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A New Cork Harbour Rankin Dinghy is Born 61 Years Later

30th March 2021
61 years after the 1st Rankin came off this very same mould a new Rankin is born. From right to left; the original mould, the new shell, and a finished product
61 years after the 1st Rankin came off this very same mould a new Rankin is born. From right to left; the original mould, the new shell, and a finished product Credit: Rankin Class Association

Sixty-one years after the first Rankin came off a mould in Cobh, a new one has been built from the same mould.

"From the roots of this revered dinghy class in Cork Harbour, a new boat has been built," the Class announced.

This is part of the rebuild and restoration project through which Rankin enthusiasts have rekindled interest in the class.

The roots of the Rankins are to be found in the mid-1950s when Eddie Twomey and Eric Rankin produced the line drawings of the Rankin prototype. The first two prototype boats were built in July 1956 in Eric's workshop on Lynch's Quay, Cobh.

They were an integral part of the RCYC when it was based in Cobh. The boats proved extremely popular. Their light construction made them easy to handle and "effortless to row, motor or sail, so they were an ideal family boat for Cork Harbour conditions," the Rankin enthusiasts say. When the RCYC club moved to Crosshaven, "they became a choice mode of river transport, for commuting ashore long before the days of RIBs and the club marina was built," according to one of the leaders of the revival, Conor English in Crosshaven.

Like other dinghy classes over the years, collective sightings of Rankins sailing in Cork Harbour became a rare sight, but in 2014 a group of like-minded enthusiasts from Crosshaven, Cobh and Monkstown came together to see what could be done to revive interest in the Rankins.

Conor and Maurice Kidney in Cobh drove the revival strongly and garnered strong support. "They are a great boat and the support we've got since we started has been tremendous."

Plank 14 (the Whiskey plank) is fitted to the new RankinPlank 14 (the Whiskey plank) is fitted to the new Rankin dinghy Photo: Rankin Class Association

The result has been a big revival, which we've been following on Afloat and which has led to racing in Cove SC events, participation in the Traditional Sails events in the harbour and the Rankin ''World'' Championships as part of Cork Dinghy Fest in which 21 raced.

Altogether the revival has identified over 40 Rankins.

The new Rankin is a further step, built by Owen O'Connell in the workshop of his brother, Bud and with Dave O'Keeffe, the trio have been working on this 'lockdown' project for the past few months.

On this week's Podcast, Owen O'Connell tells me about the building of the new Rankin and that it is intended to have it on the water in May.

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The Rankin Dinghy of Cobh, Cork Harbour 

A Rankin is a traditional wooden dinghy which was built in Cobh, of which it’s believed there were 80 and of which The Rankin Dinghy Group has traced nearly half. 

The name of the Rankin dinghies is revered in Cork Harbour and particularly in the harbourside town of Cobh.

And the name of one of those boats is linked to the gunboat which fought against the Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Easter Rising and later for the emergent Irish Free State Government against anti-Treaty Forces during the Irish Civil War.

It also links the renowned boat-building Rankin family in Cobh, one of whose members crewed on the gunboat.

Maurice Kidney and Conor English are driving the restoration of the Rankin dinghies in Cork Harbour. They have discovered that Rankins were bought and sailed in several parts of the country.

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