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Rising tide of Hope

26th July 2010
Rising tide of Hope
Hope springs eternal. Amid a general atmosphere of despair, chinks of bright light are emerging around the edge of our coastline Irish coasts. A renewed faith in what might be is becoming palpable. Helped in no small part by the fact that the country’s biggest jamboree was a sailing event in 2009, things are pushing forward along our shores. 

Starting on the east coast, despite delays and doubts, the new Greystones harbour is finally taking shape. The harbour’s fine new walls are proof, like the Galway stopover, that local government can achieve major success if there is the political will to do it.

The backing of Greystones town council was vital for the project. At least seven of the nine councillors backed the works. They defied the then Department of the Marine to circumvent the Foreshore Act and issue a compulsory purchase order for lands and foreshore at the site. The harbour works will be completed this year. The rest of the land-side development will be delayed, because of the new realities of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, but the project is still ground-breaking, and its full benefits will be felt by the entire town. 

Just slightly further south, the Round Ireland yacht race committee are looking to expand their regatta inland, cajoling Wicklow town to host a town-wide festival around the race-start weekend. For a race so steeped in tradition and, according to its critics, so resistant to change, this is a massively positive step, indicative of a new willingness to open the arms of sailing events to welcome in the greater public. 

The same in Waterford where the foundations are now being laid for a return visit of the Tall Ships in 2011 and massive public interest in the sea. If only Ireland could have a presence on the Suir when this fleet sails in. 

Working along the Round Ireland route, we stop next at Kinsale, which welcomes the Figaro once again in August, yet another international festival of sails coming to Ireland. In a more domestic sense we dock at Baltimore, where Glenans are based. The death of Tiger Ireland threatened to take Glenans with it, but in a monstrous show of community spirit, the club saved itself from an imminent demise, raising an astonishing e87,000 in funds in just one month.

That so many saw fit to reach deep into ever-shallower pockets is a testament to the affection in which the unpretentious and accommodating club is held. Glenans is grassroots sailing at its most accessible – come one come all – and that attitude has clearly allowed it build healthy deposits in the bank of karma. 

And so we continue to where optimism took root in 2009 – Galway – and see that the desire to make possible the seemingly impossible has not dimmed. This year its coming back with a powerboat festival promising to draw big crowds in June. The same bank holiday weekend that will draw thousands to the Dublin Maritime Festival.  

The organisers of the 2009 Volvo Ocean Race continued, when all seemed lost, to lobby and persuade the powers that be to revisit Galway, the scene of the race’s biggest party, for another round in 2012. And it’s coming back for its grand finale in 2012, potentially a bigger party than ever, and there may even be an extra Round Ireland thrown in to boot. 

Galway withstood strong opposition from several rival cities in the official port bidding process to earn the right to host not only the finale but also the overall prize-giving ceremony.

Belief in the marine sector is still there. You just have to know where to look.
Published in Editors Blog
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