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Tim Magennis of Dun Laoghaire is Honoured By Classic & Traditional Boat Movement

15th January 2019
The 1913-built Colin Archer gaff ketch Sandefjord on which Tim Magennis sailed round the world in 1965-67 The 1913-built Colin Archer gaff ketch Sandefjord on which Tim Magennis sailed round the world in 1965-67 Credit: courtesy Tim Magennis

Tim Magennis, the doyen of the traditional and classic boat movement on Ireland’s east coast, and one of the main movers in many significant historic sailing events in Ireland and the Irish Sea, was acclaimed with elevation to Honorary Life Membership of the internationally-represented Old Gaffers Association at its Annual General Meeting in London at the weekend writes W M Nixon.

It was a significant annual occasion from which the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association has returned with three major awards. Led by President John Wedick with Honorary Secretary Mark Sweetnam masterfully presenting the DBOGA case, the Irish contingent came back with Honorary Life Membership for Tim Magennis, plus the Cape Horn Trophy for Seamanship which went to Darryl Hughes for his already and deservedly widely-honoured Round Ireland Race with the gaff-rigged 81-year old ketch Maybird, and the “Grumpy Two” Cups, which went to DBOGA member Paddy Murphy of Renvyle in Galway, and his 16-year-old grandson Conor.

classic maybird2Darryl Hughes’ restored 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow ketch Maybird has received many awards for her completion of the 2018 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, and now she can add the Old Gaffers Association Cape Horn Trophy to her collection
The “Grumpy Two” Cups are for a successful gaff-rigged venture by a senior skipper and a junior crew, and Paddy and Conor were awarded for their success in completing a round Ireland cruise with the restored 1916 Manxy Nobby Aigh Vie. This was a circuit which eventually brought Aigh Vie from the Connemara coast southabout of Ireland to her birthplace of Peel in the Isle of Man in time for the Peel Traditional Boat Festival, then northabout back to the Atlantic and Connemara. It was a major challenge, yet having met them during their circuit cruise, I can assure you that far from being grumpy, Paddy and Conor were notably cheerful in getting on with the task they’d set themselves.

paddy and conor murphy3Paddy Murphy and his grandson Conor – notably cheerful winners of the “Grumpy 2” Cups. Photo: W M Nixo

aigh vie dalkey sound4On her way to her birthplace in the Isle of Man….the newly-restored Aigh Vie coming into Dublin Bay through Dalkey Sound. Photo: Gill Mills

What they were doing was particularly appreciated by Tim Magennis, as he had known Aigh Vie as a fishing boat during his childhood. In fact, he is uniquely qualified to have fulfilled his many roles involving traditional rig and classic boats, as he is one of the few people who has actually sailed round the world under gaff rig. He did so as a crew-member on the classic Colin Archer ketch Sandefjord in 1965-67, and this remarkable sea story was featured on on 20th April 2013 when Tim was President of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association, of which he'd been a founding member in the late 1980s.

2013 saw the celebration of the OGA’s Golden Jubilee with an international OGA rolling circuit cruise round Britain that came west to Dublin Bay for a series of combined and successful events which became the highlight of the year’s celebrations. Tim Magennis was central to all the organisation based on Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublin Port, and in particular, he was the prime mover in the inaugural staging of the DBOGA Leinster Trophy Race, which brought together a superb fleet of classic and traditional craft from six different countries.

gomes magennis5Dickie Gomes, owner of the 1912-built Ainmara which was the first winner of the Leinster Trophy in 2013, with Tim Magennis, at that time President of Dublin Bay OGA. Photo: W M Nixon

2013 leinster trophy6International competition in the first Leinster Trophy Race in 2013, with the Dutch-owned Raven (left) and Cinemara (also from The Netherland, right) with eventual winner Ainmara fom Strangford Lough between them. Photo: Dave Owens
Having spent his childhood in the fishing port of Ardglass on the County Down coast, Tim had in boyhood frequently been aboard such famous Irish Sea fishing boats with Isle of Man connections as Vervine Blossom and White Heather in addition to Aigh Vie. Thus it was a particular pleasure to him that in July 2018 Aigh Vie reappeared fully restored, sailing into Dublin Bay from Ireland’s West Coast and on her way to success, though not until after the weather had severely tested Paddy Murphy’s work.

Tim Magennis’s own early life-path had been adventurous as an international journalist working mainly in Africa, which meant that the circumnavigation in Sandefjord with the brothers Pat and Sean Cullen started and finished at Durban in South Africa.

But with the Sandefjord voyage completed, he was soon to return to Ireland and settle in Dublin where, after another period in journalism, he created a unique niche to which he was particularly suited. This was working in Public Relations for Bord Failte (the Irish Tourist Board) in the exciting days when today’s Irish hospitality industry was finding its feet, and Tim was frequently its very effective voice.

asgard conserved7The conserved Asgard on display in Collins Barracks Museum – Tim Magennis played a leading role in ensuring that this historic ketch received the attention she deserved. Photo: W M Nixon

This enabled him to refresh his involvement with Irish seafaring and traditional craft, and he was one of those who ensured that Erskine Childers’ historic 1905 ketch Asgard never faded from public memory, such that in due course a full programme was put in place which has resulted in Asgard being conserved to the highest standards by expert shipwright John Kearon, and put on permanent public display in Collins Barracks Museum in Dublin.

In addition to such national projects, Tim himself was acutely aware of the need for individual private effort to save our traditional and classic craft, and on his retirement he took on the restoration of the 25ft 1896-built gaff sloop Marguerite, designed by Herbert Boyd (who later created the Howth 17s) and built in 1896 by Jack Wellington of Malahide.

marguerite 1896 howth8 copyThe new 1896-built Marguerite sailing in Howth Sound in the 1890s. Tim Magennis restored her in the 1980s, and has since ensured her future with “Transference of Custodianship” to Guy Kilroy, who is upgrading this historic craft to international classic standards. Photo courtesy HYC
For very many years, Margurite was Tim’s pet boat, a familiar site sitting elegantly on her mooring in Dun Laoghaire’s inner harbour off the DMYC, and a regular participant in DBOGA events. But with advancing years (he turned 90 back in November), Tim reckoned that he had to ensure that Margurite’s future was secure, and in 2017 he “transferred the custodianship” to Dun Laoghaire-based classic boat enthusiast Guy Kilroy, who has commissioned an up-grading of Marguerite to international standards by noted Fingal-based boatbuilder Larry Archer, a meticulous project which will be completed this year.

The London OGA gathering celebrated such projects, large and small, which are underway all over the world. And for the Dublin contingent with their three major awards, it was a very special gathering indeed. But undoubtedly the highlight was Honorary Life Membership for Tim Magennis, a great and engaging character whose infectious enthusiasm, zest for life, delight in traditional rigs, and joy in sailing the sea continues to be an inspiration for the many who know him

tim magennis9An inspiration to all…..Tim Magennis, now an Honorary Life Member of the Old Gaffers Association, in his younger days during Sandefjord’s round the world cruise in 1965-67

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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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.

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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


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 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

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