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First Visit by Royal Navy Vessel to Wexford Port Since Independence

28th June 2013
First Visit by Royal Navy Vessel to Wexford Port Since Independence

The second John Barry Maritime Festival had momentous maritime gathering events including the first visit since 1956 to John Barry's Homestead in Taccumshance by US visitors and the first visit by a Royal Navy vessel to Wexford Port since independence, which docked alongside Wexford quay for the weekend.

For many US visitors, the highlight was a unique visit to Commodore John Barrys homestead in Ballysampson, Taccumshane, Rosslare accompanied by historian Bernard Browne and festival director Frank O'Brien. The owners of Barrys homestead spent many weeks making the house and grounds beautiful for the visitors, who were thrilled to visit such a significant place. Among the visitors were members of the US Legion of retired Navy veterans, Annapolis City Council, tourism and business representatives.

Another momentous occasion was the visit of a Royal Navy vessel, the HMS Charger (P292), which is a P2000 Archer-class patrol vessel, just over 20 metres long and 5.8 metres wide and powered by two Rolls-Royce turbo engines. The ship is based at the Royal Naval Headquarters (Merseyside) in Liverpool and was commissioned in 1988. She has five full time RN crew, and sails with an RNR training officer and a maximum complement of 12 students. She is attached to the Liverpool University Royal Naval Unit. Once docked, the crew helped out with the running of the festival, including putting up flags on Saturday morning and participating in a raft race (won by Kilmore RNLI Lifeboat)

Another visiting vessel of interest was the Celtic Mist, originally owned by the late Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, he used her extensively around the Southwest coast for entertainment and to travel to and from his private island in the Blaskets. She was donated by the Haughey family to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group in 2011. IWDG intends to encourage schools and young people to visit the yacht to learn about Cetaceans and the rich marine life in Ireland and to promote marine conservation. The Celtic Mist is equipped with Acoustic marine monitoring equipment to enable scientists, students and members to learn more about the distribution, abundance, movements and behaviour of whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks.

The Revenue Customs Cutter Faire again paid a visit to Wexford this year. The Faire (pronounced Fara) monitors the coastline fopr suspicious activity and routinely searches suspicious vessels. "Ralph", Rosslare Customs sniffer dog also paid a visit on Saturday and demonstrated his drug and money sniffing skills!

All fundraising efforts over the weekend were in aid of Wexford RNLI lifeboat and the festival had a strong RNLI presence with the visit of a RNLI Trent class lifeboat The Trent Class lifeboat is one of five classes of all-weather lifeboat (Tamar, Severn, Trent, Tyne and Mersey) in the RNLI fleet. The boat docked in Wexford during the festival is one of the relief fleet, used at a station when their own boat is away for maintenance or repair. The Trent class lifeboat lies afloat, either at deep-water moorings or at a berth. Developed by the RNLI in the early 1990s, the first Trent class lifeboat was introduced in 1994 at Ramsgate, with a maximum speed of 25 knots, propeller protection and a range of 250 nautical miles.As an all-weather lifeboat, the Trent class can operate safely in all weathers and is inherently self-righting. She is designed to lie afloat and was last built in 2003. The public also got to see a real life rescue on Saturday by Wexford RNLI lifeboat and the Coast Guard rescue helicopter just before the search and rescue demonstration was to begin.

The weekend saw over 42000 people visit Wexford quay for maritime activities, childrens fun, live music, food offerings from Wexford Food Family and heritage and cultural events including Irelands largest model boat exhibition. A specific maritime heritage and cultural trail brought special attention to Wexfords rich heritage and culture including a talk by Jack O'Leary on Wexfords ships which are named at each bollard on Wexford quay, a photographic exhibition on JFKs visit in 1963, Commodore John Barrys statue dedication in 1956 and old Wexford town from the Scanlon and O'Connor archives, a short documentary on JFK and John Barry and an interactive maritime exhibition. Spectacle highlights were the Flyboarder and the helicopter flyby.

Published in Maritime Festivals Team

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