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Vintage Ketch Ilen Emerges from her Restoration Workshop

6th January 2018
The Ilen finally experiences daylight yesterday afternoon. Many people, not just in Limerick and Baltimore, but from other places too, have been involved in the project, and here are some of them with Gary MacMahon on left The Ilen finally experiences daylight yesterday afternoon. Many people, not just in Limerick and Baltimore, but from other places too, have been involved in the project, and here are some of them with Gary MacMahon on left

The historic 1926-built 56ft trading ketch Ilen has been undergoing a painstaking restoration at Oldcourt near Baltimore in Liam Hegarty's boatyard for several years now for the Ilen Boat-building School, which is directed by Gary MacMahon in Limerick writes W M Nixon. While the heavy boat-building work has been completed in Oldcourt, much else has been built in Limerick, and as December 2017 came to a close, the stage had been reached where it was time to move the historic vessel out of the shed.

A substantial multi-wheel trolley was assembled under the ship – which may weigh as much as 30 tons – and a complicated move to an onshore commissioning berth involving the use of an inter-island ferry was planned for Tuesday January 2nd. But the imminent arrival of Storm Eleanor caused a delay until yesterday (Friday), when the post-storm calm provided ideal conditions, and the slow process finally got under way.

We’ll be carrying a fuller version of this fascinating latest stage in the story of Ilen in the near future on Afloat.ie when the move is completed, but meanwhile here are three photos to show just how very much alive this remarkable new-old ship looked as she emerged into the light from the dark confines of the shed.

ilen out2So far, so good…………

ilen out3The fading daylight is still sufficient to provide a fresh look at the ship, and she is shown to have a very handsome stern

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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