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Aran drivers go electric

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Aran islanders are getting the opportunity to skip age of petrol fumes. This week got their first glimpse of the electric car that could pave the way for a total transformation of life as they know it.

The first Mega 'e-City' three-door hatchback arrived on Inis Mór on Tuesday for residents to test drive. One of their most pressing questions for the accompanying boffins was if this brainchild of French engineers could conquer the island's notoriously steep hills without the benefit of petrol or diesel.

One thing they know already is that if the car hits its top speed of 64kph they will almost certainly escape the wrath of the law - the speed limit across the three islands is just 60kph.

The electric car, which is about the same size as a Nissan Micra, is one of ten to be rolled out across the three islands as part of a three-year pilot project to see if the wind and ocean can generate enough energy for electricity, heat and transport for a small community.

The project, which is a collaboration between Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, attracted tenders from 18 companies from around Europe.

From January there will be six cars leased to residents of Inis Mór, two to Inis Meain and two to Inis Oirr, with different households chosen for each year of the project.

Interested motorists must apply to the local co-op, Comharchumann Forbartha Árann Teo, to be accepted, but they must have a clean licence and driving history, they must be under 65 and currently drive a fully taxed vehicle.

According to Fiona Smith of (SEI), successful applicants will have to pay a nominal amount for the lease of the car, around €12, a fee for a connection charge point on the outside of their home, which will be around €330, and then the cost of the electricity to run it. That is likely to be no more than €60 for the year.

The electric car consumes 130 units per km, whereas a similarly sized car such as a Peugeot 107 consumes 520 units per km. Motorists are tipped to save up to 80% in fuel costs.

"It really is a much, much more efficient alternative," explained Ms Smith. "This could become an alternative to shipping in fuel, making the island more self reliant and sustainable."

Dara O'Maoildhia, secretary of the energy community on Inis Mór, said his first impressions of the first bright orange 'e-City' were extremely positive.

"It's roomy in the front, there's no sense you're up against the window. But in the back I would say there's room only for two children. It's got electric windows, reversing sensors, it's comfortable enough. I've no doubt people will be interested in it," he told the Connacht Tribune.

Queries put to the engineers by residents during their day-long visit to the island included how long the car would run before it needed charging, how long it would take for a car to be fixed and how many charging devices were necessary on the island.

These are all issues likely to be ironed out before the launch in early January.

The energy committees on the three islands have been pushing for more energy efficient alternatives for some years. Inis Mór now boasts an electric post van, while tourists can now rent electric bikes to explore the island.

"Our vision for the island is to have no requirement for carbon fuel of any kind, no need for coal, petrol or diesel so that homes are heated and cars are run on alternative energy. We pay more for coal and more for a gallon of diesel than anywhere in the country - at the moment diesel is €1.06, whereas on the island it's €1.20," said Mr O'Maoildhia.

He hopes smart meters will be installed in participating houses within the next three years, which will be attached to the side of the fuse box to monitor the electricity going in and out. Windmills may be built in the gardens and any energy generated will be directed by this smart box into the house to be used in the most efficient way.

"The smart meter will direct the electricity to the battery of the car when the price of electricity is low, but when the price is high, it will be dropped into the electricity grid and you can make a fortune. "At least that's the plan," he said.

More at The Connacht Tribune

RTE One - Currachs on Inis Méain 1977

Hat tip to Una Ni Choinceanainn for pointing out this beautifuly filmed and narrated  documentary about the use of currachs in daily life on Inis Méain in the never-ending summer of 1977.
"Hands" was an Irish television program that showcased some of the country's finest craftsmen and women. Who do you recognise in this short film?  Please tell us.Aranislands@hotmail.com

Irish novelist's quest for a perfect pint...in Aran

By COLM TóIBíN

It is hard for me to think about the Aran Islands, the three rugged outposts off the coast of Galway, without dreaming of a perfect pint of Guinness on a drizzling summer afternoon, when all hopes of walking, or cycling, or swimming had been gloriously dampened by the weather, and there was only one place to go, and that was the pub. And from the window you could study the gray sky over the fierce Atlantic ocean, the white wash of the waves breaking in the distance, and somehow the drink in your hand, the beauty of the black and white liquid, the silky softness of its taste, especially if you were on your second or third pint, meant freedom, ease, time you treasured and longed for.

Read more....

I--Colm Tóibín is the author of the novels "Brooklyn" and "The Master."


