Displaying items by tag: Ilen
President Michael D Higgins wished further fair winds for the historic ketch Ilen when he and his wife Sabina went aboard the newly-restored Conor O’Brien ketch during his visit to Limerick writes W M Nixon.
Ilen has been brought back to the Shannon Estuary after 92 years away, with the last ten years being taken up by the restoration as a joint project between the Ilen Boat-building School in Limerick, and Liam Hegarty’s Oldcourt Boatyard near Baltimore, the West Cork port which was Ilen’s birthplace back in 1926.
Ilen is now the last surviving Irish sail trading vessel, and her restoration has developed into an educational project which is also being promoted by an exhibition currently running in Limerick’s Hunt Museum. For the Ilen Network’s Gary MacMahon and Liam Hegarty, it was the very special fulfilment of a long-held dream when they were finally able to walk the decks of the newly-restored Ilen with the President of Ireland in the ship’s home port of Limerick.
As Afloat.ie previously reported, In an autumn of great homecomings for the city, the arrival of the Ilen may not have drawn out the numbers that the Liam McCarthy Cup did but it was, nonetheless, a very special moment for supporters of the project as the 56ft long wooden boat cut the Shannon waters to arrive in style at Limerick Docks.
She was formally greeted by Mayor of the City and County of Limerick James Collins and will winter at the Shannon Foynes Port Company operated docks ahead of a busy first full year back on the water in 2019.
Designed by one of Ireland’s greatest sailors, Edward Conor O’Brien, from Ardagh, Co. Limerick and later Foynes Island on the Shannon Estuary was the grandson of Irish nationalist and MEP William Smith O’Brien. He was captain of the first boat to sail around the world under the tri-colour of the Irish Free State.
Ilen is a traditional Irish built wooden ketch. Not unlike the many ketch which plied their trade on the Lower Shannon in the age of sail, she sailed out from Foynes to the Falklands in 1926 and spent all of 70 years there as an inter-island trader, ferrying passengers, sheep, cattle, commercial goods and all other commodities required by remote island communities.
That was until her distinct lrish profile was recognised on a Falklands War TV news bulletin, over 30 years ago by one of her delivery crew from Cape Clear, Co. Cork.
A campaign, spearheaded by directors of the Limerick-based Ilen Project, Gary McMahon and Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey, ensued and 20 years later, following a lot of sweat, funding and craftsmanship, the Ilen is back home on the Shannon.
Welcoming the duo and their 13 strong crew on arrival, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick James Collins said: “We're delighted that the Ilen is back here in Limerick. It's been a labour of love really for the lads that worked on it, funded in part through Limerick City and County Council.
“It’s a ship that was designed in Limerick, it was rebuilt by Limerick people, sailed out of Limerick, recovered by Limerick people, renovated and now it’s back in Limerick and we’re delighted that she is here. It's fantastic.”
Project Director Gary McMahon said that the boat would be for the people of Limerick and, in particular, a learning platform for younger citizens for access to sailing and the marine environment. “It’s a community boat and its new home port is Limerick Docks and we are grateful to Shannon Foynes Port Company for its hospitality. There’s an entire learning aspect to and we will continue to expand our current educational programmes around this project with schools. We are hoping also that the city will embrace the vessel and we will need support with this.”
Said his co-director of the project Br. Anthony: “We've got a very warm welcome today from the people of Limerick who are welcoming back their boat after a long absence. We’ve been working together for the last 20 years, trying to get this vessel to the fine condition she is in today, ready to serve as a portal for Limerick City.
Welcoming its new guest to the Ted Russell Docks, Assistant Harbour Master at Shannon Foynes Port Company Hugh Conlon, which operates the docks, said: “It's a day with a difference in the sense that we've had a ketch come back into the Shannon Estuary, a boat designed by Conor O'Brien in 1926 from Foynes Island. It was built in the area and it sailed from the Shannon Estuary, worked its whole life down in the Falkland Islands and it's finally come back to the Shannon Estuary after many, many years of hard trading in the South Atlantic.
“It took the bones of 20 years to get her finally sailing back into the Ted Russell dock. And we're proud of the fact that we can lend a hand into the future and hopefully winter the boat here as time goes on and let her sail during the summer months.”
The restored Ilen has arrived in Limerick. She was sailed there over the weekend from West Cork, reports Tom MacSweeney.
Conor O’Brien’s historic 1926-built tradition ketch, the last of Ireland’s wooden schooners, originally built in Baltimore, was restored in a lengthy project which took several years to complete at Liam Hegarty’s at Oldcourt near Skibbereen and not far from where she was constructed in the fishing port of Baltimore, now a major sailing centre on the West Cork coastline.
