Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Displaying items by tag: Historic Boats

King of the Claddagh Michael Lynskey (88) and his community took to the Galway waterside at the weekend to welcome home a historic workboat which plied the Atlantic during two world wars writes Lorna Siggins

The 8m-long gleoiteog named Lovely Anne has been restored for sail training by Bádoirí an Cladaig.

Some ten nationalities were involved in refurbishing the gleoiteog, built by the well-known boatwright Patrick Brannelly in 1882 when German leader Otto von Bismarck and British prime minister William Gladstone were in power.

Master shipwright Coilín Hernon, who led the restoration with Ciarán Oliver, said Brannelly built a fleet of fine Galway hookers, with just three, including this gleoiteog, An Tonaí and the Morning Star surviving.

Brannelly died in an accident in his early 30s, when the Lovely Anne was being used to transport oysters between Bertraghboy Bay in Connemara and Rosmuc.

It passed through a number of owners in Connemara and on the Aran islands, was restored by Colm Breathnach at Camus, and was then acquired by Jim Parkinson of Killybegs, Co Donegal, who used it to fish salmon.

Gleoiteog re launch Galway 5The traditional Gleoiteog, the Lovely Anne, was re-launched at the Claddagh in Galway. Pictured on board the 137-year-old boat are Ross Forde, owner of the boat (left), and Pat Brannelly, both decendants of Patrick Brannelly who was the builder of the boat Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy/Connacht Tribune

Brannelly’s great great grandson, Ross Forde, who is involved with Bádoirí an Cladaig, traced the vessel to Killybegs and persuaded Parkinson to part with it. The refurbishment took five months, with Hernon and two of his sons cutting the sails and equipping the rig.

The Lovely Anne sailed over to Black Weir in Oranmore in the company of Mr Hernon’s gleoiteog, Nora Bheag, before returning to the Claddagh quay for its official welcome.

Mr Forde said that while over in Oranmore, he was told that the vessel had been named after an American woman named Anne, who was given a passage to a small island on it in rough conditions and described it as a “lovely boat”.

Bádoirí an Cladaig has endeavoured to extend its skills to non-sailing / fishing families through courses run with the Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board, and also held its inaugural festival in 2017.

Simon Wood, who had lived in Uganda for many years, and Harald Schlindwein from Germany are among the volunteers recruited by Badóirí an Cladaig, along with Liz Power, who is originally from Galway, and Niamh Moloughney, a Claddagh resident.

“I had been away from Galway for a number of years, and when I returned I wanted to get involved in something a bit bigger than me, “Ms Power explained.

Gleoiteog re launch Galway 8Michael Lynskey, King of the Claddagh, sits at Claddagh Quay during the re-launch of the Geloiteog, the Lovely Anne. Michael was the owner of the Galway Gleoiteog, Annie Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy/Connacht Tribune

“We did a fair bit of sanding and a fair bit of watching Coilín Hernon doing his expert work,” Ms Moloughney laughed.

Relatives of both the boatbuilder and former owners of the vessel had attended the launch, including Mary Tipton, a relative of Brannelly, who flew from Cornwall, England.

“Not only is this an incredibly moving story of bringing our Galway heritage back to life, but we are extremely delighted to also announce that the Lovely Anne is now our dedicated training vessel,” Ciarán Oliver said. “We will be offering skills training classes for adults and children throughout 2019,” he added.

Gleoiteog re launch Galway 7Coilin Hernon at the re-launch of the Gleoiteog, the Lovely Anne, at Claddagh Quay in Galway. Coilin was one of the restorers of the 137-year-old boat. He and his sons Coilin Og and Einde also cut the sails for the Lovely Anne Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy/Connacht Tribune

Published in How To Sail

The historic ketch Ilen of Limerick puts to sea again from her home port this weekend at the beginning of a complex 2019 sailing programme which will see the restored ship voyage in July towards southwest Greenland writes W M Nixon. She’ll be following in the wake of the migratory salmon which have journeyed since time immemorial between the Shannon and Greenland’s only salmon river, the Kapisillit at the head of a fjord at Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and Ilen’s primary destination.

Ireland’s last surviving sailing trading ketch, the 1926-built 56ft Ilen was originally designed by global circumnavigator Conor O’Brien to be the inter-island freight and ferry vessel in the Falkland Islands, and he sailed her out there after she’d been built by Tom Moynihan and his men at the Fishery Schools in Baltimore. When Ilen was retired from active service in the islands in the 1990s, Conor O’Brien enthusiast Gary Mac Mahon of Limerick set about trying to bring her home for restoration.

