Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Dublin Bay

The impression conveyed in the image above of good-humoured sport afloat at the first regatta from the new harbour of Kingstown on July 22nd 1828 is so lively that today we easily forgive the relatively unskilled work of the artist, and instead celebrate the significance of what he was trying to convey.

The congenial nautical sport in Dublin Bay and the new harbour marked such an advance in the history of sailing on Ireland's East Coast that when the Kingstown Harbour Bicentenary was being celebrated as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta of 2017 (it was the Bicentenary of the formal laying of the foundation stone in 1817), each class winner received the presentation of a framed version of this print which shows that, just eleven years on from the start of construction, the massive new harbour was sufficiently advanced to host an inaugural regatta of international standard.

You might well think that in such an atmosphere, all was sweetness and light afloat and ashore as the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 approached final approval. But some research around the yacht which finished second, the 69-tonner Ganymede owned by Colonel John Madden of Hilton Park in County Monaghan, has cast another light on the mood of the time, and given us extra insight into the febrile and occasionally violent atmosphere which prevailed.

To set the scene, at the centre of power in Dublin Castle, the top men seemed to be playing footsie with the role of Lord-Lieutenant. This position was officially but briefly filled at the time of the 1828 Regatta by a keen sailing pioneer, the Marquess of Anglesey, who will forever be known as the dashing cavalry leader who was on his horse beside the Duke of Wellington observing the final stages of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 when a whiff of shot came past so lethally close that Anglesey exclaimed:

"By God sir, I've lost my leg"

"By God sir" responded the Iron Duke, briefly glancing down before resuming his critical scanning of the battle scene, "so you have".

Despite this injury, Anglesey lived to 85, and thanks to a very ingenious early 19th Century prosthetics maker, the loss of his leg above the knee didn't seem to hamper his style at all – he remained a superb horseman, and some of his abundant peacetime energies went into advancing the sport of sailing.

At the time, the builder of the fastest cutters was one Philip Sainty of Wivenhoe in Essex. But he happened to be in gaol for persisting in building and sailing smuggling cutters which regularly out-performed the finest revenue vessels. For someone like Anglesey, that incarceration was a minor inconvenience to be overcome, and Sainty's Get Out Of Gaol Card was the commission to build Anglesey's 113-tonner Pearl.

Ace smuggler Philip Sainty's "Get-Out-Of-Gaol" Card – the extra-fast cutter PearlAce smuggler Philip Sainty's "Get-Out-Of-Gaol" Card – the extra-fast cutter Pearl

She was a cutter of legendary performance which the thoughtful owner seldom if ever raced, instead enhancing his vessel's reputation by doing a horizon job on any comparable vessel he happened to meet at sea. But when he served his first brief term as Ireland's Lord Lieutenant from 27th February 1828 until December of the same year, he reckoned a regatta with proper racing from the new harbour at what was already re-named Kingstown would be just the ticket, even if he would only be observing from Pearl, rather than indulge in the cut and thrust of racing.

As we know from the 1828 picture, the racing went well with the Earl of Errol with his 42-tonner Liberty winning from Colonel John Madden with his 69-tonner Ganymede, while a muscular Christian, the Rev D. George, came third with the 37-ton Thetis.

But Anglesey's days in the top job at the Castle were already numbered, as he'd sent an "injudicious" pro-Emancipation letter to a top Catholic cleric which his enemies were already leaking like nobody's business. So by the time of the Dublin Regatta of 1829 at Kingstown, the Duke of Northumberland – of the opposing faction – was top dog, but the fates didn't seem to approve.

Colonel John Madden (1782-1844) of Hilton Park, Co Monaghan, owner of the 69-ton cutter Ganymede. Courtesy Madden family.Colonel John Madden (1782-1844) of Hilton Park, Co Monaghan, owner of the 69-ton cutter Ganymede. Courtesy Madden family.

All this may seem distinctly complicated, but it's thank to Johnny Madden of Hilton Park in Monaghan – whose great-great-grandfather owned the Ganymede – that we're getting near the reality, as that noted specialist historian George Gossip of Connacht – let's have no inane comments about nominative determinism, please – has been delving into the details on behalf of the Madden story, and he has come up with something of pure gold from the Dublin Morning Register of Friday 3rd July 1829. We'll let it speak for itself:


Dublin Morning Register 3rd July 1829

KINGSTOWN REGATTA: The favourable state of the weather in the early part of yesterday allured an immense number to repair to the Regatta, and so numerous were the arrivals during the morning, that before eleven o'clock, the Forty-Foot road and the beach adjoining the harbour were densely crowded by carriages and other vehicles, belonging principally to the nobility and gentry.

There was, however, a larger attendance of the middling class than on the first day. At half-past eleven o'clock, his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant with the Duchess of Northumberland, and suite, arrived, and proceeded on board the Royal Charlotte. At this time the following vessels, entered for the Northumberland Prize of Sixty Guineas, were ready to slip their cables, and the usual signals having been given, they started:

Dolphin, 58 tons, Gower, Esq., R.Y.C., yellow and red horizontal.

Rob Roy, 50 tons, J. Meiklam, Esq., R Y.C., blue peter.

Ganymede, 69 tons, Colonel Madden, N.Y.C., red, white and red, horizontal.

