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Sail Trainees Were Stars of the Show At Sail Training Ireland Annual Launch & Prize Giving Event

30th January 2017
Maritime journalist Marcus Connaughton was MC at a celebration of Sail Training in Ireland Maritime journalist Marcus Connaughton was MC at a celebration of Sail Training in Ireland

On Saturday 28th January 2017, Sail Training Ireland (STIRL) held their 5th Annual Prize Giving and Season Launch event in the Oak Room at the Mansion house in Dublin, courtesy of Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr writes Daragh Sheridan.

Master of ceremonies was the well-known RTÉ Radio 1 Seascapes presenter and Sail Training Ireland Goodwill Ambassador Marcus Connaughton.

The event was a celebration of Sail Training in Ireland involving those involved in every aspect of Sail Training, Port companies, City and County Councils, sponsors, vessel operators, nominating organisations, mentors and trainees. These diverse groups are all blended together with the support of Sail Training Ireland to produce something very special. The stars of the show were as ever the trainees and their fantastic stories of how their sail training experience has such a significant impact on their lives.

Sail Training Ireland All Award Winners 2017Sail Training Ireland Award Winners 2017 at the Mansion House

We heard from Cllr. Ruairi McGinley attending on behalf of the Mayor and from Sail Training Ireland Chairman Seamus Mc Loughlin. Daragh Sheridan, CEO of Sail Training Ireland also announced the launch of the 2017 Voyage Schedule. (A full schedule of the schedule is attached below).

The prize giving followed featuring a number of very deserving and popular winners. (full details of prize winners below).

Then to the highlight of the afternoon as we heard from three trainees.

Roisin Hackett a self-confessed Tall Ship addict who having suffered a spinal cord injury told us how she counted on the fantastic friendships established on previous voyages to get through her ordeal including an extended stay in hospital. Her indomitable spirit was obvious to all and an inspiration as she told us of her next voyage, which she embarks on in June thanks to support from Spinal Injuries Ireland, The Irish Cruising Club and STIRL.

By video link we heard from Tim Baker of Belfast about how the sail training experience had a profound impact on his life. It taught him a huge amount about himself and others but more importantly allowed him to grow and gain the confidence to go out and change his career, become a volunteer and also to inspire other young people to give sail training a try because it can impact their lives in the same way.

The third trainee we heard from was Ross Biggane, who as a result of his sail training experience is forging a maritime career. A very impressive young man who spoke from the heart of his path towards a career at sea made possible by an opportunity offered by STIRL. It was noted that Commodore Hugh Tully, Flag Officer Commanding of the Irish Navy was suitably impressed to pass on some advice about a possible career in the Navy.

Sail Training Ireland promotes youth development from all backgrounds and abilities on the island of Ireland by providing access to sail training voyages. In this challenging environment the trainees learn about themselves, leadership, responsibility, team work, overcoming adversity, friendship and cooperation. As a bonus almost, they learn about sailing and the sea.

Chatting to the various participants at an event like these you hear just how powerful a vehicle for change sail training can be.

- From a nominating organisation that felt a life was possibly saved by the transformation in a participant due to their involvement.
- From Stephen Tate of Belfast City Council who believed that in some cases a week long sail training voyage had the same impact on the development of young people as a year, even two years of regular youth work. Also that the sail training initiative is the best youth development programme they run.
- From parents and loved ones about a career embarked upon or a path changed.
- To a simple boost in self-esteem and confidence gained that enabled a trainee to pursue goals that they had been afraid to do previously.

Sail Training Ireland is a charity & constantly looking for funding to continue the fantastic work they do. “Increased funding leads to more trainees on vessels who may otherwise not have had the opportunity. It also can lead to more brilliant outcomes like the ones we have heard about today” according to Daragh Sheridan of Sail Training Ireland.

A full 2017 voyage schedule and how to get involved is downlodable below.

Please keep an eye out in the next few weeks for a very exciting announcement about a tall ships event coming to Ireland.


1. Trainee of the year: Ross Moore
2. Special Contribution Award: Victor Springbok
3. Outstanding Achievement Award: Tim Baker
4. Perpetual Asgard Award: Cork Life Centre
5. Watch Leader/ Mentor of the Year: Louise McGrath
6. Volunteer of the Year: Geraldine Lewis
7. Sail Training International ‘Small vessel operator of the year’: Safehaven Ireland and Spirit of Oysterhaven

Published in Tall Ships

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