Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Conor O'Brien, Circumnavigator
Conor O'Brien's Saoirse departs Dun Laoghaire  on her round-the-world voyage
Following Vincent Murphy's presentation on the life of circumnavigator Conor O’Brien at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary last Friday evening, Professor Patrick Frawley, a member of the Club, and a native of Foynes donated an unedited version of one of…
Solo Circumnavigator Conor O’Brien
Kinsale Yacht Club member Vincent Murphy has put together a presentation on circumnavigator Conor O’Brien, which he will give on Thursday, February 9. Murphy has compiled a booklet on the subject, which he is in the process of having printed…
Solo circumnavigator Conor O’Brien on board the Kelpie
Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary welcomes Vincent Murphy on Friday evening, 13th January, at 7.30 pm, to give a 100th-anniversary presentation on the life of the late circumnavigator Conor O’Brien. In 1923-25, O'Brien became the first amateur skipper…
Saoirse pictured in Dun Laoghaire before Conor O’Brien embarked on his historic circumnavigation in 1923
The Journal has highlighted the upcoming centenary of Irish yachtsman Conor O’Brien’s pioneering circumnavigation. In June 1923, Limerick man O’Brien set off on his yacht the Saoirse — named after the then newly created Irish Free State — on the…
The start of the 2019 National YC Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, with eventual overall winner Rockabill VI (JPK 10.80, Paul O’Higgins RIYC) just ahead of Mick Cotter’s 94ft Windfall, which took line honours and established a new course record. The 30th Anniversary D2D starts in Dublin Bay on June 7th 2023
Did we really manage it? Did we really cram all those major special and routine regular sailing events into the one season of 2022? And all that despite its three main months afloat experiencing decidedly mixed weather? And also despite…
Ghost ship? Ilen anchored off Sandycove seems like a wraith-like image from the past
It was good to know of the sail training ketch Ilen lying serenely in the Scotsman’s Bay-Sandycove anchorage south of Dun Laoghaire Harbour last night, like a proper sailing ship of ancient times taking a useful break to await a…
The 42ft world-girdling Saoirse is re-born at Oldcourt near
Baltimore a Century after the original little ship first took to
the seas in West Cork
Down in West Cork, they have a way of quietly getting on with things until a major waypoint is inevitably passed in the project, and then we’re into new territory. For two or three years now, Liam Hegarty and his…
The Falkland Islands postage stamp of 2001 featured an Irish tricolour to honour the origins of Ilen, while also revealing her very practical propellor installation
Following the departure last Saturday for her 700-mile Limerick-London voyage, the trading ketch Ilen under the command of Ilen Marine School Director Gary Mac Mahon was able to sail the track as far as Land's Endin Cornwall, which she rounded…
Gentle start to a great voyage – Saoirse getting under way in Dun Laoghaire on June 20th 1923
Barry Keane and Tony Doherty of Mountaineering Ireland have formally proposed that commemorative postage stamps be issued to celebrate the up-coming Centenary of Conor O’Brien’s pioneering voyage round the world south of the Great Capes with his Irish-built 42ft ketch…
The way of a ship at sea….
While everyone else was staring goggle-eyed at rapidly-changing and decidedly hostile weather charts last Thursday, and wondering whether the weekend's racing was going to be possible at all, in typical style the always-amazing Gary MacMahon was at sea off our…
The newly-built Ilen at Foynes on 22nd July 1926, as recorded in his own highly personal style by Harbour Master Hugh O’Brien
Global circumnavigator and sailing ship designer Conor O’Brien (1880-1952) inevitably saw his most noted vessels, the 42ft world-girdler Saoirse and the 56ft trading ketch Ilen, being closely associated by the rest of the world with their birthplace in Baltimore. But…
Conor O'Brien's Saoirse gets underway from
Ireland's Conor O'Brien was the first amateur skipper to circumnavigate the globe by the classic sailing ship route south of the great Capes, running down his easting in the big winds of the Great Southern Ocean which blow unhindered round…
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…
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…
The multi-purpose Markets Field in Limerick has been an unexpected source of quality teak. Teak seating slats salvaged from the re-vamp of the Markets Field Gaelic Football ground have found a new purpose in the restoration of the ketch Ilen. In addition to its historic links with Gaelic Football and greyhound racing, the Markets Field has also been used for soccer – as seen here – and by Garryowen Rugby Club before they moved to Dooradoyle.
The process of restoring the 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien ketch Ilen in Limerick and Baltimore has seen a countrywide network developing, a network in which anyone with access to redundant classic quality timber has been happy to see it finding…
It may be November outside, but aboard Ilen the lights glow warmly in welcome
The process of transforming the restored hull and deck of the 1926-built 56ft Conor O’Brien historic ketch Ilen into a living ship continues writes W M Nixon. The programme is co-ordinated and combined between the Ilen Boatbuilding School in Limerick,…

About Conor O'Brien, Irish Circumnavigator

In 1923-25, Conor O'Brien became the first amateur skipper to circle the world south of the Great Capes. O'Brien's boat Saoirse was reputedly the first small boat (42-foot, 13 metres long) to sail around the world since Joshua Slocum completed his voyage in the 'Spray' during 1895 to 1898. It is a journey that O' Brien documented in his book Across Three Oceans. O'Brien's voyage began and ended at the Port of Foynes, County Limerick, Ireland, where he lived.

Saoirse, under O'Brien's command and with three crew, was the first yacht to circumnavigate the world by way of the three great capes: Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin; and was the first boat flying the Irish tri-colour to enter many of the world's ports and harbours. He ran down his easting in the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties between the years 1923 to 1925.

Up until O'Brien's circumnavigation, this route was the preserve of square-rigged grain ships taking part in the grain race from Australia to England via Cape Horn (also known as the clipper route).

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating