The club was formed on the evening of Friday 24th April 1964 at a meeting in Broder’s Hotel, now the Newbury Hotel, Mullingar in response to a notice placed in the 'Westmeath Examiner', by Keith Pinder, calling for a meeting of people interested in sailing.
At this inaugural meeting a committee was formed whose first task was to find a site from which to sail. This first committee consisted of: Commodore, Dr. G. Jackson. Hon. Secretary, Keith Pinder. Hon. Treasurer, Ivor Fogg. Committee, Dermot Bannon, David Gibson-Brabazon, J. O’Donnell, C. Corcoran, Mrs Farrell and Mrs. Jackson. Due to the sudden death of Dr. Jackson later that year, Dermot Bannon was elected as Commodore.
For the first few years, we sailed from a field, on the shore of Lough Owel on Joe Dolan’s land at Portloman. The GP14 was the class we adopted having been recommended by Greg Petrie; a decision never regretted. Four members ordered boats in kit form and built them (some of these boats are still sailing well), and having no previous sailing experience, members taught themselves to sail over the following few years. Organised club racing that followed helped to improve the standard of sailing considerably.
In the time sailed from Dolan’s we had our first regatta in 1965, actually sailed from Dermot Bannon’s land further up the shore at Portloman. With more space to erect the necessary marquees, etc., and for visitor access, we hosted a number of meetings from Lough Ennell. As well as for GP14s, classes catered for included, Shannon-One-Designs, Enterprises and Fireflies.
So that we could grow, it was decided that we needed a site with better access and boat parking facilities and a search for one started. The site decided upon was one offered by Phillip Ginnell at Mullally’s where we are now and moved there in the season of 1970. This same year we held our first IYA, now the ISA, sail-training course using the Mirror dinghy we had then recently adopted for junior sailing; these annual courses are still being run today.
The site was bordered with a fence in 1971 and since then the site has grown steadily. We have had two clubhouses prior to our present one. The first was a mobile home purchased in 1984; a little cramped, it got us in out of any bad weather in which to change and meet. Unfortunately a violent storm blew off its roof and, though it was replaced, the mobile home was never quite the same again. An old disused army timber barrack hut erected by club members in 1987 replaced this. It served us well for many years until it was dismantled, removed and replaced by the present, custom-built clubhouse officially opened in November 2004.
We have hosted a number of important meetings. As well as the various GP14 championship and open meetings, we have hosted the 470 class Carlsberg Warrior Trials in 1973, a roving trial at which the Irish 470 squad was determined for the 1976 Olympic Games in Canada. Sailed in 1978 in fresh winds we hosted the Optimist Leinster championships and, more recently, in 2004 hosted the Fireball Nationals in May of that year. Later in September we had the GP14 Autumn Open Meeting sailed in strong winds.
During Easter of 2006 we hosted the Mirror Leinster championships and in October we have the GP14 Frostbite meeting: Brass monkeys need not apply!
Finally, Two members have received public honours in recognition for services to sailing. The first was Keith Pinder who, in 1998 received the Westmeath All-Stars award for his services to sailing in Co. Westmeath. The second was Kieran Milner who was awarded the ISA Volunteer of The Year award in 2002, again for his services and contributions to sailing. Private club honours have gone to Keith Pinder, Ivor Fogg, David Gibson-Brabazon, Robert Heath and Garry Walshe who were awarded honorary life memberships of the club in December 2002 for their services to the club.
The Mullingar Sailing Club has progressed from its humble beginnings, when members had to change into and out of sailing gear in the open air beside their cars and then, shortly after, nearly having to close due to too few members. From this we have grown to a thriving and popular club for both members and welcomed visitors alike. Its enthusiastic committees and membership will ensure that the club will continue to thrive for many years to come. Robert Heath
(Above details and images courtesy of Mullingar Sailing Club)
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