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Limerick Ketch Ilen Safely Back to Ireland with Berth in Kinsale

4th September 2019
The ketch Ilen’s regular training berth in Kinsale has welcomed her back to Ireland from Greenland The ketch Ilen’s regular training berth in Kinsale has welcomed her back to Ireland from Greenland Photo: Gary McMahon

The Limerick ketch Ilen returned safely from Greenland to berth at an Irish quayside for the first time in more than two months when, at 0400hrs this morning, skipper Paddy Barry and his crew brought the 56ft 1926-built “little ship” safely alongside the facilities beside the Trident Hotel in Kinsale writes W M Nixon. This will be Ilen’s base for the Autumn as – with command now passing to James Lyons - she works with the Sailing into Wellness Programme and sail-training projects with trainees from the Ilen Boat-building School in Limerick.

2019 has been an achievement-filled and extraordinary busy year for the much-loved restored vessel, for in addition to sail training courses earlier in this, her first full season, she has now completed a voyage of around 5,000 miles to and from Greenland, a voyage which included extensive intercultural and educational exchanges with the people of that enormous Arctic island.

ilen at trident hotelIlen alongside at the Trident hotel in Kinsale

Ilen Project Director Gary Mac Mahon of Limerick and his supportive colleagues and donors deserve every congratulation for the achievements of all involved, while Ilen’s current crew in particular deserve special credit for the skilled way in which they chose the optimal weather window in which to return across the ocean at an unceasingly difficult time in the Atlantic weather cycle, for even as they were relaxing on finally being secured in Kinsale this morning, the weather was already deteriorating rapidly in the open Atlantic west of Mizen Head.

With such a busy ongoing programme, there’s scarcely time to take stock before moving into the next stage - the training programmes operating from Kinsale. But the word is that later today, most if not all of the 26 different people who were involved in getting Ilen to and from Greenland, together with extensive coastal exploration of the southwest and west Greenland coasts, will be gathering in Kinsale later today for some well-earned celebration.

Published in Ilen
WM Nixon

About The Author

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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