Total support of €411,099 was announced by Minister Kyne T.D. with an overall investment of €819,884 in a diverse range of projects under the programme. The FLAG West represents the largest number of approved projects under the FLAG’s programme nationally.
The West coast of Ireland and in particular Clare, Galway and the Aran Islands have been synonymous with fishing and boast a strong maritime heritage. There are seven FLAG programmes nationally, administered by BIM, Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, and co-funded by the Exchequer and the EU under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Operational Programme 2014-2020. Over the duration of the EMFF programme, the national FLAG scheme will deliver €12 million in funding to Ireland’s coastal communities.¿
Speaking at the launch at Áras Éanna, Inis Oírr, Minister of State, Sean Kyne T.D. said; ‘It’s always wonderful to have an opportunity to come to Inis Oírr and the Aran Islands and it certainly is an excellent choice of venue for the announcement of the support for FLAG West. It’s wonderful to see the appetite for FLAG support here in the West from the islands to the Clare and Galway coastlines where fishing and coastal community enterprise have always been part of our unique West of Ireland heritage. The FLAG West has seen the greatest number of approved projects 33, all showing superb diversity and innovation yet sensitive to our marine heritage and unique Gaeltacht culture. I’m delighted to announce funds of €411, 099 for the 33 projects being supported in the FLAG West. I also take pride in the fact that many of the projects are true to the natural environment and marine heritage of the sea, the coastline or the islands. We take such great pride in our coastline which also forms a significant component of the Wild Atlantic Way. The FLAG West announcement today will enhance and preserve our rich marine and fishing heritage for many generations to come. The 33 projects announced today on Inis Oírr follow the national announcement by my colleague and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D. of 153 projects that will deliver €3.6 million in investment to all seven FLAG regions around the coast”.
BIM’s CEO Jim O’Toole added; ‘BIM has worked closely with the FLAG West to enable the members to develop and implement a suite of initiatives that are tailored to the specific needs of the region. This area is renowned for its established and resourceful fishing, aquaculture and marine tourism activities and today’s announcement by Minister Kyne, T.D., of such a diverse and large range of projects, highlights the value of seafood and the wider marine sector to the county. I would especially like to thank the Board of the FLAG West, led by their Chair Paddy Crowe, for their hard work’.
The FLAG West Strategy focusses on economic development across the island and coastal communities and seeks to maximise co-operation amongst the counties associated marine organisations and Gaeltacht based agencies.
Overall 33 projects have been approved and a number of distinctive projects have been selected by the FLAG West as examples of core ethos of the scheme. They are as follows:
Comhar Caomhán, Inis Oírr, Aran Islands
Refurbishment of Teach an Bháid
Teach an Bháid was gifted to Comhar Caomhán Teo for the people of Inis Oírr to be used as a training centre, local maritime heritage room and place for the local Coast Guard unit and their equipment. The building is ideally located beside Inis Oírr beach. The original building was built around 1900 by the then British Coastguard to hold a boat to ferry out and back to calling ships.
The Coast Guard unit today, comprises of local volunteers (mainly of the fishing community), delivers a crucial service to the community. Until recently they had to work from an old van which was used as a store. The proposed space in Teach an Bháid will provide the essential space required to hold vital emergency equipment, required on the island.
Being an island, Inis Oírr has a very long maritime history and the marine heritage room will hold a record of this history including history of the iconic wreck Plassy which will be open to all and be of immense value to the island and wider community. This project will hopefully employ a part time worker in the summer months.
Training envisaged will for example include Navigation courses, VHF certification, First Aid for seamen, Manual handling and any other courses required to either acquire or retain certification for the general public, fishermen and deck workers. This training will help to maintain and increase jobs locally and also upgrade the workforce.
Project Costs €69,420
FLAG Grant €55,536
Scattery Island Tours Co Clare
Scattery Island Tours is a new start-up marine tourism business that will provide a regular scheduled ferry service to Scattery Island, located on the Shannon Estuary. The service will commence operations from May 2017 to September 2017 and offer a minimum service of three round trips daily, seven days a week, with runs expected to increase in the peak summer months.
Scattery Island Tours is the only licensed operator to provide a ferry service to Scattery Island. The company was successful in its tender application for the service which was awarded by the Office of Public Works (OPW). The contract is for an initial period of four years with an option to renew.
The service will also provide a packed lunch option for the tourists and OPW offer free guided tours of the island for visitors, between the months of June and August. The promoter, Irene Hamilton’s’ father is from the island and she has a personal interest in the island and promoting it as a tourist destination. Scattery Island had just over 700 hundred visitors to the island in 2016 and roughly 1,400 in 2015. This is compared to the over 24,000 tourists that visited Loop Head lighthouse in 2016.
Scattery Island is a valuable tourist attraction on the Wild Atlantic Way and the island needs a scheduled service to ensure it develops it full potential as a tourist attraction. This new ferry service will help facilitate visitor growth and improve the tourism offering on the West Coast.
In addition to the promoter, the company will generate four additional part time summer roles each year, two skippers and two deck crew. The service will also partner with a restaurant (The Potters Hand) to supply the packed lunch service, providing economic benefit to local business.
FLAG West supported installation of Ticket Office, Website development, promotional materials /signage. Uniforms
Project Costs €16,020
FLAG Grant €8,010
Comharchumann Mhic Dara An Cheathrú Rua, Connemara Co Galway
Comharchuman Mhic Dara is the community based development Co-op for the Carraroe Gael. It plays a significant role in providing services to the local area.
Part of it’s development strategy is to highlight a marine tourism image for the area and to use the natural marine resource to promote economic activity in the area.
The Comharchumann made an application to FLAG West for funding to kit out a dive centre so that the local population and visiting divers can access diving gear to explore the under water delights of Greatman’s Bay.
Project costs €30,883
FLAG Grant €24,706
Killary Fjord Shellfish Connemara Co Galway
Killary Fjord Shellfish of the Taste the Atlantic seafood trail have had many groups of different nationalities visit the farm from June to October. The uniqueness of the facility on the shores of Killary harbour and using mussel farming as a tourism attraction, Killary Fjord Shellfish has added to the visitor experience. Killary Fjord Shellfish plan to upgrade and enhance the visitor experience by landscaping and resurfacing the slipway. In doing so Killary Fjord Shellfish can confidently market and promote their marine tourism product, which will result in increased employment by having dedicated tourism staff.
Project Cost €56,000
FLAG Grant €28,000
The Chairman of the FLAG West, Paddy Crowe says, “The FLAG West has had huge interest from Clare, Galway, Connemara and the islands such is the appetite for coastal communities to preserve and enhance their rich maritime heritage and culture here in the West. It’s wonderful to launch the West FLAG on Inis Oírr which is all but intrinsically linked to the coastlines of Clare and Connemara in Co Galway. For generations back in our history there has been extensive connections between the islands and the coastal communities of the two counties, whether for fish, seafood, fuel, transport, tourism, education and ultimately life and wellbeing connections. The FLAG West programme allows the strengthening and solidifying of these rich yet contrasting maritime heritage which will ultimately allow generations to come to live on the islands, coastal villages and maintain a livelihood alongside and in co-operation with the coastal communities of the Clare and Galway. This has always been hugely important for the viability of these communities and enhancing what are ultimately our natural assets, and generations of high quality marine and fishing skills will safeguard these communities and preserving our rich heritage and in many cases the Irish language . This is the distinctive feature of the FLAG programme which makes it so attractive, sought after and worthwhile for communities like ours enabling people to work together to achieve enhanced vision for communities which benefits local economies.”