Campora, of Liverpool, 148 tons, R. J. F. Williamson, Esq., white and red ball.

Vampire, 44 tons, Rev. D. George, R.Y.C., red.

Druid, of Cowes, 44 tons, R. Fox, Esq., R.Y.C., blue.

Young Paddy, of Cork, 42 tons, J. C. Beamish, Esq, C.Y.C., white and blue vertical.

Black Dwarf, of 62 tons, P. O'Kelly, Esq., N.Y.C., blue, white and blue, vertical.

Turk, Captain Kean, R.N., C.Y.C., union jack, red border.

The Ariel, which had been entered, did not start, but in her place, the Emerald Isle, belonging Mr. G. Gregg, swelled the number of the combatants.

Whilst the yachts were on their way through the harbour, the Campedora and the Black Dwarf came in contact, and intercepted the Ganymede which struck, with much force, against the Campedora.

The crews of the two last-named vessels, whilst they were in such disagreeable proximity, gave vent to their disappointment by attacking each other, and whilst the jolly tars of the Ganymede employed themselves in cutting the rigging of their opponent, the cook of the Campedora, armed with huge carving knife, presented himself before the master of the Ganymede, and fatal consequences might have resulted, if the hostile vessels had not speedily separated.

The Campedora, the largest yacht that has appeared at the Regatta, grounded near the pier, and the Ganymede, although she succeeded in passing into the bay, soon returned, as there was no chance, on account of the long delay, of getting up with the other vessels.

In consequence of this accident, the three largest vessels entered for the prize were prevented from proceeding; and the contest was between the Dolphin, Rob Roy, Vampire, Druid, Young Paddy of Cork, Emerald Isle, and Turk. The match was won by the Rob Roy, the Vampire being second, and the Druid third.

A few minutes before two o'clock, and whilst the yachts in the first match were out in the Bay, the following vessels sailed for the Twenty Guinea Prize:

Betsey, 18 tons, Hon. Col. Ward, N.Y.C., blue and red cross.

Gipsey, 19 tons, John Cooper, Esq. white and blue ball.

Fenella of Cork, 15 tons, Captain Berkeley, R.N., blue, white and red, horizontal.

Duke of Clarence 15 tons, Sir Edward Lees, union jack, white border.

Amelia of Milford, 10 tons, Captain B. Robertson, R.N., red pierced white.

This match was won easily by the Betsey, belonging to the Hon. Colonel Ward, who was on board, and actively engaged in steering his vessel.

Whilst the sailing matches were proceeding, there was a sharply contested boat race, for two cups of ten guineas value each, by gentlemen's six oared gigs. Two Liverpool boats were the only competitors —the name of the winner is the Harlequin.


The weather was very favourable until about two o'clock, and up to that hour the immense concourse of spectators on the beach appeared to receive much enjoyment from the gay scene before them; but suddenly there was a very heavy fall of rain, and in a few minutes the beach was quite deserted.

The rain continued to pour, with scarcely any intermission, during the remainder of the day, and totally put a stop to the sports on the land side. Crowds of pedestrians, in most pitiable plight, were to be seen in all directions, seeking for shelter; every tent was occupied, and high prices were offered for covered cars to town.

Many a bitter imprecation was uttered against the Regatta, as if the rain had not been the cause of all the calamity; and many a solemn vow was made, by the staid and sober heads of families who suffered under the pitiless element, that no "sea show" should ever again seduce them from their dry and comfortable homes.

The Regatta Committee had made most excellent arrangements. They had abundance of funds, plenty of yachts—splendid prizes—and there was in the metropolis a growing taste for nautical sports; but the Committee could not control the weather, and the Regatta for the present year has, therefore, been in a great measure a failure.

However disagreeable the day may ultimately have been for everyone else, there's no doubt the lowly journo reporting it for the Register was having the time of his life. And in the ups and downs of Irish life, the twists and turns continued in 1830, when we're told that there was no Dublin Regatta in 1830 because of the death in London of King George IV, soon after he had finally but with the greatest reluctance signed the Act of Emancipation.

But with fashionable Dublin reportedly turned off "sea shows" by 1829's atrocious weather and the brawls in the harbour, it will have done no harm to take a year's break, for by 1831 the new head of state was William IV, the Sailor King, and yachting development was able to come back into fashion.

So too was the Marquess of Anglesey, restored in Dublin and serving his second term as Lord Lieutenant from 4th December 1830 to 12th September 1833. As George Gossip drily comments, he put the time to good use on the domestic front, as he married three of his daughters off to Irish Peers. Politically, however, things weren't so happy for him, for although he'd been strongly in favour of Catholic Emancipation, he was out of tune with The Liberator Daniel O'Connell's next stage in Ireland's national revival, the repeal of the Act of Union.

The Marquess of Anglesey, first Commodore of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in 1831The Marquess of Anglesey, first Commodore of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in 1831

But in the new enthusiastically nautical mood of the time, he was able to be ahead of the curve in the formalisation of yacht clubs. In that entry list for the Regatta of 1829, it will be noted that only three clubs feature – the RYC, the NYC, and the CYC. The RYC was the Royal Yacht Club, founded in London in 1815, Cowes-based soon afterwards, and transformed by the Sailor King William IV into the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1833.

