Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Galway’s Commander Bill King Recalled in Re-released Video

7th December 2020
Bill King of Oranmore Castle in Galway Bill King of Oranmore Castle in Galway Credit: Screenshot: Luke Leslie/Youtube

Global circumnavigator Bill King of Oranmore Castle in Galway had lived to be 102 when he died – still very fit – in 2012. Yet he’d led such an extraordinary life of adventure and danger ashore and afloat and under the sea that he used up the lifetime quota of a dozen cats. But throughout it all he remained the most unassuming and modest of men, always interested in fresh ideas and curious about everything around him. Because he’d been associated with the Royal Navy as its longest-serving active wartime submarine commander, they tend to claim him as one of their own the other see of the Irish Sea. But the fact that he always wore an Aran jersey, called his unique pioneering boat Galway Blazer, and cheerfully flew the Irish tricolour at regular intervals, tells us much about his ability to embrace several cultures and identities.

As for his surname of King - which is notably common in Galway and Connemara - he’d happily tell you that it dated back a thousand years and more, when a slightly troublesome branch of the family of Charlemagne, the Emperor of much of Europe in the mistakenly-named Dark Ages, found it prudent to settle in the West of Ireland. However, it was too complicated to explain to their new neighbours the full back-story to Charlemagne. So they simply told everyone their name was King……

With Bill King, all things were possible, and this video gets the flavour of him very well indeed.

Published in Offshore, Bill King
WM Nixon

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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