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Trainees recognised for their exceptional contributions to Sail Training Ireland's Tall Ships voyages in 2023 were honoured at the Annual Awards Ceremony at the Mansion House in Dublin.

The award ceremony, held on February 3rd, 2024, was hosted by the Lord Mayor Daithi De Roiste.

The 534 trainees who sailed on the tall ships last year were eligible for the awards, with the winners selected for their outstanding achievements. Since 2011, Sail Training Ireland (STIrl) has provided bursaries to over 3,500 young people from all backgrounds and abilities to participate in training and self-development programmes.

2024 Tall Ships Voyages Awards Ceremony winners and speakers at the Mansion House in DublinThe 2024 Tall Ships Voyages Awards Ceremony winners and speakers at the Mansion House in Dublin

The charity aims to promote education and youth development through adventure, shared experiences, and challenge by introducing young people to life on a Tall Ship as a platform for personal development. Trainees included young people from Youth and Community Groups, residential care homes, Garda Diversion Projects, and Schools, drug rehabilitation programs, asylum seekers, and young people with visual, hearing, and physical impairments from across Ireland.

Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company have been jointly supporting the charity since the Tall Ships Race Festival in 2012. In 2023, Dublin City Council's generous contribution helped 193 young people from Dublin participate in Sail Training Ireland's programmes.

Tall Ships Voyages Trainee of the Year Winner: Cillian Cooney with, MC Brian Turvey, Commander Brian Matthews, STIrl Chairman Robert Barker, and Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithi de RoisteTall Ships Voyages Trainee of the Year Winner: Cillian Cooney with, MC Brian Turvey, Commander Brian Matthews, STIrl Chairman Robert Barker, and Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithi de Roiste

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste, expressed his delight at the progress made by the charity in promoting youth development and education. He said: “Sail Training Ireland promotes education and youth development through adventure, shared experiences, and challenge by introducing young people to life on a Tall Ship as a platform for personal development. The charity offers this opportunity to young people from all backgrounds and with all abilities."

Sail Training Ireland's Annual Award Winners

  1. Watch Leader/ Mentor of the Year: Peta Scott - Co. Wicklow
  2. Special Contribution Award 1: Thomas Dodd – Co. Cork
  3. Special Contribution Award 2: John McNally – Co Wicklow
  4. Special Contribution Award 3: Valerii Kholidnyi – Co. Dublin
  5. Special Contribution Award 4: Brogan Carthy – Co. Wexford
  6. Volunteer of the Year: Loraine Lynch – Co. Wicklow
  7. Asgard Award Nominating Org: Gorey Youth Needs – Co. Wexford
  8. Trainee of the year: Cillian Cooney – Co. Wexford
  9. Drogheda Sail Training Bursary: Charlie Wogan – Co. Meath
  10. Drogheda Sail Training Bursary: Lilou Conroy – Co. Meath

Sail Training Ireland's programs for 2024 include the Asgarda Armada Voyage featuring five vessels and over fifty trainees, Erasmus+ Youth Exchange between Ireland and The Netherlands, Spain, and Latvia, three STEM at Sea voyages incorporating ocean science at sea training workshops, thirty young people from Dublin’s North-East inner city participating as part of the Taoiseach’s taskforce NEIC project, and regional sail training schemes in Drogheda, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Wexford, and Waterford.

The Department of Defence, Dublin City Council, and Dublin Port Company continue to support the charity in all that they do. Anyone interested in partaking in a voyage or organisations that work with young people who may benefit from such an experience can contact Sail Training Ireland at, email [email protected], or phone: 01 845 4773.

Published in Tall Ships

Sail Training Ireland will hold its 2024 Annual Award Ceremony at the Mansion House in Dublin on Saturday 3 February.

Many of the young people that took part in voyages on tall ships and other sail training vessels in 2023 will be in attendance, with some of them sharing their experiences with those gathered.

In its message to invited friends and supporters, Sail Training Ireland promised to provide details of how they can get involved in 2024’s programme of voyages and apply for one of the variety of funded opportunities targeted at the 14-30 age bracket from all backgrounds and with all abilities.

For bodies that work with young people, it is a great opportunity to learn how to become a ‘Nominating Organisation’ and send young people to partake in one of these funded voyage schemes.