She is now at Limerick Docks, returning to the Shannon, where she arrived at 12 noon today.
Gary McMahon, who has led the restoration project, said he was delighted after the long years of dedicated work by many people and so much help, that the ILEN was back in Limerick where an exhibition about her history is open at the Hunt Museum in the city.
The restored Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen may have had her first sailing sea trials as recently as yesterday off Baltimore in West Cork, but the current spell of settled weather in the southern half of the country has been too good to go to waste with Autumn moving steadily through writes W M Nixon. The task of getting the 56ft trader to her home port of Limerick for the winter could be a real hassle if the weather broke, so Ilen cleared out of Baltimore pronto and this afternoon (Saturday) we received this image of the Great Skellig in County Kerry, seen from Ilen as she makes knots – admittedly under power - in the right direction. This is good work by stealth……
The eclectic new exhibition in the Hunt Museum in Limerick, which outlines the Shannonside city’s maritime connections, its traditional local boats and its links to the historic sail training ketch Ilen, has been proving popular with local schools and their pupils writes W M Nixon. The display attracted more than 1,000 visitors on its opening day, and the staff have been intrigued by the variety of questions they’ve been asked, and the enthusiasm of the young people to interact fully with everything the exhibition has to offer.
The Ilen herself is now nearing full seagoing commission at Oldcourt near Baltimore in West Cork, and the link with Limerick should be made complete in the near future. Meanwhile, in the Hunt Museum the Ilen Exhibition - co–ordinated by Gary MacMahon and the Ilen Network (formerly the Ilen Boat-building School) - will continue until November 14th.
The successful ten-year restoration of the 1926 Baltimore-built 56ft trading ketch Ilen, originally constructed by Tom Moynihan and his shipwrights in West Cork to designs by pioneering global circumnavigator Conor O’Brien of Limerick, has been a continuing story in Afloat.ie writes W M Nixon.
While the heart and soul of it is in Limerick, the ultimate focal point for the restoration work at its busiest stages was Liam Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt near Baltimore. In recent months there, the detailed final work of the restoration has been coming to a conclusion with continuing finishing work on the accommodation and rig, while the painstaking and multi-facetted official process of surveying the ship in order to provide her with a Certificate as a Passenger Vessel has also been undertaken.
The Ilen restoration has reached this successful stage through a parallel work effort between the Oldcourt Boatyard in West Cork and the Ilen Boat-building School in Limerick, a community project inspired and operated in the city by Gary MacMahon and several other dedicated supporters and helpers. They began by introducing hands-on training projects in the city such as building traditional Shannon gandelow workboats, and the CityOne sailing dinghies to a novel but very practical design by the late Theo Rye.
For the Ilen herself, the workshops in Limerick built many of the detailed features of the restored ship, notably the deckhouses and hatchways, while also shaping the massive new spars to re-create her rig as originally designed by Conor O’Brien. In addition, the school provided the focal point for the many marine engineering challenges which were integral to the project.
"a new Ilen Exhibition installation in the renowned Hunt Museum"
Now the Limerick element of the project has been brought centre stage, with a new Ilen Exhibition installation in the renowned Hunt Museum in its classic 18th Century former Customs House building on the waterfront in the heart of what was formerly the Shannon port’s centre of maritime trade.
The Shannon Estuary’s impressive and increasing levels of shipping may have moved downriver to nearby Limerick Docks, and further seaward still to Foynes Port, but at the old Customs House the Hunt Museum provides the ideal setting to display, study and celebrate Limerick’s many centuries of commercial interaction with the sea, and particularly the great days of sail. The new Exhibition, which was informally opened to the public on Friday (September 14th), is a self-contained unit in the Hunt Museum’s impressive Gallery Room, and will run until November 11th.
The restoration of the Ilen may have been a project of fascination to serious maritime historians and students, and indeed to anyone who is interested in traditional sailing craft. But one of the Ilen’s main functions in future will be as an important maritime educational focal point, particularly in bringing to life Limerick’s long and often colourful interaction with ships and the sea.
With this in mind, four large Limerick primary schools are already on board for close involvement with the interactive educational opportunities that the restored Ilen will provide, so visitors to the Ilen Exhibition in the Hunt Museum will find it a fascinating mixture of Limerick-built local-style boats on display beside instructional panels which may be aimed at all levels of interest, from precise adult information on Limerick’s maritime history and the Ilen story, to a primary school child’s vision of Ilen’s prospective voyage back to her home port of Limerick.