In November 1997 he achieved his first goal when Ilen was finally lifted off a ship in Dublin Docks. After wintering in the city’s Grand Canal basin, she sailed for the first time in many years in Dublin Bay in May 1998, and soon made the passage to West Cork for the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival and the Glandore Classics Regatta.

ilen 1997 unloaded2Ilen unloaded in Dublin Docks, November 1997 Photo: W M Nixonilen may1998 dublin bay3 Ilen under sail for the first time in very many years, Dublin Bay May 1998. Photo: W M Nixon

paddy barry jarlath cunnane4Paddy Barry and Jarlath Cunnane aboard Ilen in Dublin Bay, May 1998. They are still very much involved in the Ilen Project. Photo: W M Nixon

ilen db98 tim magennis5Aboard Ilen on that historic sail in Dublin Bay in May 1998 were several classic and traditional boat enthusiasts, including (left) Fionan de Barra, with Tim Magennis at deckhouse and Paddy Barry on the right. The restored Ilen returns to Dublin Bay in May 2019. Photo: W M Nixon

However, it was obvious that a huge project of restoration work was required to make the ship compliant with survey requirements for regular sea-going, and for several years she was virtually moth-balled. But in time a programme was devised – the Ilen Project – whereby the main hull restoration would be undertaken by master shipwright Liam Hegarty at Oldcourt Boatyard on the Ilen River above Baltimore in West Cork, while 180-kilometres away in Limerick, Gary Mac Mahon and the Ilen Network established an international project, the Ilen Boat-Building School, which made many of the detailed items such as the hatches and deckhouses, and the spars and rigging came out of this extensive Limerick workshop as well.

ilen restoration6Liam Hegarty (left) and Gary Mac Mahon at an early stage of Ilen’s hull restoration in Oldcourt
All that work was in addition to other smaller boat-building projects undertaken in the School by a wide variety of trainees, many from an international background. These included a new fleet of the traditional Shannon gandelows, and other small craft including a Shannon angling cot and a flotilla of the economically-built yet very effective CityOne sailing dinghies, designed by the late naval architecture legend Theo Rye, who was an enthusiast for the entire Ilen programme.

gary and theo rye7Gary MacMahon with the late Theo Rye and a new CityOne sailing dinghy in Limerick. Photo: W M Nixon
The Ilen Project in its broadest sense was by no means a matter of never-ending boat-building work. There was fun to be had. The gandelows were regular visitors to the Baltimore Woodenboat Festival as well as other events back north on the Shannon Estuary, while the CityOnes made their mark at the Glandore Classics and several regattas. Two of the Ilen seniors, Liam O’Donoghue and Tony Daly, travelled the length of the Erne and the Shannon from Belleek in Fermanagh to Limerick in an angling cot they’d built in the school, and of course when the Thousandth Anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf came up in 2014, as defenders of the proud Limerick memory of Brian Boru, the Ilen gandelow crews and their boats had to put in triumphant appearance on Dublin Bay.

shannon angling cot8Liam O’Donoghue and Tony Daly with the Ilen School-built Shannon Angling Cot they rowed from Belleek in Fermanagh via the Erne and the Shannon all the way to Limerick

However, undoubtedly the most off-the-wall episode was taking the gandelows to one of the Festivals of the Sea in Venice. Folk from elsewhere may come up with ready wisecracks about “gandelow” being no more than the Limerick version of “gondola”, yet the citizens of the Serenissima went out of their way to make the Limerick crews and their boats welcome, and the entire visit was carried out with style and elan.

gandelows racing venice9The new traditional Shannon gandelows built by the Ilen School made a memorable visit to Venice.

But meanwhile, as resources permitted the restoration work on Ilen’s hull continued. The detailed joinery-work built in Limerick was added in as required, and finally, in January 2018, Ilen emerged re-born from the old Top Shed at Oldcourt. There was still much work to be done, but she was able to put in an appearance at the Baltimore Woodenboat Festival in May, and then finally at the end of September she was sufficiently ready for sea to voyage round to her home port of Limerick where, in a hectic first week of October, visiting well-wishers included President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina.

ilen baltimore beacon10 Finally brought together – the restored Ilen off Baltimore Beacon, September 2018. While the hull had been restored in Oldcourt, everything above deck except the sails had been made in Limerick. Photo: Declan Lynch

Ilen had spent all her life as a working boat, but now that she was so superbly restored, there was no way she was going to be treated as an ornament. On the contrary, it was planned that she would work in the areas of education, special assistance, and national and international cultural interaction, helping people young and old to develop as they learned to understand the ways of the past, the lore of seafaring, the story of Limerick’s magnificent waterborne trading history, and the mysteries and wonders of nature.

