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When I walked into Adrian O’Connell’s office in Kilrush Boatyard on the edge of the Shannon Estuary in County Clare, a photograph on the wall caught my attention – a boat sailing at speed, red sails dramatic atop a black hull.

A powerful image of a ‘Half Boat’ – a ‘Leathbád’ in the lexicon of the famous Galway Hookers. The Leathbád has roughly half the carrying capacity of the Bád Mór, the big Hooker.

Adrian built that boat for the Killary Adventure Centre.

THE LEATHBÁD ADRIAN OCONNELL BUILT FOR KILLARY ADVENTURE CENTREThe Leathbád Adrian O'Connell built for Killary Adventure Centre

“It was very successful, could sleep six, had a self-draining cockpit, was fully decked and a good sea boat, which was sailed by many people, including young sailors learning about boats and how to sail and enjoy being on the water.”

"At the age of 78, Adrian O'Connell is planning to build yachts based on the Galway Hooker design"

At the age of 78 he is planning to build yachts based on the Galway Hooker design.

THE ASTER 22 DESIGNED BY ADRIAN O CONNELLThe Aster 22 designed by Adrian O'Connell

From a boatyard at Clifden in County Galway where he built fishing boats and the closure of which he blames on the government decision to enter the EU and ”give away the fishing industry,” to Aster Yachts which he now leads as Managing Director is an interesting story, which he told me - after I asked him about that photo of the ‘Leathbád.’

Listen to the Podcast below

Published in Boatyards
Tagged under

In 1828, when the recently re-named and still only semi-finished harbour of Kingstown on Dublin Bay staged its first regatta, it certainly gave an indication of the transformed place’s potential for waterborne sport. Yet it was not until 1831 that the first club – the Royal Irish YC in its earliest form – came into being. But on the south coast at Cork, the stately Water Club had been going about its manoeuvres since 1720, and was organising racing by 1765 and probably earlier while going on to become the Royal Cork YC in 1831. And on the west coast in Kerry and along the Shannon Estuary, recreational sailing was relatively well established – not least because it provided a useful cover for some profitable smuggling of low-volume high-value commodities from France, Spain and Portugal.

Be that as it may, by the 1820s regattas were being staged at what was then one of the main ports, the sheltered though tidal Shannonside creek at Kilrush on the south coast of Clare, and in 1828 Maurice “Hunting Cap” O’Connell – the uncle and effectively guardian in his youth of Daniel O’Connell of Derrynane, The Liberator - organised a Kilrush regatta which led to the formation of the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland.

The club thrived, and by 1838 it was the named club of at least two dozen yachts, some of them quite substantial, with 18 of them based in Kilrush while others were kept by their owners on moorings in the estuary beside their often quite stately homes, a classic case being the Knight of Glin with his 30-ton cutter Rinevella moored off Glin Castle on the south shore.

shannon estuary map2The Shannon Estuary – 55 nautical miles of history-filled waterway

Thus the sailing scene on the Atlantic seaboard was thriving while the Dublin Bay programme was still in its infancy. But the situation was totally and tragically changed with the Great Famine of 1845-47. Apart from the human scale of the disaster - which we still do not fully grasp, and probably never will – while it may be simplistic to say that the economy of Western Ireland was destroyed, basically that’s what happened. Despite this, much of life along the east coast went on as normal, and yachting in Kingstown underwent a phase of rapid development.

Retreating from the wasteland which the West had become, what was left of the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland became an itinerant organisation, based for a while in Dublin city and then in Dun Laoghaire and finally in Cork Harbour, where it was supposedly wound up in Cobh in 1870. But it so happened that back in Kilrush the Glynn family had retained some artefacts, documents and records of the old club, other memorabilia was gradually traced and brought home over the years, for there were those who felt that the old Royal Western YC of Ireland had never really died, it was only sleeping, and all it needed was some miraculous revival of the port of Kilrush to waken it up.

Kilrush did slowly revive as a port after the famine, but it was for the utilitarian purposes of handling cargo in the dock, while a pier nearby at Cappagh served the needs of the Shannon ferry steamers which were such a feature of the estuary before rail and then road took over. After that, the port became a ghost of its former self, but there were those who could see its potential.

And the miracle came in 1990, when Brendan Travers of Shannon Development spearheaded the project to provide a barrier with a sea lock to make Kilrush into a proper marina. Today, it has facilities which put the allegedly pace-setting East Coast ports to shame, with the marina run by Simon McGibney while master-shipwright Steve Morris (who’s from New Zealand, but Irish women like his wife Michelle have a way of ensnaring useful talent and keeping it here) has been with the boatyard with its commodious sheds and workshops since 2001, where they seem capable of all forms of boat-work in any material, and to world class standards too.

kilrush today3Kilrush today, with the extensive boatyard (centre) providing facilities that most other Irish sailing harbours can only dream of
With this setup developing, the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland re-emerged as the club at Kilrush with a healthy marina-based fleet. In the early summer of 2007, a bundle of energy from Limerick called Ger O’Rourke contacted the Royal Ocean Racing Club to enter his Cookson 50 Chieftain for the up-coming Rolex Fastnet race in August. He was told he’d be 46th on the waiting list, but not to worry - many early entries tended to drop out, and with bad weather forecast, he was in with a good chance of a place.

O’Rourke had just completed a Transatlantic race from Newport to Hamburg to take second place, but he had this weird superstition of never entering his boat for the next big race until the previous one had been completed. Once again it came good - on the Tuesday before the Fastnet was due to start on the Saturday, the RORC told him it was all systems go, the place was there, so he rushed his crew together, they sailed a magnificent heavy weather race, and Chieftain became the overall winner of the 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race, making the Royal Western of Ireland and Kilrush the only Irish club and port which can claim this rare distinction.

chieftain after start4Ger O’Rourke’s Cookson 50 Chieftain from Kilrush shortly after the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2007, which she won overall – the first and still the only Irish boat to do so. Photo: Rolex

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that when the most varied group of people in Irish sailing that you’ve ever seen converged on Kilrush in Tuesday’s incredibly bright and uninterrupted sunshine for the launching of the first of the re-born Dublin Bay 21s which are being brought back to life for Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra by Steve Morris and the equally talented Dan Mill and their team (which includes Kilrush’s own James Madigan of Ilen fame), we weren’t making a patronizing visit to encourage a new place on its way.

build team5The Naneen Restoration Team included (left to right) Steve Morris, James Madigan, Hal Sisk, Fionan de Barrra, Fintan Ryan and Dan Mill. Photo: W M Nixon
On the contrary, it was more like a pilgrimage to a special place that was outdone in historic sailing style only by Cork Harbour, for in Dublin Bay organised sailing was just getting going when Kilrush was thriving, and Belfast Lough was likewise barely started. But back in the 1820s when life lacked many of today’s mostly superfluous distractions, sailing was big in the west – think Sligo too - and Kilrush and the Shannon Estuary were in the forefront of its energetic development, typified by the Knight of Glin who took his cutter Rinevella to Galway in 1834 for a big regatta, and won western sailing’s equivalent of the Galway Plate.