See also Sean Scully: Walls of Aran with afterword by Colm Toibin





Tragedy as Galway hooker sailor drowned

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HEROIC EFFORTS by the crew of a Galway hooker to save two brothers whose boat had capsized were praised by a priest at the funeral of a renowned Connemara sailor yesterday.

Fr Peadar Ó Conghaile told hundreds of mourners, who filled not just the church but also the grounds of St Mary's Church in Carna, that the four crewmen should get medals for bravery.

Seán Mac Donncha (67), known locally as Johnny Sheáin Jeaic, lost his life in the accident on Saturday morning as he and his younger brother Josie, went to take their traditional Galway hooker McHugh from Kinvara in the south of the bay to a regatta in Rossaveal. The boat capsized shortly after leaving Kinvara.

Mourners were yesterday told how the crew of Bláth na hÓige , which also left from Kinvara, came to their aid. The four men, Gearóid Ó Cualáin, Máirtín Ó Conghaile, Aonghus Ó Cualáin and Máirtín Ó Ceoinín, managed to rescue Josie but they were unable to save his brother.

"These men, especially Gearóid Ó Cualáin, risked their lives to save others," said Fr Ó Conghaile. The Carna parish priest said that, as in so many other coastal villages, loss at sea was all too frequent. Hundreds of mourners brought the small south Connemara village to a standstill.

St Mary's was packed from early morning and the mourners extended out on to the main road in the village.

They had travelled from the three nearby Aran Islands, Inishbofin and other offshore islands, as well as coastal communities from Cork to Donegal. Others had travelled from the United States where wider family members reside.

"We are all too familiar with loss at sea in these parts, yet there was enormous shock when the news came through on Saturday morning," Fr Ó Conghaile said.

"Johnny was a man who was renowned and respected as a man of the sea, a lover of the Irish language and Irish culture, and a great singer. He is an enormous loss to the community."

Mr Mac Donncha, from Ard West, Carna, is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Kathy, Maureen, Roisín and Fiona, and son Seán. He was buried in Moyrus cemetery outside Carna.

Aran Islands Lifeboat supporters

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This a band for every one who supports or recognises in any way the huge benifit the R.N.L.I is to the Aran Islands, the entire mid-west coast of ireland and of course to all that serve and work on the sea. And to help recognise the heroic voluntary work that the crew do without a second thought.

Since 1927, The Aran Islands lifeboat station has covered the dramatic, rocky wilderness facing outwards to the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly known as Galway Bay until 1995, the lifeboat crews have been presented with over 20 awards for gallantry.


OUR BOAT: R.N.L.B Mr. David Kirkaldy
Category: All-weather
Length: 17m
Range: 250 nautical miles
Speed: 25 knots
Weight: 41 tonnes
Crew: Min: 5, Max: 7
Construction: Fibre Reinforced Composite
Launch type: Moored afloat


Pádraic Connolly becomes a YouTube star


                                                   
 Filming Pádraic Connolly a tPoll na Peist,  aka the Serpent's Cave or the Worm Hole on Inis Mór, for Tourism Ireland's online film highlighting the 'hidden gems' of County Galway

Galwayman Pádraic Connolly is doing his bit for tourism this year by presenting a short film on the 'hidden gems' of Co Galway on Tourism Ireland's website.  It is one of a series of ten short films or 'webisodes' which have already been viewed by almost 400,000 potential visitors around the world - see here for the video on Aran-Isles.com
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Pádraic Connolly takes a trip to the Aran islands

Tourism Ireland recently launched the series of films which feature real local characters from around the island of Ireland introducing their favourite 'hidden gems'.  Galwayman Pádraic Connolly was selected from the 1,000+ people across the island who applied to take part, to tell viewers and potential holidaymakers around the world about some of his favourite places in his home county. 

In the film, Pádraic takes the viewer on a journey around Connemara - highlighting the spectacular scenery and beautiful coastline.  He begins in Roundstone Harbour where he meets some of the local fishermen.  He continues to the beautiful Coral Strand at Carraroe and then it is on to his own birthplace, Rossaveal, and from there to Inis Mór.  Throughout the film, he regales the viewer with his many tales and legends - including a story about the local man who disappeared at the Worm Hole on Inis Mór!  He finishes his journey on Inis Oírr with its cluster of ancient ruins.

