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Ireland's Most Popular Sail Training Ship's Building Shed Destroyed

14th December 2016
Jack Tyrrell in 1979 the great shed in Arklow in which Asgard II was built. He is seen foreground with the ship’s model which he used to promote the ideal at boat shows and to government ministers, while in the background Asgard II finally takes shape Jack Tyrrell in 1979 the great shed in Arklow in which Asgard II was built. He is seen foreground with the ship’s model which he used to promote the ideal at boat shows and to government ministers, while in the background Asgard II finally takes shape

A massive fire in in Arklow has engulfed and destroyed what most people thought was a large warehouse beside the old Inner Dock writes W M Nixon. But it was in this “warehouse” in the late 1970s and early ’80s that Jack Tyrrell and his men built the 84ft sail training brigantine Asgard II, which he had designed himself and promoted as a developing ideal through much of the 1970s.

In fact, it was the prospect of Asgard II becoming reality in 1977 which prompted the building of the shed, which became a place of pilgrimage, a small but quietly emotive cathedral of classic wooden ship-building for maritime enthusiasts from near and far as the fine ship took shape to fulfill many people’s long-held dream.

Asgard II Tall Ship SailingAsgard II at the height of her powers, going about her business as Ireland’s sail training ship and national flagship.

For reasons which still have never been fully explained, Asgard II foundered in the Bay of Biscay in September 2008 while on her way to La Rochelle. This was planned to be an extended visit to include three weeks of complete survey and inspection in a shipyard which might well have revealed the damaged seacock which many reckon was the cause of her sinking.

After 27 years of very active service, Asgard’s hull was in any case overdue for replacement. But it was not to be, and Ireland is still without a national sail training ship. As for the capacious shed in which she was built, while the Arklow boat-building industry has moved north of the river and is today noted for its alloy-built workboats, the shed meanwhile had been used for furniture storage and display, and then at the time of this week’s fire, it was storing cardboard.

Asgard shed ArklowThe loss of a final link to Asgard II – flames engulf the shed in which she was built 37 years ago. Photo courtesy Wicklow News

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2 comments

  • Comment Link Ginny Jones 15th December 2016 posted by Ginny Jones

    At 27 years old and built from an infinitely renewable resource, ASGARD II was only a pup when she sank in 2008. Her loss points up the necessity of checking all sea cocks and thru hulls during EVERY haulout -- if that was indeed the cause of her loss. Make sure that you can get to your thru hulls and sea cocks, and make sure that you service them annually, and also make sure to have a dedicated thru hull plug handy to each and every thru hull opening (and secured with some light line so that it doesn't disappear into the dark hole of the bilges. . I am sorry to hear about the building but glad that apparently no one was injured or killed in the blaze.

  • Comment Link Shane Kennedy. 15th December 2016 posted by Shane Kennedy.

    Another deliberate "accident" ? Yet another symptom of successive governments trying to eliminate our position as a maritime nation ?

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