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Ilen
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…
How about this for the Editorial Office? The 55ft steel cutter Annabelle J is cruised extensively by incoming Irish Cruising Club Annual Honorary Editor Maire Breathnach of Dungarvan and her husband Andrew Wilkes
Cruising is the side of sailing which sometimes finds it difficult to make its voice heard. Its essence is in the quiet enjoyment of seafaring and the peace of secluded anchorages. Unlike the absolute clarity of racing results, which create…
Ilen – restoration work continues in West Cork on Ireland's last surviving Sail Trader
The latest photos of the restoration work on Ireland's only remaining Sail–Trader Ilen reveal wonderful new Larch planked bulwarks are begining to embrace the 56–ft sailing ketch. They will be expected to shoulder many an Atlantic sea, according to Gary MacMahon, of…
The Conor O'Brien-designed, Baltimore-built 56ft ketch Ilen back in Irish waters in 1998 for the first time since 1927. She is seen here in Dublin Bay and will be afloat again this summer in time for the  25th Glandore Classic Boat Festival in West Cork
Glandore Classic Boat Regatta celebrates its 25th anniversary this July with a Parade of Sail that will feature the fully restored AK Ilen, Ireland's sole surviving Sail Trader. There will be four days of first class racing, with eight different…
Creative celebrities at the Ilen deck-closing ceremony on Saturday. Aboard the ship are renowned traditional boat-builder Liam Hegarty (left) with West Cork residents Lord David Puttnam and his wife Patsy. Noted film producer Lord Puttnam was guest speaker at the deck completion ceremony. All photos Kevin O’Farrell, Baltimore
The restoration of the 57–ft traditional multi-cargo ketch Ilen, built in Baltimore in 1926, has taken a significant step forward through the formal closing of her deck with the ceremonial fastening home of the final plank at Liam Hegarty’s boatyard…
Ilen's bowsprit
A 22–foot long bowsprit is an impressive sight. ‘Wow’ was my first reaction as I stood on the deck of the historic Ilen looking at it during the ‘decking-out’ ceremony for the vessel which I report on the new edition…
Well done to anyone who spots the typo in this first version of the community invitation to the Ilen Decking-Ceremony at Oldcourt near Baltimore on Saturday October 15th.
We well know from running stories now and again about the restoration of the Conor O’Brien 57ft ketch Ilen at Oldcourt near Baltimore for Limerick’s Ilen Boat-building School just what a high level of interest it arouses at home and…
Dermot Kennedy with Liam Hegarty on the almost-completed new deck of the ketch Ilen at Oldcourt near Baltimore on Saturday
The re-decking of the 57ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen (originally built Baltimore 1926) is the latest stage of this major restoration/re-build project to be nearing completion at Liam Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt on the Ilen River between Skibbereen and Baltimore…
From the tracker – just after the start of ISORA Race Five
Innovation by necessity in windless conditions led ISORA to start Friday's race from Dublin to the Isle of Man by Virtual Race Management (VRM). The ground breaking move that brought about a silent start and finish could revolutionise race management,…
As part of the 1916 Rising maritime themed lecture programme: Dr. John Treacy will present his talk: The Silent Shore, The AUD, Roger Casement and Banna Strand.
#1916Lectures – On this centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, a series of lectures themed on the lesser known maritime aspects of the rising continue to be held at the National Maritime Museum of Ireland. The second of the seven…
An international gathering at the Ilen School, Roxboro, Limerick of expert marine traditional riggers, sailmakers and classic boatbuilders, might induce one to speculate that a sailing ship is somewhere in Ireland nearing completion. And yes, this gathering of last Friday,…
The Ilen is a short film on the joy of working with wood, it documents the words and skills of Ireland’s few remaining traditional shipwrights, currently occupied in the rebuilding of Irelands sole surviving sail trading ketch. The award comes…

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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