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Limerick Ketch Ilen Pauses at Carrigaholt On Way to Greenland

1st July 2019
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Ilen heads seaward down the Ted Russell dock in Limerick yesterday evening Ilen heads seaward down the Ted Russell dock in Limerick yesterday evening Photo: Deirdre Power

The long Shannon Estuary and a strong ocean-going ebb tide enabled the restored traditional trading ketch Ilen of Limerick to make good progress westward yesterday evening on the voyage to Greenland despite a near-gale from ahead which came in with a frontal system from the Atlantic writes W M Nixon.

ilen sea lock2 “We’re on our way!” Exiting through the sea lock immediately gets you into the ebb tide sweeping down the mighty Shannon Estuary

As Afloat reported earlier, Ilen departed from Limerick as planned despite brisk conditions late on Sunday afternoon. But with a softening of the weather and fair winds for the Greenland passage expected, it made sense to overnight within the outer estuary at anchor in the shelter off Carrigaholt, a special place for project leader Gary MacMahon as the most conspicuous building at the quay is the former castle of the Mac Mahons.

ilen carrigaholt castle3Already well westward – Ilen at Carrigaholt Castle this morning. Photo: Gary MacMahon

Although the stop was brief, it provided an opportunity for a raft-up with the locally-built Shannon Hooker re-creation, the famous Sally O’Keeffe. But there’s a strong sense of purpose to this initial stage of the Salmons Wake Educational Voyage, and Ilen was planning to head seawards at 3.0pm this afternoon.

ilen sally okeeffe4 Visitors to wish them well – the Shannon Hooker re-creation Sally O’Keeffe of Querrin alongside Ilen at Carrigaholt this morning. Photo: Gary MacMahon

Published in Ilen
WM Nixon

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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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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