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Historic Ketch Ilen Launches in Time for Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival

24th May 2018
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Fully rigged and full restored and finished in  a bright new style, the Ilen is afloat in time to be pride of place at the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival this weekend Fully rigged and full restored and finished in a bright new style, the Ilen is afloat in time to be pride of place at the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival this weekend Photo: Afloat.ie

The hard-working boat building team behind the restoration of the historic ketch Ilen in West Cork have successfully launched the 1926–built vessel in time for this weekend's Wooden Boat Festival at Baltimore.

As Afloat.ie reported earlier this week, the final touches were being put to the Ilen at Hegarty’s boatyard in Oldcourt, Skibbereen, prior to her going down the Ilen River this week, heading for Baltimore.

This Saturday afternoon, at the Wooden Boats Festival, will be her first public appearance since she was restored in a long project by Gary McMahon's Boat Building School based in Limerick.

While she is still very much a serious seagoing proposition, the restored 56ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen takes to the waters with a new and positive educational purpose emphasised by a fresh colour scheme (voted on by Afloat.ie readers last year) and a brighter style.

More on this by Afloat.ie's WM Nixon here

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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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