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Exhibition to Mark Commander Bill King's Epic Circumnavigation Opens in Galway City Museum

29th November 2023
Bill King suited on deck of his yacht
Bill King suited on deck of his yacht

A new exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the global circumnavigation by yacht by the late Commander Bill King opens in Galway City Museum this week.

A display of objects and memorabilia relating to his voyage, loaned by his family and involving Galway Bay Sailing Club support, will be exhibited at the museum.

Members of the King family will attend the event on Thursday, November 30th, when there will be a special showing of “King of the Waves'', a film written and directed by Luke Leslie.

There will also be reflections from his daughter Leonie King, son Tarka King and Johnny Shorten of GBSC.

The submarine commander and solo sailor was a lifelong honorary member of GBSC, and also hunted with the Galway Blazers.

His grandson and musician Cian Finn will premiere a very special song “Survive”, which he has composed especially for the occasion.

Read more about Bill KIng on Afloat here and listen to Leonie King's memories of her late father in a podcast here

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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About Commander Bill King, Solo Circumnavigator

William Donald Aelian King was the last surviving submarine commander in the Second World War - in charge of the British Navy's T-class Telemachus that sank a Japanese sub in the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Sumatra, in 1944.

Decorated many times for his service by the end of the war, King became a trailblazing solo sailor.

At the age of 58, he was the oldest participant in The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race sailing Galway Blazer II, a junk-rigged schooner he designed himself.

After a number of abortive attempts, including an incident with "a large sea creature", he finally completed his solo circumnavigation of the globe in 1973.

Beyond his aquatic escapades, King settled with his wife Anita (who died in 1984, aged 70) at Oranmore Castle outside Galway after the war, where he later developed a pioneering organic farm and garden to help tackle his wife's asthma.

The round-the-world sailor and Galway native Bill King died on Friday, 21 September, 2012, aged 102.