Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 is Classic Opportunity to Celebrate Harbour's Bicentenary

29th October 2016
afloat_wmnixon
The restored Dublin Bay 24 Periwinkle, currently based in southern Brittany, would be a star turn in the Classic Yachts section in next year’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta if she could be persuaded to return for the celebration of the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2017. The restored Dublin Bay 24 Periwinkle, currently based in southern Brittany, would be a star turn in the Classic Yachts section in next year’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta if she could be persuaded to return for the celebration of the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2017.

It could be argued that Dun Laoghaire Harbour has never been completely finished writes W M Nixon. To varying degrees, it has always been Work in Progress. Construction started in 1817, yet it was maybe all of twenty or even thirty years before the basic shape of the harbour as we know it today had been finally created. But in 1821 there was enough of a new pier in existence for King George IV to visit and re-name it the Royal Harbour of Kingstown.

By 1828 there was enough shelter available to provide the setting for the first staging of a regatta, and by 1834 the pioneering railway line to Dublin was in existence to accelerate Kingstown’s development as a seaside town and ferry port. Initially, it had been envisaged solely as an Asylum Harbour for Royal Navy and other government vessels seeking shelter in southeasterly gales in Dublin Bay. The ferry port and the rapid growth of a town had not been in the original plan. But ship-owners and property developers had other notions, as they usually do, and the ferries were there from the start.

 The first regatta in Kingstown Harbour in 1828 The first regatta in Kingstown Harbour in 1828

By 1850, both the Royal St George and Royal Irish Yacht Clubs were in existence on the waterfront to provide focal points for the development of sport afloat, and then the cross-channel ferries – which had been making do as best they could with berths along the East Pier – were in 1859 provided with proper berths at the new Carlisle Pier, with direct rail connections.

The Edward Yacht Club – now the National Yacht Club – came into being in 1870 between the Carlisle Pier and the East Pier. However, although the overall outer shape of the harbour was by now finalised, as an 1870s plan to put an extra island breakwater across the rather exposed northeast-facing entrance was never implemented, within the harbour re-shaping of the waterfront continued.

dun laoghaire harbour victorian times It has been suggested that temporary moorings for a fleet of Classics could best be laid in this area – seen here around 1895 – off the National Yacht Club

dublin_bay_24Last of the glory days. The Dublin Bay 24s in their final season in Dun Laoghaire in 1997. Photo: W M Nixon
With this week’s news that transitional teams are already working on the practical issues of transferring the semi-governmental Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company into the overall control of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, a new chapter is opening in the history of this extraordinary place, and eventually it will mean further infrastructural work, which in turn validates our claim that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is almost always to some extent Work in Progress.

So when we have to put a date on the harbour, the only one beyond argument is that work started in 1817 under the direction of the great engineer John Rennie. Thus in the absence of any other date of comparable exactitude, 2017 marks the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

It was “the new Dunleary harbour” only from 1817 to 1821, then it was Kingstown Harbour for the next 99 years, and ever since it has been Dun Laoghaire Harbour. But if the organisers of next year’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 from July 6th to 9th 2017 achieve just some of their more visionary ideas to attract extra sailing visitors, we may even see a movement to return to the original user-friendly Dunleary Harbour spelling. You’d be surprised how many first-time visitors to the harbour and marina still make an absolute meal out of the pronunciation. And even within the ranks of the Gaelgoirs, there are several opinions as to what is correct.

vdlr 175The restored Huff of Arklow was one of the stars of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 – and she won her class. Photo VDLR

But simplifying the name to Dunleary Harbour is another day’s work. Top of the agenda this weekend is something else altogether - the growing sense of excitement over the fact that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Harbour’s Bicentenary in magnificent style, and the VDLR 2017 Organising Committee under the chairmanship of Tim Goodbody have been beavering away for some time now on making VDLR 2017 even better than VDLR 2015, which will take a bit of doing.

water wagThe Water Wags started as 13ft double-enders in 1887, but then changed to transom-sterned 14-footers in 1901, and are seen here around 1905

water wagStill going strong…..the Water Wags would play an important role in a Bicentenary Classic Boat regatta within Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.

Apart from all the other standard-setters, last year saw Volvo Cork Week 2016 having something very special within it with the staging of the inaugural series for the new Beaufort Cup, an international event raced between crews from the Defence Forces from home and abroad, together with marine-related Emergency Services.

It was won by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne, sailing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker. And one story which emerged afterwards was that it was hoped to make the Beaufort series an annual event, with the expectation of the holders that it could possibly be made part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. But the problem with this might be that the Beaufort is going to become such a major happening that it could seriously deplete other fleets in Dublin Bay, particularly the J/109s.

