Martin Byrne, noted International Dragon sailor and former Commodore of the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire, has happy memories of family sailing going back more than fifty years, when his parents decided that it was a sport which provided genuine opportunities for all-family involvement, and they first went afloat with Greystones Sailing Club in County Wicklow.
As they became more deeply involved, their focus afloat moved to Dun Laoghaire, where Martin’s late father John became Commodore of the National Yacht Club, while Martin himself was drawn into the Royal St George YC and eventually rose to be its senior Flag Officer.
But while Dragon racing at the highest level was obviously rewarding (he has won the Edinburgh Cup among other major trophies), he and his wife Triona reckoned that the purest form of sailing in Dun Laoghaire is provided by the venerable Water Wag One-Design dinghies, which were founded in 1887 and currently sail a 14ft 3in clinker-built design which dates from 1900.
The wish to get involved provided Martin and Triona with the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance to get a new Water Wag built to the highest classic standards by the legendary master craftsman Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob in West Cork.
The attention to detail, quality of finish, and adherence to the traditions of the class were at the highest level. And workmanship of this quality is not created in a matter of weeks. But at the weekend the new Water Wag – No 49 – made her debut at the Royal St George with an introductory party for the Byrne family – there were four generations present – together with Dun Laoghaire’s keen Water Wag Class, who numbers have never been stronger.
Guest of Honour was Martin’s mother Hilda, after whom the new boat has been named – she was delighted to be involved in a multi-generational celebration of a family tradition which began all those years ago on the north Wicklow coast, and is now being marked in a very special way.