"Visitors repeatedly tell us that what distinguishes the island of Ireland from other destinations - what sets us apart from our competitors - is our people and our scenery", said Laughlin Rigby, eMarketing Manager, Tourism Ireland.  "This online movie, presented by Pádraic, provides an added dimension of information on the many attractions on offer in Co Galway, in a novel and entertaining way". 

"Customers are not just searching for the lowest fare any more; they are seeking information and recommendations on the perfect holiday experience - where to go, what to see and do and where to eat.  These movies complement our new global advertising campaign 'Go Where Ireland Takes You'.  The campaign has been designed to capture the spontaneity and fun of holidaying here and to show that some of the most wonderful and memorable experiences you are likely to have here will be stumbled on by chance", Rigby added.

The ten films or 'webisodes', which have been translated into five European languages, feature on Tourism Ireland's suite of 41 websites and are also being promoted in its main overseas markets on Yahoo.  The films will also feature on a new promotional DVD, which will be distributed to potential holidaymakers in the all-important GB market during August.  To see the films, visit www.discoverireland.com/go


Inis Oírr gets a health centre

Aran_cat.JPGThe Aran Islands are on their way to having a full Primary Care Team unit, with the official opening of a new Health Centre on Inis Oírr.

Inis Oírr has a population of 247 (2006 census) and a range of health needs for a mixed age profile which ranges from the very young to the very old.

Currently the Health Centre is used by a GP who provides 24-hour medical cover for Inis Oírr and Inis Meáin and by the resident Public Health Nurse who provides a nursing service. Speech and Language therapy is provided in the Health Centre along with Chiropody and Podiatry Clinics which take place twice a year.

From the HSE:

"The development of the Island Primary Care Team will commence in 2010 and the new Health Centre will greatly enhance the opportunities for providing services for the local population. The Island Primary Care Team will be part of the Connemara Network of Health and Social Care Services which covers Clifden, South Connemara, Oughterard, Spiddal, Moycullen along with the Aran Islands . The Primary Care Teams in these areas are currently being aligned to include nursing, home help, community welfare and therapy services in conjunction with local GPs."

Body of missing man found

Body confirmed as that of missing man

The body of a man taken from the sea at Inverin, Co Galway last night, has been confirmed as that of 42 year-old Joe Browne, a father and grandfather from Derry who had been reported missing on Inis Oírr last weekend.

Mr Browne had been holidays with his wife Denise on Inis Oírr. He was last seen half a mile west of the pier on Inis Oírr last Saturday night, and an extensive sea and land search was undertaken from Sunday when he had not returned.

His family believe he may have slipped on rocks while out walking in heavy weather. Mr Browne, an English language teacher, was a father of two and grandfather of three.

Search resumes on Aran Islands

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The Doolin Coast Guard Delta boat went to Inis Óirr, the smallest of the Aran islands, this morning to continue the search for a for a visitor who went missing off the coast of Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands on Saturday night.

The alarm was raised on Sunday afternoon and helicopter, lifeboat and the coastguard, as well as gardaí and islanders, took part in the search.

More Coast Guard team members along with a SARDA Ireland Search Dog  also went across on a passenger ferry. The Doolin Coast Guard Delta and the Aran Lifeboat conducted line searches from Inish Óirr to Blackhead. The Shannon Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter also searched the area. Galway Sub Aqua Club a local boat and a boat from Carna also searched.

Coast Guard team members and the SARDA search dog searched the 10.2 km of coastline around the Island.

The man, in his mid-40s and from Derry, was last seen on the island's main pier at about 10pm.

John Falvey, divisional controller of Valentia coastguard, said the man was last seen on a pier at 2100 BST on Saturday.

"He wasn't seen entering the water at any location so we are searching the whole island as well as the sea areas off it."


RTE
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The Aran Islands lie eight miles into the Atlantic ocean, off the West Coast of Ireland, one the last remaining wild and natural environments in Europe.
To contact us please: Email here,
We're pretty busy so you can also keep up on Flickr as well as Twitter and our Facebook page.
Scattered  between sea and sky Seamus Heaney describes the  Islands as "three stepping stones out of Europe".  The island population is about 1,000 peopel most of whom converse in the Irish language. Almost a million visitors come here every year. Most go to Inis Mor, a lot go to Inis Oirr and very few go to Inis Meain. Thats why we think of it as the real Hidden Ireland.
All three islands teem with wildflowers and birdlife and are also considered by many to be the last bastions of ancient Irish culture.