However, in view of upcoming Bicentenary and its celebration, an important aspect of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 which was mentioned in one of our Afloat.ie reports at the time was the number of classics taking part. Most obvious were the Howth 17s of 1898 and the Water Wags of 1901 and 1887. But also racing were the Mermaids of 1932, the IDRA 14s of 1946, and the Glens of 1947, while a much-admired presence was the very special superbly-restored Flying Thirty Huff of Arklow.

Designed by Uffa Fox and built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow in 1950, Huff of Arklow won her class overall under the visionary Progressive ECHO handicap system. In addition, the dinghy adjudged best overall was Ian and Judith Malcolm’s hundred-years-old Water Wag Barbara.

Taking a general look at all this, we suggested that in effect there was an excellent Classic Yacht Regatta hidden in plain sight in the midst of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, and it might be something worth remembering for future plans. Now the word on the waterfront is that there’ll be a significant upgrade in interest in the Classics at the VDLR 2017, and there’ll be special attention given to enticing historic boats which have direct links to Dun Laoghaire.

Obviously heading the agenda are the great Dublin Bay One Designs, and the whisper is that things are now looking healthier for the Dublin Bay 24s which ended up in an ambitious restoration plan in South Brittany which failed to reach fruition. So it’s not unreasonable to hope that the already restored DB24 Periwinkle might be persuaded home.

dublin Bay 25 The only surviving Dublin Bay 25 is Iona, originally built as Nance in 1899. Currently Dutch-owned and based in the south of France, she is seen here setting her Bermudan cutter rig, but she also has a gaff rig.

But long before the Mylne-designed 24s came into being in 1947, there were the Fife-designed Dublin Bay 25s in 1898, and one of them still exists. These days she’s called Iona, but originally she was called Nance, owned by a man called Cosby Burrows from Cavan, who had her built in 1899 at the Fife yard in Fairlie in Scotland.

That in itself is historic, as the other Dublin Bay 25s – around a dozen in all – were built in the Dublin Bay region. Be that as it may, Nance still survives as Iona, and she’s under Dutch ownership but living in the south of France, restored with such enthusiasm that she can set either a gaff or a Bermudan cutter rig.

belfast lough 25Tern is one of only two surviving Belfast Lough 25s of 1897, and she is the one with the closest links to Dun Laoghaire.

The Dublin Bay 25s were in turn based on the Belfast Lough 25s of 1897, all of them built by John Hilditch of Carrickfergus. But after that class was wound up in 1909, one of them – Tern – was in Dublin Bay from 1912 until 1919, and again from 1944 to 1954. Thus of all the Belfast Lough boats, Tern has the strongest Dublin Bay links, so who knows, as she has recently had a major restoration, she too might be a candidate for the Bicentenary Classics regatta in Dublin Bay.

Soon after John Hilditch finished the eight Belfast Lough 25s, he built the first five Howth 17s in 1898, and they all survive, while the class has expanded far beyond the original five. In fact a new boat – the nineteenth – is now being built for Ian and Judith Malcolm at the remarkable Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany, and as the Howth 17s have been a mainstay of the VDLR in times past, they should be encouraged to participate in 2017.

howth 17The Howth 17s racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: VDLR

Howth 17 under construction at Skol ar Mor in southern BrittanyThe backbone of the new Howth 17 under construction at Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany

IDRA_14A real classic. Gerry Sargent (on helm) and Ian McCormick sailing the 1962-built IDRA 14 Starfish to victory in the class’s 70th Anniversary Race, September 2016.

After the great success of their 70th Anniversary season through the summer of 2016, the IDRA 14s have themselves a new lease of life, and they always seem to achieve their best turnouts in the Dun Laoghaire regatta, so they’ll be looking to excel themselves, particularly after being seen to extremely good effect on TV this week……

Another historic class which has possibilities is the Colleens, where Hal Sisk led a movement to re-create the old 1890s design in fibreglass. With a bit of encouragement, owners like Dermot O’Flynn might be persuaded to return to Dublin Bay after this year’s cruising in West Cork, and maybe race against Hal himself. However, this tireless promoter of sailing heritage has other boats which he might sail, including a Water Wag and the famous Peggy Bawn, though she is currently very actively for sale.

vdlr 1713 Dermot O’Flynn’s Colleen in Crosshaven

We don’t consider the Dragons at first thought as Classics, but their design goes back to 1929, and one of the best classic Dragon fleets in the world is to be found in Ireland, in Glandore in West Cork, where that seasoned campaigner Don Street sets a cracking pace. They’ll be beating the drum for everyone to go to the Glandore Classics in the last week of July 2017, so maybe some of the Glandore Classics might see their way to heading for Dun Laoghaire to strut their stuff between the 6th and 9th of July.

