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Ships Set Sail from Irish Maritime Festival in Drogheda Port

18th June 2018
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The Parade of Sail for the Maritime Festival began at the Mouth of the River Boyne at Drogheda The Parade of Sail for the Maritime Festival began at the Mouth of the River Boyne at Drogheda

It’s as if it were a mirage. For the last three days, Drogheda’s Town Quays have been lined with four Tall Ships, tugs, lifeboats and yachts while Tom Roe’s Point hosted three French Naval Vessels. For one weekend every year, Drogheda’s busy working port is converted into a festival site and is festooned with colour and buzzes with excitement. The annual Irish Maritime Festival runs from Friday to Sunday and by Monday morning, it has all disappeared and Drogheda Port returns to business as usual.

The visiting vessels mustered at the mouth of the Boyne before noon on Friday and what followed was a beautiful parade of sail. 

The banks of the Boyne were lined with people of all ages waiting to welcome the ships. Social media in the region was flooded with images of the river and the ships with people wanting to share the experience.

8. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 2Parade of Sail at the Viaduct at Drogheda Port

Friday night saw the deck of the Earl of Pembroke transformed into a stage for the Stowaway Sessions. The intimate sold-out gig featured Eve Belle and The Lost Brothers performing to 100 lucky guests at sunset with the Boyne Viaduct as the backdrop. The format was repeated on Saturday night to another 100 guests with Pilgrim St supporting headliner Declan O’Rourke.

images/banners/6.-Irish-Maritime-Festival---The-Stowaway-Sessions.jpgThe Stowaway Sessions

8. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 28. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 28. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 28. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 28. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 28. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 2

The festival proper, hosted by Louth County Council and Drogheda Port Company, kicked off on Saturday morning with visits to all of the ships inc. The Phoenix, The Earl of Pembroke, The Johanna Lucretia, The Brian Boru and the beloved motor tug Brocklebank. Crews happily welcomed visitors aboard and told the stories of each of the respective vessels. An Irish Coast Guard helicopter flyover caused surprise and delight all round.

On-shore the festival offered 2 live music stages, artisan local food and loads of family-friendly activities. The Maritime Education Zone included displays by The Irish Coastguard, Inland Waterways Ireland, RNLI, Seastainability, Education through Recreation, Boyne Boats and the Irish Power Kite and Sand Yachts.

8. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 2Sand yachts were on display

The Water Wags sailed by on Saturday morning on a visit to the historic Oldbridge House, mooring at the lock gates of the Boyne Canal. After being obsolete for over 80 years, the Boyne Canal is being painstakingly and beautifully restored by the volunteers of the Inland Waterways Association Boyne Navigation Branch. Following their visit to Oldbridge, the Water Wags delighted festival goers with a display on the water on Saturday afternoon.

Water Wag racing on the BoyneWater Wag racing on the Boyne

Over 200 participants in the annual Boyne Swim competed for glory on Saturday afternoon. The 2.7km course starts at Mell, passes the Irish Maritime Festival site at Drogheda Port and concludes at the Boyne Fisherman’s Rescue. The 2018 winner was Isaac Fitzmaurice finishing in 32 minutes and 23 seconds. The other winners were Colin Lowth (32 minutes and 52 seconds, male, wetsuits category), Rosie Giglia (37 minutes and 12 seconds, female, skins category) and Lauren Archer (37 minutes and 21 seconds, female, wetsuit category). The competition was fierce with a mere 29 seconds between the male first and second place and just 9 seconds between the female first and second.

The Festival's Colette Moss and Capt Martin Donnelly of Drogheda PortThe Festival's Colette Moss and Capt Martin Donnelly of Drogheda Port

The Boyne was a hive of activity both days with the rescue services and lifeboats on the river throughout. The Howth-Drogheda Yacht Regatta saw yachts racing up the Boyne on Saturday afternoon, mooring for the weekend at Drogheda’s Fiddle Case Pier, opened in June 2017.

After the Festival Gates closed for the day on Saturday evening, the Mariners Shindig saw 200+ visiting crews enjoy dinner, drinks and live music on the Port. The late night was followed by an early start as Piper Paul McGowan visited the Port at 08.00hrs to rouse everyone from their slumber. He led a procession to the Mission to Seafarers Church (St. Peter’s Church of Ireland) for a beautiful service. 

The Mission-to-Seafarers March at Drogheda Port (Above and below) The Mission-to-Seafarers March at Drogheda Port

Presentations to the Mayor of Drogehda

It was followed by official presentations to the French Navy by Mayor of Drogheda Cllr. Frank Godfrey on behalf of Louth County Council and Drogheda Port.

The final day of the festival started with drizzle but soon cleared to be a bright dry day and families flocked to the festival to enjoy all it had to offer. Visits to the 3 French Minesweepers, M770 Antares, M771 Altair and M772 Aldebaran were hugely popular, over-subscribed on both days. On Sunday afternoon, to mark the first visit of the French Navy to Drogheda, the Alliance Francais choir sang on the deck of The Phoenix.

8. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 2(Above and below) French Navy visitors to Drogheda

8. Irish Maritime Festival 2018 Mission to Seafarers 2

The Festival closed on Sunday evening with the second crew of trainees coming aboard The Brian Boru. The award-winning Drogheda Sail Training Bursary each year offers 20 local young people the life-changing opportunity to learn to sail. The first crew departed on 10th June and sailed into Drogheda on Friday as part of the Irish Maritime Festival. The second crew depart Monday 18th and head north for Warrenpoint, Portaferry, Ardglass and Kilkeel before returning to Drogheda.

The festival may be over for another year, but the work continues in Drogheda Port to make the River Boyne an integral part of daily life in the town and an attractive destination for leisure sailors and commercial operators.

Afloat.ie Team

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