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Historic Boats
Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival (May 25th-27th) Has Historic Ketch Ilen as Flagship
The 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen, painstakingly restored in a visionary joint operation by the Gary MacMahon-directed Ilen Boat Building School in Limerick working in concert with master shipwrights Liam Hegarty and Fachtna O’Sullivan at Oldcourt Boatyard near Baltimore,…
After the longest winter in memory, Spring comes slowly to Connemara, and a new boat is berthed at Letterfrack Pier. Photo: W M Nixon
The wind is at last from the west, the easterlies of the longest winter in memory have finally relented, and it’s time to be in the west of Ireland and Connemara, time to eavesdrop on two senior boat restorers as…
Cathy MacAleavey of the National Yacht Club death rolls in Mariposa 45 but managed to recover without capsizing!
The Water Wag training weekend which was based out of Quigley’s Marina in Glasson, Co Westmeath last weekend was a huge success. As Afloat.ie reported earlier, the class had 15 Water Wags with a nearly perfect gender balance of 14/14!…
Sailing life resumes for the Golden Oldies at Howth. Roddy Cooper’s 1898-built Howth 17 Leila enjoys the sunshine for last Saturday’s gentle contest for the world’s most senior keelboat class still racing as originally designed.
It’s only two months since Storm Emma swept Ireland, with Force 12 Easterlies spreading havoc and blizzards and rumours and tall tales of total disaster along the East Coast writes W M Nixon. One such tall tale which began circulating…
The form of the re-born Saoirse is now sufficiently complete for meaningful comparisons to be made with the original
While the 56ft 1926-built restored ketch Ilen is a flurry of activity at Oldcourt near Baltimore in West Cork with the final stages of work before her re-launching late next month, in the Top Shed nearby where Conor O’Brien’s pioneering…
Idyllic conditions on Lough Ree last Saturday for the Water Wags, with Paul and Ann Smith leading in Sara
You’re never too old to learn, and at 131 years old the Dublin Bay Water Wags (founded 1887, though current boats date from 1900) seemed determined to prove this by having a two-day Coaching Session last weekend at Killinure on…
The essence of effective simplicity – the schooner America as she was in 1851, when her victory in the race round the Isle of Wight resulted in the trophy becoming the America’s Cup.
There must be very few people in sailing who don’t know something of the America writes W M Nixon. She was the “low black schooner” which came across the Atlantic from New York in 1851, and won a race around…
(Top) The restored Aigh Vie was moved gently down the beach at low water…….and then (above) floated out of the trailer by the rising tide
It’s a long story of the sea and ships, a story which began with the World War I sinking of the luxury Transatlantic liner Lusitania by torpedoes from a German submarine off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915 writes…
Centenary Season. Twenty years ago in April 1998, Ian Malcolm’s Howth 17 Aura celebrates her Centenary by returning to her birthplace of Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough with its famous 12th Century Norman castle
These days, we’ve become accustomed to the historic Howth 17s of 1898-vintage – the world’s oldest keelboat class still sailing as originally designed – putting in admired appearances at classic boat festivals at home and abroad writes W M Nixon.…
The 12 foot class have decided to compete at CORK 300 in the year 2020 at Royal Cork Yacht Club as a demonstration fleet in the Currabinny River
A huge group of over thirty 12 Foot Dinghy enthusiasts turned up at the Royal St. George Yacht Club on 6th April for the 94th AGM of the ‘Irish International 12 foot Dinghy Class’ or ‘Cumann Báid Dhá Chosa Déag…
The transformed Etchells 22 Guapa has this week received well-earned international recognition for the quality of her conversion
The standard and well-worn Etchells 22 which Bill Trafford of Alchemy Marine in County Cork transformed into an immaculate fast weekend cruiser has been awarded first prize in the Spirit of Tradition category in the International Classic Boat Awards 2018…
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…
Conor O’Brien’s Saoirse comes back to life in West Cork, as seen on Friday night. The installation of the temporary moulds on the oaken backbone has given the Saoirse project an encouraging glimpse of what the future will bring. Photo: Gary MacMahon
In recent weeks, much of the attention on the traditional boat-building Mecca of Oldcourt in West Cork has been focused around the complex moves involved in vacating the 56ft ketch Ilen from the boat-building shed writes W M Nixon. This…
As part of the Merchant  Schooner ‘Result’ Exhibition the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum kindly offer registered conference delegates free admission for two persons to the Museum on  Thursday 26th or Saturday 28th April
The second in a series of maritime themed conferences jointly organised by National Museums Northern Ireland, National Historic Ships UK, Robin Maesfield, (Author) and Gerry Brennan, (Silvery Light Sailing), highlights Ulster's Maritime Heritage.  The seminar is being organised by a…
An austere and functional beauty – traditional curachs on the Atlantic coast
There’s something about the magnificent West Coast of Ireland that produces larger-than-life characters of prodigious energy writes W M Nixon. And James Cahill of Mayo is one of them. Way back in 1974, he sailed round Ireland in a 13ft…
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…

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