The many strands of Arklow’s maritime life, and its seafaring and boat-building traditions, have been getting together this week to celebrate the achievement of Darryl Hughes’ veteran ketch Maybird writes W M Nixon. Last week, the 1937-vintage Arklow-built Maybird became the oldest boat ever to complete the Volvo Round Ireland Race, and also the first setting the traditional gaff rig.
These days, the thriving Arklow Sailing Club includes some of the most modern sailing boats in Ireland, while its maritime traditions are most strongly expressed through the Tyrrell family’s busy Arklow Shipping company, which operates a fleet of 50 specialist vessels.
As well, the historic port is a centre of strength for the Sea Scout movement, in many cases providing the first steps afloat for the seafarers and ship managers of the future. But while there is this healthy regard for the present and the future, Arklow’s notable past associations with the sea and sailing are also respected, and the popular achievement of Maybird has provided an ideal focal point for a celebration of that heritage.
This week, the immaculately-restored veteran 81-year-old ketch has been back at her birthplace, and on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday she took groups of local Sea Scouts out on sailing exercises, co-ordinated by leader Jimmy Mylor with former Sea Scouts Dylan Clancy, Cillian Kavanagh and Aaron O’Neill much involved.
Then on Wednesday evening after Arklow SC’s mid-week race, a celebratory reception was hosted in the clubhouse by Arklow SC’s Commodore Mark Fallon, with ASC Committee member Paul “Murph” Murphy organising a distinguished and convivial gathering at which the Guest of Honour was Miriam Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District Council, while Jimmy Tyrrel, son of Maybird’s builder Jack Tyrrell, was also present.
Maybird raced round Ireland with an eclectic crew of eight, and two of them – Pete Brennan and Eoin Quinn – have returned home to Florida and Switzerland respectively. But the remaining six – Darryl Hughes, Noeleen Hurley, Irene Reidy, Liam Quinn, Paul Carroll and Michael Clear, four of whom are ASC members – were very much there for this first reunion of a special group, and they’d the satisfaction of seeing their skipper and his fine little ship being presented by a commemorative turned wooden bowl crafted from the Arklow-built Asgard II’s first foremast, and inscribed with the Maybird name.
The word is that the party in ASC went on until about 0300 hrs, and after this memorable expedition to the Irish Sea and circuit of Ireland, Maybird will now return to her main base of Crosshaven on Cork Harbour.