Places are limited on the day; for details get in touch with [email protected].

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Sail Training Ireland has added to its 2024 tall ship voyages now available to book on its website, following last month’s openings for Transition Year/Gaisce adventures on the seas.

Become a trainee crew member on board the tall ship Maybe and have an adventure to remember this Easter on one of two Irish Sea voyages for young people (25-30 March and 1-6 April).

Similar voyages on the tall ship Leader (8-12 and 15-19 April) and the Brian Boru (22-26 April) will take place after the Easter break, and each qualifies for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential and Gaisce President’s Award Ireland.

The Maybe is also the host vessel for the first of 2024’s Adult Lady Sails for women 25 and older (8-10 and 12-14 April), while the Pelican of London will set sail on an ocean science voyage for teens aged 14 to 17 from 19-25 May, among a host of scheduled trips with more set to be added.

In 2023, Sail Training Ireland helped over 530 young people to participate on 30 voyages on seven different ships, and some of the participants shared their experiences in the organisation’s latest newsletter available to read HERE.

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Transition Year/Gaisce tall ship voyages for 14- to 17-year-olds in 2024 are now open for booking with Sail Training Ireland.

Become a trainee crew member on board a tall ship and have an adventure to remember next Easter, sailing with young people from across the island of Ireland on the Irish Sea.

This voyage qualifies for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential and the Gaisce President’s Award.

Sail Training Ireland recommends booking early to avoid disappointment as there will be a lot of demand.

Published in Tall Ships

Sail Training Ireland has hailed 2022 as a “record-breaking year” in its latest annual report, published this past week.

The charity — which last month was recognised in the Lord Mayor’s Awards for its contributions to youth development and education in the city of Dublin — also took the opportunity to thank all of its volunteers, sponsors and other backers for their support for its tall ship training efforts throughout the year.

In his introduction, chairman Seamus McLoughlin said: “The past year was a big challenge for Sail Training Ireland as we emerged from the Covid pandemic of previous years and we were unsure how the year would unfold.

“However, 2022 was our best year since the charity was formed, with life-changing opportunities provided for over 550 trainees. In addition, our funding concerns were greatly alleviated by a very generous commitment by the Department of Defence to provide €100,000 each year for the next three years.

“I would like to think that this is a recognition by the department that our charity makes good use of any monies donated and recognises our high standards of governance, compliance with all statutory requirements, and that we deliver good value for the funds provided.”

Chief executive Daragh Sheridan described it as “a record-breaking year for the charity, as 546 young people from 26 counties went out on 30 voyages onboard five vessels”.

He also noted new initiatives such as the all-female ‘Lady Sail' voyages and the Leadership Masterclass project as well as STEM at Sea, alongside existing partnerships with Dublin's North East Inner City (NEIC) and the EU's Erasmus+ which have agreed funding to continue in 2023.

“We look forward to working with two new vessels in 2023, Leader and Fridtjof Nansen, in addition to our old friends Brian Boru, Maybe, Ilen, Pelican of London and Tenacious,” Sheridan added.

The full report is available to download from the Sail Training Ireland website.

Next up on Sail Training Ireland’s 2023 calendar is the new ‘Voyage of Empowerment’ for young people in association with Energia Renewables, as previously reported on

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Irish energy company Energia Renewables has partnered with Sail Training Ireland to sponsor a sea voyage for 24 young people aboard the tall ship Pelican of London.

The ‘Voyage of Empowerment’ will set sail from Dublin on Saturday 27 May and will dock in Rosslare on Sunday 4 June where an awards ceremony will be held.

During the voyage, 24 young people from the South East will learn various skills including teamwork, communication and leadership as part of this exhilarating seafaring experience.

They will also learn about the marine environment and carry out marine science experiments and lab work while onboard.

Energia Renewables’ support for the voyage is part of the Irish company’s expressed commitment to sustainability and community.

The company is currently developing the South Irish Sea offshore wind energy project that will generate clean electricity for homes and businesses across the South East region and Ireland.

And the company says its partnership with Sail Training Ireland represents its commitment to support initiatives that benefit local residents and communities.

