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Those intrepid spirits who venture westward on the road from the Most Serene Republic of Howth through Sutton Cross, and on into the wilds of nearby Ireland, always used to look forward to the first glimmering glimpse of Sutton Creek and Dublin Bay on their left.

This comes with the long panorama of the Wicklow Hills blending into the Dublin Mountains beyond, book-ended by the distinctive peak of the Sugarloaf Mountain to the east, while westward the stopper is the double exclamation mark (“screamers” as we call them in the verbiage business) of the two Poolbeg Smokestacks. They smoke no longer, but sentimental Dubs won’t let them go, as they see them as essential to the scene, even if they did make mighty objections when their construction started in 1974

Whither, O splendid ship? Outward bound with all flowers set towards the Poolbeg Smokestacks. The Poolbeg Twins don’t make smoke any more, but Dubliners, having furiously objected when they were built in 1974, now object with equal fury to any plan to demolish them. Photo: W M NixonWhither, O splendid ship? Outward bound with all flowers set towards the Poolbeg Smokestacks. The Poolbeg Twins don’t make smoke any more, but Dubliners, having furiously objected when they were built in 1974, now object with equal fury to any plan to demolish them. Photo: W M Nixon

This up-lifting wide-screen vista appears as you emerge from behind the shoreside line of properties now known as Millionaires’ Row. It wasn’t always thus, as the location close along a southwest-facing shoreline made older properties very sad-looking indeed if maintenance slackened.

But since Rainfall Radar and its various accessories arrived, the Sutton Cross area has emerged as the driest place in all Ireland, something previously unknown when the only statistics came from official mechanical gauges in relatively rain-swept places like the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire.


Sutton Cross - the Howth Peninsula’s isthmus or tombolo - is not Ireland’s sunniest place, for that’s still Wexford. But as news spread on the grapevine about scientific recognition of the lack of rain along Sutton’s south shore, the cute ones started buying up the properties, many of which were in the tired state of a house that’s been in one family for several generations.

Renovations and re-buildings got under way, while sensible folk created a wind-break of escallonia up and growing as soon as possible to keep the worst effects of the salty sou’westers at bay. On the road side, meanwhile, the appearance of wide gateways funneling into a solid hardwood automated gate confirmed the up-graded status.

 Vista for a lifetime. Even on a winter’s day of limited visibility, the Sutton-viewed panorama to the southwest of the skyline from the Sugarloaf to the Smokestacks evokes thoughts of “over the hills and far away.” Photo: W M Nixon Vista for a lifetime. Even on a winter’s day of limited visibility, the Sutton-viewed panorama to the southwest of the skyline from the Sugarloaf to the Smokestacks evokes thoughts of “over the hills and far away.” Photo: W M Nixon

As one who feels that the best houses are those that cannot be seen from a public road, I could not demur. But it did mean that the first glimpse of the bay and the mountains beyond as you put Millionare’s Row astern was even better appreciated. Until, that is, a distraction was introduced by some well-meaning souls who felt it needed the ornamentation of a herbaceous plot of brightly-coloured flowers, almost garish, in fact, and they’re all in a tightly packed display.

It’s reasonable enough as an idea. But when a retired GP 14 dinghy is used as the flower-pot, we enter a different word of distracted drivers and confused thinking. We’ve always had mixed thoughts about the widespread habit – not necessary just in coastal area – of using de-commissioned boats as flower beds. However, a GP 14 dinghy is something else altogether, for superficially she seemed in quite good shape, but any traces of a boat name or builder’s plate has been removed to ensure anonymity.


So everyone will assume that she was taken as scrap from the boat-park at Sutton Dinghy Club a mile or so along the coast. Thus the little boat’s fate seems all the more sad, for as you look nor’east across her, visible in the distance is Sutton DC with its dinghy park alive with masts flashing in the sun, its vibrant if distant presence emphasising the flowerbed boat’s completely de-commissioned state.

Yet what do we do with old boats that have gone past their useful years as seaworthy sailing vehicles? It’s maybe better that decisions such as seeking out a landfall site are postponed over days and weeks. After all, James Dwyer of Royal Cork YC’s wonderful classic 1976 Bruce Farr-designed Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble is now a successful and life-enhancing presence around Crosshaven.

