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Dingle for the America's Cup?

8th October 2021
Dingle, the most westerly harbour in Europe was proposed as an America's Cup venue in 2003
Dingle, the most westerly harbour in Europe was proposed as an America's Cup venue in 2003

It was discussed in the Seanad on Wednesday the fifth of March in 2003…..

Senator Joe O'Toole, a teacher by profession was an Independent Senator, served as General Secretary of the National Teachers Organisation and President of the Congress of Trade Unions… and came from Dingle...

So, he suggested to another Kerryman, then Sports Minister John O'Donogue, that Dingle would be a good base for the Cup to be sailed… It had just been concluded in Auckland, won by Switzerland… It would bring a billion to the west…. marinas in Cahirciveen, Fenit and Kilrush and, of course, Dingle, Would support it, he said.

The America's Cup didn't come to Dingle … The Minister for Sport at the time wasn't rushing to secure it, as I remember covering that story for RTE….

Now I'm tired of being asked to support various campaigns underway to get the AC for Cork and tired too of being described as a "begrudger" when I raise questions about it and also tired of being called "elitist" when defending sailing.

I believe in sailing as a "sport for all" ….. I don't like sailing being described as "elitist" and that is increasing – arising from the AC proposal.

Supporters of the 'AC for Cork' haven't acknowledged 2024 also as an Olympics Year in Paris…. Should the America's Cup, in which no Irish team is likely to be taking part because it couldn't be afforded, get many millions of taxpayer-funded Euros when there is still not enough State support for Irish sailors taking part in the Olympics?

Which would be of more benefit to the sport?

Pointing to the Round the World Race in Galway overlooks that, while big crowds attended the 'festival' around the event --- and there was an Irish boat involved…. it left unpaid bills behind for a while and that caused some resentment ….

Ireland's brigantine Asgard II at the Australian 200th celebrationsIreland's brigantine Asgard II at the Australian 200th celebrations

So, what about the photo of Asgard printed here, which in the past week appeared on social media, posted by the well-known, renowned Gerry Burns…

Asgard at the Australian 200th celebrations – "a great ambassador for Ireland" – the value of teaching hundreds of young people from all sectors of life the wide value of sailing ….and never given enough dedicated State support by the Department of Defence whose responsibility it was and with a Minister, Willie O'Dea, who wouldn't give the insurance compensation money for its sinking to replace it….

If there are millions available for a maritime event, why wouldn't it be put into leisure maritime development around the Irish coast?

The Tall Ships Races brought crowds and economic benefits to Cork, Dublin and Waterford, where there were three Irish tall ships taking part… now we have none actively sailing… so much for the continued support of sailing…

The AC has become a big commercial business, where money dictates more than sailing….. where the attempt seems to be to bulldoze Ireland into taking on a massive cost in a short timeframe … and helping to pay for the New Zealand defence which, if Team New Zealand can't find a location, could end up in another AC legal wrangle…

The America's Cup has become a big commercial businessThe America's Cup has become a big commercial business

If there are millions available for a maritime event, why wouldn't it be put into leisure maritime development around the Irish coast – more public marine leisure facilities, marinas, which might bring many more visitors, more regularly or club development to encourage more public involvement and rid sailing of that 'elitist' tag…..

When the government of the leading sailing nation in the world won't give the AC organisation in its own country the amount of money they want to hold the event in Auckland, I wonder who may end up being mugs for the elite of the AC? 

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He also presents the radio programme Maritime Ireland on radio stations around Ireland.

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