In an age of multi-faceted, continuous and wall-to-wall entertainment – electronic and otherwise – this was a tall order, and a “Big Idea” was needed to bring it into focus. Early projects with a variety of schools and other groups in the Greater Limerick area have produced encouraging results. It was and is evident that interacting with something as tangible as a traditional sailing vessel in almost any way can be a very rewarding experience for those new to it, and so the idea developed that a major flagship project for the summer of 2019 would clarify the focus on Ilen and all that she did – and all that she might do, too.

sabina and crew11Almost immediately after returning to Limerick last October, Ilen enjoyed a Presidential visit
In an era of increasing awareness of the environment and the need for conservation and climate awareness, the “Big Idea” was right there, hidden in plain sight. While the numbers of Atlantic salmon passing through Limerick may have decreased markedly since the Ardnacrusha dam was built in the late 1920s and for other reasons, the salmon in the Shannon going to and from the sea are still very much part of the city’s culture. And it is known that while Atlantic salmon migrate to many rivers in several countries, in all of Greenland, they go to only one, the Kapisillit.

So why not sail Ilen in the salmon’s wake to this one special river with an Ilen Boat Building School-constructed Shannon angling cot as deck cargo, and thereby create a unique link around which a vibrant cultural interaction can be built between the schools and young people of Limerick and their counter-parts in southwest Greenland? The idea took hold, and it has developed as a busy project with schools in the greater Limerick area.

letter to greenland12In anticipation of the Salmon’s Wake voyage, schools in Limerick have been exchanging letters with their new pen-pals in Greenland
This ambitious Salmons Wake Voyage will take over Ilen’s 2019 programme at the end of June. But meanwhile, the first part of the 2019 season involves Ilen interacting with the Sailing Into Wellness movement, with a series of short voyages along Ireland’s south and east coasts.

To position her for this and as part of the preparations for the Greenland voyage, over this Easter Weekend she’ll be making the passage from Limerick back to Baltimore and the Oldcourt Boatyard for a pre-season haul on Tuesday with a hull inspection, following which she’ll be making coastal passages with Sailing Into Wellness via ports such as Kinsale, Waterford and Howth until on Friday, May 17th she’s in Dun Laoghaire for a major presentation.

After that, the Sailing Into Wellness programme continues with a return to West Cork and the Baltimore Woodenboat Festival (24th May to 26th May), with an SIW Ilen base then established in Kinsale. But as June progresses, the ship will return to Limerick with preparations for the nine-week Greenland voyage being finalised.

angling cot in build13This traditional angling cot, currently in build at the Ilen School in Limerick, will be taken to Greenland as deck cargo on the Ilen. Photo: Gary MacMahonCommunication with the local Greenland community and two schools in Nuuk has been active, and in July it is planned that Deirdre Power of the Ilen Project and artist Chelsea Canavan from Limerick will be in residence in Nuuk to help in co-ordinating Ilen’s reception. That will include the visit to the Kapisillit River where the new-built Shannon angling cot currently being created by the Ilen Boat-Building School and brought to Nuuk by Ilen herself as deck cargo will be put afloat as a tangible symbol of many interacting links.

With such a programme, which will see Ilen sail between 5,000 and 6,000 miles by season’s end and dozens of ports visited, obviously very many people will be actively involved at different stages. But for the major ocean voyages, Gary Mac Mahon has been able to call on the services of a unique group of people who combine traditional boat sailing skills with extensive Arctic voyaging experience.

ilen all sail14On a gentle day early in 2019 in Limerick, Ilen is finally able to set her complete new suit of fore-and-aft sails. Photo: Gary MacMahon
He himself is a veteran in this area, as one of his Arctic experiences was with the legendary Paddy Barry aboard the Galway hooker St Patrick, sailing far into northern latitudes.

Paddy Barry has been involved with the Ilen project from an early stage, as he was there at that special moment in November 1997 in Dublin Docks when Ilen was finally unloaded back in Ireland, he was in command when Ilen sailed again for the first time in very many years in Dublin Bay in May 1998, and over the long, challenging years of the restoration, he has been a ready source of encouragement and help.

