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Ilen
Ilen as she was this morning, ready to face the rigours of a brief period in the open before a special cover can be fitted over the re-born Conor O’Brien ketch. Photo: Gary MacMahon
The historic 1926-built 56ft ketch Ilen is to exit The Old Cornstore in Liam Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt near Baltimore, the building which has accommodated her re-birth, early in the New Year writes W M Nixon. Much remains to be…
When her restoration is completed and the rigging installed, the 56ft ketch Ilen will be an impressive traditional workboat.
When we recall the exposed conditions in which some coastal boat and ship-builders had to work in the days when life and labour were cheap, and health and safety were considered more important for thoroughbred animals than for workers, then…
The DUP has claimed that Britain accounts for "72 per cent of trade flows" from Belfast Harbour. Afloat adds that the above aerial photo is of the port's main channel, Victoria where the River Lagan flows into Belfast Lough. In the foreground berthed at City Quay is Northern Ireland's fishery and marine research vessel, RV Corystes, see related 'Fishing' report posted on 1 December.
#DUPtradefigures - The Democratic Ulster Party (DUP) has been unable to substantiate its "72 per cent" statistic in relation to trade between Northern Ireland and Britain. As The Irish News  writes, for months the party has been using the figure to support…
In frame. Dublin Bay 21 Naneen at an early stage of her current re-birth in Kilrush. Photo: Steve Morris
The restoration of classic yachts and traditional craft to the recognised international standard is still relatively new in Ireland writes W M Nixon. In fact, it could be argued that the major project in Dunmore East, completed in 2005 on…
The multi-purpose Markets Field in Limerick has been an unexpected source of quality teak. Teak seating slats salvaged from the re-vamp of the Markets Field Gaelic Football ground have found a new purpose in the restoration of the ketch Ilen. In addition to its historic links with Gaelic Football and greyhound racing, the Markets Field has also been used for soccer – as seen here – and by Garryowen Rugby Club before they moved to Dooradoyle.
The process of restoring the 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen in Limerick and Baltimore has seen a countrywide network developing, a network in which anyone with access to redundant classic quality timber has been happy to see it finding…
It may be November outside, but aboard Ilen the lights glow warmly in welcome
The process of transforming the restored hull and deck of the 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien historic ketch Ilen into a living ship continues writes W M Nixon. The programme is co-ordinated and combined between the Ilen Boatbuilding School in Limerick,…
Ilen Boatbuilding School CityOne dinghies racing on the Shannon in the heart of Limerick city – just one aspect of a remarkable organisation’s many activities
Many people have dropped by the Old Cornstore on the riverside at Oldcourt in West Cork to see work progressing on the restoration of the 1926 Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen writes WM Nixon. And naturally they’ll have the impression that…
In her original form, Ilen’s midships section was entirely taken up by the cargo hold. But now the challenge is to fill this large space with friendly yet seaworthy accommodation to include seven bunks.
With the hull of the 56ft 1926-built ketch Ilen fully restored in Oldcourt near Baltimore, attention has been turning to detailed items of equipment such as the steering system and the stern gear writes W M Nixon. And the “offering…
In time-honoured style, Liam O’Donoghue in the Ilen Boat Building School in Limerick parcels and serves the final pieces of Ilen’s wire rigging using his traditional serving board
With the hull of the 56ft 1926-built Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen now restored and painted in the building shed in Oldcourt near Baltimore, attention shifts increasingly to the long list of detail work that is needed to complete the project…
The ketch Ilen’s rig loads will be carried in traditional style by external chainplates on channels
These days, it’s reckoned that chainplates – those vital fittings that attach a sailing boat’s standing rigging to her hull – should be wellnigh invisible writes W M Nixon. Indeed, when you look at some of the latest products of…
The 56ft ketch Ilen shortly after her launch at Baltimore in 1926
When the restoration project on the 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien/Tom Moynihan Falkland Islands Trading Ketch got under way at two locations – Liam Hegarty’s boat-building shed in the former Cornstore at Oldcourt near Baltimore, and the Ilen Boat-building School premises…
The restored ketch Ilen in her new colours, and maybe smiling to herself about it all
There are those who think that attributing characteristics of sentient life to the appearance of a boat is quaint to the point of serious irritation writes W M Nixon. So those opposed to such hyper-anthropomorphism may as well look elsewhere…
 First glimpse through the paint mist of Ilen’s final colour scheme. Photo:
The mood in the Corn Store at Oldcourt Boayard near Baltimore where the Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen is being restored may still be distinctly ghost-like writes W M Nixon. The old place would make a good setting for some tales…
Spectral white…..Conor O’Brien’s ketch Ilen as she was this morning
When Gary MacMahon of Limerick brought the 57ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen back from the Falkland Islands in 1998, the 1927-built former inter-island trading and passenger transport vessel was in danger of becoming a ghost ship writes W M Nixon.…
A traditional boat festival deserves a traditional programme. Forget about fancy modern, glossy and over-designed minimalist brochures. This retro-style fact-filled programme for the weekend’s Baltimore Woodenboat Festival is entirely appropriate. Scroll down for the full programme below
The annual Baltimore Wooden boat Festival this weekend (full dates are Friday 26th to Sunday 28th May) provides the perfect setting for a remarkable range of craft of all shapes, sizes and rigs writes W M Nixon. It brings with…
Ilen's hull will soon be painted grey or green, you decide in our poll below
The new Larch hull of the ketch Ilen nearing completion in West Cork has had its first coat of primer, only after much plugging, filling and sanding. Preparation, as all painters know, is the difference between a good job and…

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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