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Displaying items by tag: RNLI

Fethard RNLI launched its inshore lifeboat on Wednesday evening last (29 June) to assist the crew of a 25-foot yacht which had broken down in Bannow Bay.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat by the Irish Coast Guard just after 9.15 pm. The crew proceeded to Fethard Dock, launched the lifeboat, and made their way to an area Northeast of The Windy Gap. Weather conditions at the time were good with a light force 2 north-westerly breeze, calm sea conditions and good visibility.

The crew arrived at the broken-down vessel at 9.40 pm where it was at anchor. The lifeboat crew assessed the situation, and decided to establish a tow line, retract the keel, and tow the vessel to the safe water of Bannow, north of the Cockle strand.

This launch also marked the first shout for volunteer crew member Mick Cooper, as well as the first launch as Helm for Mick Roche.

Speaking after the call out, volunteer Helm Mick Roche said ‘the crew of the yacht did everything right. They were well equipped with life jackets, navigation tools, means of communication and great local knowledge but were unfortunate to have engine difficulties. The crew did the right thing by alerting the Irish Coast Guard at the earliest opportunity to get help on its way'. Mick continued by saying ‘This call also highlights the importance of always carrying a means of communication when involved in any water activities in or by the sea.’

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Wicklow RNLI were delighted to welcome Jordann Wizowski and his mother Megan to the lifeboat station for a very special presentation recently.

Five-year-old Jordann completed a walk between the present Wicklow RNLI lifeboat station and the former station on the Murrough as part of the RNLI Mayday Mile challenge and raised €250 from family and friends in the process.

Jordann, who is a member of the RNLI Storm Force kids’ club, presented the cheque to Santiago Balbontin from the Wicklow RNLI fundraising branch — and was delighted some of the volunteer crew gathered for a photograph.

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour might see more of the R116 Coastguard Helicopter after this month's major inter-agency marine and coastal agency emergency services display at the Dublin Bay Port.

Held in the Ferry Marshalling Area of the Harbour on June 16th, the display was described as a 'non-public event'.

Arising out of the pow-wow, the County Dublin site has been highlighted as one with good connectivity and landing options for the coastguard helicopter.  This is especially the case concerning Ambulance transfer to nearby St. Vincent's Hospital at Elmpark in Dublin 4, according to one Afloat source.

The briefing dealt with emergency landing zones, evacuation procedures, Ambulance access points, Major incident facilities and Port Secure Zones. 

The operational briefing had static displays and equipment capabilities with the Irish Coast Guard's Dun Laoghaire Unit, RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station, Irish Coast Guard - Rescue Helicopter 116 and DLRCOCO staff from Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Dun Laoghaire Marina. 

An Incident Command Unit, Mobile units and equipment, an All-terrain vehicle, Dun Laoghaire's Trent class All-Weather lifeboat, D-Class Inshore lifeboat, and R116 were displayed.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI rescued Sadie, a boxer dog who had fallen more than 3m below the pier walkway close to the Half Moon swimming area on the South Bull Wall at Dublin Port on Wednesday (29 June) while walking with her owner.

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly before 10 am by the Irish Coast Guard

Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard was also tasked but the 3m climb down to retrieve the dog was not possible for the shore crew. The crew launched the lifeboat at 9.58 am and arrived at the scene within 12 minutes.

Weather conditions at the time were calm, however with the tide out, exposed, slippery and jagged rocks running along the Bull Wall meant Sadie was in a precarious position.

Once on scene, the crew calmly approached Sadie and brought her on board the lifeboat where she was found to be shaken but safe and well, however sporting some minor cuts on her paws from the fall. The lifeboat then safely returned Sadie to her owner at the slipway a short distance down the wall.

Speaking following the call out, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm Nathan Burke said: ‘We were delighted to be able to reunite Sadie with her owner following her ordeal today and wish her a speedy recovery. The owner did the right thing raising the alarm when she was in difficulty rather than entering the water themselves.