Yet not so many years ago, she was in Greece and destined for an Athens land-fill, but fortunately the owner lacked that vital tool for action, the Round Tuit, and there was time for Swuzzlebubble to be saved by Mordy of Cowes.

 James Dwyer’s classic Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble of 1976 vintage is a life-enhancing presence at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven, yet only a few years ago she was saved from a landfill fate in Greece. Photo: Robert Bateman James Dwyer’s classic Half Tonner Swuzzlebubble of 1976 vintage is a life-enhancing presence at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven, yet only a few years ago she was saved from a landfill fate in Greece. Photo: Robert Bateman

But the problem with a GP14 is she’s “only a dinghy”. Larger craft lend themselves to more stately ends. Back in 1968 I was returning from Spain on a solo coastal cruise around South Brittany, and called into Camaret, which in those days was very busy traditional fishing port in which cruising yachts were just about tolerated.

These days, the situation is almost exactly reversed, as the fishermen have been removed to a nearby commercial purely fishing port, and Camaret trades for tourists and cruising boats on the charms of the characterful harbour they left behind.

But in 1968, it was the real McCoy, with the solemn tradition that the old Tunnymen – some of them still with much evidence of their sail-driven past – were not broken up, but rather all re-usable gear was removed, and they were given their final resting place in ancient dignity on a foreshore beside the harbour, and there boat anoraks like me could wander reverentially around, savouring the lines of some of the best working sailing hulls ever created.

The End Game. Retired Tunnymen were achieving a certain dignity in 1968 in their final resting place on the foreshore at Camaret harbour. Photo: W M NixonThe End Game. Retired Tunnymen were achieving a certain dignity in 1968 in their final resting place on the foreshore at Camaret harbour. Photo: W M Nixon

We can’t see that happening with an old GP 14, but nevertheless you’d be forgiven for thinking that a new life as a flower-bed is a fate worse than death. GP14 means General Purpose 14ft dinghy. But even that very positively-minded genius Teddy Haylock, the longtime ideas-laden Editor of Yachting World magazine who got Jack Holt to make the GP 14 the corner-stone YW’s growing list of Build-Her-Yourself in 1949, can scarcely have imagined it would become a red-hot racing class with worldwide appeal.


Thus it’s unlikely that you could persuade the many hundreds – thousands even – who continue to think that the GP14 is the bee’s knees to even think it’s slightly amusing if you suggested that GP can also be the anagram for Giant Plant-pot.

Nevertheless, it would surprise few of us if someone, temporarily traffic-jammed beside the flower-pot GP14 as kids pour out of the local high school, began to bethink to themselves of restoring it to full sailing condition, despite the fact that they wouldn’t have noticed it at all in its deteriorating state in the dinghy park.

Either way, can you imagine a flower-filled Shannon One Design at the roadside to welcome you to Athlone? Or a similarly-arrayed Water Wag in the approaches to Dun Laoghaire?

Published in GP14
Tagged under

Howth’s Irish Coast Guard cliff team sprang into action yesterday evening (Sunday 16 May) to rescue a dog trapped on a sea cliff at Red Rock in Sutton.

Freddie the dog had fallen 10 metres down the cliff face while walking with his owners and was stranded on a ledge in the rock.

The coastguard team acted quickly, setting up for an abseil before a rescue climber was lowered to retrieve Freddie and safety reunite him with his relieved owners on the beach below.

“Freddie’s owners did the right thing when the dog got trapped. They didn’t attempt a self rescue and contacted the coastguard on 999,” the Howth unit said.

“We encourage the public to contact the coastguard if they see people attempt a rescue.”

Published in Rescue

#Skibbereen - reports that a 14-year-old boy is in critical condition after he was struck in the head by a boom while yachting off Skibbereen yesterday morning (Saturday 24 June).

The teenager was airlifted to Cork University Hospital by the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, and the latest news from is that his condition was improving.