He and Gary will both be in the ship’s complement for the outward passage to Nuuk and the many activities in Greenland itself. In fact, Paddy will be aboard for the entire nine weeks. But Gary’s time is limited, so for the return passage in August and early September, Paddy Barry will be joined by his partner in the Arctic circumnavigation of the Northabout, Northabout’s original builder, owner and skipper Jarlath Cunnane, and they will share the hugely experienced company of Dr Mick Brogan. These days, he’s best known as an organiser of Cruinnui na mBad at Kinvara, but like the other three, Mick Brogan is a seaman extensively versed in the ways of the Arctic and the needs and challenges of a traditionally-rigged ship.

1997 paddy barry15Paddy Barry at the unloading of Ilen in Dublin Port, November 1997. In 2019, he will be aboard throughout the nine weeks Salmons Wake voyage to Greenland. Photo: W M Nixon

With Ilen’s departure today (Easter Saturday) from Limerick bound for Baltimore, these latest chapters in an extraordinary story get underway. Conor O’Brien’s account of the original voyage in 1926 from Foynes to the Falklands produced some of his best writing. But now that the old ship has become the Ilen Project, we find the story extending in several directions which somehow take in many places between Venice and Nuuk. It seems that when Gary Mac Mahon gets hold of an idea, all things are possible.

Published in Boatyards
Tagged under

Yachts are marvels of engineering…. So I have been told – many times – at boat shows; by designers; builders; by sales staff; by sailors, amateur and professional; by proud owners….. Yachts are also nice to look at … I’ve liked, at various times, all the boats I’ve owned – my present Sigma 33, whose looks were the first to attract me … the Sadler 25, the Ruffian 23 I owned previously; even the Vagabond and Mirror dinghies I sailed in younger years…

On all of them, I learned about sailing…..Generally, they behaved well .. a “good sea boat” I was told, can look after itself, even if the sailor isn’t able to do so…!!!

Gradually over the years, I acquired more of the modern technology which made sailing better, safer, easier, so I was assured.

The design and construction of yachts accommodate them to their domain, the sea, which will, assuredly, challenge them at times….. The traditional techniques I learned included how to heave-to; to lie a-hull; to be aware of being over-canvassed; learning the approaching weather signs; when to reef and how to do it quickly and correctly and that there are times when the management of a small boat in a big sea, must be learned and understood….. hearing all that from those with more knowledge and experience….

As modern technology has taken over – and that continues to be the case, much of what was basic years ago has been changed - charts, paper and pencil to electronic navigation have been replaced…., GPS, Plotters and so on are great but what if they succumb to electronic faults…? The sea has many moods, so does the sailor and, perhaps at times, even electronic equipment….

"No qualifications are required to be produced to buy and own a yacht"

Yachtmaster and training courses are pathways to knowledge and skill, so too are experience and traditional techniques …. As yachts are built with materials better than ever before we are told and implanted with more and more technology, are traditional skills being passed on… maintained, preserved ….?????

No qualifications are required to be produced to buy and own a yacht and, while more regulatory controls are not particularly welcome in what is one of the last bastions of freedom… that of sailing…. Let’s not forget the traditional sailing techniques…..

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

Darryl Hughes’ renowned 43ft ketch Maybird, built by Tyrrell of Arklow in 1937 and superbly restored in substantial works project-managed by the owner himself in 2009-2011, has had – at 81 years old - probably her best year ever for awards in 2018 writes W M Nixon.

The highlight of her season was in July, when she became the first gaff-rigged boat to complete the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland race from Wicklow. For this achievement, she received an immediate award from Wicklow SC and was immortalized in the gallery of ships’ portraits on the wall of Wicklow Pier itself, a special honour in a series created and lovingly maintained for many years by “Pat the Post”.

pat the post2Wicklow’s “Pat the Post” creates one of his special portraits on Wicklow Pier in honour of Maybird.maybird painting wicklow3Maybird immortalized on Wicklow Pier

While this work was under way, Maybird meanwhile returned to her birthplace of Arklow for a week of celebration with Arklow Sailing Club and Arklow Sea Scouts, with sail-training sea-going groups availing of her presence for instructive gaff rig sessions, while the skipper and his round Ireland crew were honoured at the father-and-mother of all come-all-ye parties in ASC.

maybird making knots4Aboard Maybird making knots during the Round Ireland race

After this, the handsome ketch then sailed north, visiting several ports on a cruise which culminated in an Irish Cruising Club Rally at Rathlin Island on Ireland’s most northeasterly corner, and then in various ventures through the rest of the year she gradually got herself to Crosshaven where she has now been laid up for the winter, with her complex gear carefully stored.

arklow sea scouts5Arklow Sea Scouts out in strength on Maybird during the post-Round Ireland celebrations in her birthplace of Arklow

But with the end of the summer season, the flow of awards if anything increased. There was another trophy from Arklow Sailing Club at their annual awards ceremony. And then in November, Darryl Hughes found himself at the very convivial annual prize-giving of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, a black tie affair noted for its array of historical trophies.

