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Rankin Dinghies Keeping Traditional Sailing in Cork Harbour

7th June 2019
Back From France - the 'French' Rankin being examined Back From France - the 'French' Rankin being examined

“We’ll keep the tradition going. That’s the idea. We’ll carry on and keep traditional sailing going in Cork Harbour.”

So said Rory Allen who, with his son Gearoid, is the proud new owner of a much-travelled dinghy, the French” boat as it’s being called by the Rankin Class of owners, sailors and enthusiasts about Rankin boats, the revival of which we first reported in this Podcast on Afloat four years ago when interest was reawakened in the Rankin Dinghy, a boat with a great history in Cork Harbour, emanating from Cobh.

RANKIN CLASS SAILORS AT WHITEPOINT jpgRankin class sailors at Whitepoint for the presentation of the two Rankins

Maurice Kidney and Conor English were the two men who drove that revival and Afloat was invited back to Whitepoint, just outside the town, to witness the latest stage in the remarkable progress of what they started as “a dream” as Maurice Kidney said to me.

“We’ll keep the tradition going. That’s the idea. We’ll carry on and keep traditional sailing going in Cork Harbour.”

This occasion was the handing over of two Rankins to their new owners. The “French” boat had been returned to Cork from France by ferry, the other boat had been recovered from Kinsale.

MAURICE KIDNEY RANKIN REVIVALMaurice Kidney one of the men who has led the Rankin revival

The “French” Rankin has also been to Wexford, London and Donegal.

THE RANKIN RECOVERED FROM KINSALEThe Rankin recovered from Kinsale in the foreground and The 'French' boat

“There’s many seamiles clocked up on this one,” said Roddy Cooke, who once owned her. He worked previously with London Port and with BIM and is now at the Maritime College in Cork.

From the start of their revival of the boats built by the Rankin brothers in Cobh, the Class has now got to the stage where 25 Rankins are “available to sail,” said Maurice. “Our effort is to get them all out on the water. We also have a development programme going of converting Rankin punts to sailing.”

RORY ALLEN AND HIS SON GEAROIDConor English (on left of picture) with the owners of The 'French' Boat - Rory Allen and his son Gearoid

“During the past two Winter seasons, Rankin punts have been repaired and converted to sailing, other Rankins have been located by the group,” Conor English said “and they all add to our growing numbers on the water. The aim is fun in sailing, rather than racing, though they can race as well, but a simple, family-friendly itinerary of events is what we plan.”

“This is for my sons too and then onto our grandsons, so we will pass this boat on from generation to generation,” said Johnny Hudson the new owner who was given possession of the Rankin brought back from Kinsale to Cork Harbour at the gathering in Whitepoint. “This is sailing, but also education in the history and the heritage of the harbour which we are really being asked to mind for the future in these boats and we will do that,”

It was a very special occasion, a true example of restoring older boats, recognising that what is old is not necessarily to be forgotten, but can be turned into a sailing attraction for new generations.

To get the atmosphere and flavour of the occasion, listen to my Podcast below, with the voices and the sounds of the Rankins.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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