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Historic Ketch Ilen Sails Up the Shannon & Arrives in Limerick Docks

30th September 2018
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The Ilen crew onboard in Limerick The Ilen crew onboard in Limerick Photo: Dermot Lynch

The restored Ilen has arrived in Limerick. She was sailed there over the weekend from West Cork, reports Tom MacSweeney.

Conor O’Brien’s historic 1926-built tradition ketch, the last of Ireland’s wooden schooners, originally built in Baltimore, was restored in a lengthy project which took several years to complete at Liam Hegarty’s at Oldcourt near Skibbereen and not far from where she was constructed in the fishing port of Baltimore, now a major sailing centre on the West Cork coastline. 

She is now at Limerick Docks, returning to the Shannon, where she arrived at 12 noon today. 

ILEN SAILING UP THE SHANNONIlen sailing up the Shannon Photo: Dermot Lynch

Gary McMahon, who has led the restoration project, said he was delighted after the long years of dedicated work by many people and so much help, that the ILEN was back in Limerick where an exhibition about her history is open at the Hunt Museum in the city.

Published in Ilen
Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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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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