The NYC was the Northern Yacht Club, formed in Belfast in the Autumn of 1824 by an eclectic group, including brothers and former friends of Henry Joy McCracken, the executed leader of the 1798 United Irishmen uprising. A Scottish branch of the NYC was formed on the Clyde at Rothesay in the summer of 1825, and went from strength to strength such that in 1834 it became the Royal Northern YC.

The Belfast branch was to be wound up in 1838 partly because of the increasing dominance of Kingstown's new harbour in Irish sailing, but in the 1820s and early '30s it was still very active, and as it was the only club of significance on the East Coast of Ireland, its burgee was flown by such noted Dublin Bay sailors as John Madden and Pentony O'Kelly.

The CYC – notably represented in 1829's regatta by Caulfield Beamish with his own-designed Young Paddy (also known as Little Paddy) which won the still-extant Cork Harbour Regatta Cup of 1829 – was the Cork Yacht Club, re-constituted in 1801 from what remained of the Water Club of 1720, and soon to become the Royal Cork YC in 1831 as the Marquess of Anglesey set about giving Irish yachting a boost.

The Cork Harbour Regatta Cup of 1829, won by Caulfield Beamish in the same year as he competed in the Dublin Regatta, is now displayed in the RCYC Trophy Cabinet in Crosshaven. Photo courtesy RCYCThe Cork Harbour Regatta Cup of 1829, won by Caulfield Beamish in the same year as he competed in the Dublin Regatta, is now displayed in the RCYC Trophy Cabinet in Crosshaven. Photo courtesy RCYC


Although the Royal Irish Yacht Club didn't begin to formally come into being until September 1831 with meetings at the Gresham hotel (making it at heart a Northside club, don't y'know) it had a first season of sorts in Kingstown in 1831, and it's from around this time that a mystery arises.

It circulates around Colonel John Madden (1782-1844) and his yacht the Ganymede. Since 1734 the family home had been the decidedly stately pile of Hilton Park in west County Monaghan, but by the time our Colonel Madden inherited it in 1814, it was in a ruinous state and encumbered with debt, as his father seems to have run it as an unsuccessful private casino.

Hilton Park in County Monaghan, classic style in the heat of high summerHilton Park in County Monaghan, classic style in the heat of high summer

But the younger Madden was something else altogether, and with sheer hard work in running the huge farm – he became a leading expert in breeding Shorthorn cattle – while being boosted by helpful legacies from appreciative relatives keen to salvage the family name, he turned the fortunes of the massive estate around, such that by 1820 he could relax sufficiently to think of putting more energy into another interest – sailing.

Shrewdly realising that the new harbour on Dublin Bay would boost the locality's sailing activity, in 1820 he set in train the construction of a "seaside lodge" which became Ballygihan House in Sandycove. Quite when he acquired the 69-ton cutter Ganymede we don't know, but his summer residences in Ballygihan House and sailing and match-racing in the Bay and the Irish Sea became an important part of his life, as the new harbour provided the ideal summer base for his yacht, and in winter she could be safely berthed in the 1796-opened Grand Canal Basin in Dublin.

John Madden built Ballygihan House (left) in Sandycove around 1820 to be a handy "summer cottage" when sailing from the new harbour at Kingstown. It wasn't finally demolished until 1984.John Madden built Ballygihan House (left) in Sandycove around 1820 to be a handy "summer cottage" when sailing from the new harbour at Kingstown. It wasn't finally demolished until 1984

He and his crews developed their skills such that by 1831, as the soon-to-be-born Royal Irish Yacht Club was already making itself felt on Dublin Bay, they were reckoned one of the crack boats. And it's from that period that Johnny Madden can remember a top quality Irish silver soup tureen which suggests that in 1830, 1831 or 1832, Ganymede won a race around Ireland. He writes:

"Sadly, the superb lidded silver tureen, that was the centrepiece of the dining table in my youth, was sold by my father in the 1970s. It was sold through Alain Chawner auctioneers, and was allegedly bought by Dublin silver dealer Louis Wine. The tureen was oval, with dolphin handles on either end and a seahorse handle on the lid. On one side was a yacht in relief, which may have been Ganymede, on the other an inscription stating that it was awarded to Col. Madden for winning a race right around Ireland in Ganymede".

It would be a huge change in our perceptions of Irish sailing history if it could be proven that there was a first race around Ireland in 1831 or thereabouts, and it's frustrating to think that somewhere, hidden away in a collection of that legendary Dublin silverware of the period, there may still be a handsome soup tureen which gives credence to the idea.

That said, delivery voyages halfway around Ireland must have featured before the Famine of 1845 closed down sailing on the west coast, as the Royal Western of Ireland Yacht Club, founded at Kilrush in 1828, was mentioned as having a fleet of 18 substantial yachts based mainly in the Shannon Estuary by 1838, and as they figured in regatta results of the time at other venues, the "Regatta Progression" will have seen it making sense for them to head out round one half of Ireland to join the sport, and return to Kilrush at season's end via the other half.

Thus the concept of a round Ireland race will not have seemed entirely out of the question in 1830, for by 1860, when the first Dublin Bay to Cork Harbour Race was sailed, there was no debate about whether or not it could be done. On the contrary, the challenge was to get enough of the assertive and argumentative sportsmen of the time to agree to take part at one and the same time.

