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Living With No Sailing Needs Encouragement: Listen to Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey & Liam Hegarty of Oldcourt

29th October 2020
Br. Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey. Listen into his podcast below Br. Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey. Listen into his podcast below

As boatyards fill up, with more boats being hauled for their Winter hibernation, talking to owners I've heard disappointment, doubt about the future, mixed with hope and a need for encouragement.

Disappointment amongst the racing sector, with the October League in Cork Harbour truncated and the November/December League stopped by Level 5 restrictions, but satisfaction amongst owners that they got in some racing and cruising. There is also a feeling that the blunt "one fits all" restrictive approach towards our sport by the government showed lack of understanding amongst politicos and bureaucrats about the value of sailing to physical and mental health and that Ireland is an island nation and "An uplift to the spirit is needed…" another regular refrain.

That came to me from the Ilen Marine School in Limerick as WM Nixon reports here on Afloat, showing the newly-refurbished interior of this impressive historic vessel.

After travelling 7,000 nautical miles she needed some TLC.

"Following her relaunch in 2018, going into operation in 2019 and having sailed over 7000 nautical miles Ilen's restoration remains a work in progress," they told me. "One of those remaining tasks, which we happily completed this month, was finishing the interior accommodation. The large footfall of passengers and visitors, since her relaunch, has brought Ilen a measure of wear-and-tear, which is the welcome effect of popularity."

Having followed the restoration for so many years since she was brought back from the Falklands and the work of Liam Hegarty and his colleagues at their Oldcourt boatyard near Baltimore, allied to the Ilen Marine School in Limerick, I went back to our Podcast here in May of 2018 when Ilen was brought to Baltimore Harbour to be seen in public for the first time since restoration. It was that year's Wooden Boat Festival. This year the Festival was stopped due to Covid, but the spirit of the sea reflected in Ilen cannot be stopped.

Despite the battering which sailing has taken from the pandemic to me this boat, the work of marine people and, with the spirit of the sea which binds all of us in sailing together, obstacles can be overcome and provide hope for the future. Listen to Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey and Liam Hegarty of Oldcourt and take encouragement.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

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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