Maybird had been obliged to do some ISORA Races in order to qualify for participation in the Round Ireland Race, and her crew enjoyed these events even though they hadn’t knowingly won anything in them. But in the NYC on that November Saturday night, it turned out they had – at the end of it all, Maybird’s name was called out as the winner of the Penmaen Plate.

The Penmaen Plate goes to the boat which best exemplifies “The Spirit of ISORA”. As Dun Laoghaire’s Peter Ryan, Chairman of ISORA, puts it: If you asked them to define the spirit of ISORA they’d be hard put to do so, but they know it when they see it, and in 2018 Maybird and her crew were the very embodiment of what they sought.

darryl anne marie6Darryl Hughes receives the Penmaen Plate from Anne-Marie Ryan, wife of ISORA Chairman Peter, at the ISORA Prize Giving Dinner in the National YC in Dun Laoghaire in November. Photo: gphoto

Darryl Hughes was busy in the late Autumn with voluntarily organizing the Irish Meteorology Society/Royal Institute for Navigation’s successful Weather & Sailing Conference in the Royal Irish YC on November 23rd. But after that he could relax back into normal life, and in late December he went along to the annual Christmas Party of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association in Poolbeg Y&BC in the heart of Dublin, whose marina is Maybird’s home port when she’s on the East Coast.

And there, the season was finally fully rounded out when he found Maybird had become the 2018 winner of the Arthur Hughes Trophy, the top annual award of the DBOGA, named in honour of the memory of one of its key founders. So although Maybird already had been mightily honoured in Wicklow. Arklow and Dun Laoghaire, it was at Poolbeg in the final days of 2018 that she received the ultimate accolade as the top-achieving gaff rigged boat of the year

groom hughes7It’s Christmas! Maybird is recognized as the top-achieving gaff rigged boat of 2018 at the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association Christmas Party in Poolbeg Y&BC, with the Arthur Hughes Trophy being presented to Darryl Hughes (right) by Negley Groom of DBOGA.

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

There is a new World Champion following the running of the Crosbie Cup / Heir Island Sloop World Championships in Baltimore Harbour in West Cork at the weekend.

David Townend having achieved four race wins and two seconds secured the title ahead of "Brigid" Declan Tiernan in second and "Sarah Aoife" raced by Anne and Grahame Copplestone.

The Heir Island Sloop is designed for local one-design racing and day sailing on the semi-sheltered waters of Long Island Bay and Roaring Water Bay, South West County Cork. 

Download full results below

Published in Historic Boats

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 W M Nixon.

Much has happened since, but the saga moved into a new chapter this past weekend, when Paddy Murphy of Renvyle in the furthest point of northwest Connemara re-launched his 45ft former Isle of Man fishing nobby Aigh Vie into the Atlantic right off his house.

The Aigh Vie has spent two decades in an often storm-battered shed beside the house, being painstakingly re-built as Paddy’s personal dreamship. While he describes himself as a blacksmith, he can turn his hand to anything, and his multiple skills have enabled himself and his partner Siobhan to make good their escape from the claustrophobic life of Dublin, and settle in this magnificently remote frontier post of the Atlantic seaboard.

aigh vie3Aigh-vie as she was when Paddy Murphy bought her

They brought the Aigh Vie with them overland, for she was then at a very early stage of the re-build. But with the heavy part of the restoration work now completed, it was time and more on Saturday to get her launched into the Atlantic while a southeast wind obligingly provided smooth water for the beach launch, and that noted storehouse of maritime lore Cormac Lowth was there to record the scene and put it all in its historical perspective.

aigh vie4The work at an early stage. Photo: W M Nixon

paddy murphy5Paddy Murphy, a man of many talents. Photo: W M Nixon

With the help of a local fishing boat, Aigh Vie was then moved round to the nearby natural shelter of Ballynakill Harbour and the pier at Derryinver for her first night afloat in many years. But Derryinver pier is a busy place, so Aigh Vie has since been moved up the bay to a fitting-out berth at another quay where there’s less demand on space, and work can proceed uninterrupted on the finishing of many tasks.