Lines of the 80-ton Corsair, designed and built for John Madden by Michae Ratsey of Cowes in 1832Lines of the 80-ton Corsair, designed and built for John Madden by Michae Ratsey of Cowes in 1832

Be that as it may, things were moving quickly in the sailing and social career of Colonel Madden of the Monaghan Regiment, and he became decidedly friendly with both the RIYC's first Commodore, the Marquess of Anglesey, and the Vice Commodore, the Marquess of Donegall, both of whom were also leading figures in the Royal Yacht Club in Cowes. Thus by the time the RYC became the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1833, John Madden was well established as a member, and he was sailing his new yacht, the 80-ton cutter Corsair designed and built for him by Michael Ratsey of Cowes in 1832.

Corsair as she was rigged when cruised to Italy in 1833-1835Corsair as she was rigged when cruised to Italy in 1833-1835

As it happened, not every part of Corsair was designed by Michael Ratsey. It seems that the carving-knife-armed intervention of the presumably Liverpudlian ship's cook of the big schooner Campedora from Merseyside, in the in-harbour battle with the crew of Ganymede in 1829, may have made a special impression on John Madden. For he personally designed the complete galley on Corsair, while further evidence of his serious voyaging intentions is still to be seen at Hilton Park in a Dublin silver "seagoing teapot", hall-marked 1833, with a broad base and handle on the side.

The broad-based seagoing teapot, hallmarked Dublin silver from 1833, is believed to have been carried aboard Corsair on her Italian cruiseThe broad-based seagoing teapot, hallmarked Dublin silver from 1833, is believed to have been carried aboard Corsair on her Italian cruise

But then he knew a galley and utensils which worked well at sea would be important for his plans, for despite racing success with the new cutter, his intention was to take a cruise with Corsair to the Mediterranean as soon as possible, while he was still a bachelor. The cruise took place between 1833 and 1835, and when Corsair returned after more than a few adventures, she brought back with her a complete and very elegant Italian marble fireplace, as one does.

The marble fireplace in the drawing-room at Hilton Park was sailed home from Italy aboard Corsair in 1835.The marble fireplace in the drawing-room at Hilton Park was sailed home from Italy aboard Corsair in 1835

It's still there in the drawing-room at Hilton Park, where Johnny and Lucy Madden's son Fred and his wife Joanna – the ninth generation of Maddens in this most hospitable place – will soon be opening the post-pandemic doors for discerning guests. For as you'll have gathered, the free-as-a-bird Colonel Madden who jaunted off for his sailing Grand Tour in Italy in 1833 was soon to have his wings clipped with marriage to the daughter of Admiral Wolseley in 1835. And the new Mrs Madden was soon ominously saying that his yachting habit was costing him at least £1,000 a year (the equivalent of millions today), whereas her daddy was getting his sailing for nothing - if you can imagine such blunt language translated into a polite Jane Austen-style exchange of views.

The upshot was that very rapidly the Colonel down-sized to a new handy little cutter called Dandy, and future sailing was confined to modest ventures from Kingstown, and frugal use of Ballygihan House as a summer base, while the income of the Hilton estate was optimized with careful management.

Perhaps it's overstating the case to say that the days of wine and roses were over, but from being a man in his prime strutting his stuff at Cowes with his friends from the Squadron, while his new Ratsey cutter Corsair lay elegantly at anchor in the Roads prior to departing for the Mediterranean, the Colonel's horizons were now reduced to the small hills of Monaghan, and the views of Howth Head across Dublin Bay.

Quite when the latter was taken out of the equation is not certain – it's thought to have been in the early 1840s that Ballygihan and Dandy were sold, and everything removable was brought home to Hilton Park.

The Colonel died young at the age of 62 in 1844, but he would have known that under the ownership of John Congreve of the Waterford family, his beloved 80-ton Corsair had been written into the racing records of sailing in a big way in August 1842. This was with a 130-mile match race with the 84-ton Talisman from the Solent to the Eddystone Lighthouse off Plymouth and back, sailed in a near-gale from the east, which meant all the pain was in the return leg.

"Closely-matched" is scarcely adequate for the outcome, for on a boat-for-boat basis the marginally smaller Corsair won by just one minute and 30 seconds. Far away in the high summer somnolence of deepest Monaghan, it will have been a result savoured with mixed feelings by Corsair's original owner.

Corsair – with her rig altered to a yawl – narrowly leading Talisman in the outward leg of the August 1842 Solent-Eddystone-Solent Match Race. After a very rugged beat back to the finish, Corsair won by one minute and 30 seconds. From the painting by Nicholas Condy of PlymouthCorsair – with her rig altered to a yawl – narrowly leading Talisman in the outward leg of the August 1842 Solent-Eddystone-Solent Match Race. After a very rugged beat back to the finish, Corsair won by one minute and 30 seconds. From the painting by Nicholas Condy of Plymouth

But in such a place and a house like this, you take a long and different view. As Johnny Madden has observed, going into some of this history, with the possibility that there may have been a Round Ireland Race a clear 150 years before Wicklow Sailing Club inaugurated the modern event in 1980, has given him fresh insight into some other items in the Hilton Park inventory.