In the classic cruiser end of things, one of the most popular boats around Dublin Bay is Darryl Hughes’ beautifully-restored 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird. Though he has entered for the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 14th, his love of maritime history is such that he finds the idea of being in Dun Laoghaire – where Maybird’s sister-ship Aideen was based for many years – a very enticing prospect for the Bicentenary in July.

vdlr 1714Darryl Hughes’ 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird

There are many other superb classic boats not too distant from Dublin Bay. But if they’re going to be invited to the Bicentenary Regatta in Dun Laoghaire, it has to be remembered that these aren’t rough and tumble modern boats which can be left to their own devices. On the contrary, they need pampered attention.

For starters, most of them find it much easier to come to a mooring than struggle into a marina berth. So one suggestion which has already arisen is that temporary additional moorings for Classics should be laid off the National Yacht Club, where there’s most space available, and it would have the bonus of putting these fascinating craft where they’d be most conveniently visible from shore.

So many and varied are the needs of true classics that they need special treatment. Ideally, each boat - and certainly each class - should have a designated minder complete with RIB and crew to look after their needs. When you learn of the effort that is needed to bring an old classic back up to first class order, genuine care and attention for boat and crew should be a natural priority at any port they visit.

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that after the turmoil of the past two Centuries, there is much to celebrate in the fact that, in 2017, the 200 year old Dun Laoghaire Harbour seems at last to be finding an equitable system of management and administration. But if people are going to be invited to bring their cherished classics to Dublin Bay to celebrate this, then it’s only right and proper that the most thoughtful Irish hospitality should be extended to them in every way.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

Email The Author

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Information

Dun Laoghaire Harbour is the second port for Dublin and is located on the south shore of Dublin Bay. Marine uses for this 200-year-old man-made harbour have changed over its lifetime. Originally built as a port of refuge for sailing ships entering the narrow channel at Dublin Port, the harbour has had a continuous ferry link with Wales and this was the principal activity of the harbour until the service stopped in 2015. In all this time, however, one thing has remained constant and that is the popularity for sailing and boating from the port, making it Ireland's marine leisure capital with a harbour fleet of over 1,200-1.600 pleasure craft.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bye-Laws

Download the bye-laws on this link here

FAQs

A live stream Dublin Bay webcam showing Dun Laoghaire Harbour entrance and East Pier is here

Dun Laoghaire is a Dublin suburb situated on the south side of Dublin Bay, approximately, 15km from Dublin city centre.

The east and west piers of the harbour are each of 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) long.

The harbour entrance is 232 metres (761 ft) across from East to West Pier.

  • Public Boatyard
  • Public slipway
  • Public Marina

23 clubs, 14 activity providers and eight state-related organisations operate from Dun Laoghaire Harbour that facilitates a full range of sports - Sailing, Rowing, Diving, Windsurfing, Angling, Canoeing, Swimming, Triathlon, Powerboating, Kayaking and Paddleboarding. Participants include members of the public, club members, tourists, disabled, disadvantaged, event competitors, schools, youth groups and college students.

  • Commissioners of Irish Lights
  • Dun Laoghaire Marina
  • MGM Boats & Boatyard
  • Coastguard
  • Naval Service Reserve
  • Royal National Lifeboat Institution
  • Marine Activity Centre
  • Rowing clubs
  • Yachting and Sailing Clubs
  • Sailing Schools
  • Irish Olympic Sailing Team
  • Chandlery & Boat Supply Stores

The east and west granite-built piers of Dun Laoghaire harbour are each of one kilometre (0.62 mi) long and enclose an area of 250 acres (1.0 km2) with the harbour entrance being 232 metres (761 ft) in width.

In 2018, the ownership of the great granite was transferred in its entirety to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council who now operate and manage the harbour. Prior to that, the harbour was operated by The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, a state company, dissolved in 2018 under the Ports Act.