So on Saturday night there was a mighty hog roast party to celebrate

No-one has any doubts about the amount of work which still has to be done, and often it will be by Paddy working on his own. But much has been done. The launching has been achieved. So on Saturday night there was a mighty hog roast party to celebrate in the recently-vacated shed, attended both by locals and by people from places more distant whose lives have been intertwined with the story of Aigh Vie.

aigh vie afloat6The restored Aigh Vie sits beautifully on her marks. Photo: Cormac Lowth

And it is an extraordinary story. When the Lusitania was torpedoed, the nearest vessel was the fishing ketch Wanderer from Peel in the Isle of Man, skippered by William Ball. The Wanderer and her crew saved many lives, and some time afterwards Skipper Ball – who was an employee of the fishing company that owned the Wanderer – received a lawyer’s letter informing him that a sum of money had been anonymously lodged from America to a bank account in Peel for his benefit. The stipulation on the funding was that it was to be used for the building of his own vessel, the fishing boat of his dreams.

The Aigh Vie (it means “Fair Winds” or “Good Luck” in the Manx Gaelic) was the result, and she was launched in December 1916 and registered as a fishing boat in January 1917. But she was so elegant in her hull lines that she was always described as being more like a yacht than a fishing vessel, and after she finished her working career fishing out of Ardglass in County Down, she ended up being owned for recreational use by Billy Smyth of Whiterock Boatyard on Strangford Lough, who cruised her every summer with his family, usually to the west coast of Scotland and sometimes beyond to the Orkneys.

aigh vie derryinver7Aigh Vie in a temporary overnight berth at Derryinver Pier on Ballynakill Bay. Photo: Cormac Lowth

It is many years since Aigh Vie was bought from Billy Smyth by Paddy Murphy, and he based her for a while in the Dublin area. For now, though, in her re-born state the coast of Connacht provides her home waters. And who knows, but maybe when the fitting-out is finally completed, the far horizons will call. Meanwhile, it’s good to know that the challenge of getting her out of the shed and into the Atlantic has been met.

Yet the mystery still remains as to who it was in America who so appreciated the wonderful rescue work done by the Wanderer in 1915 that they willingly paid for the building of Aigh Vie in 1916. One-hundred-and-two years down the line, it seems their identity remains as elusive as ever

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

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 secret brotherhood of the maritime world writes W M Nixon

It’s not that these people set out to be mysterious or secretive. It’s just that they operate on a different level to the rest of us. Typical of them is Jarlath Cunnane of Mayo. He’s always building boats for himself. He built the special aluminium 15 metre (49ft) exploration yacht Northabout with which he and Paddy Barry and a rugged crew transitted both the Northwest and the Northeast passages.

northabout clew bay2Northabout returns to Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick after completing the transits of the Northwest and Northeast Passages in 2005. Photo: Rory Casey

Yet despite Northabout’s alloy build, he’s very much a fan of traditional craft. So when he heard that Gary MacMahon of Limerick and his team were undertaking the ticklish job of stepping Ilen’s new masts in West Cork in a very limited time frame earlier this month, he and frequent shipmate Dr Mick Brogan (he owns the giant Galway Hooker Mac Duach and is much involved in Cruinniu na mBad at Kinvara) simply appeared at just the right time at Oldcourt, and their help was much appreciated.

swallow steel3The 40ft O’Brien Kennedy-designed Swallow, which Wally McGuirk built himself in steel. Photo: W M Nixon

wally mcguirk4Wally McGuirk in his on-board workshop in Swallow. Photo: W M Nixon

On the opposite side of the country from Mayo, Wally McGuirk of Howth is another enthusiast for traditional boat-building who nevertheless was not slow in using basic steel construction for his 40ft dream yacht Swallow, the last design by O’Brien Kennedy. Wally built her himself, and since then has introduced all sorts of inventive additions, a notable one being the legs which support the boat if she is going to dry out at low water.