Each of the Aran Islands has its own festival to celebrate its individual Patron Saint. Its an action packed weekend of currach races, swimming, Tug o' war, donkey racing, music and dancing on the pier. The high-light of the day is generally a Hooker Boat race in the bay.


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  • Patrún Inis Mór 2008 27th/28th/29th June
  • Patrún Inis Méain 2008 1st/2nd/3rd August
  • Patrún Inis Oírr 2008 15th/16th/17th August
Celtic Music Workshops and Lessons in Tucson For those musicians in the Tucson area, mark your calendars for August 26 an 27.  (For the Aran connection, read on....)
That's when you'll have the opportunity to take private lessons and/or workshops with the internationally renowned, award-winning musicians who make up the groups Cara and 2duos. The bands are performing on Saturday August 29, at the Temple of Music and Art (for ticket information, see www.inconcerttucson.com). The bands are arriving in town early and will be available to teach private lessons and workshops on Wednesday August 26 and Thursday August 27. Private lessons are $40/hr and workshops are $30 each. For more information, or to register, contact me at melissaltatum AT yahoo DOT com. Please note these are not beginner workshops - students are expected to provide their own instruments and know how to play them. Whistles should be in the key of D. Wednesday Aug 26 (Cara only): Private lessons available from 10am - 12:00noon and from 2:00-4:00pm on bodhran, fiddle, guitar, flute & whistle Thursday Aug 27 (Cara + 2duos): private lessons and workshops Private lessons available from 10am - 9pm on bodhran, fiddle, guitar, bouzouki, vocals, flute & whistle Thursday workshop schedule (note: for fiddle, flute, guitar,and whistle, two teachers are available and the workshops will be divided into two skill levels where necessary) 4:30-5:45pm fiddle 4:30-5:45pm flute 6:00-7:15pm guitar 6:00-7:15pm bodhran 7:30-8:45 pm whistle All events will be held at Rountree Hall on The University of Arizona campus. Band biographies: CARA tour world wide with their unique interpretation of Celtic music. They are rooted in traditional music and song, but their own exciting compositions have received wide critical acclaim. While the two female lead singers are surely a hallmark of the band, the quality standard for instrumentals and arrangements is equally high. Cara combine their mastery of vocals, piano, fiddle, flute, guitar, bodhrán, uilleann pipes, accordion and concertina with a dry-witted and very entertaining stage presence. For more about CARA, check out the band's websites at www.cara-music.com/english/ and www.myspace.com/caralive 2duos consists of four well renowned and successful musicians from Europe - two from Scotland and two from Germany - all with a passion for Irish, Scottish and German folk music. Demonstrating that the musical culture and heritage of their home countries does indeed have lots in common, 2duos have been wowing both audiences and critics alike with their unique blend of German, Irish and Scottish tunes since their formation in December 2006. For more about 2duos, check out their websites at www.2duos.com/ and www.myspace.com/2duos Instructor biographies: Patricia Clark is studying for a BA in Irish music and Dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick. She taught at numerous festivals around Europe like Cambridge Folk Festival and Sidmouth Folk Week in the UK, Le Bono in France and many more. She also is a sought after teacher for masterclasses by musicians visiting Ireland. Toured with several international artists such as Altan, At First Light, Gráda and The Outside Track. Patricia plays fiddle and piano Aaron Jones was voted 'Instrumentalist of the Year' at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2005 and is also a member of award winning Scottish band 'Old Blind Dogs' - winners of 'Folk Band of the Year' at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2004 and 2007. He is in great demand as both an accompanist and a singer and continues to work with some of the biggest names in traditional music. He is also a founding partner in traditional music resource www.tradmusic.com, which launched in 2002. As well being a Committee Member for the Musicians Union of Scotland and Northern Ireland he is also an official accompanist at the prestigious BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician Awards. Aaron sings and plays bouzouki and guitar. Claire Mann has established herself as one of the leading performers and teachers of traditional Irish fiddle and flute. She has toured extensively worldwide with bands Tabache, Croabh Rua, The New Shoes, Tom McConville and Christy O'Leary and is also a tutor of traditional music on the renowned RSAMD and Newcastle University folk degree courses. Claire sings and plays flute, fiddle, and whistle. Claus Steinort started playing the Irish Flute in 1989. He has been touring and recording with several bands, including Dereelium, Steampacket and Cara. Claus has spent a lot of time in Ireland in the 90s, including a semester in Dublin, where he studied applied languages. Claus has a diploma degree in applied languages (technical translation). He has taught Irish flute playing since 1996 at various occasions, mainly for the Uilleann Pipes Society of Germany, at Wimborne Folk Festival (UK) and various Folk Weeks across Germany. He also started playing the Uilleann Pipes in 2004 and is a master of ornamentation and interpreting a tune. He also plays and teaches tin whistle. Juergen Treyz was classically trained on the piano and graduated in Jazz Guitar at the MGI Munich. He also got involved with medieval music as well as folk music from all over Europe. He combines his knowledge of harmonic structure with a sure taste in styles and is one of the most distinctive guitar players and arrangers in Celtic Music today. He also works as a composer for audio books, TV series, theatre plays and movies. He runs his own recording studio named artes Musikproduktion and produced a vast amount of CDs, both with his own music and as a producer for various bands. Rolf Wagels started playing bodhrán in 1993 and was rated among the best bodhrán players of continental europe. He teaches all over Germany and is a member of the highly praised trad irish bands Cara, DeReelium and Steampacket. In June 2005, he was the first non-irish teacher at the renowned Bodhrán Summerschool "Craiceann" on Inis Oirr (Aran Islands) and was asked to return every year since. His style is a mixture of traditional pulse orientated playing and the more extroverted top end style. Webpage: http://www.bodhran-info.com and http://www.myspace.com/rolfwagels Gudrun Walther was classically trained on the fiddle, but picked up folk music also from a very young age and combines the two styles in her fiddling. She studied in master classes with many internationally known fiddlers from Ireland, France, Germany and Scandinavia, and makes her living as a touring musician since 14 years. Gudrun is also a popular teacher for fiddle as well as for ensemble playing and arranging.

