Displaying items by tag: Galway Bay
Lorient in Brittany was the first city to sign up as a twin to the proud citizens of Galway as far back as 1975. It was a statement of friendship and a commitment to exchange cultural experiences between the people of both historic ports of the Atlantic coast, and it has lasted the test of the last five decades.
Both cities have long and proud maritime histories. They also have very strong cultural ties as they share vibrant Celtic roots, and Celtic culture continues to be very evident in both cites through the everyday use of Gaeilge, Breton, traditional music, dance and the arts.
Co-incidentally, both cities are also the western outposts of their respective countries, surrounded by natural beauty. They have been fishing ports for centuries. They are both aware of the bounties and the threats imposed by the wild Atlantic. This shared life experience made for a good twinning. Obviously sailing - from traditional vessels to modern yachts - is a passion cherished by both.
"The West of Ireland sailing community, from Westport to Kilrush grabbed the idea with both hands"
Sailing fleets from both cities joined forces for a number of very successful events during the ’70s and ’80s, but with other distractions nearer home, the tradition subsequently died away. These sailing adventures started with the northbound departure of a fleet of yachts from Lorient Harbour. After crossing the Celtic Sea and passing by the south-west coast of Ireland, the French fleet arrived into Galway for some serious partying. In Galway, the French boats were joined a Galway fleet to form a formidable flotilla for the southbound journey to Lorient. There, the mother of all parties ensued.
Enda O'Coineen was the catalyst to motivate JeanGab Samzun from Lorient and Cormac Mac Donncha from Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) to join forces last summer in an effort to revive the event in 2019. The West of Ireland sailing community, from Westport to Kilrush grabbed the idea with both hands.
Both City Councils have rowed in behind the idea. Mayor of Galway, Niall McNellis, has been a big supporter. Events have been planned for the Harbour Hotel on the eve of the departure from Galway docks on the 11th July and also at the docks marina on the day of departure, 12th July. For the 2019 event, the French team are again pulling out all the stops for their stage of the event, with plans to fly some Irish dancers in from Galway for the occasion.
The two cities have signed up 33 skippers, mostly from the West of Ireland, to join the craic. There has been great support from neighbouring clubs in Mayo and Clare as well as boats from Lough Derg clubs. The Galway boats to register, from Rosamhil Marina, Galway City Sailing Club, Galway Docks Marina and GBSC, have already reached 17. There is a healthy fleet of 6 joining from Westport on Clew Bay, with four boats from Lorient while another six are joining from Kilrush, Lough Derg and Cork.
A number of well known West of Ireland sailors have signed up for the trip, including Westport’s Jarlath Cunnane of Northabout renown as well, as Dr Michael Brogan from Kinvarra. Michael plans to skipper the renowned extra-large Galway Hooker, MacDuach, to France for a Cruise-in-Company which will cover 1,100 miles in all.
On the Irish coast, the route from Galway towards Lorient will follow the shores of Munster as far as Kinsale, and the committee is very grateful for the warm welcome received from the folks at Kinsale Yacht Club, as well as the Harbour Master in the Isle of Scilly, and of course to the Lorient City Club for organising events on Ile De Groix and in Lorient Harbour.
With a working life in which sailing, business and friendship are so intertwined that it is difficult if not impossible to tell where one begins and another ends, it will be a sweetly sad bit of news for many folk that Pierce Purcell of Galway Bay is officially retiring from active involvement in the marine industry at the end of January writes W M Nixon
Many of his friends will have known that he has been contemplating heading towards new horizons for some years now. Yet it will still feel more than a little strange to be driving through the attractive village of Clarenbridge in the knowledge that it is no longer possible to stop off and drop into the marine Aladdin’s Cave of marine equipment goodies which was Purcell Marine, there to have a yarn with the man himself about everything that was going on in and around boats and the people with them in the western area.
To say that boats and sailing are Pierce Purcell’s life is understating the case. Yet so keen is he to help others get afloat in so many ways that it could be argued that this evangelizing enthusiasm got in the way of his own sailing. So once he has finally handed over the Clarenbridge premises for other use to the new owners, with any spare marine gear and goods and equipment moved to the very fine shed which he has built out the back of his attractive house down towards the famous Moran’s of the Weir, there is a good chance that he will be able to increase the use of his own immaculately-maintained Snapdragon 27 Ocean Spirit.
There’s talk of cruising Galway Bay and Connemara in detail, and maybe even a spot of mild adventure inland on Lough Corrib, or across and onto the Shannon at Lough Derg. It’s all within easy reach. Yet with his many commitments and his endless rotas of voluntary work, until now he has been unable to do justice to these sailing paradises which his friends and customers have so readily enjoyed.