Wally reckoned the traditional legs bolted on to the outside of the hull amidships are an unsightly nuisance. So he built a couple of hefty steel casings at a sight angle inside Swallow, and these neatly house the legs which are retracted virtually out of sight when not in use.

swallow legs5Wally McGuirk with one of his special legs on board Swallow. Photo: W M Nixon

swallow legs6The internal housings for Swallow’s legs intrude very little on the accommodation. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet although he enjoys the freedom of innovation which steel construction permits, Wally’s heart is in wood. And as he happens to be a property developer of sorts, quantities of choice vintage timber have come his way over the years. Thus when he was making major alterations to a 1798 building which had once been a brewery in Brunswick Street in old Dublin, he ended up with some lovely perfectly-seasoned pine of hefty proportions which he stored carefully, such that the rain has never fallen on it.

He could never think of a suitably idealistic use for it until the Ilen Project developed, and that hit the target. So last weekend the beautiful timber of 1798 journeyed to West Cork, and in time it will make a characterful cabin sole in the handsome ship.

ilen interior7Ilen’s interior has been finished in Douglas fir of 1831 vintage. Photos: Gary MacMahon

Meanwhile, Gary MacMahon had sourced some quality Douglas fir of 1831 from a building in Limerick, and that has already been deployed to good effect in Ilen’s cabins, where seven proper seagoing bunks will be provided.

As for the Ilen Project generally, the recent flurry of news about the re-development of the land around the Ted Russell Dock beside the city centre has reminded everyone that Limerick is now Ilen’s home port, and very well it looked too on a mock-up applied to Ilen’s handsome transom this week.

Published in Ilen
Tagged under

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 group of maritime enthusiasts keen to promote and inform on the Maritime Heritage of Ireland. 

The Conference Venue is the Kennedy Room, Cultra Manor, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum from Friday 27th April 2018 - 0930 (Registration) – 1530

The schedule for the day is: 

Welcome from Kathryn Thompson, Director NMNI,
Tom Cunliffe, Maritime Journalist and TV Celebrity (video)
An introduction to UFT Museum Maritime Collection - William Blair,
Kellys Belfast Colliers - Kelly Wilson
The Merchant Schooner ‘Result’ - Christopher Kenny,
Irish Schooners in WWII – Joe Ryan
Fermanagh Cots and Maritime Heritage – Fred Ternan
Portaferry Schooners – James Elliott - PAST
National Historic Ships UK and Shipshape Register

Conducted Visit to’ The Result’ Schooner & Artefact Exhibition

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under
22nd February 2018

Larry Duggan 1927-2018 RIP

Larry Duggan, who has died this week at the age of 90, was one of the best-known and most popular figures in Wexford, and internationally renowned in the maritime world as a versatile builder of wooden boats of many kinds, all to the highest standards. But important as boats and the sea were to this energetic man, there was much more to him than that – he was even more than someone of many active interests, he was in reality a universe of activities, all pursued with enormous enthusiasm and dedication.

Born in Rosslare in 1927, with marriage to Margaret (Madge) the newly-married young couple settled in Wexford town, and their home for their final forty years together was at Carcur in their house called The Moorings on the south shore of the Slaney Estuary, in that pleasant area above the bridge near the Boat Club, where they raised their family of Laurence Jnr, the twins Tom and Will, and their daughter Ann.

Larry’s prime day job was as a builder and developer, but he also owned a saw-mill, for timber and working with it was one of his many passions. From an early age, his interest in boats was allied to this love of wood, resulting in a developing skill in boat-building projects which he undertook in whichever suitable workshops happened to be available to him in Wexford.

larry duggan2However busy he might be, Larry Duggan (right) always had time to discuss the attractions of traditional boat-building

It’s said of Larry Duggan that he was never still, and was always happiest when thinking of several things at once. Thus if he was on a house-building or carpentering job, he’d always be keeping a eye out for a piece of timber which might be better deployed in his evening’s boat-building activities.

As to how he managed all this, his son Will fondly recalled today that for his father, the 18-hour day was the norm, but he never regarded his long sessions of boat-building as work. In some ways, they were the very essence and expression of his life.

Yet somehow he found time for many other interests including ornithology, to which he invariably gave enthusiastic voluntary input. For instance, when the World Plough Championship was coming to Wexford, he was on the Organising Committee, and played a key role in the crucial task of laying out the top ploughing areas for the finalists.

On the maritime side, naturally he was a productive supporter of the RNLI and the Maritime Society, with his contribution being recognized by his award of the Maritime Medal. And his knowledge was such that when a Viking ship was to be built for the Wexford Heritage Park, when a team came from Scandinavia to oversee its construction, very quickly they found that a significant input from Larry Duggan was essential to the project’s successful conclusion.

larry duggan3The finished product from Larry Duggan was always a joy to behold.

