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Restored Sail Trader 'Ilen' To Grace 25th Glandore Classic Boat Festival

31st January 2017
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The Conor O'Brien-designed, Baltimore-built 56ft ketch Ilen back in Irish waters in 1998 for the first time since 1927. She is seen here in Dublin Bay and will be afloat again this summer in time for the  25th Glandore Classic Boat Festival in West Cork The Conor O'Brien-designed, Baltimore-built 56ft ketch Ilen back in Irish waters in 1998 for the first time since 1927. She is seen here in Dublin Bay and will be afloat again this summer in time for the 25th Glandore Classic Boat Festival in West Cork Photo: WM Nixon

Glandore Classic Boat Regatta celebrates its 25th anniversary this July with a Parade of Sail that will feature the fully restored AK Ilen, Ireland's sole surviving Sail Trader.

There will be four days of first class racing, with eight different classes so far plus a ‘cruise in company’ to Castletownshend from July 23–28 as part of the Glandore regatta line–up.

A demonstration of ‘synchronised sailing’ from the Dublin Bay Water Wags will also be a regatta highlight.

Ilen, a centre–piece of the West Cork event, is a 56-ft sailing ketch that was built in 1926 in the Baltimore Fishery School Boatyard for the Falkland Islands Company.

She was designed and sailed to the Falkland Islands by Conor O'Brien, who in 1925, was the first Irishman to complete a circumnavigation of the world in the 42-ft ketch, Saoirse, also built in Baltimore.

The Ilen served seventy years as a trading vessel in the tempestuous seas of the South Atlantic before being brought back to Ireland in 1998.

Now nearing completion, Ilen is the focal point for a remarkable maritime project embracing the A.K. Ilen School for wooden boatbuilding in Limerick and Hegarty's boatyard in Oldcourt.

Joining Ilen in Glandore, elegant classic boats like Peggy Bawn, Celtic Mist, Spirit of Oysterhaven, Peel Castle and Big Momma will also be part of the historic parade of sail. 

One very interesting participating boat will be the Naomh Lua, a 1954 Watson which served as the lifeboat for Shannon Airport for 30 years, built to rescue 120 passengers from the Shannon estuary.

Glandore harbour from seaGlandore harbour from sea. Photo courtesy: Dennis Horgan

The 25th anniversary regatta will be opened by Dee Forbes, the Director General of RTÉ, the first woman to hold the role in the state broadcaster.

Classic cars will be coming through the village on Sunday 23rd, and there will be classic West Cork craic in the pubs and restaurants after each daily prize giving, including music and dancing in the street.

For hungry sailors coming off the water there will be food trucks on the pier for instant snacks, and BBQ facilities will be available in the GHYC yard for those living on board who are self-catering. 

For non-sailors guided walks will be available, including to the famous Drombeg Stone Circle. Sea kayaking, deep sea fishing, and whale watching are all available from Union Hall, across the harbour.

Published in Ilen

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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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