Padraic's nostalgic trip to Inisheer


Meet Padraic | Q&A

  • Question: So, you were a Lobster fisherman in your youth, what was that like?

    Answer: I was a lobster fisherman for about two years when I was about sixteen. We'd go out in a currach, which is a traditional rowing boat. We'd drop the pots, of various different types, in the hope to find a lobster, or ten, when we'd return the next day. Back then everyone lived off the sea... and back then the lobsters were more plentiful. I have wonderful memories of those days. We all have a great connection here with the sea.

  • Question: The sailboats we see in the video, these are unique to this part of Ireland, right?

    Answer: That's the Galway hooker; you'll find them all along the coast from Galway city to Connemara. All those boats you see are built by hand here in Connemara. They were mainly used for transporting goods from village to village or to the city.

  • Question: Tell me more about the Worm's Hole; I'm fascinated by this...

    Answer: Isn't it amazing; I mean where you would find it! Divers have come here from America, France, Australia and they drop into the worms' hole and not one has touched the bottom. It's a mystery. That's nature for you.

  • Question: What is the most ideal time of year to visit the Connemara coastline?

    Answer: The middle of July, when the sky is clear and blue, and the sea, the same. There's no place on earth as nice. It's heaven. But, if you get clear day in winter, it's just as amazing.

  • Question: You grew up here; all this open landscape is your backyard...

    Answer: I did, and you can walk for miles through these fields and nobody will bother you. If you have the stamina, there's a boreen nearby in Rossaveal that leads to a Martello tower - a round tower with cannon on the roof - just by the edge of the sea. The tower has been there since the 1850's, it must be the only one along the west coast. It has a well inside it. Most of these towers are museums in other countries; here you'd hardly know it existed. It's not advertised. This whole area is not commercialized.

  • Question: I'm very interested in the coral sand beach...

    Answer: It's in Carraroe...one of only two coral beaches in Ireland. The other one is supposed to be in Kerry, but nobody's ever seen it, so I wonder... but this is a pure coral beach and it's absolutely just beautiful. I must do more research on coral beaches in Ireland; there's not been any research on this that I'm aware of...

Surfer (56) killed off Inis Oírr


A Dublin man who died in a surfing accident off the Aran island of Inis Oírr at the weekend has been named as David Deering (56), a father of two, from Mount Merrion.

Mr Deering was an experienced surfer and it is believed he hit his head in a fall from the surfboard off the southwest of Inis Oírr last Saturday evening. He was pulled ashore and his son administered first aid.

The crew of the Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky helicopter from Shannon also assisted, but Mr Deering could not be revived. His body was flown to Limerick Regional Hospital.

Mr Deering was a keen sports enthusiast, who coached many pupils at Willow Park and Blackrock College schools. He was also director of a company which ran summer courses for children in soccer and rugby.

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