The 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien trading ketch Ilen of Limerick has had an exceptionally busy first season in 2019 in her restored condition as achieved by the Ilen Boat-Building School of Limerick, and Liam Hegarty’s Oldcourt Boatyard in West Cork.
This ambassadorial sailing ship has continued her 2019 community work - work which began last April on first departing Limerick Docks in full seagoing commission. Intertwined with many other objectives, the Ilen Project’s theme for this year was Salmon’s Wake, a concept whereby the ship’s voyaging shared 2019 with the International Year of the Salmon.
An international and local awareness around the declining numbers of Wild Salmon had prompted many communities around the North Atlantic to reflect on this reality - and to explore what the causes and effects might be. With a voyage along the salmon migratory routes to West Greenland, the Ilen was able to provide a central theme for the many salmon studies.
"This ambassadorial sailing ship has continued her 2019 community work"
Yet it is indicative of how busy the Ilen has been – and still is – that in her first year of operation in her restored condition, the Greenland Voyage has only been a highlight – albeit a very significant one – in a complex and varied programme to provide a productive first year of operation.
Ilen’s dedication to community educational initiatives has thus seen her visit up to twenty ports, complete two transatlantic crossings, cruise the West Coast of Greenland, and engage with hundreds of individuals and with numerous educational and care organisations across Ireland.
Even with the swift arrival of Autumnal weather, her mission continues, and recently she sailed into Cork City Centre – her first visit to the city, as Kinsale provides her south coast berth - to join in with Cork Mental Health Festival, where she was warmly welcomed and lauded for her work with youth and recovery groups. This was a joint visit by the Ilen Project and its partners Sailing into Wellness. Both organisations share a common community mission, and also find project expression in sailing ships upon the coastal waters of Ireland. – (Gary MacMahon - Ilen Project)