However, from 1850 onwards there’s no doubting Dublin Bay was a global pace-setter in sailing development, and the establishment of Dublin Bay Sailing Club in 1884 provided an organisation which very quickly was co-ordinating all the sailing of the three major Kingstown yacht clubs, establishing new classes of increasing boat sizes such that by 1898 it was the DBSC’s imprimatur which brought the famous Fife-designed Dublin Bay 25ft ODs into being.

All these numbers refer to the waterline length, which means the 25s were generously-canvassed 37-footers, the jet-set of Dublin Bay One-Design racing. So much so, in fact, that very soon there was a growing movement for something similar in style but in a smaller and more economically-manageable size. William Fife was busy with America’s Cup yachts for Thomas Lipton and other large projects for super-rich clients, so they turned to Scotland’s new rising star in the yacht design firmament, Alfred Mylne, who had already created a useful 20ft waterline design for Belfast Lough sailors, the Star class, which set a simple gunter sloop rig.

dublin bay 21 spinnaker6Simplicity was not the keynote in the original rig of the new Dublin Bay 21s in 1903 – in fact, for the first 60 years of their existence, they were defined by this challenging jackyard topsail-setting gaff cutter rig.
But simplicity was not the keynote for the new Dublin Bay 21. Slightly larger, she had a longer and more elegant stem than the Star’s rather snubbed bow, and instead of a straightforward hyper-economical gunter mainsail with just one headsail, she set acres of gaff rig with a jackyard topsail and was cutter-rigged with it – four sails by comparison with the Star’s two, and that’s before you add the spinnaker.

The first three boats were building with Hollwey of Ringsend in the winter of 1902-03, as the established Kingstown builders James Clancy and J E Doyle were busy with other works, notably yet more DB 25s. The bigger class had received a shot in the arm with a new boat ordered for the 1903 season for the Viceroy, Lord Dudley, to be built by Doyle. This meant that when the first five DB 21s raced in 1903 (two more having been built by James Kelly of Portrush), their advent was somewhat overshadowed by all the razzmatazz attached to the Viceroy racing in his new DB25 Fodhla.

garavogue launching7Garavogue on her launching day at Portrush in 1903
garavogue sailing8Garavogue in action in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Her replacement hull has been built by The Elephant Boatyard in England, and is now in Kilrush for completion

But the smaller class’s quality was soon recognized, and by 1908 they’d achieved their optimum number of The Sacred Seven with Geraldine being built by Hollwey, while Naneen – no 6 – had emerged as the only Kingstown-built boat. She was the work of James Clancy in 1905, built for a serial racing yacht owner called T Cosby Burrowes from Cavan. He must have owned a substantial part of that most rural of Irish counties, for it was presumably rental income which enabled him to be a member of eleven yacht clubs in Ireland, Scotland and England while buying new boats on a fairly regular basis. But though he raced in many places, Dublin Bay was his spiritual sailing home, and he’d served as DBSC Vice Commodore in 1900-1901.

The Ireland of people like Cosby Burrowes was to change inexorably through the 20th Century, yet the Dublin Bay 21s steadily continued to give great sport with such consistency that, despite being just seven in number, the regularity of their turnouts and the spectacular nature of their appearance became the best-known feature of Dublin Bay sailing.

But by the early 1960s the advent of series-production built fibreglass boats with alloy masts and synthetic sails was making their continued existence problematic, and in 1963 they persuaded veteran designer John Kearney (he was 83 at the time) to provide them with a new masthead Bermudan rig of 400 square feet as opposed to the original gaff’s 600, and they also requested a new coachroof with a doghouse to provide standing headroom.

db21 bermudan rig9 The new masthead Bermudan rig as fitted in 1963 enabled exceptional loading to be applied by the standing backstay, while the unsightly new doghouse distracted attention from the elegance of the sheerline.

John Kearney was up to his tonsils at the time designing and over-seeing the building of the 54ft yawl Helen of Howth for Perry Greer, but his age of 83 notwithstanding, he took on this extra task and the simple rig he created balanced very well. It gave good performance while needing a smaller crew, but veterans of that Dublin Bay 21 era who were in Kilrush on Tuesday were mixed in their approval.

Paddy Boyd raced on his father’s Oola as a schoolkid, and he could well remember the magic moment when the vital but inadequate bilge pump – his special job - was replaced by a luxurious new Whale Gusher 25. Anyway, he is in no doubt that the new rig gave the class a further 22 years of useful life. But Fionan de Barra, the Keeper of the Flame who has kept The Sacred Seven intact as a group ever since they stopped sailing, and his project partner Hal Sisk, are of the opinion that the new masthead rig with its standing backstay – often tensioned with a wheel - meant that the mast was being pushed down into the hull in a destructive way that hadn’t been possible with the original gaff rig with its running backstays.

paddy boyd naneen10DB21 veteran Paddy Boyd with Naneen in Kilrush. Racing regularly as a schoolboy aboard the family’s Oola, his happiest memory is of the day his father finally acquired a bilge pump which was man enough for the job. Photo: W M Nixon

Either way, the class was getting very tired by the mid-1980s. But any considered decision as to their future was decided by Hurricane Charlie in August 1986, with northeast gales of unbelievable ferocity sweeping into Dun Laoghaire to leave the Dublin Bay 21s either sunk or seriously damaged.

That was 1986. It is now 2019. But the sheer style of the DB 21s has never been forgotten. And as for what was left of the boats themselves, Fionan de Barra and friends managed to keep them intact as a group in various locations in County Wicklow, while one proposal after another was put forward for their revival.

naneen farmyard11Naneen, the only DB21 to have actually been built in Dun Laoghaire, looking very sad in a Wicklow farmyard some years after the class had stopped sailing in 1986. Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien
Naturally the yachting historian and classic yacht activist Hal Sisk was interested, but he had other projects in hand such as the restoration of the 1894 G L Watson 37ft cutter Peggy Bawn, a meticulous project finished in 2003 which has seen Peggy Bawn winning regattas and awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

But gradually he and Fionan started putting ideas together, and in a world which changes more rapidly than ever, they reckoned that a way of restoring the DB 21s as a class is to think of new ways of ownership and use. To do this they would have to use a rig simpler than the labour-intensive time-consuming jackyard tops’l setup of the originals, and a straightforward gunter sloop set up such as Alfred Mylne designed for a Scottish-built boat to the hull design – Zanettta in 1918 - seemed to fit the bill.

db21 zanetta12 The easily-handled rig designed by Alfred Mylne for the Scottish-owned Zanetta of 1918 is the basic inspiration for the new rig on the class in Dublin Bay

A traditional and historic local class such as the Howth 17s is one in which the people involved and their sense of community through the boat are every bit as important as the new boat itself, and thus the numbers of interested people are maintained over the years. But where a class has been sitting together but derelict and moth-balled for thirty years with the original owners and crews dying off and all ownership rights gradually accruing to one person – in this case Fionan de Barra – much radical thinking is needed.

howth seventeen foursome13Howth Seventeens in action in their time-honoured style. They have been functioning continuously as a racing class since 1898, and with 19 boats, have an established total crewing panel of around a hundred people for whom a Seventeen is the first choice if they wish to go sailing. But as the new-look Dublin Bay 21s will be starting from scratch with no basic crewing panel, a completely new approach to ownership and the running of the boats is being devised. Photo Stormyphotos/Tom Ryan
Thus Hal and Fionan have come up with the idea that the restored Dublin Bay 21 class – with the hulls built-in modern wood-style using the WEST system – would be an association-owned class of boats in a Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is itself being re-imagined for its use as an amenity and recreational area. To this new-use classic harbour they would bring a group of classic boats which are maintained as a unit, and accessible to all for sailing and special racing events based on the harbour of which they were such a natural part for 83 years. 

naneen early rebuild14The “new” Naneen at an early stage of her re-build. Photo: Steve Morris
It’s an ambitious idea, but in this age of disappearing private ownership and shared use of vehicles ashore, with new business names like Borrow-a-Boat coming to the fore, it could well be that this re-born 116-year-old class is in the vanguard of how we will sail in the future.

Meanwhile, the boats have had to be re-built, and in Ireland they started with the only Dun Laoghaire-built boat, the Naneen of 1905 built by James Clancy, and took her to Steve Morris in Kilrush, while the Garavogue – built by James Kelly of Portrush in 1903 – went to classic boat specialists The Elephant Boatyard in the south of England.

Even with such skill involved in both England and Ireland, it has been a demanding task, but fortunately beforehand they could draw on the knowledge of design historian and classic specialist Theo Rye, and then after his sad and untimely death in 2016, the many talents of Paul Spooner took on the advisory role, and gradually the developing project began to take shape.

The casually interested might think it is all taking a remarkably long time, but so many novel concepts and new ways of thinking about boat use are evolving as each stage is passed that when the “new” DB21 class is complete, we’ll find that Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra are true pioneers of sailing.

larkin morris barry15A meeting of minds. Ilen skipper Paddy Barry (right) with Frank Larkin (left) and Steve Morris as the about-to-be-launched Naneen flies the DBSC burgee. Photo: W M Nixon
Certainly the very supportive crowd which turned up in the Kilrush sunshine on Tuesday to wish them and the build team of Steve Morris and Dan Mill was representative of a very wide swathe of people seriously interested in classic boats and what you can do with them, such as Paddy Barry and Jarlath Cunnane fresh back from the restored Ilen’s voyage to Greenland, and James Madigan who was not only closely involved in re-building the Ilen in Limerick and Oldcourt and sailing to Greenland, but is from Kilrush and is now back home working with Steve and Dan on completing the Garavogue, whose hull has arrived in Kilrush from England.

There were several there who had sailed on the DB21s in the old days, in fact your columnist sailed in the Geraldine when she was still gaff-rigged in the ownership of Paul Johnson. But much more interesting were the views of Paddy Boyd, who has distant childhood memories of the old rig, and happy recollections of youthful exuberance under the new one.

In gazing at Naneen as she glowed in the sunshine with a sense of weightlessness in the boat hoist, he was moved to comment on how elegant the sheerline now looked under the original coachroof. John Kearney himself preferred neat low coachroofs - he thought doghouses were the invention of the devil - but the DB 21 owners of 1963 demanded it, and the result was a boxy shape which somehow disguised the fact that the original sheerline was well nigh perfect.

Certainly it was well-appreciated by Ian Malcolm of Howth, who was there on behalf of the Howth 17s but with a special interest, for after Storm Emma wreaked havoc on the Howth Seventeen fleet in their pier-end storage shed in March 2018, it was boat no 6, Anita built by James Clancy in 1900, which was the only total loss. Thus it fell to Ian, with his French connections, to arrange her re-build by Paul Roberts’ Les Atelier d’Enfer organisation in Douarnenez under the French government’s subsidized boat-building schools programme.

ian ann sinead hal16People who re-build James Clancy boats with James Clancy people are left to right) Ian Malcolm who arranged the French re-build of Howth 17 No 6 Anita, built by James Clancy in 1900, with Ann Clancy Griffin, James Clancy’s grand-daughter who lives in Kilrush, James Clancy’s great-grand-daughter Sinead Griffin (also of Kilrush), and Hal Sisk, who has been central to the re-build of Naneen, DB 21 No 6, built by James Clancy in 1905. Photo: W M Nixon
This meant that in Kilrush on Tuesday we’d two sets of people who have been closely involved in the re-building of a Clancy of Dun Laoghaire boat during the past two years, but the coincidences didn’t stop there, as James Clancy married a Kilrush woman, and the family now has many connection in the town, with his grand-daughter Ann Clancy Griffin with her daughter Sinead Griffin doing the launching honours after Father Anthony Keane – who was Brother Anthony Keane of Glenstal Abbey before he went up to Greenland on Ilen – had made a quietly elegant ceremony out of blessing the boat.

father anthony keane17When he sailed to Greenland in the Ilen in July, he was Brother Anthony of Glenstal Abbey, but now he is Father Anthony Keane, and in his new capacity, he blessed Naneen before her launching on Tuesday. Photo: W M Nixon
And then Naneen was launched. Simply by watching her being lowered gently we were given ample opportunity to admire the way in which Alfred Myne has harmonised the lines, such that every sweet curve complements all the other, with the little cabin, in particular, being a masterpiece. On the original drawings Mylne light-heartedly named its interior as “The Den”, but the 21s proved such good seaboats that one of the original owners, Herbert Wright who later went on to be founding Commodore of the Irish Cruising Club in 1929, took his new DB21 Estelle to Scotland on a cruise which worked out so well he wrote it up for Yachting Monthly magazine, which prompted Hal Sisk to claim that the Dublin Bay 21s were thus the world’s first genuine cruiser-racer class.

harmonious line launching18The harmony of Naneen’s pure lines as drawn by Alfred Mylne became even more evident as she was lowered gently into Kilrush Creek. Photo: W M Nixon

naneen alone19Is she not very lovely? That Alfred Mylne, he certainly had an eye for a boat….. Photo: W M Nixon
Clearly there’s a quality to their size and the way they feel when you step aboard which seems just right, and suggests uses more ambitious than simply racing in Dublin Bay, though heaven knows the pace of their racing was scarcely simple, for it was hectic and furiously – sometimes genuinely furiously – competitive.

But all would be well at the end of the day, and with the new creation afloat, Fionan ushered us back to the boat-building shed for the perfect boat-launching lunch, a simple yet effective and nourishing boat-oriented meal provided by Noel Ryan of Ryan’s Butchers & Deli in the town. It was an extension of the opportunity to meet the huge diversity of people who had come to wish this extraordinary project well, a glimpse of the area’s diversity for there was time to talk with Frank Larkin of Limerick, whom I first met through sailing. Then when he became Corporate Communications Manager for Shannon Development, he used to recruit me to give slide shows to Limerick’s sailing fraternity, and the next day we’d go to Foynes or Kilrush to see the developing local setup, all extremely educational for this was in the days before Kilrush had its barrier and Foynes had yet to have its largely voluntarily-installed marina.

boatyard lunch20 The perfect post-launch boatyard lunch gets underway beside a new traditional gleoiteog which is another high-standard project the yard has underway at the moment. Photo: W M Nixon

There too was Kim Roberts who has run a boatyard in her time, and then driven an enormous crane for big contracts on the south shore, and has since been manager of Kilrush marina but is now running Vandeleur antiques from The Old Forge in Killimer and sailing a restored classic timber Drascombe which, as we saw last week, she has taken about as far up the Shannon as it is possible to get from Kilrush.

From up the Shannon was David Beattie of Lough Ree, whose steel version of Slocum’s Spray may have originated in the Lough Ree area, but now under David’s command she has cruised extensively in the Med before returning recently to Ireland for work to be done at the Ryan & Roberts boatyard at Askeaton on the Shannon Estuary’s south shore. And equally appreciative of the Naneen restoration was that legendary shipwright sailor Albert Foley, who’s on the mend after a recent illness, and plans to get his Swan 36 – which he re-built after everyone else considered her a write-off after she’d been run down by a survey vessel – back sailing again.

Then came the moment of truth - the post-lunch revisit to the floating Naneen to see how things were. The sheer pleasure of being aboard a pristine wooden boat in the sunshine with new varnishwork and a slight hint of linseed oil and all the aromas of a healthy environment in The Den were followed by that important ceremony: The First Lifting of the Floorboards.

naneen interior21Super workmanship in evidence below on Naneen, looking forward from “The Den”. Photo: W M Nixon
They’ll have a problem with Naneen. No arachnophobes will be able to sail aboard. The bilges fore and aft were bone dry. Inevitably some dust and other peculiar forms of nutrition and the occasional tiny insect will find their way in, and in time there will be a spider’s web or two. Definitely not a boat for arachnophobes……

naneen knee chainplate22Exquisite workmanship hiding structural strength – the hanging knee fitted in Naneen to distribute the load from the internally-installed main shroud chainplate. Photo: W M Nixon
Before leaving Kilrush for the long haul home courtesy of Ian Malcolm with his high-and-very-mighty boat-towing vehicle, we had one further pleasant task – to pay our respects to Sally O’Keeffe in the marina. She is the handsome workmanlike 25ft cutter designed by the talented Myles Stapleton to a concept based on the Shannon Estuary hookers of all sizes which used to carry cargoes the length and breadth of the mighty waterway, and there was one in particular called Sally O’Keeffe which was based in Querrin to the west of Kilrush, where she’s part of folk memory.

A sort of Men’s Shed group in Querrin got together to build an interpretation of the Sally in the big barn at a local farm, Steve Morris came along and kept the work on track, and the result is one of the most attractive boats in all Ireland, a no-nonsense multi-purpose craft which has turned heads and won competitions at places as far apart as Glandore, the Baltimore Woodenboat Festival in West Cork, and Cruinniu na mBad in Kinvara on Galway Bay, making a point of sailing to these places along the Atlantic seaboard from Kilrush.

sally okeeffe23Sally O’Keeffe is the outcome of a very successful community venture in neighbourhood boat-building guided by Steve Morris.steve morris24Steve Morris – he seems to be able to turn his hand to any boat-building project with complete success. Photo: W M Nixon
She’s about as perfect as you can get in her way, yet she’s as different as possible from the equally perfect Naneen, and we’d the chance to compare them directly, for even as we were admiring Sally, the Naneen came into the berth just across the walkway.

All I can say is that when some project gets the Steve Morris touch, it becomes something very special indeed. We departed on a high, determined to make the best of that extraordinary day by enveloping the entire Shannon Estuary experience through heading homewards by way of the Killimer-Tarbert Ferry, and along the south shore we were able to look across to the islands at the mouth of the estuary of the Fergus River where the 1886 America’s Cup Challenger Galatea came to visit Paradise House (that’s really what it was called), the Shannonside ancestral home of owner William Henn.

Then we swept into Foynes to admire the crisp style of the thriving yacht club while gazing thoughtfully across to the cottage on Foynes Island where global circumnavigation pioneer Conor O’Brien of Saoirse fame spent his last years, and where the restored Ilen had come in the Autumn of last year to pay her respects, and then we went to see Cyril Ryan and the wide range of work he does at Ryan & Roberts at Askeaton, where he has a boatyard in classic style where we marvelled at the huge road crane Kim Roberts used to drive, and marvelled equally at the enormous tidal range in the River Deel, for David Beattie’s Ree Spray was a very long way down indeed in a muddy pool at the pontoon.

sally okeeffe naneen25Product line…..the “new” Naneen (beyond) and Sally O’Keeffe (foreground) get together in Kilrush Marina at the end of an extraordinary day. Photo: W M Nixon
And finally, we went for a pit stop in the Dunraven Arms in Adare and wondered again at the sometimes misunderstood genius of the neighbourhood’s Lord Dunraven, with his two America’s Cup Challenges in 1893 and 1895. Then with a seemingly eternal sunset at our backs, we left Ireland and went back across the isthmus to Howth, simply stunned by the memory of the incredible range of the Shannon Estuary’s sailing history and its many links, a memory which had somehow given us a much clearer understanding of what it is that Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra are trying to achieve with their pioneering vision for the future of the DB21 class.

naneen terry roche26Naneen is coming home….Naneen, the only Dublin Bay 21 to be actually built in Dun Laoghaire, is the first one to be restored. She is seen here in the successful ownership of Terry Roche during the 1950s. Photo courtesy Olga Scully

Published in Shannon Estuary

The Duke of Kent visited Kilrush RNLI yesterday afternoon as part of a two-day tour of lifeboat stations in Tipperary, Clare and Kerry. The Duke has been President of the RNLI since 1969.

The Duke of Kent arrived at Kilrush Lifeboat Station shortly after 03:00pm, where His Royal Highness was greeted by the volunteer lifeboat operations team, lifeboat crew members and the local fundraising branch.

As part of the visit, Kilrush RNLI showcased local Irish dancing, the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group, handcrafted traditional Irish Currach building, and a selection of local pottery from the Brothers of Charity. Also, in attendance were representatives from Kilrush GAA which focused on the partnership between the GAA and RNLI working together to prevent drowning.

To conclude, a beautiful Irish Yew tree was planted at Kilrush lifeboat station to honour the visit, followed by a brief launch and recovery of Kilrush RNLI’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

Commenting on the event, Pauline Dunleavy, Kilrush Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘It was an honour to welcome His Royal Highness to Kilrush lifeboat station. We are very proud of our station delighted to host the President of the RNLI. We showcased our great team, as well as great community spirit. In particular, I would like to thank Kilrush GAA for attending. Much like a lifeboat station, a GAA club is at the heart of community life, and through this partnership we all can both play a major role in preventing deaths by drowning.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Class two yacht Ibaraki skippered by John Collins from Galway Bay Sailing Club has been declared overall winner of the 2016 WIORA Championships after a six race series at Kilrush Marina on the Shannon Estuary. Download results below.