Twenty-four young people from the South East will board the tall ship Pelican of London on 27 May for a life-changing voyageTwenty-four young people from the South East will board the tall ship Pelican of London on 27 May for a life-changing voyage

Speaking about the partnership, Jodie Neary, offshore stakeholder and engagement manager of Energia said: “We’re excited to partner with Sail Training Ireland to support their mission developing young people’s life skills through sail training.

“Sail Training Ireland does fantastic work building stepping stones for young people to enter employment, particularly in the maritime industry while also preserving the long maritime history of Ireland.”

She added: “We believe in the energy and potential of young people. Investing in youth development is critically important in building a sustainable future for Ireland, and we look forward to the positive impact that this partnership will have.”

Daragh Sheridan, chief executive of Sail Training Ireland said: “We’re delighted to have Energia’s support for our upcoming voyage. Sail Training Ireland offers an unforgettable experience for our young people, and we are proud to work with Energia Renewables as a leading Irish energy company to make this voyage even more accessible for participants. We look forward to making this a successful voyage for all involved.”

Sail Training Ireland was recently recognised in the Lord Mayor’s Awards for its contribution to youth development and education in Dublin and beyond.

The charity offers sail training voyages to young people from a range of backgrounds and abilities. The voyages help to develop essential life skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication, while also building self-confidence and resilience.

Published in Tall Ships

Sail Training Ireland was among three organisations and three individuals recognised by the Lord Mayor of Dublin for their contributions to the city in a special reception last Thursday (30 March).

The sail-training charity funds the development of young people from all backgrounds and all abilities on the island of Ireland by giving them the opportunity to participate on voyages on tall ships.

This experience often has a profound effect on young people’s outlook on life and allows them reach their full potential, providing them with valuable life skills.

Sail Training Ireland received their award in the Round Room at the Mansion House from Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy alongside An Taisce and the Irish Wildlife Trust.

Individuals awarded were Sandra Dillon, founder of The Meeting Place Club, the first integrated group for teens and adults with a wide range of special needs; ultra-endurance athlete Gerard Prendergast; and BAFTA-winning, Oscar-nominated actor Barry Keoghan, who was unable to attend due to filming commitments.

The Lord Mayor’s Award trophy for Sail Training Ireland | Credit: Fennell PhotographyThe Lord Mayor’s Award trophy for Sail Training Ireland | Credit: Fennell Photography

Speaking about the Lord Mayor’s Awards, Cllr Conroy said the ceremony “is one of the highlights of my term of office”.

She added: “I have chosen to honour individuals and groups from many different walks of life. They have helped make Dublin a better place through their tireless efforts in the fields of inclusion, health and well-being, the arts, heritage and biodiversity, conservation, and community and family support.

“I congratulate all the recipients and thank them on behalf of the people of Dublin for their contribution to this great city.”

Since 1989, this annual award ceremony is an opportunity for Dublin’s Lord Mayor to highlight and acknowledge, in a special way, achievements of both individuals and groups.

Previous winners of the award include the Ana Liffey Drugs Project, Imelda May, Maeve Binchy, Dave Fanning, Merchants Quay Ireland, Damien Dempsey and Commander Chris Hadfield.

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The Department of Defence will continue to provide funding to Sail Training Ireland for three more years from this year, 2023.

This funding will provide sail training to young persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This funding is subject to compliance with two Performance Delivery Agreements, which were entered into between the Department of Defence and Sail Training Ireland.

The two Agreements will provide for; €100,000 to be provided by the Department of Defence in the years 2023, 2024 and 2025.

In addition, €50,000 will be provided in 2023 from the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Provision of this money will be subject to compliance with the Performance Delivery Agreements, particularly the provision of sail training to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including young people from Northern Ireland.

Published in Tall Ships

Fifty exceptional young Irish trainees, who took part in an intensive week-long voyage as crew members of three different sailing vessels, today received their certificates of completion from Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers at a special awards ceremony in Dublin’s Docklands today.

The fifty young people from thirteen counties had just completed an intensive week-long training course with Sail Training Ireland off the coasts of Ireland and the UK, on board three participating vessels – ‘The Brian Ború’, ‘Ilen’ and tall ship ‘Pelican of London’.

The ketch Ilen on the river LiffeyThe ketch Ilen on the river Liffey

The trainees formed a special guard of honour as part of the 2022 ‘Asgard Armada’ - which saw a special lifting of the East Link Bridge on the River Liffey this morning to allow the three returning boats sail in formation into Dublin docklands, marking the conclusion of their training and just in time for the special presentation award event at the Mayson Hotel on North Wall Quay.