It is a modern museum feature using several novel techniques, and as it was Gary Mac Mahon in his role with Limerick’s highly-regarded Copper Reed Studio who created it, we’ll let him have the final word on this very special display:
“It is a light and colourfully-styled exhibition, which draws upon many of Limerick cultural and historical elements; rich maritime elements which uniquely converge at Limerick’s Custom House building - home today to the Hunt Museum.
The Custom House riverside aspect is no accident of 18c urban planning - under its roof, the City’s vital activities of sailing ships, maritime trade and associated custom collections were regulated.
The exhibition takes as it central theme, the ten-year adventures of the Ilen community boat building project, and its chief prize the sailing ship ‘Ilen’, which sails beautifully rebuilt towards Limerick this October, after an absence of 92 years.
Many of the maritime traditions of Limerick, which this exhibition seeks to explore through the work of the Ilen Project, are universally shared with many other riverine port towns.
Drawing upon humour, illustration and tradition, the exhibition offers the young and not-so-young among us a convivial opportunity to partake in a renewed awareness of Limerick’s age-old connectivity with the world, through the inimitable ways of river, sea and ocean, and the beautifully crafted wooden ships and boats which plied their trade upon them.
Integral to the exhibitions offering is the opportunity for hands-on engagement - learning the ropes, so to speak: visitors will be certain to depart with a new found aquatic awareness.”
A video, by Paul Fuller, features the restored historic ketch Ilen motoring down the Ilen River towards Baltimore for her celebratory launch last week at the Wooden Boat Festival in the West Cork town.
Conor O'Brien's famous traditional vessel, that has been faithfully restored by the boat building school of the same name at Hegarty's Boatyard, was splashed the previous day, and with time running out the launch crew took her down river with a little less for ballast - consequently, as keen observers will note, she was floating a little high.
On Saturday I was at the relaunch of the Ilen at the Wooden Boats Festival in Baltimore, West Cork.
It was a special occasion, one of emotion and memories, but also pride in what determined people can achieve.
I have written before about them, this edition of my Podcast takes you to the ceremony at Baltimore to hear what it was like….
This is a vessel which spans two centuries and was designed by Ireland’s legendary sailor Conor O’Brien from Foynes Island in the Shannon Estuary. After serving as a trading boat for 70 years in the Falkland Islands it was brought back to Ireland where it was returned to the water in the fishing village where it was built in 1926, Baltimore in West Cork. This podcast comes from the deck of the vessel as it was relaunched at the Wooden Boats Festival.
Please listen to the Podcast below…. this is an occasion when the written word is surpassed by the spoken.
In 1926, Tom Moynihan and his shipwrights on the waterfront in Baltimore built the 56ft ketch trading Ilen to Conor O’Brien's designs at their boatyard in the heart of the West Cork fishing village writes WM Nixon.
However, Baltimore nowadays is a pace-setting sailing and holiday port, so the main boatyard facilities in the neighbourhood are further inland towards Skibbereen, up the Ilen River at Oldcourt where Liam Hegarty and his expert team restored the old vessel to back to healthy life, working in concert with the Ilen Boat Building School directed by Gary Mac Mahon from Limerick.
After successfully-re-launching at Oldcourt last week, on Saturday it was to Baltimore’s Woodenboat Festival that Ilen made her way on Saturday to be formally re-born under the spiritual guidance of Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey in Limerick. On a perfect early summer’s morning she was piloted down the river after which she was named by noted Baltimore sailor Dermot Kennedy and Liam Hegarty himself, and finally, after so many years being restored in the Top Shed at Oldcourt, there was the “new” Ilen looking her very best for all to see.
Having gone public, she is now back in Oldcourt for final preparation towards being ready for her first sail, which is expected to take place in July.
Afloat.ie’s Tom MacSweeney attended the Baltimore ceremonies and will tell us all about it in his regular podcast on Wednesday.
The hard-working boat building team behind the restoration of the historic ketch Ilen in West Cork have successfully launched the 1926–built vessel in time for this weekend's Wooden Boat Festival at Baltimore.
As Afloat.ie reported earlier this week, the final touches were being put to the Ilen at Hegarty’s boatyard in Oldcourt, Skibbereen, prior to her going down the Ilen River this week, heading for Baltimore.
This Saturday afternoon, at the Wooden Boats Festival, will be her first public appearance since she was restored in a long project by Gary McMahon's Boat Building School based in Limerick.
While she is still very much a serious seagoing proposition, the restored 56ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen takes to the waters with a new and positive educational purpose emphasised by a fresh colour scheme (voted on by Afloat.ie readers last year) and a brighter style.
More on this by Afloat.ie's WM Nixon here