"For instance" he says, "we have this dining table with a complete set of matching chairs which I'd reckon to be dated from very closely around 1820. I'd sometimes wondered how we've something so new about the place. Now I realise it must have been brought back from the holiday cottage at Sandycove when the Colonel finally pulled in his sailing horns".

When "something so new" refers to 1820, you're definitely set in a different perspective.

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

The light-bellied brent goose that made a welcome return to Dublin Bay in October is already planning the return journey to breeding grounds in Canada after spending the winter in Ireland.

Over the last few months, you may have spotted the familiar guest returning to the capital's shores and other Irish estuarial waters. They spend the winter feeding on eelgrass in estuaries and on crops in adjoining fields. The same birds return to the same fields year after year.

According to Dublin Bay Biosphere, approximately 30,000 of these birds migrate 3,000 km to Ireland each year for the winter season, arriving at Strangford Lough before moving on again to establish homes for themselves at coastal estuaries across the country.

Popular spots to see these visitors include Wexford Harbour, Lough Foyle, Tralee Bay, and Dublin Bay

In April, Brent Geese leave the UK and Ireland and head north again. The pale-bellied brent geese stopover in Iceland. Here they fatten up, increasing their weight by up to 40 per cent in preparation for the final 3,000 km (1,865 mile) flight over frozen Greenland to their breeding grounds in Canada. 

Click here to read more, from Dublin Bay Biosphere:

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

A Dublin Bay sea mist that lay in the middle of the bay most of the morning had enveloped most of the south shore by lunchtime, reducing visibility down to 50 metres or less at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The morning had seen a large number of different types of pleasure craft enjoying the bright sunshine and calm conditions. 

Met Eireann had forecast Northeast or variable force 3 winds with some patches of mist or fog.

There were groups of different dinghy classes, sailing cruisers as well as fishing boats, jet skis and motor cruisers all enjoying one of the first weekends of 2021 afloat. 

The Stena Ferry disappears in the mist Photo: Barry O'NeillThe Stena Ferry disappears in the mist Photo: Barry O'Neill

Canoeists and paddleboarders and rowing boats hugged the shore at Scotsman's Bay as the mist grew thicker.

There were plenty of swimmers and day-trippers sampling the admittedly very cold February waters of just 7 degrees.

The extent of the mist meant that by 2.30 pm there most boating activities were kerbed with the fog lifting just after 4 pm.

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

Dublin Bay Old Gaffers’ Association invites all to join their next Zoom session on Shipwrecks Around Dublin Bay, which will be given by Cormac Lowth on Thursday 25th February at 20.00hrs.

Following on from his extremely popular talk on the loss of the Palme and the tragic demise of the Kingstown Lifeboat in 1895, the renowned maritime archaeologist and historian Cormac Lowth will talk on “Shipwrecks Around Dublin Bay.” Based on historical research, hydrographic surveys, underwater photography and data from his own diving expeditions, Cormac will reveal the stories behind many of the shipwrecks hidden under the waves of Dublin Bay and the nearby coast.

Only partially protected by the offshore shoals of the Bennet and Kish Banks, Dublin Bay has proved to be a graveyard for many ships. Closer inshore the Burford and Rosbeg Banks lie in wait for the unwary.

The sinking of the Queen Victoria

Cormac will describe the sinking of the Queen Victoria in 1853, the Tayleur on Lambay in 1854, the Vanguard in 1875, the Palme in 1895 and the Bolivar in 1947 to name but a few. If you are interested in Dublin Bay and marine archaeology you will not want to miss this talk.

Please be early to be sure of getting a good seat!

DBOGA Fundraising for HOWTH RNLI: Pre-Covid, DBOGA listened to talks together at Poolbegwhile passing the Yellow Welly around for your €5 lifeboat donation. In Zoom Land we can’t do that, but the RNLI urgently needs funds. Please click on: Thank you - we are nearly halfway to our target of €4,000.

The details of this Zoom meeting are:

• Topic: Cormac Lowth Talk
• Time: February 25th 2021, at 20.00hrs

Donate to RNLI here

Zoom Link here

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

The Irish Coast Guard rescued two swimmers after they ran into difficulty while swimming at the Forty Foot bathing place on Dublin Bay yesterday.

The incident occurred earlier today as the swimmers required help in the choppy sea. The Dun Laoghaire Harbour branch of the Coast Guard confirmed that one of the swimmers also required medical assistance.

Thankfully, all persons are understood to be ok.

Personnel from the National Ambulance Service, Dublin Fire Brigade, RNLI Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station, and An Garda Síochána were required during the rescue operation.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said: "We have had two callouts this morning involving swimmers. Conditions are unsafe along our coastline and continue to be unsafe for the rest of the week due to strong easterly winds.

Published in Forty Foot Swimming
3rd February 2021

Jimmy Fitzpatrick 1957-2021

One of Dublin Bay's great sailing characters Jimmy Fitzpatrick of the Royal Irish Yacht Club has sadly passed away.

A true corinthian of sailing Jimmy Fitz was very well known both here and abroad. While he sailed out of the Royal Irish, he could be spotted most seasons holding court on the balconies of all the waterfront clubs. He was on first-name terms with everyone. All who met or sailed with Jimmy would agree that a friendlier, considerate or more entertaining companion was hard to find. He had a deep raucous laugh that was not easily missed.

