Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Galway Honours Memory of Skerries Mermaid Stalwart Jim Dempsey

25th January 2021
Mermaid Week 1982 at Galway Bay SC with (left to right) Pierce Purcell (GBSC), 1982 Champion Jim Dempsey (Skerries SC), and Mermaid Association President Michael Lysaght Mermaid Week 1982 at Galway Bay SC with (left to right) Pierce Purcell (GBSC), 1982 Champion Jim Dempsey (Skerries SC), and Mermaid Association President Michael Lysaght Credit: courtesy Pierce Purcell

The recent death of Skerries SC stalwart and longtime Mermaid Class ace Jim Dempsey has evoked fond memories throughout Irish sailing, and Galway Bay SC's Pierce Purcell speaks for many with his insights into Jim's special qualities of encouragement and enthusiasm, which contributed so much to today's Mermaid Class being made very welcome when they seek out a fresh venue for their annual championship.

"As a member of Galway Bay Sailing Club, I have very fond memories of first meeting Jim Dempsey" writes Pierce. "Having raced in two Mermaid Weeks with club member John Buckley on Kirkie May in Wexford – the first in 1972 - we were really impressed with the sailing standards and camaraderie of the Mermaid Class. So much so, in fact, that the late Larry Swan and I soon thought that running Mermaid Week would be a great idea to promote our new GBSC clubhouse and facilities at Renville near Oranmore.

This would be a major event for us, a real challenge, but the die was cast for 1982, and we soon realized the standards expected. The then Mermaid President, Michael Lysaght, would put terror into us with a fortnightly phone call to ensure the plans and particularly moorings were being made up and ready for one of the major events of the Irish sailing calendar.

Galway Bay Sailing Club as it is today. In 1982 it was still in its original smaller form when the Mermaid Class descended upon Renville for their annual championship, and turned the GBSC compound into a self-sufficient and highly sociable sailing villageGalway Bay Sailing Club as it is today. In 1982 it was still in its original smaller form when the Mermaid Class descended upon Renville for their annual championship and turned the GBSC compound into a self-sufficient and highly sociable sailing village

Little did the President realise just how green we were about mounting an event of this standard, but it all came together with hard work from many volunteers. The visitors arrived to a great welcome, with some fourteen caravans hired and placed around the club grounds to accommodate those of our new friends who hadn't rooms elsewhere. Jim Wiseman had the bar fully stocked, while David Whitehead had come home from his mining job in Chile to run the on-water management with such skill that it provided superb racing which was now of an even higher standard than we had remembered from competing (and coming last) in Wexford

It was in the bar in the evenings after sailing that I got to know Jim Dempsey, waiting for results from the protest room. Being from Skerries and a smaller club like ours, he would reassure us that we were running a good event, and not to get uptight about the image competition that he knew of so well on the East Coast from the North and South sides of the Liffey.

The weather of 1982 was incredible, and the Mermaid sailors raced all day and partied all night as the week went on, very seldom straying from the club compound - if at all. Many of the crews stayed on for a second week, and we all made numerous friends from clubs around the country.

Mermaid Week 2019 at the Royal Cork YC at Crosshaven, when Darragh McCormack of Foynes YC retained the national title. Photo: Robert Bateman Mermaid Week 2019 at the Royal Cork YC at Crosshaven, when Darragh McCormack of Foynes YC retained the national title. Photo: Robert Bateman

Jim and Pam had a ball that year, boosted by Jim becoming champion, and they told us of the superb holiday it was in every way. Subsequently, some of us were at other Mermaid Weeks for years to come, and Jim and Pam, in particular, would always make the Galway people welcome, and chat about the "old days".

With the sad passing of Jim Dempsey, I am poignantly reminded of the joys of dinghy sailing among friends in cherished boats, whether competing away from your club, or volunteering with your clubmates to take on the challenge of staging an event, and then meeting lovely people like the Dempsey crew who soon become friends, all of it adding to the shared anticipation of the seasons to come.

Alas, Jim Dempsey is no longer among us in this shared anticipation of events to come, and in our joy in the boats we sail in them. On behalf of Galway Bay Sailing Club, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Jim's wife Pam and their family, as well as the Mermaid Class who have lost a Champion and friend."

Summertime. Derek Joyce of Wexford racing his Mermaid No 187 at Mermaid Week 2019 in Crosshaven. It was experience of Mermaid Week 1972 in Wexford which first started Galway Bay SC on the high road to hosting this major event in 1982 at their new clubhouse at Renville near Oranmore Photo: Robert BatemanSummertime. Derek Joyce of Wexford racing his Mermaid No 187 at Mermaid Week 2019 in Crosshaven. It was experience of Mermaid Week 1972 in Wexford which first started Galway Bay SC on the high road to hosting this major event in 1982 at their new clubhouse at Renville near Oranmore Photo: Robert Bateman

Published in Galway Harbour
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

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

Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© 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 Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson 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
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating