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Pat O’Rourke RIP: Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club Mourns Passing of Most Senior Member

20th May 2018
The late Pat O’Rourke being instructed in motor-boat handling by her husband Jack during a Shannon cruise in 1971 The late Pat O’Rourke being instructed in motor-boat handling by her husband Jack during a Shannon cruise in 1971 Photo: courtesy Jonathan O’Rourke

The 1875-founded Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club has been mourning the passing of its most senior member with the death at the age of 97 of Patricia (Pat) O’Rourke. As Patricia Kavanagh, she married Jack O’Rourke, a noted tailor in Dublin whose enthusiasm for getting afloat from his beloved CY&BC was to see him becoming known as the “Voice of Clontarf Sailing”.

The club - on the north shore of the inner reaches of Dublin Bay - is based in the shoreside south-facing former farmhouse of Belvedere along the Clontarf waterfront. Although its sailing is dependent on tidal conditions, at high water it is able to bring the sport right into the heart of the neighbourhood.

This is most in evidence when Clontarf hosts its long-established annual At Home Regatta, which draws in visiting boats from Dun Laoghaire, Sutton, Howth and Malahide. The location makes sailing an accessible spectator sport, but it still needed to be explained, and its impact was greatly enhanced by Jack O’Rourke’s sometimes eccentric but always entertaining live commentary, using PA systems whose effectiveness was gradually improved over the years.

The very personal aspect of this special ingredient in Clontarf’s annual sailing highlight came to an end with Jack’s death in 1987, by which time he was renowned as one of Irish sailing’s great characters, while on the professional side, there were many who reckoned that the only truly traditional yachting reefer jacket was one tailored by Jack O’Rourke.

jack in squibs2Jack O’Rourke (centre) crewing for his son Robbie in one of the new Squibs during the introductory Autumn League at Howth in October 1979. Photo: Jaimie Blandford

And he handed on his love of sailing to his children, while always being game for a new challenge himself – when the Squib class came into being out at Howth in 1979, Jack and his sons were involved in the first Autumn League that same year, as he saw the Squib as being a fibreglass keelboat development of his beloved Dublin Bay Mermaid.

His enthusiasm for being involved in the details of sailing is continued through his sons, with Jonathan - a former multiple Mermaid champion – now much involved with Water Wag Racing in Dun Laoghaire, as well as in the administration of Dublin Bay SC.

But it was his wife Pat who remained our most tangible link with the special memories of Jack O’Rourke. She was a remarkable person in her own right, leading a long and active life of many interests, and maintaining her involvement with Clontarf Y & BC throughout. Our condolences are with her daughter Susan, sons David, Jonathan and Robert, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and her many friends.


Published in News Update Team

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