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Ilen
Sheep-shape & Bristol fashion, or a time for woolly thinking……? For 64 years from 1926 until around 1990, deck scenes like this were a regular part of the Ilen's long working life
When we contemplate the 56ft 1926-vintage Limerick ketch Ilen today in her superbly-restored form, making her stylish way along rugged coastlines and across oceans on voyages of cultural and trading significance between places as evocative as Nuuk in West Greenland…
Ilen departs Foynes, on passage for Kilronan in the Aran Islands. Conor O'Brien – Ilen's designer in 1926 – ensured that all his major voyages essentially started from Foynes, his home port where he lived on Foynes Island
The restored 1926-built Conor O'Brien-designed 56ft ketch Ilen of Limerick found the Atlantic in a challenging mood last week as she undertook a combined educational, cultural, and commercial cargo voyage. Yet despite the vagaries of the Irish weather and the…
Back at her real home after 93 years – the 56ft 1926-built restored Limerick Trading ketch Ilen takes up her berth in Foynes for the first time in 94 years yesterday (Friday) evening. On the Foynes YC pontoon are (left to right) Ilen Project Manager Gary Mac Mahon, and Conor O’Brien family relatives Rob, Alison and Stephen O'Brien. Conor O’Brien’s modest house of Barneen on Foynes Island, in which he designed both Saoirse and Ilen and spent his last days in 1952, is just visible above Ilen’s bowsprit.
The 56ft Trading Ketch Ilen has had a busy couple of days of cultural and educational activities in Kilrush during her current two-week cargo cruise, with performances including shows and workshops with noted Limerick Boy and contemporary dancer Tobi Omoteso.…
The trading ketch Ilen berthed in County Clare where traditional sail traders berthed before her, at the quayside in Kilrush
The Shannon Estuary is king size and clearly defined. Where some other great rivers gradually broaden as they near the sea, sometimes dissipating further into a delta, the Shannon Estuary affirms its individuality with a rapid change as it emerges…
 Ilen at the quay in Baltimore yesterday (Sunday) to take on local products for delivery by sea
When - on August 4th - we previewed the planned eco-friendly "cargo cruise" by the restored Limerick trading ketch Ilen on Afloat.ie, it was emphasised that speed would not be of the essence as the 1926 Conor O'Brien-designed and Oldcourt…
Ilen enjoys a breeze, and can safely deliver cargo in an environmentally-friendly way
When the restored 56ft ketch Ilen of Limerick gets worthwhile wind conditions, she can give a good account of herself in terms of sailing speed. Yet no-one would claim that her rate of knots on passage afloat remotely compares to…
The new Ilen Tetra Pak models have sailed on the Rhine and the Shannon
The restored Limerick trading ketch Ilen may have already voyaged to Greenland in 2019, but this year the distinctive vessel – or at least a model of her – has also been seen sailing on the Rhine in Germany. For…
 The restored Ilen in Greenland last July with her squaresail featuring the Salmons Wake logo which has become a symbol of the ship
Our story last week, about how Gary Mac Mahon of the restored trading ketch Ilen of Limerick has launched a unique ship’s model-making competition to express the Ilen spirit, has rung a bell in Ballinasloe in County Galway, at the…
Seeing things differently. Who’d have thought a Tetrapak was actually the Ilen in disguise?
Junior and very junior sailors who’d like a special indoor Do-it-Yourself Challenge in these locked-in times will find something of special interest in the latest idea from current Irish Sailing Presidential Award holder Gary MacMahon of Limerick. Gary received his…
The restored 1926 ketch Ilen takes her departure for Greenland from the MacMahon stronghold of Carrigaholt Castle on the Shannon Estuary
There were several notable Irish sailing families with their names up in lights more than once at Saturday evening’s virtual awards ceremony for the annual achievements in Irish sailing. But none could match the seaborn diversity of an ancient tribe…
 The essence of the restored Ilen is captured in this evocative WoodenBoat cover photo taken in Greenland waters last summer by Gary Mac Mahon, Director of the Ilen Project and skipper for the outward Transatlantic voyage from Limerick to Greenland’s capital of Nuuk
The Limerick ketch Ilen has received the ultimate accolade among classic and traditional boat restorations by being chosen as the cover star for the March/April 2020 issue of WoodenBoat, the American magazine which deservedly has a global reach and reputation…
A look inside the pages of Hegarty’s Boatyard, by Kevin O’Farrell
The Skibbereen boatyard where Ireland’s last trading schooner was painstakingly restored has been immortalised in a new book of photography, as The Irish Times reports. Hegarty’s Boatyard, on the River Ilen near Skibbereen, is the last surviving traditional boatyard in…
(L to R) Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland President Paul McMahon, Gary MacMahon of the Ilen Project, ESB Director Nicholas Tarrant, Father Anthony Keane (Ilen Project), and Michael English (IHAI Board Member) at the presentation of the IHAI’s Best Restoration of 2019 .
Limerick's Ilen Project has been presented with the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland's Award for “Best Restoration of 2019” with its visionary management of the rebuilt sailing ship Ilen, and the associated community education work in Limerick. The Association’s President…
Brother Anthony Keane
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…
Ilen at an iceberg in Western Greenland
The Ilen Project has produced a short video (below) of its 2019 Salmon’s Wake Voyage, a sailing trip undertaken this summer from Ireland to Greenland. It recounts ocean voyaging, navigating ice fields, coastal sailing off West Greenland and the way…
The always-absorbing world of a traditional sailing ship – students from Cork Life Centre get busy with Ilen Facilitator Chelsea Canavan during the vessel’s recent participation in Cork Mental Health Festival
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.…

The Ilen is the last of Ireland’s traditional wooden sailing ships.

Designed by Limerick man Conor O’Brien and built in Baltimore in 1926, she was delivered by Munster men to the Falkland Islands where she served valiantly for seventy years, enduring and enjoying the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties.

Returned now to Ireland and given a new breath of life, Ilen may be described as the last of Ireland’s timber-built ocean-going sailing ships, yet at a mere 56ft, it is capable of visiting most of the small harbours of Ireland.

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