- Can you give us some background to the Irish Underwater Council and how diving as a sport developed in Ireland?
The Irish Underwater Council (IUC) is the national governing body for recreational underwater sports in Ireland. It was founded in 1963 to organise and promote the sport of scuba diving and snorkelling. The IUC is affiliated to both Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS), the international umbrella organisation for recreational diver training organisations and the European Underwater Federation (EUF). Our members have served on the boards of both of these as well as President of the Technical Commission of CMAS. We were the first diving organisation in the world to achieve an ISO certification for our standard of training as well as one of the first national governing bodies to become a company limited by guarantee and purchase our own headquarters.
In the words of our Archivist Mick Moriarty who has been a member since 1963 and one of the founding members “In those early days the equipment was very basic and very hard to come by. There were no wetsuits never mind drysuits and diving involved multiple layers of clothing to keep warm as well as home fashioned masks and snorkels.” With the explosion of interest in the underwater world the scene today is very different. Gone are the wollie jumpers and rubber tubing, replaced by high Tec drysuits and safety equipment.
With the establishment of IUC the sport has grown immensely, well beyond the expectations of those early divers, the sport is now fully regulated with a suite of courses to suit all interests and over 2,000 people participating on a weekly basis.
- Can you tell us about opportunities for diving in Ireland?
Ireland is one of the best locations in the world to dive, in fact a dive site off the coast of Mayo was voted the 10th best dive site in the world. With over 3,000 miles of coastline and pristine waters the opportunities are endless. We have a large network of clubs all around the country that provide top class dive and snorkel training at a fraction of commercial rates.
- How many members and clubs are there affiliated to the Irish Underwater Council?
We currently have 2,000 members and 73 clubs nationwide.
- Are there many qualifications along the way to becoming an instructor?
We take training very seriously and our Dive Instructor grade is one of the highest standards of outdoor instruction in Ireland and internationally. In order to become a Dive Instructor you must complete a number of pre requisite courses and have at least 5 years experience . However the path is an enjoyable one and one that gives you an opportunity to meet divers and experience dive sites around the county. Our Snorkel Instructor grade is also internationally recognised and again there is a number of grades to pass through along the way, each one building on your experience and knowledge.
- What is your highlight of 2015 so far?
The highlight of this year would have to be our regional diving and snorkelling rallies, open to members and non-members alike its great opportunity to meet likeminded people and visit locations you may not have had the opportunity to visit before. This year we have had 5 regional rallies and well in access of 500 people participating.
- What lies in store for the Irish Underwater Council?
We are very excited about the future! We were the creator of the now famous Blueway water trails and we look forward to welcoming a new generation of snorkelers through these trails. We have also just launched our new Underwater Archaeology Course which has created a wave of interest especially with the 1916 centenary coming up next year.