‘We would encourage pet owners to keep their pets on a lead when walking near the water’s edge, close cliff edges or fast-flowing waters. If your pet does enter the water, don’t go in after them. If worried, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

As regular Afloat readers know, Dun Laoghaire's new inshore boat was christened 'Joval' earlier this month

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Dun Laoghaire RNLI rescued two stand-up paddleboarders who got into difficulty off Seapoint in Dublin Bay last Saturday (25 June).

The volunteer crew were requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 12.55 pm by the Irish Coast Guard. The alarm was raised by lifeguards who were on patrol at Seapoint and observed the two stand-up paddleboarders experiencing difficulty some distance out in Dublin Bay.

The D class lifeboat with three crew members on board, launched at 1.06 pm and arrived on scene six minutes later at 1.12 pm. As regular Afloat readers will know, this new lifeboat was officially named in Dun Laoghaire earlier this month

Weather conditions at the time were fresh to blustery with a Force 5 wind, a slight sea state and waves up to 1.25m.

Once on scene, the crew quickly located the two casualties and brought them on board the lifeboat where they were assessed and found to be safe and well. The lifeboat then safely returned them ashore at Seapoint.

Speaking following the call out, Eamon O’Leary, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Deputy Launching Authority said: ‘We would like to wish the paddleboarders well after they got caught out by a change in weather conditions at sea on Saturday.

‘As the summer holidays get underway this week, we would like to remind anybody planning an activity at sea to check weather forecasts and tide times before venturing out. Always carry a means of communication and always let someone on the shore know where you are going and when you are due back. Should you get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

The RNLI’s most westerly shop in Ireland has opened its doors on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, to raise vital lifesaving funds for the charity that saves lives at sea.

The new shop which is located inside Aran Islands RNLI’s lifeboat station at Kilronan Pier, is quickly becoming a key attraction for both the islanders and the many visitors who come each year. The shop means visitors can leave Inis Mór with a memory of their time on the island while supporting the charity.

The shop launched last Tuesday, and volunteers plan to have it open seven days a week during the tourist season (Easter through to Autumn) with opening times coinciding with the ferry arrival and departure times.

The shop offers a wide range of unique RNLI goods, including clothing and accessories, home and kitchen gadgets, toys and games, books and stationery, and gifts.The shop offers a wide range of unique RNLI goods, including clothing and accessories, home and kitchen gadgets, toys and games, books and stationery, and gifts.

The shop crew include volunteers Amy Williamson, Breda O’Donnell, Daniel and Lena O’Connell, David Terry, Margaret Jackie Gill, Shane Dirrane, Siobhán McGuinness and Treasa Ni Bhraonain, all of whom are looking forward to a busy summer after an exceptional first week serving local islanders and visiting tourists.

Speaking following the first week of trading, Brian Wilson, RNLI Community Manager, shares the shop team’s excitement: ‘We are delighted that Inis Mór is joining the rich heritage of lifeboat station shops in the RNLI. This is the second RNLI shop on the west coast of Ireland, along with Sligo Bay which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The response in the first week has more than exceeded our expectations. We have had a wonderful response from locals and tourists alike and I want to thank the team here for their efforts in getting us to this point as well as thanking everyone who has visited and shown their support since the opening last week.

‘RNLI shops started 100 years ago as cake stands before they expanded into selling commemorative souvenirs and cards, and now we offer an excellent range of RNLI products with all profits helping to save lives at sea. So, we are all thrilled that this piece of RNLI heritage has reached Inis Mór and that the proceeds raised can now help to power the lifesaving work of the volunteer crew on the Aran Islands.’

The shop team at Aran Islands RNLI are looking for more volunteers. If you think you can give some time to help out, please call into the shop for more information.

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Volunteer lifeboat crew from Courtmacsherry and Ballycotton RNLI, along with members of Barryroe GAA are featuring in a short film to promote a drowning prevention partnership between the RNLI and the GAA. The two organisations have been working together on a water safety partnership since 2017, which has seen RNLI volunteers visit their local GAA clubs to share water safety advice and information. The film has been released in advance of the RNLI’s appearance on the pitch at Croke Park to promote the partnership, at the upcoming All-Ireland Senior Hurling semi-final this Sunday (3 July) between Limerick and Galway.