In honour of Jimmy's life, the flags of each of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, the Royal St. George Yacht Club and the National Yacht Club were flown at half-mast on the day of his funeral last Thursday, January 28.

Like many, he was bitten by the bug when introduced to sailing at the age of seven by his brother Richard. Jimmy later became a head instructor with the Royal Irish and the Royal St George and also instructed in the National Yacht Club alongside current Dublin Bay Sailing Club Commodore Ann Kirwan.

He attended the 50th-anniversary dinner of the N.Y.C. junior section organised by Carmel Winkelmann, where many stories of regattas in Mount Shannon and Rosslare were regaled. Jimmy was very much the Rodney Marsh of sailing, moments of brilliance on the water while partying hard onshore. He knew what it was like to cross the line first in a Dragon Gold Cup race. Win a Wednesday night Wag race. In the Fireball Nationals in Sligo in the early 80s, he beat Adrian and Maeve Bell to a race gun.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick at the helm of his Fireball on Dublin Bay in the 1980sJimmy Fitzpatrick at the helm of his Fireball on Dublin Bay (with Michael Blaney on the wire) in the 1980s

At the time the Bells were in the top three in the world, on crossing the line Jimmy jumped overboard to celebrate and later that night the husband and wife duo magnanimously presented Jimmy and crew Mick Blaney with a bottle of Champagne. Years later, Jimmy and Mick nearly divorced when Jimmy simultaneously put the mast through the floor of the boat and his dad's garage roof in a late post regatta parking manoeuvre. Jimmy co-skippered alongside Mark Mansfield, a boat sponsored by his employers AIB in the 1988 Round Ireland Race. In 2004, Jimmy's nephew Rory represented Ireland at the Olympics in Greece. Jimmy worked hard behind the scenes to help Rory gather funds for the campaign to get him qualified.

It was when Jimmy got to UCD that his real passion in sailing developed; it was Team Racing. Jimmy competed in hundreds of team racing events over the years. He won the colours match for U.C.D. three years in a row setting the platform for the Rhinos (Spike, Joe Blaney & Marto Byrne) to go win it for another three years after that. In the '80s Jimmy moved to London and his flat became a focal point for not only Irish team racers but all the UK teams. He guest-helmed for the Nottingham Outlaws at the Illingworth trophy organised by HMRN. At the time the Outlaws were one of the top teams in the UK He set up his own team of sailors based in London and called them the Wild Geese. It was never clear what the criteria for qualification were but an ability to party was essential. Jimmy even managed to get a few West Kirby sailors to sail with the Wild Geese when short on numbers.

While competing at the Wilson Trophy one year, West Kirby had decided to try something different and hired a top sports commentator from Radio Liverpool to do some commentary on the team racing on the lake. They even installed a stand beside the caravan where the commentator was based. After a few hours, not even one man and his dog was watching or listening to what was unfolding and to make matters worse, the poor commentator knew nothing about sailing. Toll Smith a grandee of WKSC saddled up to Jimmy who was holding court in the wet bar and asked if he would mind spending a few minutes with the commentator to give him a few pointers on the sport. After a short conversation, the commentator from Liverpool Radio suggested to Jimmy he has a go at commentating on the next race. He passed the microphone to Jimmy and as they say the rest is history. Four hours later, Jimmy emerged from the caravan to a standing ovation from a full stand and a big crowd all around the lake. Jimmy later went on to commentate on the team racing worlds held in the Royal St.George, on the Sydney Olympics with RTE and was also invited to commentate with Sky Sports on a fledging International 14ft circuit.

Team racing appealed to Jimmy because he loved the camaraderie and people loved being in his company. He was very involved in the hearings on whether Commercial Cruise Ships should be allowed enter Dun Laoghaire Harbour. In the last decade, Jimmy struggled with his mental health, and many in the sailing community did their best to help him through difficult times.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick (third from right) sailing on Mick Blaney's (standing) 31.7 in the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: AfloatJimmy Fitzpatrick (third from right) sailing on Mick Blaney's (standing) 31.7 in the 2019 Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: Afloat

Jimmy still managed to compete with Mick Blaney on his Beneteau 31.7 right up till racing was cancelled last July. Despite the pressures, he was going through his ability to spot a wind shift never left him. Jimmy would have been the first to point out that when we sail, we always take precautions for our own safety and that of our crew. So onshore let's not forget to take care of our mental safety and that of our friends.

Jimmy Fitzpatrick in his role as race officer for the Water Wags on Lough BodergJimmy Fitzpatrick in his role as race officer for the Water Wags on Lough Boderg

Team racing and Dublin Bay will be the poorer for the loss of the unbridled enthusiasm of Jimmy Fitz. He only had one speed, and that was full-on.

Fair winds my friend.


More photo memories of Jimmy have been provided by his friends and family here

Published in Team Racing

Saturday's strong northeasterly winds that kicked up such a storm in the south of Dublin Bay (as our photos of the Dun Laoghaire baths site showed) also presented some ideal surf conditions for Stand Up Paddleboarders (SUPs) in the north-west of the Bay at the Shelley Banks at the Irishtown nature reserve.

