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Historic Boats
(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…
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…
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.…
Serial classics restorer Rob Mason (right) aboard the successful Myfanwy in Dun Laoghaire with shipmates (left to right) Max Mason, Gus Stothert, and Andy Whitcher. Photo: W M Nixon
Welsh skipper Rob Mason has taken on a new vintage boat restoration challenge writes W M Nixon. The retired Milford Haven tugboat skipper swept all before him when he brought his beautiful 1897-vintage 37ft restored cutter Myfanwy to the Volvo…
The 12 foot class meets on 6th April 2018 in the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire
There will be a dinner and reunion of the international 12 foot class on 6th April 2018 in the Royal St. George Yacht Club at 20.00hrs. The class is interested in making contact with any owners of these old but…
The last island boat builder on Lower Lough Erne was Douglas Tiernan of Owl Island who built his last boats there in the 1960s prior to his death
In the 1800s and into the 1930s, double ended Clinker built boats, yawls, were seen and used on Lower Lough Erne. These historic boats were about 17 or 18 feet in length and about 5 feet wide and were propelled…
So what else would you be doing in France on a winter’s day but launching a boat? The new 12ft cat ready to go after being built by Skol ar Mor
On America’s East Coast around Cape Cod, there’s plenty of sea. But as the locals say, it tends to be thin – sometimes very thin - in the places where you might want to go sailing writes W M Nixon.…
With the re-building of Saoirse now under way in Oldcourt, for the time being the easygoing open-house atmosphere which prevailed during the restoration of Ilen – as seen here in 2011 – has been put aside as the serious new project is set firmly in place. Photo shows (left to right) Leo McDermot, Nick Cotter, Pierce Ryan, Brendan Lennox, Fachtna O’Sullivan, and David Vurdett, with yard cat Joe keeping a wary eye on Jasper the dog.
West Cork may have the image of an easy-going paradise where life proceeds at a leisurely pace writes W M Nixon. And maybe that is indeed the case in summer, when there are more people around determined to keep things…
The modern appearance of Lady Min’s hull makes it all the more remarkable that she was designed and built in Schull in 1902
When the 30–ft gaff–cutter Lady Min was newly-launched in Schull in 1902, she was something of a sensation writes W M Nixon. Designed by local sailing enthusiast Maurice O’Keeffe and built to his requirements by local shipwrights under his own…
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…

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