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106 Year Old Former Irish Lightship Also Once A 'Halloween' to Set Sail Again

31st October 2016
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At 106 years old, the former Irish lightship, Penguin, now Arctic Penguin of Glasgow berthed with the stunning backdrop of Inveraray, Loch Fyne. The veteran vessel is to undergo a refit project to offer 'sailing' charters along the Scottish Western Isles At 106 years old, the former Irish lightship, Penguin, now Arctic Penguin of Glasgow berthed with the stunning backdrop of Inveraray, Loch Fyne. The veteran vessel is to undergo a refit project to offer 'sailing' charters along the Scottish Western Isles Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#HistoricBoats- A rare example of an Irish built ship dating more than a century and listed on the UK Historic Ships Registry, is to undergo a major refit for ‘sailing’ excursions in Scotland, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The historic ship Arctic Penguin of Glasgow, was launched in 1910 originally as lightship, Penguin for the Commissioners of Irish Lights at the Dublin Drydock Company. She is built of an iron hull on a steel frame and had a fixed lantern. During her Irish Lights days she served several stations, among them at Daunt Rock. On another posting, Afloat will have more on her lightship relief duties.

It is understood the 100ft Arctic Penguin of Glasgow, which since 2010 has remained in an idle state in Inveraray on Loch Fyne in Argyll, is to go to the Ardmaleish Boatbuilding yard on the Isle of Bute. Works at the Firth of Clyde facility are also understood to be costing in the region of £1.5m. The project is so to offer tourists sailing excursion charters of the Scottish Western Isles.

The vessel now 106 years old was first old by Irish Lights 50 years ago in 1966. The new owners converted the lightship into a youth adventure sail training vessel renamed Hallowe’en.

In 1982, she was resold for the purposes of cruising as the Arctic Penguin, and converted as a fore-and aft schooner. This involved the removal of the fixed lantern and to assist sailing canvas, she was fitted with a Kelvin engine.

In her most recent guise Arctic Penguin of Glasgow was a floating Maritime Museum moored alongside Inveraray Pier, where the three master has remained. It is at this stunning location in south-west Scotland, that I paid a visit to see this unique vessel of her Irish shipbuilding heritage.

So more than a century later, the former static role of this 400 tonnes tallship is to be given a new lease of life on the cruising grounds of the stunning Western Isles and lochs of Scotland. The wonderful highland peaks that surrounds Loch Fyne and Inveraray is a major beauty spot that draws tourists and which was an added bonus when tracking down the former lightship. 

Located beside the town is Inveraray Castle, seat of the Duke of Argyle, where the grounds of the estate affords views of Inverarary Pier. Also berthed here is the Eilean Eisdeal, renamed the Vital Spark to highlight the old ‘puffers’ that were the backbone of sea-borne freight trade between the isles and the mainland.

In recent times, the vessels have shifted berths at the pier which also has an outer jetty. Both structures have been closed for some time to the public by Argyll and Bute Council.

Published in Historic Boats
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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