‘It is not so much learning to sail as learning from sailing’

The participants were nominated to take part by various youth organisations throughout the country such as Foróige Youth Diversion, Sailability Northern Ireland, Túsla - the Child and Family Agency, Family Resource centres, School Completion Programmes, Cork Life Centre, Manor St. John Youth Service, Waterford and South Tipperary Youth Service and Scouting Ireland. The 13 counties represented are Antrim, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.

The Pelican of LondonThe Pelican of London

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Leo Varadkar TD said: “I congratulate these 50 extraordinary young people who completed the course. In the process they have learned vital skills which will benefit them in their future lives and careers. Sailing is a great way to encourage youth development and train new leaders. This course in particular ensures that sailing does not discriminate against backgrounds or circumstances.”

The Brian BorúThe Brian Ború

Minister of State for Sport, the Gaeltacht and Defence and Government Chief Whip, Jack Chambers TD, praised the 50 participants. “This all-island initiative by Sail Training Ireland is to be commended. It is crucial for all sports to be inclusive and to give opportunities regardless of background,” Minister Chambers said. “Inclusivity and a SportForAll ethos is at the core of my policies as Minister and I strongly believe that all sports must be welcoming and inclusive, offering appropriate opportunities for participation and improvement to all, regardless of background, gender, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Time spent involved in sports is crucial for young people. It gives them a sense of purpose and encourages them to make new friends and try new experiences. I am hugely impressed with the work Sail Training Ireland do especially with programmes like this one and I am delighted to be here today.”

Daragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training (second from right), Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers TD and STI traineesDaragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training (second from right), Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers TD and STI trainees

Daragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training Ireland said: “We are delighted to be honouring the achievements of the 50 amazing young people who make up the 2022 Asgard Armada. This is always a special moment for each trainee, many of whom come home from even a quite short but intensive experience at sea with a changed view of life, a greater sense of purpose and a new perspective on their own capabilities. Sail Training Ireland brings a challenging, personal development experience which can really have a huge impact on those taking part. Our participants come from varied backgrounds, and many would typically never have such an opportunity open to them without assistance from a local community organisation. We could not do this without the continued support of our donors and the Department of Defence. We very much appreciate the presence of the Tanaiste and the Minister for Sport underlining the value the Government attaches to inclusive programmes.”

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There is progress for sail training in Ireland with the “generous offer” of a potential tall ship, the Minister for Defence has acknowledged.

Dún Laoghaire Senator Barry Ward today (Thursday 14 October) raised the matter with the Minister Simon Coveney and emphasised the importance of funding for a new sail training vessel in Ireland to replace Asgard II.

Senator Ward also outlined the importance of sail training for people from diverse communities throughout the island of Ireland.

“Sail training is a really important vehicle to introduce people to the marine sector as a sporting and employment opportunity for them,” he said. “Asgard II provided generations of Irish people with a chance to experience sailing and being out on the sea in a way that they never normally would.

“Since Asgard II sank in 2008, there has been a gap in sail training in Ireland. It is high time that we put proper sail training back on track with a new tall ship, to allow people of all backgrounds to get on the water, to build a connection to the sea, and to feel what it is like to be on the sea all around this island.”

Paying tribute to the Atlantic Youth Trust — which has identified a 164ft schooner which could be used as a sail training vessel and is currently for sale in Sweden, as previously reported on — Senator Ward called on the minister and the Government to commit to proceeding with this vessel as a new sail training vessel for Ireland.

Responding to the senator, Minister Simon Coveney stated his commitment to the project and confirmed that there was a generous offer in terms of the proposed tall ship.

Minister Coveney said that the Government is “supportive of the principles of a sail training programme”, that officials had met with the Atlantic Youth Trust yesterday (13 October) and that funding for sail training through Sail Training Ireland will be provided in 2022.

Senator Ward added: “Ireland is an island country and we need to build opportunities for young people to be connected with the sea.

“This is a real opportunity for Ireland to put itself back on the sail training map with a vessel that will operate as a sail training vessel but would also be available for research, innovation, diplomacy and a range of other facilities to the State.”

Published in Tall Ships
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago