain, left Achill Island at 9.50 pm last night (Monday) to travel a distance of 20 nautical miles to reach their casualty on Inishbofin. The journey took the all-weather lifeboat, Sam and Ada Moody, past Clare Island and Inishturk, then south to Inishbofin in moderate sea conditions with waves of up to two metres in places.

It was a cold, dark night with westerly winds and showers. A light snow flurry greeted the crew when they arrived at Inishbofin, a journey that took the Trent class lifeboat just under an hour to complete on this particular leg. The patient was taken onboard the lifeboat which then travelled to Cleggan where the pier was lit up by members of the Cleggan Coast Guard unit who assisted with transferring the patient to the waiting HSE ambulance. The patient was then transported to University College Hospital in Galway for further treatment and the Sam and Ada Moody returned to Achill Island at 1.26 am this morning.

Speaking after the call out, Ciaran Needham, Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘As always, it is great to see inter-agency cooperation working so well in the early hours of the morning. Our volunteers train for all types of sea and weather conditions and are ready to respond whenever their pagers go off, day or night. We were delighted to be able to assist this patient and we wish him a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island RNLI is delighted to welcome Ciaran Needham, a native of Sáile as the station’s new Lifeboat Operations Manager. Ciaran succeeds Tony McNamara, who recently retired from the role.

Ciaran is an electrician by trade and is also a member of Achill GAA where he trains regularly with his club mates. While Ciaran loves all things GAA, he is also an avid surfer, and it is his passion for surfing that has instilled a deep respect in him for the sea and how it can change in an instant.

Having lived in Sydney, Australia, for 10 years where he worked as an electrician and spent a lot of time surfing, Ciaran returned home to Achill Island two years ago, where he now lives with his partner, Mary Ellen Daly. While in Sydney, Ciaran was aware of the full-time lifeguards that patrolled Sydney’s sprawling beaches as he surfed. Back at home, he has always appreciated the role of the lifeboat and the unique volunteer nature of the RNLI, a charity reliant on the generous donations from the public.

Talking about why he joined Achill Island RNLI as Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran said: ‘I’ve been involved with the sea for my whole life and knowing that there is a volunteer lifeboat crew always ready and willing to come to the assistance of anyone who needs it has always meant so much to me. It made sense to volunteer with Achill Island RNLI when this role became available, with the realisation that I could have been a potential casualty many times in the past, or indeed, at some stage in the future.’

As the Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ciaran is responsible for operational activities at the lifeboat station, authorising the launch of the lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

When speaking about his vision for the lifeboat station in the years ahead, Ciaran said that he was looking forward to welcoming new members to Achill Island RNLI. Describing this as a new chapter for the station, he said: ‘I would like to welcome Martin Reilly as an additional Deputy Launching Authority and Eilish Power as our new Lifeboat Press Officer and I look forward to working with them in their new roles. I’m also looking forward to welcoming new lifeboat crew to the station and our new team will benefit from the experience that already exists in Marie Kilbane as Deputy Launching Authority, Dave Curtis as Coxswain and Michael Cattigan as mechanic, as well as all the existing volunteer crew.’

Ciaran reflected on the challenges presented by Covid restrictions over the past 18 months. Regular meetings with the crew, welcoming the public for open days and essential fundraising activities have all been interrupted and missed, but Ciaran looks forward to activities at the station beginning to return to normal. When speaking about what he admires most about the RNLI, Ciaran said: ‘It’s that volunteer aspect; that has to be admired above all else. The amount of training that our crew participate in, their commitment and dedication, it’s immense. And it wouldn’t be possible without the tireless work and effort by our always enthusiastic and hugely devoted fundraising branch.’

Meanwhile, Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, welcomed Ciaran and wished him well in his new role: ‘I would like to thank Ciaran for accepting the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager with Achill Island RNLI and I very much look forward to supporting him and the Achill team.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island RNLI was involved in the medical evacuation of a female patient from Clare Island this afternoon (Tuesday, 7 September) following a request from the Irish Coast Guard.

The volunteer crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 1.15 pm under Coxswain Dave Curtis and with six crew members onboard. It followed a request to assist the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118 from Sligo, due to foggy weather conditions on the island at the time.

Weather conditions improved during the call out and the crew were able to secure a zone for the helicopter to successfully land and take the patient onboard the aircraft. The patient was then transferred to Mayo University Hospital and the all-weather lifeboat, The Sam and Ada Moody, and her crew returned to Achill Island at 3pm.

Speaking following the call out, Dave Curtis, Coxswain said: ‘This is another example of good inter-agency teamwork between our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard and our volunteer crew. We wish the patient well for a speedy recovery.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Achill Island RNLI were delighted yesterday evening (Monday 23 August) to be able to bring home a patient they had medically evacuated from Inishturk almost two months ago.

The volunteer lifeboat crew had provided a medevac for 88-year-old John O’Toole from his home on Inishturk on 28 June, bringing him to Achill Island where he was transferred to Mayo University Hospital suffering from a severe infection.

He was later moved to a nursing home where he remained for four weeks before becoming well enough to finally return home.

John was surrounded by his wife Mary and daughters Phil Kilbane and Anne Maher prior to his departure from Achill Island in flat calm sea conditions and glorious evening sunshine.

Speaking of her father’s dramatic recovery, Anne said: “The doctor told us Dad could have died if the lifeboat didn’t take him off the island back in June.”

Echoing the appreciation of her sister, Phil Kilbane said: “The people of both Clare Island and Inishturk are forever grateful for the help and assistance of Achill Island RNLI to the islanders.

“A big thank you to the crew who volunteer their time, day and night, and for bringing our Dad back home safely this evening.”

Prior to the departure, local family Katie and John Sweeney and their son Seamus Tiernan were present on the pier to wave John off.

Seamus, a talented and well-known musician, played some traditional Irish tunes for John, much to his delight, as he boarded the all-weather lifeboat Sam and Ada Moody.

Achill Island RNLI recently bade farewell to long-serving lifeboat operations manager Tony McNamara, who retired after more than three decades of service, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Achill Island RNLI’s Tony McNamara retires as Lifeboat Operations Manager after 32 years of service to the charity.

Achill Island RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Tony McNamara has retired after three decades of volunteering for the charity in an operational role. Tony will, however, continue to volunteer with the Achill Island RNLI Fundraising Branch.

Tony has been involved with the RNLI in Mayo since 1989 when a new lifeboat station opened at Ballyglass, the first all-weather lifeboat station to be opened in Ireland since 1929. Tony was stationed in Belmullet Garda Station where he worked as a Garda Sergeant at the time and where he was later promoted to the role of Garda Superintendent. He was further promoted to Chief Superintendent in 2005 before retiring from that role in Castlebar in 2009.

Tony was involved with Achill Island RNLI from its outset in 1994 when the Achill Lifeboat Committee was set up to work towards the establishment of a permanent lifeboat station on Achill Island in 1997. Tony was the Second Coxswain at Ballyglass RNLI until 2002 when he was appointed Honorary Secretary on the retirement of the late Paddy Leech, a role he held until 2005. Tony had at the same time been a committee member at the Achill Island Lifeboat Station since its inception in 1997.

Having moved back to Achill, Tony was appointed Deputy Launching Authority for the station before taking up the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager in 2017 on the retirement of Tom Honeyman. This role saw him managing all operational activities at the lifeboat station, authorising the launch of the lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager, Tony was also a key link to the fundraising branch where he now continues to volunteer his time to raise the essential funds needed to help save lives at sea. Like all lifeboat stations, Achill Island RNLI relies on donations from the public to operate and Tony very much enjoys the camaraderie and social aspect that comes with being a member of the branch.

Reflecting on the last three decades, Tony who is also a keen angler and a former scuba diver said: ‘The story of the RNLI encompasses the spirit of the volunteer - the crew, the fundraisers and the public who value that commitment and support it so generously.’

While many of Achill Island RNLI’s call-outs are to medical evacuations from Mayo’s inhabited islands, Tony, as Lifeboat Operations Manager, has over the years set off his crew’s pagers for a range of other incidents too including to swimmers, surfers and boat users who found themselves in difficulty.

Some call outs are etched in Tony’s memory. These include the tragic Rescue 116 accident in March 2017 off Blackrock Island which claimed the lives of all four crew members onboard. Tony was the first point of contact at Achill Island RNLI by the Irish Coast Guard and this request was one which would see the all-weather lifeboat, Sam and Ada Moody, and her volunteer crew search for 28 consecutive days. Tony also sadly recalls the tragic drowning of two young siblings, also his neighbours, in Blacksod Bay in July 2001 when he responded with the Ballyglass RNLI crew.

There are better memories too including back in December 1993 when four surfers were miraculously rescued over two miles off Easkey having spent several hours in the freezing, dark sea. Tony was the Ballyglass RNLI Coxswain that night and he remembers the euphoria onboard the lifeboat when all four were found alive.

Following Tony’s retirement, Ciaran Needham has taken up the helm as the new Lifeboat Operations Manager at Achill Island RNLI: ‘I am delighted to be handling the baton to Ciaran and I wish him well in that role’ Tony added. ‘I have no doubt that Ciaran will be very successful in leading the station into the future as we approach the 200th anniversary of the founding of the RNLI in 2024.’

Married to Anastasia for 48 years with three daughters, Ruth, Claire and Lucy, and six grandchildren, Tony said he is looking forward to retirement: ‘I look forward to the freedom from the pager and mobile phones which have been a constant in my life since I joined the Ballyglass crew in 1989 but I will miss the RNLI family and the contact I had with our friends in Malin Head Coast Guard Radio Station who monitor the emergency radio channels day and night.’

When speaking about his lifeboat family, Tony said: ‘I would like to thank my Deputy Launching Authority, Marie Kilbane, herself a former crew member, who covered for me in my absence. Likewise, our Honorary Medical Advisor, Doctor Noreen Lineen Curtis who has always been there for us and was always ready to go to sea when needed. I want to thank all the team at the coalface - our crew who never seek the limelight but who carries a pager day and night to answer the call, I will miss the regular contact with them.

Rob King, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, paid tribute to Tony: ‘I would like to thank Tony for his years of operational service with Ballyglass and Achill Island RNLI stations and for his guidance and leadership during his tenure as Lifeboat Operations Manager. I am delighted that he will remain involved with our fundraising team, and I wish him well.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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