Collins continued his overall lead into the final two races on Sunday, emerging a clear winner with a four point margin. The modified GK34 beat Liam Burke's Corby 25 Tribal on 13.5 points with Ray McGibney's Dehler 34 Disaray from Foynes Yacht Club third on 15 points. 

In class one at the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland event, Yannick Lemonnier's Galway Flyer, an SJ320, from Galway Bay Sailing Club, beat the First 36.7, 2 IRL1514 Zallaq (Duncan & Emmet Kerin) from the host club in a five–boat fleet.

WIORA prizegiving

The WIORA prizegiving at the Haven, Kilrush with John Collins's Ibaraki crew lifting the overall trophy. Photo: WIORA/Facebook

In a five boat class three made up entirely of J24s, Darragh McCormack's Maximus from Foynes Yacht Club was the overall winner. Simon McGibney's Carpe Diem was second ahead of third placed Jibe sailed by Fergus Kelliher of Tralee Bay Sailing Club.

In a white sails fleet of 13 boats, the overall winner was Tom Murray's Kerry Sloop, Kerry Dream, with Pat Keating on Excalibur in second. James McCormack on Alpara finished in third place. The top three were all from Foynes Yacht Club.

30–boats competed in three classes in the 40th anniversary of the event. 

Additional reporting by Elaine O'Mahoney, WIORA: 

The event took place over four days in heavy winds which even in the ‘lulls’ hardly dropped below 15 knots.

Looking ahead at the forecast the race officers made the decision to have three races on day one as a contingency in case any of the subsequent days were blown out. The IRC racing on day one was windward leeward courses west of Scattery Island where OOD Alan Crosbie and his team did a fantastic job in shifty conditions requiring moving of marks between legs to keep the beats true. Winds of about 25 knots and strong tides were a certainly challenge with some of the bigger boats reefed down and the smaller boats all with jibs but the general consensus of the competitors was hugely enjoyable racing.

It was decided to have the longer coastal race on day two which had the IRC classes beat about six miles west in the estuary towards Carrigaholt. Trusting the weather forecast the OOD handed out the race course to all competitors prior to leaving the Kilrush Marina. As the start time approached the first ‘beat’ was looking more like a ‘fetch’ but as if Alan Crobie flicked a switch just as he sounded the first warning signal the wind backed about 25 degrees to make the first beat a proper one. And for anyone not familiar with sailing in tidal waters, one boat commented afterwards it took them nearly two hours to beat to the windward mark and twenty five minutes to get back. Welcome to sailing in tides! The contingency decision made earlier paid off as Friday saw winds of between 35 and 40 knots blow though. The shelter provided in the recently refurbished, and I must say looking smashing, Kilrush Marina was much appreciated by all the boat owners.

The final day of racing winds brought winds gusting up to 30 knots and wind shifts of 30 degrees to contend with and the race organisers did very well to get in a final two races which brought a discard into play for all competitors.

Across all the classes racing was hugely competitive. In the six race series the most races won by any of the overall winners was three races, which was Yannick Lemonnier’s Galway Flyer in Class One while Emmet & Duncan Kerin’s First 36.7, Zallaq came in 2nd and 3rd place went to Liam Madden’s X332 Dexterity.

In Class Two, the eventual overall champions, John Collins’ GK34, Ibariki had two wins out of six claiming the class ahead of last years’ winner Liam Burke’s Corby 25 Tribal with the Dehler 34 Dis-a-Ray under the new helm of Fionn McGibney finishing 3rd.

In class three, an all J24 affair, there was nothing between the fleet who, no matter what tactics employed or what side of the course taken, seemed to converge together at every single mark! At the end of the first day the top three boats were level on points. With just one win throughout the series it was the consistency of Darragh McCormack’s J, Maximus, which kept them at the top. 2nd and 3rd place, who both had two wins each, finished level on points but on countback Martin McNamara on Carpe Diem took 2nd ahead of Fergus Kelliher on Jibe in 3rd.

In what has been hailed by the White Sails fleet as a huge success, WIORA for the first time brought in a second OOD, Peter Moore from Tralee Bay Sailing Club, to officiate the White Sails racing. The 13 boat fleet stayed further east along the estuary between Scattery Island and Tarbert. While at the pre-race briefing the competitors spoke of White Sails ‘going out to have fun’ nothing could be further from the truth once the first gun was sounded. The courses were Round The Cans and competition was fierce with the series leader changing many times throughout the four day event. In the end the experience of the Foynes Yacht Club boats in sailing in the strong tidal waters came through as first, second and third places all went to the Shannon Estuary based club. Tom Murray’s Kerry Sloop, Kerry Dream, was relishing the heavy weather taking first place overall with Pat Keating on Excalibur, competing in his first West Coast Championships on his Westerly Fulmar, but with a few crafty and well-seasoned sailors on board came in second. James McCormack’s Dufour 35 Alpara, finished in third place. The two White Sails boats that came down from the lake thanked the West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association and the Irish Cruiser Racing Association for their generosity in helping them get lifted and transported down for the event due to the lower River Shannon being closed at Ardnacrusha.

WIORA Commodore, Simon McGibney congratulated Adrian O’Connell and the members of The Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland and Thomas Whelan, Chairperson of the Organising Committee for hosting what was widely agreed was a fantastic event. He also thanked the OOD’s Alan Crosbie and Peter Moore and their teams for exceptional racing in testing conditions and finally thanked Kilrush Credit Union, Kilrush Marina and all the other sponsors of the event.

Overall Winners:

Class One IRC :
Galway Flyer (Jannick Lemonnier, Galway Bay Sailing Club)
Class One ECHO:
Dexterity (Liam Madden, Foynes Yacht Club)

Class Two IRC:
Ibaraki (John Collins, Galway Bay Sailing Club)
Class Two ECHO:
Ibaraki (John Collins, Galway Bay Sailing Club)

Class Three IRC:
Maximus (Darragh McCormack, Foynes Yacht Club)
Class Three ECHO:
Carpe Diem (Martin McNamara, Foynes Yacht Club)

White Sails:
Kerry Dream (Tom Murray, Foynes Yacht Club)

Full Results can be found below.

Published in WIORA

The development of organised sailing in Ireland seems to have spread northeastwards from the south and southwest coasts. Although the great chieftain Hugh Maguire had a fleet of pleasure vessels including sailing craft on Lough Erne in County Fermanagh in the 1500s, while the noted scientific polymath Sir William Petty found a sailing “pleasure boatte” on Dublin Bay to test his catamaran Simon & Jude against in 1663, it was on Cork Harbour that we find the first formal organisation with the foundation of the Water Club in 1720 writes W M Nixon.

Before the advent of good roads, and long before the railways arrived, Ireland’s myriad waterways and lakes provided the best options for the inland transport both of goods and people, and inevitably some gentrifried working boats were also used for relaxation, and the next club to be formed was Lough Ree YC in 1770. By 1820, the world’s first club specifically organised to provide racing came into being on Lough Erne, then nearby on Lough Gill in Sligo, the Ladies’ Cup was first raced for in 1822, and it still is cometed for today, though now at Sligo YC’s sea base at Rosses Point.