Afloat reader Colm Boland sent us the images of a paddleboarder enjoying the wind and the waves in the capital's waters at the weekend. 

As Afloat reported in 2018, there can also be some good wave action in the north of the Bay at Dollymount Beach depending on wind direction and the arrival times of the cross channel ferries. 

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

North Sails Ireland’s Maurice “Prof” O’Connell’s top ten tips talk to RIYC Members and guests pulled in the crowds with a record-breaking 105 attending.

Prof’s insights for racing in Dublin Bay ranged on how to gain maximum advantage through adequate preparation before going afloat, through to the start line to sail trim principles/set-up and key boat handling manoeuvres for rounding marks.

Prof brought the audience through Dublin Bay geography and topography, the DBSC course card design, logic, mark locations and geometry as well as Dublin Bay currents.

He talked through the importance of correct onboard communications and providing clear information fundamental to sailing the correct course.

Prof, who never misses a DBSC race with his customers unless he is out of the country, concluded with “Rules of Thumb” for Dublin Bay racers. The talk was part of the RIYC  “Home Together” series of virtual talks.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club

2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged. For the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part.

Lasers are proving to be a very versatile boat, especially in these turbulent times. Local active sailors range in age from teenagers as young as 13 right through to adults in their 50s and 60s. The fleet is also very well balanced between female and male sailors with both genders across the ages competing as equals, particularly in the Radial and 4.7 rigs.

"with the constant changes in COVID restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience"

Local class captain Brendan Hughes explained why there is an expectation of even bigger numbers in 2021; “We’ve seen interest in the fleet continue to grow especially amongst adults. Many of these already sail cruisers but with the constant changes in restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience. We’re the only large fleet that has been able to get out on the water in nearly all levels of lockdown.”

As a competitive single-hander, Hughes acknowledges that the Laser can be perceived by some as a challenging boat to sail. “In 20 knots, the Laser can be a challenge for sure! However, there has been a lot of effort put into training across Dun Laoghaire. Right throughout the year, there is coaching taking place for beginners and competitive sailors at both junior and adult level.” The increase in coaching availability over the past number of years is acknowledged by many new sailors as being critical in making this class more accessible.

Dublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan HughesDublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan Hughes

In addition, constant adjustments to racing formats have helped to ensure the Laser fleet remains vibrant. During 2020, the DBSC dinghy race officers introduced Saturday racing in addition to Tuesday evening racing for the Laser fleet. This proved to be extremely popular and the Laser fleet was eager to see this continued in 2021. The club has confirmed that the format will continue for the new season of the AIB DBSC Summer Series with the entry fee covering both Tuesdays and Saturdays for all sailors.

A number of headline events in 2021 taking place in Dublin Bay are expected to drive continued interest from new sailors. The Irish Laser Master Nationals event will be hosted in Dun Laoghaire’s Royal St George Yacht Club from 12th -13th June. This event is open to all sailors over the age of 35 and the organisers expect to have 50+ boats from across the country participate.

A recent survey of local Laser sailors revealed that over 120 boats intend to participate in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta One Design Championship taking place 2nd - 4th July. “If even two-thirds of that number participate in this new format, it would be the largest one-design fleet on the water at this year’s event, which is very exciting.” says Hughes.

August sees the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) 4.7 World Championship coming to Dublin Bay. Local organisers are expecting several hundred youth sailors from across the globe to participate in this event. This event will be one of the biggest sailing events to take place in Ireland this year and is a great opportunity for our younger sailors to participate on the world stage.

Afloat also hears that planning has begun amongst the Masters fleet to send a delegation to Malta in November. EurILCA, the European Laser organisation is holding its Euro Masters Regatta at Royal Malta Yacht Club from 4th - 7th November.

With a mix of local, national and international Laser events taking place in Dublin Bay this summer, it sounds like another big year for the fleet. More information on Laser sailing in Dun Laoghaire is available by emailing [email protected]

Published in Laser
Tagged under

Howth Lifeboat Station Community Safety Officer John McKenna has been awarded a long service medal by the RNLI.

In 2020, McKenna (73) reached a milestone: 21 years of volunteering for the RNLI and saving lives at sea. 

He has been telling the RNLI’s own magazine about his decision to join the RNLI in the first place, his role and how influencing people’s behaviour can be a skilful and powerful tool in lifesaving.

John works as part of a team of six in the Community Safety Team at Howth, one fo Ireland’s busiest stations.

“We all work together to educate and give free water safety advice to everyone who visits the coast in our local communities, from walkers to sailors. As the Community Safety Officer, I lead and help coordinate the team, he told the magazine.

Every lifeboat station has a Community Lifesaving Plan which identifies the most popular water activities within a community so that volunteers like me can give relevant water safety advice to those most at risk. 

John told the RNLI “ I was at sea in a big cargo ship on the night of 9 December 1981 when the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne and her crew perished. It was one hell of a night. We made a collection from all onboard and sent it to Penlee. The tragedy also inspired me to become an Offshore RNLI member. 

