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The Return of the 'Wexford' Tall-Ship

23rd March 2011
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The Return of the 'Wexford' Tall-Ship
The New Ross based replica famine sailing barque Dunbrody opened yesterday to visitors for the first time this year after completion of a refit, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Since November the 458-tonnes barque (see photo) has been under maintenance in the dry-dock at the New Ross Boat Yard. On Saturday morning she was eased out of the dry-dock and was moored opposite on the far bank of the River Barrow at the Marshmeadows berth. It was not until yesterday morning that she made the short distance upriver to return to her County Wexford 'homeport'.

A grant of €1m from Fáilte Ireland was allocated towards the cost of the refit as part of the National Development Plan (NDP). Visitors can now take guided tours of the floating tourist attraction though access to the shoreside visitor centre remains closed due to an upgrade. Work on an extension of a new exhibition centre is expected to be completed in May or June.

Dunbrody is a full scale reconstruction of the 19th century replica famine-ship based on the vessel built in 1845 in Quebec, Canada for the Graves family of New Ross. Ireland's most inland port being made famous with the visit of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to the same quayside where Dunbrody is berthed.

To date the Dunbrody's presence outside her homeport has been scarce. During the Waterford Tall Ships Festival in 2005 she took part in a memorable and historic 'Parade of Sail' where she formed as part of the trio of Irish tall ships that met together for the only time. The sailing spectacle of the international fleet was headed firstly by the Irish trio with Asgard II leading followed by Dunbrody and astern the Jeanie Johnston.

In the following year Dunbrody made her maiden and only international voyage to Milford Haven in south Wales. The Pembrokeshire estuary had hosted the new festival, Seafair Haven. On that occasion she had the honour of leading another parade of sail, under the command of Captain Tom McCarthy.

Dunbrody was last dry-docked in 2006 and also at the New Ross boatyard which lies on the Co. Kilkenny side of the riverbank. The 176 foot / 54 metre barque was built in 2001 and was last vessel completed at the boatyard. During her building the public could access the yard and the construction process could be viewed from above at a gallery set within the covered building hall.

The structure no longer exists but which was built originally for the Ross Company boatyard during the 1970's. The yard specialised in building barge pontoons for markets in the North Sea until the premises closed in the 1980's. In recent years and under new management the dry-dock (75m X 15m) has been upgraded with a new gate and pump.

Looking for further reading on Tall Ships in Ireland? Click the links below:

Click this link to read all our Tall Ships Stories on one handy page


Previewing Ireland's Tall Ships 2011 Season


Can Ireland Get a New Tall Ship?

Published in Tall Ships
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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