In the pre-famine era before 1845, the relative affluence of the west and southwest of Ireland supported the landed classes in yacht ownership, and a regatta at Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary in 1828 saw the establishment of the Royal Western of Ireland YC, which at its height in 1838 had a fine fleet of 18 cutters – some of quite substantial size - based in Kilrush Creek and spreading outwards to families along the coast such as the O’Connells of Tralee, Cahirsiveen and Derrynane.

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The Game Changer. Dun Laoghaire’s first regatta in 1828 set Dublin Bay on course to be the pace-setter in yachting development.

But 1828 also saw the first regatta to be staged at the new harbour of Kingstown on Dublin Bay, and the success of this provided an unrivalled focus for the development of new ideas in sailing not only in Ireland, but at an international level. Whereas other sailing area saw the locations of activity spread across several centres large and small, in Dublin Bay there was just this one big powerhouse of sailing development through which all the recreational nautical energy of the capital city was channeled. The Royal Irish YC came into being in 1831, the Royal St George YC got going in 1838, and soon Kingstown outstripped most comparable centres at home and abroad, particularly in racing development.

Yet at this time Belfast was already the fastest-expanding city in Ireland, and it was moreover a growing centre of genuine wealth-creating manufacturing industries and ship-building enterprises. Why wasn’t Belfast Lough in the forefront of sailing development by the 1850s?

It wasn’t as though there wasn’t a small but time-honoured local recreational sailing tradition on Belfast Lough. During the 1780s and 1790s, Belfast had been a place of liberal ideas and social innovation, and a small group of recreational sailors led by Henry Joy McCracken pioneered cruising from Belfast Lough to the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. But then in 1798 McCracken also led the rising of the United Irishmen, and when it was suppressed he was executed by hanging in the Cornmarket in Belfast on land which his grandfather had donated to the town.

Subsequently, the Presbyterian majority in the north turned in on themselves and concentrated on commerce and manufacture and literally minding their own business. But though, as prosperity returned, a small group of McCracken’s former shipmates formed the Northern Yacht Club in Belfast Lough in 1824, Belfast’s rapid industrial expansion made the port very limited as a yacht harbour, thereby limiting their growth.

Belfast Lough may have provided splendid sailing water, but it was very poorly served by other smaller harbours, so the Northern Yacht Club members often found themselves sailing to the more congenial and well-serviced shores of the Firth of Clyde. They soon formed a Scottish branch, and by 1838 the Royal Northern Yacht Club - as it was to become, with an impressive clubhouse in Rothesay - had taken over the few remaining assets of the Belfast Lough branch, and that was the end of any club in the Lough for another quarter century.

Yet any student of sailing history will know that in 1856, Lord Dufferin from Clandeboye near Bangor on the shores of Belfast Lough made a celebrated voyage to the high Arctic with his schooner Foam. And in 1865, one of the most successful racing schooners of all time, the 99ft Egeria, was built for leading Belfast linen manufacturing magnate John Mulholland. So why wasn’t Belfast Lough sharing the sailing fame of other Irish centres such as Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour, which had shown their pre-eminence by staging the world’s first recognisably modern offshore race from Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour in 1860?

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The extremely successful racing schooner Egeria was built for Belfast business magnate John Mulholland in 1865, but she was seldom if ever in Belfast Lough

The simple answer seems to be that in its period of hyper-growth, the business of Belfast was business, and sailing for recreation was not a Belfast business. Those who expected to sail at the highest level did so elsewhere, and once the Belfast to Dublin railway had been connected in 1855, it was as handy for the more affluent would-be yachtsmen to avail of the proper facilities in Dublin Bay rather than risk their yachts on exposed moorings in Belfast Lough, where shore facilities were still woefully lacking.

But in time the rapid rise of an energetic middle class in Belfast saw increasing demand for sailing amenities and events nearer home. We know that a regatta of some sort was staged at Holywood immediately east of Belfast on the lough’s south shore in 1854, and it was at Holywood – despite the little town’s drying anchorage – that the first club since the Northern YC in 1824, the Hoywood Yacht Club – was formed in 1862, and it still exists, Belfast Lough’s senior club.

Then in 1866 a regatta was staged from the only half decent harbour on the lough, at Carrickfergus, and the organisers were pleasantly surprised by the number of boats which turned out, boats whose owners had squirrelled out bits of shelter for their craft in small places like Donaghadee, Groomsport, the tiny drying harbour at Bangor, in the open roadstead off Cultra, in the cleaner parts of Belfast docks, in Carrickfergus itself, and round the corner in Larne Lough.

From this there immediately emerged the Carrickfergus Amateur Rowing & Sailing Club, but mostly to cater for local demand. But soon afterwards in Belfast the Ulster Yacht Club was formed by a group of affluent businessmen, professionals, industrialists and landowners with Lord Dufferin as their Commodore. By 1869 he’d seen to it that they’d become the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, but it was an organisation which was resolutely to function without a clubhouse until 1899, nevertheless growing in prestige with every passing year.

Thanks to that focus of interest through the Carrickfergus Regatta of 1866, 2016 will see double celebrations on Belfast Lough with the 150th Anniversaries of both Carrickfergus Amateur Rowing and Sailing Club (which everyone knows as Carrick Sailing Club), and the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, which since April 1899 has been based in an impressive Arts & Crafts clubhouse on an eminence above Bangor’s waterfront.

Royal Ulster clubhouse4
The RUYC clubhouse was built in 18 months and opened in 1899 in order to be ready for Thomas Lipton’s first America’s Cup campaign

When the clubhouse was built, the harbour at Bangor was still rudimentary, but the sailing was great. However, since 1984 Bangor Bay has been turned into one of Ireland’s largest marinas, and now RUYC has the berthing facilities and the sailing water to stage major events with confidence.

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Befast Lough provides excellent sailing water, but until the marina were built at Carrickfergus and Bangor, it lacked sheltered berthing

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Carrickfergus Marina, with the harbour and its famous 12th Century castle beyond

Equally at Carrickfergus they also have a marina – in fact it pre-dates the one at Bangor – but as Carrickfergus was also the base of the extraordinarily productive yachtbuilder John Hilditch, albeit only from 1889 to 1913, one of the main parts of their celebration is going to be a Hilditch Regatta, not just for boats built by him such as Hal Sisk’s famous 1894 Watson cutter Peggy Bawn, the Howth 17s of 1898, and the RNIYC Fairy Class of 1901, but indeed for any classic or traditional craft, as Carrick has always been a spiritual home for the Old Gaffers Association.

bangor marina7
Bangor Marina, with Ballyholme Bay beyond

Royal Ulster has meanwhile taken a different track through sailing history, for between 1899 and 1931, it was the club through which Thomas Lipton made his five America’s Cup Challenges, which has tended to obscure the fact that in the 1880s and 1890s, Belfast Lough with RUYC in a key role were setting a fantastic pace in sailing development, as they were trying to get a one design keelboat class going as long ago as 1889, and by 1895 they’d brought the Belfast Lough One Design Association into being with a determined young sailing man called James Craig as Honorary Secretary. Membership of the BLODA was open to any member of one of the recognised six clubs now based round the lough, but young Craig – who later went on to become Lord Craigavon, first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1921 – was realistic in his expectations for the life of a strict one design keelboat class, and he only expected his members to be “in class” for three seasons.