  • 1817 - Construction of the East Pier to a design by John Rennie began in 1817 with Earl Whitworth Lord Lieutenant of Ireland laying the first stone.
  • 1820 - Rennie had concerns a single pier would be subject to silting, and by 1820 gained support for the construction of the West pier to begin shortly afterwards. When King George IV left Ireland from the harbour in 1820, Dunleary was renamed Kingstown, a name that was to remain in use for nearly 100 years. The harbour was named the Royal Harbour of George the Fourth which seems not to have remained for so long.
  • 1824 - saw over 3,000 boats shelter in the partially completed harbour, but it also saw the beginning of operations off the North Wall which alleviated many of the issues ships were having accessing Dublin Port.
  • 1826 - Kingstown harbour gained the important mail packet service which at the time was under the stewardship of the Admiralty with a wharf completed on the East Pier in the following year. The service was transferred from Howth whose harbour had suffered from silting and the need for frequent dredging.
  • 1831 - Royal Irish Yacht Club founded
  • 1837 - saw the creation of Victoria Wharf, since renamed St. Michael's Wharf with the D&KR extended and a new terminus created convenient to the wharf.[8] The extended line had cut a chord across the old harbour with the landward pool so created later filled in.
  • 1838 - Royal St George Yacht Club founded
  • 1842 - By this time the largest man-made harbour in Western Europe had been completed with the construction of the East Pier lighthouse.
  • 1855 - The harbour was further enhanced by the completion of Traders Wharf in 1855 and Carlisle Pier in 1856. The mid-1850s also saw the completion of the West Pier lighthouse. The railway was connected to Bray in 1856
  • 1871 - National Yacht Club founded
  • 1884 - Dublin Bay Sailing Club founded
  • 1918 - The Mailboat, “The RMS Leinster” sailed out of Dún Laoghaire with 685 people on board. 22 were post office workers sorting the mail; 70 were crew and the vast majority of the passengers were soldiers returning to the battlefields of World War I. The ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat near the Kish lighthouse killing many of those onboard.
  • 1920 - Kingstown reverted to the name Dún Laoghaire in 1920 and in 1924 the harbour was officially renamed "Dun Laoghaire Harbour"
  • 1944 - a diaphone fog signal was installed at the East Pier
  • 1965 - Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club founded
  • 1968 - The East Pier lighthouse station switched from vapourised paraffin to electricity, and became unmanned. The new candle-power was 226,000
  • 1977- A flying boat landed in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, one of the most unusual visitors
  • 1978 - Irish National Sailing School founded
  • 1934 - saw the Dublin and Kingstown Railway begin operations from their terminus at Westland Row to a terminus at the West Pier which began at the old harbour
  • 2001 - Dun Laoghaire Marina opens with 500 berths
  • 2015 - Ferry services cease bringing to an end a 200-year continuous link with Wales.
  • 2017- Bicentenary celebrations and time capsule laid.
  • 2018 - Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company dissolved, the harbour is transferred into the hands of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

From East pier to West Pier the waterfront clubs are:

  • National Yacht Club. Read latest NYC news here
  • Royal St. George Yacht Club. Read latest RSTGYC news here
  • Royal Irish Yacht Club. Read latest RIYC news here
  • Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. Read latest DMYC news here

 

The umbrella organisation that organises weekly racing in summer and winter on Dublin Bay for all the yacht clubs is Dublin Bay Sailing Club. It has no clubhouse of its own but operates through the clubs with two x Committee vessels and a starters hut on the West Pier. Read the latest DBSC news here.

The sailing community is a key stakeholder in Dún Laoghaire. The clubs attract many visitors from home and abroad and attract major international sailing events to the harbour.

 

Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Dun Laoghaire's biennial town regatta was started in 2005 as a joint cooperation by the town's major yacht clubs. It was an immediate success and is now in its eighth edition and has become Ireland's biggest sailing event. The combined club's regatta is held in the first week of July.

  • Attracts 500 boats and more from overseas and around the country
  • Four-day championship involving 2,500 sailors with supporting family and friends
  • Economic study carried out by the Irish Marine Federation estimated the economic value of the 2009 Regatta at €2.5 million

The dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021. More details here

Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Offshore Race

The biennial Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race is a 320-miles race down the East coast of Ireland, across the south coast and into Dingle harbour in County Kerry. The latest news on the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race can be found by clicking on the link here. The race is organised by the National Yacht Club.

The 2021 Race will start from the National Yacht Club on Wednesday 9th, June 2021.

Round Ireland Yacht Race

This is a Wicklow Sailing Club race but in 2013 the Garden County Club made an arrangement that sees see entries berthed at the RIYC in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for scrutineering prior to the biennial 704–mile race start off Wicklow harbour. Larger boats have been unable to berth in the confines of Wicklow harbour, a factor WSC believes has restricted the growth of the Round Ireland fleet. 'It means we can now encourage larger boats that have shown an interest in competing but we have been unable to cater for in Wicklow' harbour, WSC Commodore Peter Shearer told Afloat.ie here. The race also holds a pre-ace launch party at the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Laser Masters World Championship 2018

  • 301 boats from 25 nations

Laser Radial World Championship 2016

  • 436 competitors from 48 nations

ISAF Youth Worlds 2012

  • The Youth Olympics of Sailing run on behalf of World Sailing in 2012.
  • Two-week event attracting 61 nations, 255 boats, 450 volunteers.
  • Generated 9,000 bed nights and valued at €9 million to the local economy.

The Harbour Police are authorised by the company to police the harbour and to enforce and implement bye-laws within the harbour, and all regulations made by the company in relation to the harbour.

There are four ship/ferry berths in Dun Laoghaire:

  • No 1 berth (East Pier)
  • No 2 berth (east side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 3 berth (west side of Carlisle Pier)
  • No 4 berth  (St, Michaels Wharf)

Berthing facilities for smaller craft exist in the town's 800-berth marina and on swinging moorings.

© Afloat 2020

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Wave button for Afloat new dates

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

quantum sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating