When - on August 4th - we previewed the planned eco-friendly "cargo cruise" by the restored Limerick trading ketch Ilen on Afloat.ie, it was emphasised that speed would not be of the essence as the 1926 Conor O'Brien-designed and Oldcourt West Cork-built 56ft traditional ship carried a variety of special cargoes between Baltimore, Kilrush, Foynes, Limerick, Kilronan in the Aran Islands, Dingle and Cork City.
Yet in Sunday's welcome sunshine at noon in Baltimore, the West Cork and Cape Clear section of the cargo was taken on board, and this morning (Monday) at Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary, there was Ilen, already in her first port, and ready to discharge the ordered consignment of Red Strand Coffee, expertly roasted in West Cork.
If it had been sent by road with a courier, it probably wouldn't have got to Kilrush any sooner. But nevertheless, Gary Mac Mahon of the Ilen Project is keen to emphasise that speed is not what it's all about, rather it's about reminding people of how big a role an environmentally-friendly sailing-based delivery system used to play in Ireland's commerce, and for four days this week between Kilrush and Foynes, Ilen will be the focal point of an Education Programme for schoolchildren from Limerick and Clare.
From Foynes, she goes on to Limerick for cargo deliveries, and formal registration with her historic home port, then it's northward to Kilronan for more discharging and loading of cargo before taking in Dingle on the way to the main delivery at Port of Cork.
Beyond that, it is planned that the cargo voyage be extended to Dublin by the third week of September. But for now, on this Monday morning, it's good to know that Ilen is securely in Kilrush well ahead of the latest forecast storm, and the first delivery of this unusual project has already taken place.