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Ireland’s Most Sacred Nautical Relics Head For France’s Morbihan

19th May 2017
All lined up and ready to go.....the ancient Howth 17s have safely made it on trailers to Rosslare, and hope to transit France from Cherbourg tomorrow. In the foreground are the 1898-vintage Aura (cream hull) and astern of her is Leila, also 1898 All lined up and ready to go.....the ancient Howth 17s have safely made it on trailers to Rosslare, and hope to transit France from Cherbourg tomorrow. In the foreground are the 1898-vintage Aura (cream hull) and astern of her is Leila, also 1898 Photo: Judith Malcolm

Ireland’s oldest keelboat class, the Howth 17s which were founded in 1898, saw six of their boats depart Rosslare at 1600hrs today writes W M Nixon. All six have safely covered the first road stage of their long haul from Howth to the week-long Festival of the Sea on the Morbihan in southern Brittany.

Irish Ferries is so taken with the venture that they have provided free return passages for four of the flotilla and their towing vehicles. The group sharing of the cost of the remaining two extra boats has made it all a very manageable financial proposition indeed.

However, there’s still a long way to go to Vannes once they’ve disembarked tomorrow morning in Cherbourg. And as two of the boats – Roddy Cooper’s Leila and Ian Macolm’s Aura – are true vintage, being of the first five built by John Hilditch in 1898, they are not so much boats now, they’re rather more in the category of sacred relics.

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