Displaying items by tag: Ilen
A winter night's gathering in the familiar setting of Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club in Ringsend in the heart of maritime Dublin can make it seem like summer again for a few magic hours, and this year’s programme, put together by Talks Organiser Darryl Hughes of the classic gaff ketch Maybird, is setting the bar high for his successors.
He has persuaded a varied, entertaining, informative and knowledgeable selection of five speakers to provide four shows, and it starts with renowned local and marine historian Cormac Lowth giving an impressive presentation on Dublin Port on Thursday, November 14th, and concludes with the historic Ilen Project’s Salmons Wake Voyage to West Greenland by Gary MacMahon on Thursday 19th March.
Scribbler, my Sigma 33 yacht, was hauled ashore this week. Now she stands in her cradle in Castlepoint Boatyard in Crosshaven in Cork Harbour for her out-of-the-water winter rest. It is the annual end-of-season ritual. There are owners who don’t any more do an off-season haul-out. They winter on a marina, or on sheltered moorings and only haul for a hull-clean prior to the start of the new season. There are the particularly fortunate owners who can ‘winter’ their boats close to their homes, nicely at hand for the off-season maintenance work!
I come from the ‘old school’ thinking that it is best to ‘give the boat a dry-out.’ GRP, the plastic boats, benefit from it, I was told from the first boat purchase I made. Not everyone agrees these days but, whatever the off-season decision for your boat, the atmosphere that is about is definitely ‘end-of-season,’ with Autumnal and October cruiser Leagues concluding this weekend at clubs around the country.
More boats will be hauled ashore over the next week or so. There are the hardy souls in cruisers who sail on into December, when the weather can often be magnanimous, the dinghy sailors who do so year-round and the Lasers who ‘frostbite’.
As Scribbler was ‘laid-up’ this week I got to thinking about the perennial questions – why do we have boats, why do we go out in them and, of course, are they worth the expense and the effort needed to keep them going?
One of the best – and humorous – answers to those questions which I have heard came from Bro. Anthony Keane, who has been so much involved in the restoration of the famous Ilen. From Leitrim originally, he has been a monk at Glenstal Abbey since 1965 and his study of theology and wood in which he is quite an expert, as shown in the Ilen project, has enabled him to enjoin the topics with the maritime sphere and boating. I’ve admired the content of speeches he has made at the various stages of Ilen’s restoration and its launch and reported them here.
He was particularly outstanding at the launch of the restored Dublin Bay 21, Naneen, in Kilrush last month when I recorded his dissertation on why we have boats and go to sea. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to broadcast it, which has come with this week’s ‘hauling’ reflections.
Bro. Anthony’s thoughts on boats are worth listening to!
Listen to the Podcast below
It recounts ocean voyaging, navigating ice fields, coastal sailing off West Greenland and the way of a big timbered traditional Irish sailing ship going about her community business.
The video was shot and edited by Ilen project manager, Gary McMahon.
The 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien trading ketch Ilen of Limerick has had an exceptionally busy first season in 2019 in her restored condition as achieved by the Ilen Boat-Building School of Limerick, and Liam Hegarty’s Oldcourt Boatyard in West Cork.
This ambassadorial sailing ship has continued her 2019 community work - work which began last April on first departing Limerick Docks in full seagoing commission. Intertwined with many other objectives, the Ilen Project’s theme for this year was Salmon’s Wake, a concept whereby the ship’s voyaging shared 2019 with the International Year of the Salmon.
An international and local awareness around the declining numbers of Wild Salmon had prompted many communities around the North Atlantic to reflect on this reality - and to explore what the causes and effects might be. With a voyage along the salmon migratory routes to West Greenland, the Ilen was able to provide a central theme for the many salmon studies.
"This ambassadorial sailing ship has continued her 2019 community work"
Yet it is indicative of how busy the Ilen has been – and still is – that in her first year of operation in her restored condition, the Greenland Voyage has only been a highlight – albeit a very significant one – in a complex and varied programme to provide a productive first year of operation.
Ilen’s dedication to community educational initiatives has thus seen her visit up to twenty ports, complete two transatlantic crossings, cruise the West Coast of Greenland, and engage with hundreds of individuals and with numerous educational and care organisations across Ireland.
Even with the swift arrival of Autumnal weather, her mission continues, and recently she sailed into Cork City Centre – her first visit to the city, as Kinsale provides her south coast berth - to join in with Cork Mental Health Festival, where she was warmly welcomed and lauded for her work with youth and recovery groups. This was a joint visit by the Ilen Project and its partners Sailing into Wellness. Both organisations share a common community mission, and also find project expression in sailing ships upon the coastal waters of Ireland. – (Gary MacMahon - Ilen Project)
The long story of the re-birth of the 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien trading ketch Ilen of Limerick was acquiring an almost wraith-like aspect until in 2019 – the restoration job completed – she undertook the very tangible 5000 miles Salmons Wake voyage to Greenland for inter-cultural exchange, research into salmon migration, and data-acquisition on climate change. Project Director Gary MacMahon – whose unflinching faith has kept this extraordinary concept moving ahead – was skipper for the outward passage from Ireland, whiled seasoned voyager Paddy Barry – who was aboard throughout the time away from Ireland – brought Ilen home safely across the restless North Atlantic in unsettled early Autumn conditions.
