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Ireland’s Eye Gives Howth Sailing a Look-In

7th May 2017
The view northward over Howth towards Ireland’s Eye with Lambay beyond The view northward over Howth towards Ireland’s Eye with Lambay beyond

For the second Saturday running, the picturesque island of Ireland’s Eye has enabled Howth Yacht Club to have a Saturday sailing programme despite strong onshore winds which saw cancellations elsewhere writes W M Nixon.

Last weekend, a rising sou’easter threatened to create mayhem in the Selection Trials for the university crew to represent Ireland in the Student Yachting Worlds at Marseilles in the Autumn. But although the programme was slightly curtailed, a clear winner had emerged in the shape of UCD captained by Will Byrne.

Yesterday, the morning’s strong to gale force nor’easterly led to the cancellation of racing in Dublin Bay. But with a pier start at Howth and the shelter of the Sound inside Ireland’s Eye to enable everyone to settle down before facing a full-blooded windward slug to the north of the island in a now easing wind, the venerable Howth Seventeens were able to complete their first Saturday race of the season.

They made a real job of it, with the open sea beat done twice before they returned down to the Sound to the finish. The Massey Syndicate’s Deilginis (built 1907), helmed by Luke Massey, found her groove to do something of a horizon job on the rest of the fleet. Ian Malcolm’s Aura (built 1898) was second, while one of the “new” boats, the 1988-built Isobel (Conor & Brian Turvey) was third.

irelands eye3betterThe Howth 17 Deilginis narrowly leading Aura at the Glandore Classic Boat Regatta 2003. In yesterday’s first Saturday race of 2017, the order was the same, but the gap was greater. Photo: W M Nixon

As for how Ireland’s Eye got its name, it really couldn’t be simpler. The first written records refer to it as Inish Nessan, as Nessan was the local saint and you can still see the remains of her miniature abbey on the island. Then it became Inish Eria, as another woman had taken over, one Eria. When the Vikings arrived, Eria’s Island became Eria’s Oy. That in time became Eria’s Eye. The in a slip of the pen by a 16th Century map maker, it became Erin’s Eye. The subsequent tendency to obliterate anything that even hinted at Gaelic origins saw it become Ireland’s Eye. And so it remains, something which so improves sailing out of Howth that, as mentioned last week, if it didn’t exist we’d have to invent it.

irelands eye3betterDrone’e eye view from above Ireland’s Eye southward towards Howth Harbour, showing that even in fresh onshore breezes the island still provides enough shelter to get a race under way from a pier start. Photo Tomas Ryan

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