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Built as a Sailing Boat – the Unique Free State Fishing Boat

28th July 2019
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Eoin Ryan at the stern of 'Free State C1' Eoin Ryan at the stern of 'Free State C1' Photo: Tom MacSweeney

In recent podcasts I’ve reported on the Cork Harbour T Boats, a Class now extinct apart from the restored original boat, which I highlighted last week here; the successful revival of the Rankins; the restoration underway of the gaff-cutter Lady Min and followed the marvellous restoration of the Ilen, the last Irish trading ketch, now in Greenland's waters.

That was carried out at Liam Hegarty’s boatyard in Oldcourt, Skibbereen, on the River Ilen. It’s not far from there to Baltimore, where that port, a major sailing location these days, was a major builder of fishing boats and Skinner’s yard well-known.

FREE STATE C1 AT HEGARTYS BOATYARD IN OLD COURTFree State C1 at Hegarty's Boatyard in Oldcourt Photo: Tom MacSweeney

Back at Liam Hegarty’s yard, I came across a boat which had been built at Skinner’s and whose connections are historic to the founding of the Irish Republic.

Built in the style of a sailing boat, it became the first-ever boat to be registered as a fishing boat in County Cork, with a name that is outstanding – FREE STATE C1. So named because administrators of the emergent Irish State in 1922 apparently would not register it in Irish! So the family made their point with the unique name.

This is a story that has to be heard in the telling and was told to me by Eoin Ryan, himself a seafarer, whose family owns the boat that was “a super business venture in her time,” as he put it and also the first fishing boat, with sailing boat lines, built with an engine in place.

Listen to the podcast below

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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

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