This past summer’s successful Salmon’s Wake voyage by Limerick’s 56t traditional ketch Ilen to Greenland worked productively in many ways in high mountains, on the sea, and in ports where the crew interacted with Greenlanders on several cultural programmes.
But for Project Manager and skipper for the outward voyage Gary Mac Mahon, a particular aspect of Ilen’s fascinatingly varied sailing across oceans, along the coast of Greenland, and off the coast of Ireland, is that it has been done in a trading ketch of traditional Irish type, the only one currently sailing.
Here he reflects on this aspect of Ilen’s busy year, and makes links to previous sailors of “obsolete” craft:
SALMONS WAKE, 2019
“Let past times become pastimes”- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, (1939)
“The venturesome pastime of sailing relatively small obsolete wooden traditional vessels towards remote parts in the pursuit of climbing, or just communing with lonely coastal mountains, is very much the business of a small group of individuals writes Gary Mac Mahon.
These individuals were favoured or perhaps inflicted with a singular character, and while often perceived misanthropically, were rather just the individual expression of an inscrutable humanity.
For this piece reflecting on the origins of the Ilen Project, I have plucked out two from a very small group, and they are mountaineer and round-the-world voyaging pioneer Conor O’Brien of Foynes (b.1880), and mountaineer/sailor Bill Tilman (who latterly lived in the mountains in North Wales, b.1898). Both were men of extraordinary fortitude and energy who shared a rich capacity for writing, ocean voyaging, mountaineering and the maintaining of big timbered sailing boats.
Both these men seemed at variance with the epoch they were inescapably thrust into, exemplified by their singular and similar life choices, but specifically for this specialized role: the nostalgic retrieval of boat forms of times past for deployment in the pursuit of adventurous pastimes. A not uncommon if atavistic response from individuals in the face of a world which would otherwise change too fast.”
The Limerick ketch Ilen returned safely from Greenland to berth at an Irish quayside for the first time in more than two months when, at 0400hrs this morning, skipper Paddy Barry and his crew brought the 56ft 1926-built “little ship” safely alongside the facilities beside the Trident Hotel in Kinsale writes W M Nixon. This will be Ilen’s base for the Autumn as – with command now passing to James Lyons - she works with the Sailing into Wellness Programme and sail-training projects with trainees from the Ilen Boat-building School in Limerick.
2019 has been an achievement-filled and extraordinary busy year for the much-loved restored vessel, for in addition to sail training courses earlier in this, her first full season, she has now completed a voyage of around 5,000 miles to and from Greenland, a voyage which included extensive intercultural and educational exchanges with the people of that enormous Arctic island.
Ilen Project Director Gary Mac Mahon of Limerick and his supportive colleagues and donors deserve every congratulation for the achievements of all involved, while Ilen’s current crew in particular deserve special credit for the skilled way in which they chose the optimal weather window in which to return across the ocean at an unceasingly difficult time in the Atlantic weather cycle, for even as they were relaxing on finally being secured in Kinsale this morning, the weather was already deteriorating rapidly in the open Atlantic west of Mizen Head.
With such a busy ongoing programme, there’s scarcely time to take stock before moving into the next stage - the training programmes operating from Kinsale. But the word is that later today, most if not all of the 26 different people who were involved in getting Ilen to and from Greenland, together with extensive coastal exploration of the southwest and west Greenland coasts, will be gathering in Kinsale later today for some well-earned celebration.
When Conor O’Brien returned from his round the world voyage in Saoirse to Dun Laoghaire in 1925, it was all carefully choreographed so that he arrived in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, and the DBSC fleet, having abandoned their racing in his honour, were thus able to provide an escort as Saoirse came into port writes W M Nixon
But it looks as though there’ll be no fancy frippery of that sort when the Conor O’Brien-designed 1926-bult 56ft restored ketch Ilen of Limerick arrives in Kinsale tomorrow morning, fresh back from Greenland after a very successful double Transatlantic voyage. The word is that Ilen is currently close west of the Skelligs in mist and a good westerly breeze, and she's due in Kinsale at 0400 hours tomorrow (Wednesday).
It may not be everyone’s favourites time of day. But some of the crew have been away from Ireland for a very long time, and the links of home are calling them in, regardless of the selfish temporary convenience of others.
There’ll be opportunities in Limerick and Greenland for young people to learn more of what the two Transatlantic voyages – outward and return - of the 56ft traditional ketch Ilen have discovered and explained, with schools now resumed after the summer break writes W M Nixon.
Several schools in the Limerick area and around Nuuk in Greenland were following the Salmons Wake voyage project, and three in particular – Thomond National School and Thomond Community College in Limerick, and Ukaliusaq Skole in Nuuk – were actively engaged in the exchange of information and personal interest by several means of communication, in addition to creating voyage-related material and artefacts.
Supported by a Creative Ireland – Made in Limerick Grant 2018-2019, this international inter-linking was organised by Deirdre Power, Limerick Arts Co-Ordinator and Ilen Project Facilitator, and both she and artist Chelsea Canavan, the Education & Outreach Assistant at Limerick’s renowned Hunt Museum, were already in Nuuk to greet Ilen when the ketch arrived from Ireland under command of Ilen Project Director Gary Mac Mahon for the outward voyage.
All were busy in Nuuk explaining aspects of the project, meeting the schools, being welcomed by the locals news outlets, making presentations and introducing the students and teachers to the real star of the show, the restored Ilen herself, which was conspicuous in Nuul harbour thanks to her traditional appearance amongst mostly very modern working craft.
As to the beneficial effect this was having on the students taking part, Bernie O'Driscoll the STEM Co-Ordinator at Thomond Community College in Limerick summed it up for those in Ilen’s home port:
“Both the students and teachers involved in this captivating Salmons Wake Project have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the traditional boat building techniques used in Limerick and lamenting the unfortunate decline of the Salmon in these parts over the years. It’s been an exciting and invaluable learning experience for all involved, and we look forward to continuing the relationship established with Hanne Pederson (Teacher) and the students at Ukaliusaq Skole in Nuuk, Greenland for future years to come.”
On the Greenland side, Hanne Pedersen, a teacher with Ukaliusaq School at Nuuk, summed it up:
“My students are 14 years old, turning 15. Their main language is Greenlandic and some Danish. We are interested in the Salmons’ Wake project and follow the Ilen voyage, and participating with the Limerick students has been great!”
A sculptural representation, literally of the bare bones of a traditional Limerick salmon fishing cot, is now on display in the Old Town in Nuuk, while at the harbour during their time there, Ilen’s crew entertained other seafarers and maritime workers who were keen to see their ship, particularly the local salmon fishermen.
Having done so much while she was in Greenland, Ilen is now approaching Ireland and well on her way to her Autumn location in Kinsale under the command of Paddy Barry. He brought the ship through Prinz Christian Sund at the south end of Greenland, and was then poised to take advantage of a favourable developing weather pattern for the homeward passage, a matter of experienced judgment and assessment of information, for at this time of the year the always difficult-to-predict Atlantic can be in a particularly volatile mood.
The Autumn period in Kinsale for a month and more will be used by Ilen under the command of James Lyons (who is on the homeward crew) for courses with the Sailing Into Wellness programme, as well as teaching sailing to trainees with the Ilen Boat-building Project, with Ilen eventually returning to Limerick in October. For now, this brief vid gives an idea of some of the favourable weather enjoyed by Ilen on the return voyage:
To be enveloped, on the face of the deep, in northern mists for consecutive days with little or no nighttime darkness, gradually breaks one out from that familiar time and space, the ones we everyday surrender to whilst living with land. pic.twitter.com/HrOs4cMsNL— Ilen Project (@ilenproject) September 1, 2019
Meanwhile, co-ordinator Deirdre Power is deservedly pleased with the way this very unusual concept has developed in practice, and she concludes:
“The schools, and more importantly the students, take ownership of the project, which I think is very important. The participation and collaboration may be manifested in a simple gesture, such one student from a community in Nuuk, Greenland writing a ‘real’ letter to another student living across the North Atlantic in Limerick city, Ireland.
This is something that would never happen without this other broader spectrum. I believe the process is the most exciting element, the tangible connection between the schools, through the both the programme and respective cultures, in a way that something such as social media cannot transcend. And the tangible presence of Ilen – first in Limerick and then in Nuuk – gives it an extra and deeply-felt meaning. It remains a wonderful experience for all involved at every level”.
The 56ft traditional ketch Ilen under the command of Paddy Barry has been making excellent progress since departing Greenland on Sunday evening, and is already halfway home to Ireland along the 1200 mile passage from Prince Christian Sund writes W M Nixon. Fair winds have kept her steadily on her way, and the stylishly-decorated squaresail with its Salmons Wake logo has been earning its keep in maintaining comfortable yet efficient downwind progress.
Back in the early stages of the Greenland project, it had been expected that Ilen would not see Ireland again until around 10th September. But the 1926 Conor O’Brien of Limerick-designed and Baltimore-built ship has been going so well that an extra dimension has been added to the programme, and now she will head straight for Kinsale and be based there for September, fulfilling courses with the Sailing into Wellness movement, and implementing sailing teaching with her own Ilen Boat-building School trainees.
All being well, Ilen will be arriving in Kinsale in the latter half of next week.