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Historic Boats
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…
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…
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…
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…
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.…
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.…

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