But his greatest joy in boat-building was in creating craft which had historic and contemporary Wexford links. He built many Wexford cots which, uniquely among the Irish river cot type, had developed a seagoing version – the Rosslare cot – in order to deal effectively with the many challenges for small working craft posed by the Slaney’s open and sandy estuary, and the sea immediately off it.

Then when local recreational sailing developed at the old area known as Maudin Town southeast of Wexford town itself, thanks to the fact that Larry had built three Dublin Bay Mermaids for the local fleet, he was able to secure second-hand Mermaid sails which could be re-cut for use in these neighbourhood boats, which have gone on to become distinctly turbo-powered versions of the traditional Wexford cot.

wexford sailing cot4The Wexford cots for receational sailing at an early stage of development, when Larry Duggan played a key role in building boats, sourcing second-hand sails, and teaching the basics of racing

wexford sailing cot5The contemporary Wexford sailing cot has continued to develop for racing purposes

Not only did he help their crews to source sails, but he taught them to sail and race as well, for he was as able afloat with sails and boats as he was in the workshop building them. His skill was such that when the local estuary fish firm of Lett’s required a fleet of 24ft shoal-draft motor-boats to service their estuary fishing and shellfish beds, it was to Larry that they turned. It was quite a project for an “amateur” builder, but he succeeded so well that those boats continue to be a familiar and active sight in Wexford Harbour.

He cherished Wexford’s Irish traditions and Viking heritage alike, and when a special classic Viking skiff was required to be part of the Royal Silver Jubilee Celebration Fleet on the Thames in London, it was reckoned that Larry’s unique talents were ideal to create something with the essential authenticity, and he took extra pleasure in fulfilling this demanding “export” order.

His eightieth birthday celebrations in Wexford in 2007 provided one of the town’s most memorable parties, but retirement of any kind was far from Larry Duggan’s mind. He continued building boats until well into his eighties, and even as his 90th birthday approached, he was more than willing to open up his workshop to take on any small job involving work on wood for his many friends.

Sadly, his beloved Madge was to die age 89 in 2014, but for his 90th birthday on 12th August last summer, among a huge number of greetings was a personal message of goodwill from President Michael D Higgins. Now, the great and good Larry Duggan is gone from among us. But he leaves cherished memories with hundreds of people worldwide. Our thoughts are with his family and many close friends in their sad loss.

WMN

Published in News Update

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 by oars or a Sprit sail writes Fred Ternan of Lough Erne Heritage.

They were very similar to the Drontheim used around the North coast and as far south as Donegal Bay. Drontheims would have been seen by the people from Lough Erne when trading with Ballyshannon and this may have brought about the introduction of a similar boat to Lower Lough Erne, albeit on a smaller scale than the 27–footers used on the sea. There are records in the local papers of Donegal men coming to Lough Erne for rowing races in 1824. The shape of the stem used by some of the builders on Lough Erne and the sail plan was very similar and many of the Lough boats were built using a hog.

Gradually the shape of the yawl changed to a boat with a transom which was a better load carrier and was also a little simpler to build. The Sprit sail continued to be used and clinker boats continued to be built on and around Lough Erne into the 1960s and 1970s when wood was replaced by GRP. The Sprit sail was occasionally used into the 1960s by which time outboard engines had become more reliable. Another reason for its use on the long journeys on Lower Lough Erne was economy.

The moulds he used were retained and recently the first clinker boat built to those moulds since the 1960s, approximately 50 years ago has been built by George and Fred Ternan, cousins of Douglas Tiernan and members of Lough Erne Heritage. Using memories of the build and use of those wooden boats and the moulds, this boat when completed and launched will hopefully be as capable in the waves of the large expanse of Lower Lough Erne as the boats built by Douglas.

sprit sail lough erneAn original Sprit Sail

It will be fitted out with a Sprit sail, originally made from calico and two pairs of oars and these methods of propulsion will be demonstrated on the day of the launch and afterwards. At least five or six clinker boats on Lower Lough Erne were still using the Sprit sail as a method of propulsion in the 1960s. The boats did not require the installation of a rudder as one of the oars was used to steer, being placed in a rowlock positioned in the stern crutch or quarter knee, all in all a very simple method of boat propulsion and steerage.

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under
Page 1 of 6

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

DBSC
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

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

Please show your support for Afloat by donating