The one-minute film was made to promote the partnership between the RNLI and the GAA and shows how both organisations share the same values of community and volunteerism. Many RNLI volunteers are also GAA volunteers, and the aim of the partnership has been to share water safety advice as widely as possible in all communities. The film was made on location at Courtmacsherry lifeboat station and Barryroe GAA club by Banjoman Productions. It shows a lifeboat training exercise and a water safety talk to a room of school children. While over at the GAA club, players take to the pitch and warm up for a match. It shows the importance of the many different roles the volunteers hold.

The film will be shown on the big screen in Croke Park before the semi-final on Sunday and will be shared with lifeboat stations, branches, and clubs. There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with 333 GAA clubs within a 10km radius of them. On average 111 people drown in Ireland each year and the work being done through the partnership aims to give everyone the knowledge of what they can do to both keep safe or help someone in trouble on the water.

One of the volunteers to feature in the film is Vincent O’Donovan, Courtmacsherry RNLI Deputy Launching Authority. A volunteer in both the RNLI and the GAA, Vincent hopes that the film will encourage more people to get involved in their community and think about water safety. Vincent said, ‘I’m very proud to be involved in the film and that it shows what is good about volunteering and local communities. Many of us in our local RNLI are also involved with the GAA, they go together and it’s a wonderful partnership. I hope people will want to get involved in their community and learn more about water safety.’

RNLI Trustee and Coxswain, Paddy McLaughlin has been involved with the partnership from the beginning and has seen it evolve over the last few years. Paddy said, ‘When we approached the GAA with the idea of working together to prevent drowning, they supported it straight way. Since 2017, RNLI volunteers have been giving hundreds of talks to GAA clubs and have been invited to events and match days to promote water safety. This is a lifesaving partnership and with so many people involved in the GAA on this island, we are getting water safety advice and awareness talked about in our communities.’

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Newcastle RNLI rescued five rowers early yesterday morning (Sunday 26 June) after they got into difficulty in challenging weather conditions 23 nautical miles northeast of Ardglass.

The crew from the GB Row Challenge had left Tower Bridge London on 12 June to circumnavigate Great Britain and to collect environmental data.

The vessel had been monitored throughout the night by HM Coastguard with frequent radio transmissions. During a check at 7 am on Sunday, the rowers explained they had capsized and righted themselves but were unable to row.

Newcastle RNLI was requested to launch their all-weather lifeboat at 7.15 am. Weather conditions at the time were poor with a Force 7 southerly wind and very rough seas. The lifeboat launched under Gerry McConkey and with crew members Shane Rice, Lochlainn Leneghan, Declan McClelland, Karl Brannigan and Declan Barry onboard. Conditions deteriorated following the launch with weather increasing to a Force 9 southerly wind and high seas.

On arrival at 9.24 am, the volunteer crew assessed the situation and decided a tow was necessary to bring the vessel’s crew to safety. Such were the conditions at sea that it took three attempts before a tow was successfully established. Newcastle RNLI then towed the vessel to the nearest safe port at Ardglass, a passage that took two hours.

The rowers were met by Newcastle Coastguard, and one was checked over by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Speaking following the call out, Newcastle RNLI Coxswain Gerry McConkey said: “We would like to wish the rowers well following their experience yesterday after they got caught by the poor weather. I would also like to commend our volunteer crew who used their skills and training to work in what were extremely challenging conditions that deteriorated during the call out to successfully bring the five people to safety.”

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, another crew of round-Britain rowers were rescued by Red Bay RNLI on Saturday (25 June) amid “hugely challenging conditions” at sea off Northern Ireland.

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At a special naming ceremony and service of dedication held today (Sunday 26 June), volunteers at Dunmore East RNLI officially named their all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, William and Agnes Wray.

The lifeboat which went on service in September last year is named after the Manchester couple who were happily married for over 60 years and who had three children, all of whom have had a proud connection to the sea.

The honour of handing over the lifeboat and officially naming her, went to Robin Malcolm, a representative of David Malcolm, a secondary funder of the lifeboat, assisted by crew member Brendan Dunne. The Shannon is the third all-weather lifeboat that Brendan, a volunteer with the RNLI for 37 years, has served on. He was also crew on the Waveney class, St Patrick and the Trent class Elizabeth and Ronald.

Dunmore East RNLI's All-Weather Shannon Class LifeboatDunmore East RNLI crew on the All-Weather Shannon Class Lifeboat for the christening ceremony

The Shannon replaces the station’s Trent class lifeboat which was on service in Dunmore East since 1996. During those 25 years, Elizabeth and Ronald launched 412 times, bringing 821 people to safety, 20 of whom were lives saved.

During today’s naming ceremony, John Killeen, RNLI Trustee and Chair of the RNLI Council in Ireland, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the charity before handing her into the care of Dunmore East RNLI.

Deputy Launching Authority Karen Harris accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station ahead of the Shannon being blessed in a service of dedication led by Father Brian Power and the Reverend Bruce Hayes. The lifeboat was then officially named William and Agnes Wray.

During her address, Karen said the event was a special occasion for the lifeboat station adding that the crew were most grateful to the donors for their generous gift which had funded the lifeboat.

‘As Deputy Launching Authority, part of my job is to authorise her launch when requested. It is my job to send a message to the volunteers, asking them to get down to the station as quickly as possible. When the crew arrive here and get kitted up and head out to sea, we will have peace of mind because this lifeboat will help to keep them safe as they save others. So, on behalf of all the station volunteers, I would like to thank the donors. Your generosity has given Dunmore East a lifesaver.’

Dunmore East RNLI's All-Weather Shannon Class LifeboatThe lifeboat now stationed in the popular Waterford fishing village is the first Shannon class in the RNLI fleet to be based in the south-east of Ireland.

The Shannon class lifeboat is the first modern all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the RNLI’s fleet. The naming of the class of lifeboat follows a tradition of naming lifeboats after rivers. When the Shannon was introduced to the RNLI fleet, it became the first time an Irish river was chosen, and it was done so to reflect the commitment and dedication of Irish lifeboat crew for generations.

Dunmore East RNLI was established in 1884. Since then, the crews have received 18 awards for gallantry.

Among the guests on the platform party were Eddy Stewart-Liberty, Lifeboat Management Group Chair, who welcomed guests and opened and closed proceedings, RNLI Trustee John Killeen who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed it into the care of Dunmore East Lifeboat Station, Karen Harris, Dunmore East RNLI Deputy Launching Authority, Robin Malcolm representing David Malcolm and Brendan Dunne who named the lifeboat and David Carroll, author of Dauntless Courage, who delivered a vote of thanks.

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Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat in West Cork was launched on Saturday 25 June 2022 at 10.05 pm last night to go to the immediate assistance of two sailors who were crossing the Atlantic and had run into challenging weather and needed assistance.

A Vermont-based couple had set out in their 37-foot yacht from Boston a number of weeks ago and were crossing the Atlantic on route to Scotland.

At 5:30 pm yesterday evening, the Irish Coast Guard’s Marine Research Coordination Centre in Valentia advised the yacht to change course and make for Castletownbere due to deteriorating weather conditions.

As the evening progressed and weather conditions became increasingly challenging Castletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediately under the command of Coxswain Dean Hegarty with crew Dave O’Donovan, David Lynch, Marc O’Hare, Donagh Murphy and Dion Kelly.

Castletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediatelyCastletownbere lifeboat, ‘Annette Hutton’, was tasked at 10.00 pm and launched immediately

The yacht was located at 10:46 pm. ten miles South-West of Castletownbere – conditions on scene were Westerly Force 6/7 winds and a 3-metre sea swell.

A local fishing boat assisted while the lifeboat escorted the yacht. Once in calmer waters, a lifeboat volunteer went aboard to assist with berthing the yacht at Castletownbere pier. When ashore, the sailors had refreshments in the lifeboat and expressed their gratitude to the Irish Coast Guard, The Castletownbere lifeboat and the skipper of the local trawler. One of the sailors commented: ‘It was so reassuring to see the lifeboat coming – we were tired and sea conditions were challenging and we are so delighted to be safe and on dry land now!’

This was Castletownbere lifeboat's second call-out in two days – on Saturday, the lifeboat was involved in a multi-agency search for a missing person in the Ballylickey area.

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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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