By 1896 they’d the first two boats of a new 15ft LWL keelboat class designed by William Fife, no less, sailing on Belfast Lough, and before the summer was out the signs were good for a significant increase in numbers for 1897. James Craig was insisting the boats be built by John Hilditch, as he was noted for sticking strictly to the plans as drawn by the designer, whereas the builder of the first two boats for 1896, Paddy McKeown in the heart of Belfast, was always trying to improve on the designs, even if they were from Fife.

dublin bay8
Regatta day for the Dublin Bay 25s – their design was inspired by the Befast Lough Class I boats.

But events overtook the programme. A group of affluent Belfast Lough movers and shakers decided they certainly wanted a One-Design class to the Belfast Lough ODA rules and designed by William Fife, but they wanted a proper sea-going boats with a cabin, around 37ft in hull overall length, and 25ft on the waterline, and setting a proper gaff rig with a jackard topsail rather than the modest little gunter rig set by the 15ft LWL boats, which were still referred to as Class I.

But as the idea for the bigger boats gained traction, they became Class I, and for a while the 15ft LWL boats became Class II, but after 1900 they were Class III when a 20ft LWL class came along. But meanwhile in late 1896 and early 1897, the Hilditch yard went mad, building nine of the new 25ft LWL boats. Even Lord Dufferin and his friends Lord de Ros and Lord Bangor came round from County Down in April 1897 to the tough town of Carrickfergus to see this remarkable new class of boats being built. And once the 25 footer had their first race off Carrickfergus on May 29th , they swung into action with what today would be called a series of promotional tours, as they did all of Clyde Fortnight after a stormy crossing of the North Channel, and then after being back in Belfast Lough for long enough to race the RUYC regatta, they headed south to Dublin Bay in late July and inspired the creation of the Dublin Bay 25 class.

1898 was when they were in their prime, and by 1899 some owners were aready invoking the “three season” rule to move on, but in fact the class continued to race actively – though sometimes with very depleted numbers – on Belfast Lough until the end of the 1909 season.

motoryacht romance9
John Hilditch was very busy in 1897 – in addition to the Belfast Lough Class I boats, his yard also built this 56ft motoryacht Romance for A J Lepper, for whom he’d built Peggy Bawn in 1894.

We get some idea of the boat-building pace around Carrickfergus in the late 1890s when we realise that in 1897 John Hilditch and his men were also building a 57ft Dixon Kemp motor-yacht, the Romance, for A J Lepper, for whom they’d built Peggy Bawn so well in 1894, and no sooner was the Romance out of the way than they turned to the next job, the building of the first five Howth 17s which their owners were able to sail the 90 miles to their home port in April 1898.

So obviously there’s going to be quite a complicated programme around Belfast Lough in late June and early July this year. And as the Howth 17s are in the unique position of being a Hilditch class which is not Belfast Lough-based, they hope to be able to pay their respects at Carickfergus both to the memory of their builder and to the 150th Anniversary of the Carrickfergus club, while also being able to do full justice to the Classic One Designs Regatta, which RUYC will be staging from Friday June 24th to Sunday June 26th.

The Hilditch Regatta meanwhile is from the evening of Wednesday June 22nd to Saturday June 23rd, when the fleet heads from Carrickferus to Bangor for a sail-past as part of the Royal Ulster events, but with some of the Old Gaffers then returning to Carrick (after due celebrations in Bangor) as the Carrick event is seen partially as a follow-on to the Portaferry Sails & Sounds the previous weekend, which is very much an Old Gaffers event.

howth seventeen group10
In Carrickfergus are (left to right) Nick Massey, Roddy Cooper, Tom Houlihan, CSC Commodore Wendy Moore, and Ian Malcolm. Photo: W M Nixon

But for classes like the Howth 17s, despite their antiquity proper racing is what it’s all about, so I tagged along with a reconnaissance group of Howth 17 eminences when they went up North to suss out the scene this week. And as the group included Nick Massey who re-energised the class when it was going through a flakey period in 1972, Ian Malcolm who is playing a key role in the class’s current revival such that they’ll have eighteen boats racing this year, Roddy Cooper who owns the Hilditch-built Leila, and Class Captain Dr Tom Houlihan, you can be quite sure there wasn’t a dull moment.

First call was with Wendy Moore at Carrickfergus, where she’s Commodore for the 150th as the club settle into the new clubhouse after a disastrous fire three years ago, and as she’s also the Marina/Boatyard Manager and the newest addition to the ranks of owners in the local thriving Ruffian 23 class, everyone was on the same wavelength.

howth seventeen birthplace11
You’ll always find it’s now in a carpark….Roddy Cooper and Ian Malcolm stand on the spot where their Howth 17s Leila and Aura were built in 1898, with Carrickfergus Castle in the background. Photo: W M Nixon

Then we swung by Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club at Cultra on the south shore of the lough, home to the Hilditch-built Fairy class against whom the Howth crowd regularly have inter-club races, and fortuitously met up with Northern Ireland Old Gaffers Association Chairman Gary Lyons for some very high-powered info exchange. As a result we round out this week’s blog with a photo which does justice to the Portaferry Sails & Sounds which he is organising in June.

Then on in haste for a sailing business lunch (delicious) at Royal Ulster YC with Vice Commodore Myles Lindsay, Rear Commodore Greg Taylor, Honorary Sailing Secretary Robin McKelvey and Press Officer Fiona Hicks, learning yet again that the RUYC clubhouse is such a store of sailing memorabilia that it’s a difffcult to concentrate on the formal agenda, but I think the Howth men and the Bangor men understood each other very well indeed.

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Myles Lindsay, Vice Commodore RUYC

Robin McKelvey13

Robin McKelvey, Honorary Sailing Secretary RUYC

The RUYC people have a lot on their plate, for no sooner is the Classics Regatta out of the way than they gear up at the beginning of July for an assembly in Bangor of cruising boats from the ICC, the RCC, the OCC, the CCC and other associated organisations, followed by a 150th Anniversary Cruise-in-Company along the Antrim coast and on to the West Coast of Scotland and the Hebrides.

But for the recce group from Howth, now it was down to Bangor Marina where manager Kevin Baird couldn’t have been more obliging, but the Howth 17 men all fell in love with the classic ketch Morna berthed right next to the marina office, so Fiona and I had to speed them on their way to the exhibition of 150 Years of sailing in Bangor Museum.

ketch morna14

The classic ketch Morna in Bangor Marina. Photo: W M Nixon

And then after that, duty done and work completed, I took them for the treat of the day, down among the hidden places of Strangford Lough to meet up with Kenny Smyth at his boatyard, which for any one who is into classic, vintage or traditional boats is heaven on earth. And of course it emerged that Kenny the King of the River Class, Whiterock’s historic Mylne-designed premier fleet, has recently become Commodore of Strangford Lough Yacht Club. So we headed for home into a gorgeous sunset having notched up two Commodores, one Vice Commodore, one Rear Commodore, one Chairman, one Honorary Sailing Secretary, two Marina Managers and one Press Officer. And if that’s not a good day’s work on the diplomacy and negotiating front, then I don’t know what is.

kenny smyth15
The eternal enthusiast. Kenny Smyth of Whiterock runs a boatyard, he is also Commodore of Strangford Lough Yacht Club, he is River Class champion, and he just loves talking about boats night and day. Photo: W M Nixon

Portaferry narrows16
The promise of summer – the classic and traditional season in the north starts with Portaferry Sails and Sounds on June 16th.