Then 14 years later, on 16 November 1995, I was driving home from Belfast after spending a week on a ferry as senior officer. As I was coming into Howth, I could hear a helicopter. I drove along the harbour and saw the trawler Scarlet Buccaneer being thrown up and down the harbour wall and the lifeboat crew trying to save the fishermen onboard. It was horrendous. There was a full gale blowing. The next day I saw the wreck of the Scarlet Buccaneer in two halves. Thankfully, the lifeboat crew managed to rescue all four fishermen but sadly one died on the way to the hospital. I decided there and then that if I ever got a shore job, I would become an RNLI volunteer.  

More of the interview with John McKenna is here

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under
Page 8 of 101

Howth Yacht Club information

Howth Yacht Club is the largest members sailing club in Ireland, with over 1,700 members. The club welcomes inquiries about membership - see top of this page for contact details.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is 125 years old. It operates from its award-winning building overlooking Howth Harbour that houses office, bar, dining, and changing facilities. Apart from the Clubhouse, HYC has a 250-berth marina, two cranes and a boat storage area. In addition. its moorings in the harbour are serviced by launch.

The Club employs up to 31 staff during the summer and is the largest employer in Howth village and has a turnover of €2.2m.

HYC normally provides an annual programme of club racing on a year-round basis as well as hosting a full calendar of International, National and Regional competitive events. It operates a fleet of two large committee boats, 9 RIBs, 5 J80 Sportboats, a J24 and a variety of sailing dinghies that are available for members and training. The Club is also growing its commercial activities afloat using its QUEST sail and power boat training operation while ashore it hosts a wide range of functions each year, including conferences, weddings, parties and the like.

Howth Yacht Club originated as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. In 1968 Howth Sailing Club combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club. The new clubhouse was opened in 1987 with further extensions carried out and more planned for the future including dredging and expanded marina facilities.

HYC caters for sailors of all ages and run sailing courses throughout the year as part of being an Irish Sailing accredited training facility with its own sailing school.

The club has a fully serviced marina with berthing for 250 yachts and HYC is delighted to be able to welcome visitors to this famous and scenic area of Dublin.

New applications for membership are always welcome

Howth Yacht Club FAQs

Howth Yacht Club is one of the most storied in Ireland — celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 — and has an active club sailing and racing scene to rival those of the Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Clubs on the other side of Dublin Bay.

Howth Yacht Club is based at the harbour of Howth, a suburban coastal village in north Co Dublin on the northern side of the Howth Head peninsula. The village is around 13km east-north-east of Dublin city centre and has a population of some 8,200.

Howth Yacht Club was founded as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. Howth Sailing Club later combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the village’s West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club.

The club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. In addition, Howth Yacht Club prides itself as being a world-class international sailing event venue and hosts many National, European and World Championships as part of its busy annual sailing schedule.

As of November 2020, the Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club is Ian Byrne, with Paddy Judge as Vice-Commodore (Clubhouse and Administration). The club has two Rear-Commodores, Neil Murphy for Sailing and Sara Lacy for Junior Sailing, Training & Development.

Howth Yacht Club says it has one of the largest sailing memberships in Ireland and the UK; an exact number could not be confirmed as of November 2020.

Howth Yacht Club’s burgee is a vertical-banded pennant of red, white and red with a red anchor at its centre. The club’s ensign has a blue-grey field with the Irish tricolour in its top left corner and red anchor towards the bottom right corner.

The club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. In addition, Howth Yacht Club prides itself as being a world-class international sailing event venue and hosts many National, European and World Championships as part of its busy annual sailing schedule.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has an active junior section.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club hosts sailing and powerboat training for adults, juniors and corporate sailing under the Quest Howth brand.

Among its active keelboat and dinghy fleets, Howth Yacht Club is famous for being the home of the world’s oldest one-design racing keelboat class, the Howth Seventeen Footer. This still-thriving class of boat was designed by Walter Herbert Boyd in 1897 to be sailed in the local waters off Howth. The original five ‘gaff-rigged topsail’ boats that came to the harbour in the spring of 1898 are still raced hard from April until November every year along with the other 13 historical boats of this class.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has a fleet of five J80 keelboats for charter by members for training, racing, organised events and day sailing.

The current modern clubhouse was the product of a design competition that was run in conjunction with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 1983. The winning design by architects Vincent Fitzgerald and Reg Chandler was built and completed in March 1987. Further extensions have since been made to the building, grounds and its own secure 250-berth marina.

Yes, the Howth Yacht Club clubhouse offers a full bar and lounge, snug bar and coffee bar as well as a 180-seat dining room. Currently, the bar is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Catering remains available on weekends, take-home and delivery menus for Saturday night tapas and Sunday lunch.

The Howth Yacht Club office is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm. Contact the club for current restaurant opening hours at [email protected] or phone 01 832 0606.

Yes — when hosting sailing events, club racing, coaching and sailing courses, entertaining guests and running evening entertainment, tuition and talks, the club caters for all sorts of corporate, family and social occasions with a wide range of meeting, event and function rooms. For enquiries contact [email protected] or phone 01 832 2141.

Howth Yacht Club has various categories of membership, each affording the opportunity to avail of all the facilities at one of Ireland’s finest sailing clubs.

No — members can join active crews taking part in club keelboat and open sailing events, not to mention Pay & Sail J80 racing, charter sailing and more.

Fees range from €190 to €885 for ordinary members.
Memberships are renewed annually.

©Afloat 2020