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Ilen
Removing the tarpaulin from Ilen as work continues on the historic vessel
Away back in 1997 I stood on the quayside at Alexandra Basin in Dublin Port, watching a very old boat being unloaded from a freighter … I was the only reporter there. The media generally weren’t interested in the story…
With new projects under way for the development of Limerick Docks, it was timely to post a reminder that this will be Ilen’s home port
The restoration of the 56ft ketch trading ketch Ilen (1926) and the re-build of world-girdling 42ft Saoirse (1922) at Oldcourt in West Cork has become a focal point of interest of what might seem to an outsider to be a…
Journey’s end – the ketch Ilen’s new spars arrive from Limerick at Oldcourt in West Cork
Much of Ireland may seem to have endured one bout of meteorological mayhem after another for most of the winter, with this weekend being no exception writes W M Nixon. Yet the Guardian Angel of the Ilen Project has always…
Ilen’s mainmast assembly before most of the steel fittings (except for the mast ring lower right) had been galvanised
You might well say that the Ilen Project has been galvanised into further action writes W M Nixon. The historic 1926-built 56ft ketch’s restoration has been a matter of the hull being re-born at Liam Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt near…
The inter-island communications vessels Ilen (left) and Penelope in the Falkland Islands in 1977. The Irish-designed-and-built Ilen was always reckoned slightly faster than the German-built Penelope, even when Ilen’s skipper and youngest commander, the 16-year-old Stephen Clifton, was still learning the ropes
Efficient travel between the Ilen Boat-Building School in Limerick and Liam Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt near Baltimore, where work continues on restoring the 56ft 1926-built ketch Ilen, has been a key factor in progressing the project writes W M Nixon.…
Boatyard re-positioning, West Cork style. Ilen is moved to her fitting-out berth by the local islands freight ferry. The next lot of bad winter weather is indicated by the high white cloud to the southwest, but by the time it arrived, Ilen was already safely ashore in her new berth
The historic 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien trading ketch Ilen is now comfortably under shelter again after her midwinter adventures (on the Ilen River, naturally) at Oldcourt near Baltimore writes W M Nixon. With her hull, deck and deckhouses restored in…
Waiting for the tide. Even the normally snooty boatyard cat shows a measure of approval for the restored Ilen as everyone waits for the tide
The east coast of Ireland may have endured vile weather on Saturday, but in West Cork there was almost a touch of sunny spring in the air when the historic restored ketch Ilen completed the final stage of her short…
The Ilen finally experiences daylight yesterday afternoon. Many people, not just in Limerick and Baltimore, but from other places too, have been involved in the project, and here are some of them with Gary MacMahon on left
The historic 1926-built 56ft trading ketch Ilen has been undergoing a painstaking restoration at Oldcourt near Baltimore in Liam Hegarty's boatyard for several years now for the Ilen Boat-building School, which is directed by Gary MacMahon in Limerick writes W…
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…

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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