Published in W M Nixon

Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat crew on the Shannon Estuary launched early this morning in gale force conditions to assist 43ft motor vessel that had fouled its propeller south of Moneypoint.

At 4.59am Shannon Coast Guard tasked Kilrush RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew to assist a motor vessel with 3 people on board that had lost engine power due to its propeller becoming fouled.

Kilrush lifeboat crew reached the scene at 5.20am and assessed the situation. It was apparent that the motor vessel was heavily fouled and in no immediate danger of drifting. Commercial divers were tasked as the sea state improved and managed to clear the propeller. Kilrush RNLI stood by until power was restored to the motor vessel and returned to station at 7.10am.

Commenting on the callout, Charlie Glynn, Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer said: ‘Weather conditions were challenging but our volunteer crews are well prepared for every eventuality. This is a testament to the level of training and commitment from all at Kilrush RNLI.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#kilrushmarina – Kilrush Marina recently celebrated 12 months under new ownership having carried out an extensive upgrade and modernisation to the facilities costing in excess of €1m.

As Afloat.ie reported back in March, Kilrush Marina was taken over in July 2014 from the semi state company Shannon Development who oversaw the construction of the 120 berth marina in 1991. Included in the work was the overhaul of the lock gates which included shotblasting and painting, structural repairs, new seals and an automated system to make them 24 hr accessible.

The pontoon electrics were replaced, an automated 24hr fuel system was installed,wi fi accessible on all pontoons. Security was upgraded with comprehensive CCTV and automated gates on both pontoons and boatyard. The Marina Centre building was refurbished, and new showers installed in the changing rooms, the Marina entrance and car parks were landscaped and tarmacked.

In the boatyard, the drainage was redone,shed roofs repaired and a 16 ton hydraulic boat trailer purchased to compliment the existing 45t–travel hoist.

The final job was dredging the access channel, which because its in a Special Area of Conservation took a lot of time and effort to get permission.

However its finally done and provision is now in place for annual maintenance dredging.

Kilrush Marina is the only full service marina on the west coast offering a full range of boatyard and berthing options and is easily accessible from both Shannon Airport 45 minutes away and the motorway network 30 minutes away. 

Kilrush_marina_group.jpg

(L to R) Adrian O'Connell, Commodore Royal Western YCI , James Mc Cormack Commodore, Foynes YC, Pierce Purcell, Irish Sailing Association, Richard Hurley, Commmodore Tralee Bay SC, Louis Keating Managing Director L&M Keating, Kim Roberts, Kilrush Marina Manager.

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under

#lifeboat – Lifeboat crew launched early this morning to take part in a multi agency search and rescue operation involving Kilrush and Fenit RNLI, Coast Guard rescue teams from Kilkee and Doolin.

At 3.29am Shannon Coast guard tasked Kilrush RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew to investigate a report of four persons in the water in the Poulnasherry Bay area of the Shannon Estuary.

Kilrush lifeboat crew were met by members of the public on the scene who had successfully recovered three persons safely from the water. The casualties were transferred by ambulance to Limerick Regional Hospital. Kilrush RNLI, Kilkee Coast Guard and the Shannon based Coast Guard helicopter undertook a large-scale search of the area to locate a fourth missing person.

The search operation continued through the night with the addition of Fenit RNLI lifeboat, Doolin Coast Guard, Irish Customs Vessel, Ballybunnion Rescue Services, SFPC Pilot Boat as well as an extensive shore search team from all agencies as well as navy diving units.

A person was recovered from the water at 10.42am following an extensive search.

Commenting on the callout, Pauline Dunleavy, Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: 'This was one of the largest search and rescue operation in the Shannon Estuary for a number of years. I would like to commend the quick response from all agencies especially the members of the public that assisted. On behalf of everyone at Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat Station, I wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the man who sadly did not survive.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#irishmarinas – Portmagee Marina pontoons are set for a second season of operation, built by L&M Keating Ltd, for Kerry Co Council, the 20–berth facility was opened in 2014 in the pretty port of Portmagee.

It is operated by Kilrush Marina who also operate the 120–berth County Clare facility. Most of the berths are occupied by the fleet of Skellig passenger boats that operate from Portmagee, however there are a number of berths reserved for visitors which have proved to be a very popular overnight stop off for cruising yachts during 2014.

Portmagee offers a 'traditional Kerry welcome' and the marina is situated 50m from the village main street and across the road from the popular Moorings Bar and Restaurant run by Gerard Kennedy who manages the marina. Gerard can be contacted on 087 2390010 for anyone wishing to book a berth.

Published in Irish Marinas

#kilrushmarina – Work on lock gates at Kilrush marina on the Shannon Estuary was completed in March, just in time for the first sail of the year over St Patricks weekend.

The 120 berth Kilrush Marina has recently been undergoing an exciting upgrade and modernisation under the new ownership of L&M Keating, Building and Civil Engineering contractors based in Kilmihill, Co Clare.

Kilrush Marina was taken over by operating company L&M Keating (Maritime) Ltd in July 2014, since when a one million euro investment has been taking place at this strategically important marina that stands at the mouth of the Shannon Estuary and the start of the Shannon system.

Under manager Kim Roberts the massive upgrade, which is almost finished, has marked the revival of the Marina to compliment the town of Kilrush, winner of the 2014 Tidy Towns gold medal award. Among the major work carried out was the renovation of the lock gates which necessitated the closure for 8 weeks in January and February. The gates are being currently automated so 24 hr access will shortly be available, the dredging on the channel is due to begin within weeks which will return the channel to 2.5 m below LAT.

Also at Kilrush, one of only three marinas on the west coast, the pontoon berths have been rewired and the pontoons repaired, a new floating breakwater is constructed and due to be installed shortly which will offer additional protection to an already well sheltered and safe marina.

A self service state of the art diesel system has been fitted in the marina with 24hr opening and which is operated using debit or credit cards. In the boatyard the marina haspurchased a 15-ton hydraulic trailer to compliment the 45-ton travel hoist, so Kilrush Marina can now offer indoor storage in addition to the extensive existing boatyard out door storage.

The Marina Centre has been modernised and upgraded with the approach roads and car parking re done along with landscaping to give a very attractive visual aspect to the town of Kilrush. Other facilities added include Wi Fi to all pontoon berths.
It has been a very exciting time for all our customers who can look forward to using the newly enhanced facilities and enjoying the high levels of customer service Kilrush Marina are now proud to offer.

Published in Irish Marinas
Tagged under
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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

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Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

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