Elsewhere yesterday, Howth Coast Guard attended a 53-year-old man with serious head injuries sustained while kitesurfing off Sutton in North Co Dublin.

And Shannon’s Rescue 115 was called to Inis Mór in the Aran Islands for the medevac of a woman who suffered spinal injuries while taking part in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event.

Published in News Update

#WaterfrontProperty - Sutton’s former coastguard station has been utterly transformed into a fashionable home for the future, as The Irish Times reports.

Nadia and Mack Lennon purchased 1 Martello Terrace in the North Co Dublin suburb in 2014 and since then have overseen its conversion from a virtual museum of the area’s coastal heritage — as maintained by its previous owner, a pillar of the sailing community — to a modern open-plan family home.

Yet even as the Lennons use terms like “nostalgic coastal” and “bourgeois eclectic” to describe their vision, the house — now on the market for €995,000 through Gallagher Quigley — retains a number of its original features, as well as some rescued from other parts of coastal Dublin.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Waterfront Property

#sailorofthemonth – Sutton Dinghy Club on the north shore of Dublin Bay has been a pace-setter in the revival of Irish dinghy racing and club activity generally during 2014. Commodore Andy Johnston led his members through an outstanding season in which they were once again making an impact at national and international level, while the club's training programme and sailing school under the direction of Hugh Gill was highly effective in bringing newcomers to the sport, and building up a strong esprit de corps among its dedicated team of young instructors. In addition to success in open dinghy events at all levels, SDC succeeded in regaining the historic Book Trophy for team racing from Royal Cork Yacht Club.

The trophy dates back to 1944, but for the past sixteen years the sailors of Crosshaven had kept it firmly in their grasp. 2014 also marked the 75th Anniversary of the foundation of the club at its homely base beside Sutton Creek, so the concluding highlight of the year was a 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner in mid-November in the club's home-from-home, the popular Marine Hotel at Sutton Cross. A remarkable total of 204 well-wishers and people who have distinguished sailing connections with Sutton DC from way back attended.

It was Ciara O'Tiarnaigh and her Organising Committee who looked after the nuts and bolts of this star-studded event, but throughout a long and very special season, it was Andy Johnston who led the way and held the ultimate responsibility. Nevertheless, in making him our Sailor of the Month for December 2014, we are saluting the spirit of Sutton Dinghy Club, and the resilience of all Irish dinghy sailing.

Published in Sailor of the Month

#WATER SAFETY - This coming Friday 30 March is the closing date for applications for Fingal County Council beach lifeguards for the 2012 summer season.

Lifeguard cover will be provided on Fingal beaches on weekdays and weekends 11am to 7pm from 2 July till the last week of August, depending on weather and staff levels.

Beaches and bathing places scheduled to be guarded this summer include Balbriggan (front beach), Skerries South, Loughskinny, Rush North and South Shores, Portrane (Tower Bay and The Brook), Donabate, Malahide, Portmarnock, Sutton (Burrow Road) and Howth (Claremount).

Applicants must be not less than 17 years of age on 1 May 2012. Application forms are available to download HERE.

Published in Water Safety

A Dubliner had a lucky escape after being stranded on mudflats between Baldoyle and Sutton Point, on Dublin Bay last week.
The man had sunk waist-deep in mud on a low tide and was unable to free himself. Dublin Fire Brigade was tasked to the scene along with the Howth Coast Guard unit. The Youtube clip of the entire incident is below.
Rescue helicopter 116, which was already on the ramp at Dublin Airport in preparation for a training exercise, was also tasked at 16.18pm according to a report on the the SAR Ireland blogspot.
After obtaining permission to cross the 'Live' runway at Dublin airport, R116 was on scene within minutes and quickly identified the man who was described as wearing 'dark clothing'. He was quickly winched to safety and returned to Dublin Airport at 16.36pm, where he availed of crew facilities to clean himself down and arrange transport home.

More on Dublin Bay here


Published in Coastguard

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 of sailing and boating from the port, making it Ireland's marine leisure capital with a harbour fleet of between 1,200 -1,600 pleasure craft based at the country's largest marina (800 berths) and its four waterfront yacht clubs.

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