But although everybody now thinks of Pierce Purcell and Galway Bay as being synonymous, in fact, he’s from a noted Dublin Bay sailing family, and his father – also Pierce – was Commodore of the National YC from 1945-1948, owning the noted John B Kearney yawl Sonia in partnership with his brother Denis.
However, Pierce Senr’s early death ended those idyllic Dun Laoghaire sailing days with young Pierce aged only eight, and when in 1968 his mother was remarried and they moved west to live in Galway, the only tangible link with family sailing on the east coast was a half model of the Sonia. This was hung on the wall of the teenager’s Galway bedroom, representing recollections of increasingly dimness as he immersed himself in the life of growing into adulthood in Galway.
Boats and sailing were very much part of it, and between 1973 and 1979 he was involved in promoting the Galway Boat & Leisure Shows with fellow enthusiasts like Larry Swan, Barry Martin, Ferdinand Riordan and Brian Siggins. But more importantly in the long run, he had been a founder member of Galway Bay Sailing Club in 1970, where some of his early sailing had appropriately been on the John B Kearney-designed Mermaid class Kirkee May.
However, a certain impatience with the speed of development made him realize that an active sailing school was also required, and he set up the Galway Sailing Centre in 1973. Meanwhile his voluntary work with the club continued, such that in 1980-81 – aged just 30 – he was GBSC Commodore. But having done his duty and more with the voluntary effort, he stepped up involvement in the marine business, in 1983 adding a boat sales and chandlery business to new premises in Oranmore.
There, fortune smiled in him, for as it happened he had found those premises in a roadside location which also proved ideal for a filling station to be added in 1989 to service the rapidly increasing Oranmore traffic. Thus he ended up with the unlikely combination of a sailing school with boat and marine store combined with a thriving filling station and cafe, bringing overall business to such a level that in 2001 he was able to sell the entire establishment for a well-earned profit, and move the boat and equipment business as Purcell Marine to the very congenial surroundings of Clarenbridge.
It’s a picturesque village strategically located at the head of Galway Bay in such a convenient way that he drew on a clientele from at least the two counties of Clare and Galway, and in reality much further as well. And by this time he was long since settled into married life with Susan and their sons Pierce Jnr and Mark – the former is now in the strength of CH Marine in Cork.
The Purcell family built themselves a dream home on the east side of Clarenbridge, an enchanting house with the big boat and equipment shed out the back, and a sheltered garden where you can see red squirrels at play while enjoying a leisurely breakfast as the morning sun illuminates the scene.
It provides the ideal base for a man who regularly and frequently bursts forth with nautical energy into the wider world, putting in so much voluntary work for sport afloat that he became the Irish Sailing Association’s “Volunteer of the Year” in 2008, and founded the “Galway Afloat” cruising group in 2009 – to date, their biggest success has been a 50 boats-plus rally to Kilronan in the Aran Islands.
That in turn led on to membership of the Cruising Association of Ireland of which he became Vice Commodore, and then in 2012-2016 he served as a Director on the Board of the Irish Sailing Association (now Irish Sailing), where he put in much work with Muriel Rumball of the Irish National Sailing School, developing the Try Sailing initiative.
In 2016 old family links were formally renewed when he was elected an Honorary Member of the National Yacht Club, where he had always been a welcome guest, particularly in 2013 when the only John B Kearney cruising yacht still in existence in Ireland, Dickie Gomes’s 1912-built Ainmara from Strangford Lough, ventured southward for some days to the Dublin Bay area, and sailed into Dun Laoghaire with Pierce Purcell on the helm for a reception at the National Yacht Club, where the half model of Sonia played a starring role in a convivial gathering of John B Kearney enthusiasts.
But while he enjoys a party as much as the next man, and has many friends in boats and sailing throughout Ireland, Pierce Purcell is keen that this camaraderie of the sea should be readily and generously available to newcomers.
However, with volunteering being second nature to him, he admits that at times he might expect too much of others in the same way, ruefully acknowledging that in the early days of Galway Bay SC when effort was expected all round, he became known as the “Have You Got a Minute” Man.
Yet nowadays when people are moving away again from the expectation that paid staff are inevitably necessary to run any significant organisation, he finds that club officers can be pleasantly surprised by the positive response they get simply by phoning someone and making a reasonable request for voluntary effort – “We mustn’t see members as customers” is his mantra.
A new turn in his involvement came in 2017 when he was persuaded to be administrator of Galway Ocean Sports Club in the city’s docklands, and his support for Disabled Sailing has also been an almost lifelong interest. But he admits that the total availability of all forms of modern communication has resulted in a diminution of good old-fashioned get-togethers to sort out problems and get things done – he hugely relishes the mixing of boats and sailing and sociability.
However, after 45 years and more in the boat business, it is definitely time to become more of a consumer himself. Ocean Spirit will soon be ready to go afloat again. The sea and the lakes and the waterways call. And at every port he visits, Pierce Purcell will find he is among friends old and new. We wish him all the very best, the heartfelt thanks of Ireland’s sailing community, and the fairest of fair winds.
This past weekend Galway Bay Sailing Club played host to the Hansa Nationals and Presidents Cup at The Port of Galway. Team of Sailability sailors from all 4 provinces converged on Galway for the weekend and Champagne sailing conditions on Galway Bay on Saturday ensured that enough races where sailed to constitute a championship. Despite the best efforts of the race management teams headed by Dave Vinnell and Aoife Lyons the weather won out on Sunday with no racing being possible.
Twenty-nine boats took to the water with 17 boats on the start line for the Hansa Nationals and 12 boats lining up in the Presidents Cup fleet.
Local crew Jack Cunningham and Gerry Drudy scored two bullets in the last first two races in their Hansa and this coupled with 2 seconds was enough to see them hold off a strong challenge from Judy Moynihan and Maebh Ahearne. This is a fantastic achievement for Cunningham who only took up sailing last year.
Munster came to Galway as favourites to retain the Presidents Cup and so it proved with a string of bullets from Gina Griffin in her 2.mR and Kevin Downing and his crew in their Squib ensuring that the trophy’s trip outside Munster was short.
"A huge volunteer effort from GBSC and indeed all clubs involved went into the event"
A huge volunteer effort from GBSC and indeed all clubs involved went into the event. Liz Gantly, event chairperson, complemented and congratulated all involved in hosting a hugely successful event, singling out Safety Officer Ciaran Oliver and GBSC founding member Pierce Purcell for special mention. It was also noted that the event and indeed all watersports for disabled people in Galway was given a major boost just prior to the event with the installation of a permanent hoist. This was funded by the dormant accounts fund and kindly facilitated by Harbour Master Capt Brian Sheridan.
One final surprise was in store when Sailability stalwart Donal Hickey was presented with the “Spirit of Sailability” award for his long and continued contribution to Sailability Ireland.”
Irish Sailing Adds:
Galway hosted the second Watersports Inclusion Games this weekend (25th and 26th August) for 198 participants with all abilities on the physical, sensory, intellectual and learning
difficulty spectrums. This two-day event aims to show both participants and their families, as well as people who organise watersport events, that everyone can get out onto the water.
The Games had two elements: at the Commercial Boat Club, we put on introductory activities for those new to watersports. This year there was an expanded choice including
sailing, rowing, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, and fast-boat rides, with many people trying out all of the watersports activities over the course of the weekend.
The second element was a competitive sailing event. This took place in Galway Bay with more experienced sailors including Kinsale YC’s Gina Griffin, World Sailing 2.4 Parasailing silver medallist competing in the Hansa Nationals, and the President’s Cup which was won by Munster.
Harry Hermon, CEO of Irish Sailing commented: This is the second year of the Games, and we were delighted to welcome all of the participants from the four corners of Ireland. We are
already starting to plan for next year’s Games in Cork, when we hope to reach even more people from all abilities and encourage them to take up watersports”.
Neither event would have happened without the 100 or so incredible volunteers who generously donated their time and expertise.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to witness the fabulous sailing skills, can-do attitude and camaraderie on display on the water yesterday” Volunteer and mother of participant.
“Just reflecting here on the weekend and I can’t help but smile when I think about it and I will for some time to come….Thank you doesn’t do it justice but THANK YOU!” Parent of
The Games were organised by Irish Sailing, in partnership with Canoeing Ireland, Rowing Ireland, Spinal Injuries Ireland, Galway Bay Sailing Club Sailability, Galway Sports
Partnership, Wet Mongrel Adventures and Waterabilities, and funded by the Sport Ireland Dormant Accounts Sports Inclusion Fund.
Huge thanks also to Galway Kayak Club, St Joseph’s Rowing Club, Tribesmen Rowing Club, Corrib Rowing Club, Gráinne Mhaol Rowing club, Castleconnell Rowing Club, Cork Boat
Club, Castletownbere Rowing Club, Coláiste na Coiribe Rowing Club, Galway Bay Sailing Club, NUIG Sailing Club, Galway Sea Scouts, Bray Sailing Club, Galway Civil Defence and
Galway Sub Aqua Club, Bellacragher Boat Club, Lough Derg Yacht Club, Corrib Yacht and Boating Club, Carna Order of Malta, Dun Laoghaire Sailability, Gartan & Donegal CoCo,
Galway City Council and the many other volunteers and helpers.
The Games were hosted by the Commercial Boat Club, Woodquay and Corrib Navigation Trust with competitive sailing hosted at Galway Docks.
From Monday 3 September, six technical divers from the foundation will embark on Operation Stone and Pots, removing lobster pots from the bottom of Galway Bay and returning them to local fishermen if they can be reused.
It follows a preliminary dive off the Galway coast this past May that revealed countless numbers of abandoned pots, which continue to pose a threat to sharks and smaller fish as well as crustaceans.
The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.
That’s according to zoologist Dr Tom Doyle, who spoke to The Irish Times after a recent spate of incidents that saw swimmers hospitalised by stings from the dangerous marine species in Galway Bay.
“It is not correct to say this is the first time they have been spotted on the west coast, as we had reports for the last two years, but they are particularly large and mature,” said Dr Doyle.
Lion’s mane jellyfish are more commonly seen in the Irish Sea, and reports of larger specimens similar to those off Galway and Clare have come in from North Wales and Liverpool.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
This week Galway Bay Sailing Club (GBSC) members and friends gathered at Dock 1 Seafood Bar and restaurant in Galway Harbour for the official launch of the ICRA/WIORA 2018 which will be held in Galway Harbour from August 15th – 18th.
On a gloriously sunny Summer solstice evening the event chairman, Event organiser Martin Breen, kicked off proceedings by confirming how important it is for GBSC to host a national regatta in the Galway Docks.
Martin mentioned that GBSC has had a very sombre beginning to the season with the loss of longtime members Henry Lupton and David Fitzgerald. Even though of different generations, they were like-minded in their promotion of sailing and their exploits have been well documented on ‘Afloat’ie. It was their peers who wrote the constitution of GBSC which includes the club goal of ‘promoting the sport of Sailing on Galway Bay’ and it is within this goal that we sought the hosting of the 2018 ICRA National Championships.
"Please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay"
GBSC are really looking forward to providing the best of Galway hospitality ashore and the best of race management afloat, as the National Championships in any sport deserves.
Even though entries received to date are already in excess of entries to recent National Championships, GBSC says they do not consider this to be a benchmark of the success of the event. "Rather, after the Championships and when we begin to reflect on this season past about the time of the Autumn equinox, please judge us in GBSC on how we contributed to promoting the sport of sailing on Galway Bay".
According to the Connacht Tribune, one woman was stung in the face on Saturday 9 June, while two men suffered stings last Tuesday 5 June.
One member of the Galway Triathlon Club spotted a swarm of 10 lion’s mane jellyfish during a recent 4km swim in the bay.
The Connacht Tribune has more on the story HERE.
If you sought a multi-faceted example of contemporary Galway and the way the city and its surrounding area interact both with the sea and the most modern research industries, then the late Henry Lupton would be an eloquent example. He has been taken far too young from among his many sailing and other friends at the age of just 52 after a long and gallant battle with cancer, and Galway and Ireland is much the poorer for his passing.
His first interest in boats was in rowing, and at NUI Galway he was a very successful captain of the rowing club, while his personal achievements were such that he was the Galway Sports Star of the Year in 1987. And although his interest in sailing gradually took over as he built his pioneering medical and surgical business with Bribant, he continued as a mentor to rising rowing stars, and played a key role in Gavan Hennigan’s solo Transatlantic rowing achievement, completed on February 1st 2017.
But Henry’s interest in helping others get afloat whatever their particular interest went much further than this, and he and Marina (nee Furey), his wife of 26 years, were in the forefront of the very active branch of Accessible Sailing in Galway.
However, it was through his personal joy in sailing and boats that he became most involved with others, and he owned a selection of interesting craft at Galway Bay Sailing Club, starting with the GK 29 Young Nick, and then developing his sailing interests further with a Formula 28 called Starlet, followed by the First 31.7 Quelle Surprise which he campaigned in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.
Then when his rapidly growing research, development and manufacturing company was taken over by a large conglomerate, he and Marina fulfilled the voyaging dream with the First 40.7 Beoga and an Atlantic circuit cruise, starting with involvement in the ARC. Many Galway sailors had their first taste of the true ocean sailing experience through the generous hospitality of Henry and Marina on this extensively-used craft.
Yet the Lupton interest was not limited to one boat, and a particular pleasure for them was their additional ownership of a 1720, which they used for club racing and major 1720 events. They sailed long distances to some of these championships despite the fact that the 1720 had not been designed with offshore passages in mind. But the Luptons were more than game for it, and it was a matter of special pride that their 1720 Class Apart was the first one ever built.
Throughout all this, Henry continued as a source of warm encouragement and useful information for other owners at every boat size level and experience range – the GBSC forum reveals fond memories of a man of wisdom and inspiring example. He would encourage others not to dream of the unattainable, but rather to “sail the boat you have”, and in his final years he re-ignited his enjoyment of club-based round-the-cans and WIORA racing with a share in another Formula 28, RhocStar.
As for his cruising interests, where others might have seen a weekend of poor sailing weather developing, Henry and Marina always felt sure that it would relent at some time or other. Almost invariably, when that flash of unexpected sunshine came through on the Sunday afternoon, it would illuminate the spinnaker of their last cruiser, an Ovni 485 - also called Beoga - breezing back up Galway Bay, having succeeded in getting to the Aran Islands for the weekend against all the odds, and now returning with glorious sailing in a fair wind. That is how Henry Lupton will be remembered, and our heartfelt condolences are with Marina and their many friends and shipmates.
A series of public meetings will take place in Ballyvaughan, Maree and Kinvara over the coming week in relation to the work of CuanBeo (the Living Bay), a recently formed community-based organisation established with a mission of improving the quality of life, environment, economy and heritage around Galway Bay.
CuanBeo is specifically working to reconnect the Land and the Sea communities of South East Galway Bay from Rinville Point to Blackhead Point and the villages and towns within its catchment.
CuanBeo is hosting three public meetings in the Maree Community Centre (17 April), Merriman Hotel, Kinvara (18 April) and the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan (19 April). All meetings start at 7.30 pm and will end at 9.00 pm.
The public meetings will give locals a chance to get involved with CuanBeo and to meet staff from agencies involved in the development of Galway Bay and adjoining land areas on the Clare and Galway coast. The evening will include an overview of the work of CuanBeo, the economic, heritage, community and recreational value of the Bay and the work of CuanBeo in reconnecting the Land and Sea communities of South East Galway Bay
More information here
His many friends in international sailing and the global mining industry will be delighted to hear that the legendary Dave FitzGerald celebrated his 90th birthday at a very convivial gathering of family and close friends in the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire at the weekend, hosted by his daughter Grainne writes W M Nixon.
Dave FitzGerald is best known as a legend of west coast and particularly Galway Bay sailing, but these days he lives in Dublin to be near his daughters, and old shipmates from the west coast came across country to join the great man as he entered his tenth decade.
His careers in mining and sailing - and indeed sports generally - are all decidedly high-powered. He is renowned for his utter fearlessness in the hunting field, and he brought the same total enthusiasm to his sailing. When he owned the 40ft sloop Partizan in the early days of the Round Ireland Race, he was a committed supporter of this new event starting and finishing in Wicklow. This meant that in order to participate, Partizan had to sail round Ireland twice, but it was the sort of thing the great men and women of west coast sailing could take in their stride.
When sailing took over from hunting for the summer season, if not racing he would go cruising – sometimes very extensively - and he was a popular member of the Irish Cruising Club, elected in 1966. In those days, cruising boats were few and far between on the Atlantic seaboard, but Dave encouraged others to take part in a sport which is now thriving in that challenging area. Meanwhile, he became part of the ICC administration, moving up through the committee and various offices until on the advent of the new Millennium in 2000, he became the ICC’s first Commodore from the west, hosting many memorable events.
Dave FitzGerald’s long and very active life has encompassed several eras of sailing, and seen many changes in design and boat use. When he returned to Ireland after very impressive experiences in some extraordinarily remote mining operations in many parts of the world, it was to develop Tynagh Mine near Loughrea in County Galway. Having decided that the area would be his longtime base of operations, and that Galway Bay would be his new sailing home, he bought his first cruiser in Dun Laoghaire, a little Snapdragon 26 which he called Pegeen.
Being impatient to start sailing in Galway Bay as soon as possible, he researched the best way of having the new boat delivered across country, and discovered that owing to some clerical oversight, the freight rate charged by CIE Rail for such a boat from Dun Laoghaire station to Galway by flatbed rail-truck was precisely 7/6d – seven shillings and sixpence, or about 38 pence in today’s pound sterling.
Apparently, no boat had been moved in this way for a very long time, and so the freight charges were still at 19th Century rates. So Pegeen - conveniently a twin keeler – was moved across Ireland to Galway Bay with no trouble at all at a pocket-money price, and Dave FitzGerald was launched into a new chapter of his remarkable sailing career which, with his many other adventures, was celebrated in proper style at his 90th birthday party.