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The Baltimore RNLI provided a medical evacuation on Sunday morning, July 30th, from Sherkin Island located off Baltimore in West Cork. The request for assistance came from the Irish Coast Guard to evacuate an injured man from the island.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 8:09 am and arrived at Sherkin Island pier at 8:18 am. Once there, the casualty was assessed by the Casualty Care lifeboat crew member before being transferred onto a stretcher and taken onboard the lifeboat.

The crew returned to the Baltimore station at 8:47 am, and the casualty was handed over to the care of the HSE Ambulance crew.

The crew consisted of seven volunteers, and the conditions in the harbour during the call-out were choppy with a westerly force four wind and reasonable visibility.

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Baltimore RNLI responded to a distress call on Thursday, 27 July, to assist a 12m sailing yacht with engine failure near Baltimore Harbour, West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 7 pm after the Coast Guard requested their assistance.

The inshore lifeboat arrived at the vessel at 7.15 pm, and the crew decided to tow the yacht.

The inshore lifeboat, with the casualty vessel under tow, returned to Baltimore Harbour and arrived at 8.45 pm. There were four volunteer crew members onboard the lifeboat.

The conditions at sea were calm with a westerly force 3 wind, no sea swell and good visibility.

Pat O’Driscoll, Baltimore RNLI Volunteer Helm, advised the public to call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard in case of an emergency at sea.

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Baltimore RNLI were called out to a medical emergency on Thursday evening (20 July) to Heir Island off the coast of West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 5.06pm following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide medical assistance to a woman who had sustained an injury while visiting the island.

Arriving at Heir Island within 15 minutes, coxswain Aidan Bushe requested the immediate launch of the lifeboat’s Y-boat with two volunteer lifeboat crew, Rob O’Leary and Don O’Donovan, on board in order to quickly access the beach where the casualty was.

Due to the nature of the injury, and having spoken to a medical professional who was also assisting on the beach, Bushe felt that a medical evacuation by air was necessary and contacted the Irish Coast Guard to request a helicopter.

A HSE ambulance crew had arrived at the lifeboat station so while the two lifeboat crew remained on the beach, the lifeboat returned to the station in Baltimore, collected the two paramedics plus an additional lifeboat crew member and quickly returned to Heir Island.

The two paramedics were then transferred onto the beach by the Y-boat and care was handed over as they awaited the arrival of the coastguard’s Shannon-based helicopter Rescue 115, who airlifted the casualty to hospital for further treatment.

Conditions during the call-out were relatively calm with a northeasterly Force 2 wind and very little sea swell.

Speaking following the call-out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer said: “This is a great example of a multi-agency rescue with Baltimore RNLI, the Irish Coast Guard and the National Ambulance Service all working together to assist in this medevac.

“We would like to wish to casualty a speedy recovery. If you find yourself in a medical emergency whilst on an island, call 999 or 112.”

There were six volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat: Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Pat Collins, Don O’Donovan, Stuart Musgrave and Rob O’Leary.

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Both Baltimore RNLI lifeboats were called out on Thursday morning (6 July) to assist a sailor whose yacht ran aground on rocks near Sherkin Island within Baltimore Harbour in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched both their all-weather lifeboat and inshore lifeboat shortly after 11.30am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a yacht which had run aground on Great Globe Rock near Sherkin Island.

Both lifeboat crews arrived at the yacht at 11.35am and after helm Jerry Smith and coxswain Aidan Bushe assessed the situation, it was decided a tow was necessary as the casualty vessel was unable to float free due to the strong southerly wind.

Volunteer inshore crew member Eoin O’Driscoll was put aboard the casualty vessel to assist rigging a tow from the all-weather lifeboat, and the yacht was towed off the rocks at 11.53am.

The all-weather lifeboat continued to tow the casualty vessel to Baltimore, the nearest safe and suitable shelter, arriving at the pier at 12.09pm. The tow was then passed to the inshore lifeboat for berthing, and the casualty vessel was secured alongside the pier in Baltimore Harbour at 12.12pm.

Conditions during the call-out were very fresh with a Force 6 southerly wind, a slight sea swell and poor visibility.

Baltimore RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat press officer Kate Callanan said: “This call-out was a great example of both our lifeboats and volunteer crews working together in difficult weather conditions, and being able to assist this sailor very quickly.

“If you get into difficulty at sea or on the coast, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.”

The all-weather lifeboat crew included coxswain Aidan Bushe, mechanic Cathal Cottrell and crew members Sean McCarthy, Pat Collins, Emma Lupton and Brendan Cottrell. On the inshore lifeboat were helm Jerry Smith and crew members Eoin O’Driscoll and John Kearney. Assisting at the lifeboat station were Rianne Smith, Seamus O’Driscoll and Micheal Cottrell.

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Baltimore RNLI responded to a mayday call earlier this afternoon. 

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at 2.55pm this afternoon after the Irish Coast Guard picked up a mayday call from a yacht with five people on board which was in distress near Sherkin Island, off the coast of Baltimore, West Cork.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at the scene just south of Sherkin Island a few minutes later, where a 40ft yacht which had become caught in old fishing nets, lost steerage and had been pushed up onto rocks by a strong tide. A vessel skippered by Jerry Smith, a Baltimore RNLI crew member, had also picked up the mayday and was standing by until the lifeboat arrived. Jerry was in communication with Baltimore lifeboat and was able to report that all five people on board had managed to get off the yacht onto the rocks and were away from immediate danger.

Due to the conditions at sea and the location of the passengers, Coxswain Aidan Bushe decided the best course of action was to launch their small inflatable Y-Boat from the all-weather lifeboat with two RNLI crew members on board. David Ryan and Kieran O’Driscoll were able to manoeuvre the Y-Boat around to a more sheltered area of the rock where one by one they were able to pick up the passengers and bring them to the safety of the lifeboat.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 115, arrived on scene at 3.35pm and stood by, ready to provide assistance if required. Once all the passengers were aboard, Baltimore RNLI crew members recovered their Y-Boat and the lifeboat made its way back to Baltimore, arriving back at the station at 4.16pm. After the lifeboat crew made certain that all were okay, the passengers departed the lifeboat station.

The Irish Coast Guard helicopter reported to Baltimore RNLI that at 3.50pm the yacht had sunk.

There were five volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Coxswain Aidan Bushe, Mechanic Nigel Kehoe and crew members Don O’Donovan, David Ryan and Kieran O’Driscoll. Conditions at sea during the call were choppy with an easterly force 5-6 wind making for a challenging rescue.

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Baltimore RNLI was on two shouts within the hour on Sunday evening in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their all-weather lifeboat at approximately 6 pm yesterday evening, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to provide a medical evacuation for a man on Sherkin Island.

The Baltimore all-weather lifeboat crew arrived at Sherkin pier a few minutes after launching and once the casualty was assessed by the Casualty Care lifeboat crew member, he was transferred onboard the lifeboat. The lifeboat departed Sherkin Island at 6.45pm but on route back to the lifeboat station they noticed a small pleasure craft which looked to be in difficulty. The casualty vessel with four passengers on board had broken down within Baltimore harbour. Coxswain Aidan Bushe assessed the situation and decided that a tow was necessary.

Within a couple of minutes a secure tow was established and Baltimore lifeboat proceeded to the nearby piers in Baltimore Harbour. Micheal Cottrell, a Baltimore RNLI crew member, was in his own vessel and assisted in berthing the casualty vessel. The Baltimore lifeboat then returned to the station, arriving at 7pm. The medevac casualty was brought ashore and made their own way to Skibbereen for further medical assistance.

Conditions in the harbour during the call out were good but breezy with an easterly force 4 wind and a slight sea swell.

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Baltimore RNLI were called out this morning (Saturday, 3 June) to assist sailors after their yacht ran aground on the Ilen River in West Cork.

The volunteer lifeboat crew launched their inshore lifeboat at 9.18 am, following a request from the Irish Coast Guard to go to the assistance of a yacht which had run aground on the Ilen River.

The Baltimore lifeboat crew arrived at the yacht at 9.31 am and helm Pat O’Driscoll assessed the situation and spoke to the three sailors on board the yacht. It was agreed by both Pat O’Driscoll and the skipper of the casualty vessel that the yacht would self-float on a rising tide within a few hours and that there had been no damage done. Two of the three sailors were transferred onto the inshore lifeboat and brought ashore to the nearby boatyard that they had departed from and the lifeboat returned to the casualty vessel. Pat checked with the skipper that he was still happy to remain with the vessel, which he was as he had means of communication as well as a dinghy to reach shore if he needed to. The lifeboat then returned back to the station in Baltimore, arriving at 10.13am.

There were three volunteer crew onboard the lifeboat, Helm Pat O’Driscoll and crew members Eoin O’Driscoll and Rob O’Leary. Assisting at the lifeboat station were Jerry Smith and Marion MacFeely. Conditions during the call out were calm with a slight easterly wind.

Speaking following the call out, Baltimore Helm Pat O’Driscoll said: ‘Even the most experienced sailors can get into difficulty and we were happy to be of assistance to the yacht’s crew this morning. Should you get into difficulty, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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Baltimore RNLI will host its first Ladies Boutique Lunch this August in West Cork. The fundraising event will see proceeds raised go towards the charity that saves lives at sea.

The lunch will take place in Inisbeg Estate in Baltimore and will kick off with a prosecco reception at 12.30 pm on Thursday, 3 August, and will include a three-course meal. There will also be a raffle on the day.

Speaking ahead of the event, Odharnait Collins, Baltimore RNLI Fundraising Chair, said: ‘We are all really looking forward to the event. August is a lovely time in Baltimore and a very busy time for the station, so it’s the perfect time to give back.

‘Last year, Baltimore RNLI launched its all-weather and inshore lifeboats 24 times with our volunteer crew bringing several people to safety. That is a great achievement for the station team, who selflessly dedicate so much time to training and responding to call outs. Proceeds raised from the sale of tickets and the raffle for the lunch will ensure the crew are provided with the best of kit and equipment so they can continue to save lives at sea.’

Tickets for the event are priced at €85 and available by contacting Ruth McSweeney on 086 2698324 or Rosaleen Mackeown on 086 809 4814.

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Baltimore RNLI in West Cork rescued a kayaker who got into difficulty in freshening winds this afternoon and was drifting backwards towards rocks off Sherkin Island.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested by the Irish Coast Guard to launch their inshore lifeboat shortly before 5 pm on Wednesday, 31 May and asked to conduct a search following a report that a kayaker was in difficulty in the middle of Baltimore Harbour at The Perch near Lousy Rocks.

The kayaker raised the alarm after she began to drift backwards towards rocks on the east side of Sherkin Island near the Globe Rocks.

The lifeboat helmed by Pat O’Driscoll and with crew members Davy Ryan, Eoin O’Driscoll and John Kearney Jnr onboard, launched at 4.50pm and arrived on scene six minutes later.

Weather conditions at the time were blowing a south easterly Force 5-6 wind with a choppy sea and good visibility.

Arriving on scene, the crew observed the kayaker standing on rocks in the water and facing incoming wind and waves on the east side of the Globe Strand.

The crew brought the casualty who was shaken but otherwise safe and well, onboard the lifeboat and retrieved the kayak before making their way back to the station.

Back on shore, the casualty was made comfortable in the lifeboat station.

Speaking following the call out, Baltimore RNLI Helm Pat O’Driscoll said: ‘This was a frightening experience for the kayaker who had prior to our arrival made several attempts to cross the harbour but was struggling in the wind and tiredness set in. She did the right thing in going to sea prepared with a means of communication so she could request the help when she needed it, and we were delighted to help and bring her back to safety.

‘Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and as we continue to experience some beautiful weather, we would encourage people to enjoy our coast and our sea, but we want them to do it safely. If planning to go on the water, wear a lifejacket or buoyancy aid if you are engaging in water sports. Check weather conditions and tides before venturing out and if planning a trip to a beach, where possible go to a lifeguarded one. Have a means of calling for help such as a VHF radio or a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. If you do get into difficulty or see someone else in trouble, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coast Guard.’

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This coming weekend’s annual Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival makes its welcome post-pandemic return from Friday, May 26th until Sunday, May 28th, with the well-proven formula of events afloat tailor-made for the local and visiting classic and traditional craft being neatly balanced by a host of cultural happenings ashore that reflect West Cork’s instinctive hospitality to provide a deeper and all-inclusive dimension when boats are involved.

For sailors, the highlight of the entire weekend will be found in the historic occasion when the Baltimore-born and re-built word-girdling 42ft Saoirse - of Conor O’Brien fame - sails together for the first time with his restored 1926-vintage 56ft former trading ketch Ilen - also an O’Brien-Baltimore creation. As this will all be happening just three weeks before the exact Centenary of Saoirse’s departure from Ireland for her great global adventure, the adjective “historic” is scarcely adequate.

The restored Ilen at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in May 2019. It was from the RIYC on June 20th 2023 that Conor O’Brien’s Saoirse departed on her pioneering global circumnavigation south of the Great Capes. Photo: W M NixonThe restored Ilen at the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in May 2019. It was from the RIYC on June 20th 1923 that Conor O’Brien’s Saoirse departed on her pioneering global circumnavigation south of the Great Capes. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet although the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival is now a reliable annual opportunity to celebrate West Cork’s maritime traditions and the boat types with which it is associated - as well as welcoming traditional craft from other areas - the reality is that it was just a few dedicated voluntary workers who ensured that a full knowledge of the West Cork boats, and the preservation of the best of them in proper sailing order, took place on sufficiently sound foundations to ensure that a central and growing flotilla of craft was available to provide a tangible and living presence afloat when any local maritime event was staged.

A 6th Edition of Conor O Brien’s Across Three Oceans about the Saoirse voyage, including a new Introduction which sets himself and his voyage in context, has been published by the Irish Cruising Club with other extra material, and is available through Amazon.A 6th Edition of Conor O Brien’s Across Three Oceans about the Saoirse voyage, including a new Introduction which sets himself and his voyage in context, has been published by the Irish Cruising Club with other extra material, and is available through Amazon.


Inevitably, those who put the beginnings of it all in place upwards of a quarter century ago are now handing over the movement’s administration and inspiration to the next generation. But fortunately, one of the founders, Brian Marten - the owner of the locally-built Liam Hegarty cutter Guillemot - has recorded some of his memories of this very special time in the 1990s, when some notably inspired thinking ensured a full and enduring appreciation of a remarkable legacy of boats, seafaring traditions, and the sea-minded culture that goes with it. He writes:

“Before embarking on the history of the Wooden Boat Festival, it is worth recording a precursor organisation, almost forgotten now. This was the “Ilen River Cruising Club”, formed by a group including this writer in November 1996 with the aim of “fostering friendship and the exchange of ideas among boating enthusiasts ”. At the inaugural meeting the committee that was elected was Donal O'Sullivan (known to us all as “Big Dan”): Chairman; Jeremy Irons: Vice-Chairman; Nigel Towse: Secretary: Ted O'Driscoll: Assistant Secretary: Liam Hegarty: Treasurer; Kevin O'Farrell: Assistant Secretary; John Caden: P.R.O; Cormac Levis: Assistant P.R.O; Mary Hegarty: Committee Member; Gene O'Neill: Committee Member.

Brian Marten’s cutter Guillemot was both built in Baltimore (in the 1890s), and then restored there 110 years later.Brian Marten’s cutter Guillemot was both built in Baltimore (in the 1890s), and then restored there 110 years later

“These details are extracted from the first News Letter of the Club. The club was registered with the Companies Registration Office as incorporated on 21st June 1999 with an address Old Court. It was a place particularly well furnished for such an organisation, as Oldcourt is a little world unto itself, yet it had a pub and at least two boatyards. And the new IRCC was happy to cast the net wide, as it was for all sailing boats, regardless of construction type.


“The Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival was originally started in 2002 by Brian Ormonde and Nigel Towse, and the first festival was held in 2002. A bank account was opened on 12th April 2002 by Brian Ormonde and Ted O'Driscoll in the name of “The Baltimore Traditional Boat Festival ''. However, to appreciate the history, one must delve further back to before 1994. Much of the following paragraph is based on an article by Terry Tuit that can be accessed online here

“Terry, a fisherman from the tiny harbour of Goleen towards the western end the Mizen Peninsula, on occasions would venture into Croagh Bay, an inlet west of Schull. In the northern part of the long shallow inlet, best accessed at high tide, he noticed the hull of an old boat resting up against a small quay which can also be accessed by road. He had a good look at her, and thought she had a very fine shape. Then in 1994, he attended a West Cork Leader course in which participants were asked to focus on ideas that would improve interest in the area. Terry pointed out that there was no physical evidence of the maritime history of West Cork, where fishing was still an important part of the economy.


“He applied to West Cork Leader for a grant to conduct a study of the historic boats of the area. He was successful, and started the documentation process, hoping that it would be possible to restore or rebuild one or more of them, which would then become as iconic as the Galway Hookers. He approached many fishermen, present and former boat owners, museums, boat yards and maritime organisations throughout Ireland. His research came up with a list of traditional West Cork fishing boats, one located as far away as Galway. It is not clear if this list still exists, though Terry himself is still around, something of a bard – “Bard na Mara”, he has recorded a CD.

“Terry's researches found that the hull in Croagh Bay was the legendary Shamrock, one of a class of mackerel boats that were cutter rigged, but known locally as 'yawls'. Technically a yawl is a sailing boat with two masts, with the shorter mizen mast stepped on or after of the sternpost. They are generally now just referred to as 'mackerel boats'. She was one of many in the area, where they were common just before and after 1900. The Shamrock was designed and built in Baltimore by Henry Skinner in 1910 for Mick “Paddy” O'Sullivan of Colla, Schull.

“There’s a winner in there somewhere…” - Shamrock as discovered by Terry Tuit“There’s a winner in there somewhere…” - Shamrock as discovered by Terry Tuit


“Just under 33' long on deck, Shamrock was renowned for her good sailing qualities combined with speed, and won many regattas. Some of the stories about the racing are recounted in Terry's article, gleaned from Mick's daughters. See also descriptions of her fishing career and racing in Cormac Levis (2008c). The writer had heard stories of her fame as a boy from Gerry Donovan, an old school friend who grew up in Schull. He knew all the family well, and of course the Shamrock.

“In fact, this writer must have seen her in the 1950s as we used to sail over to Schull every so often to replenish supplies, visit Gerry's parents, and compete in regattas. Gerry says her top plank was painted green, and a small shamrock was painted on her bow. Mick used to bring her to Croagh Bay every winter and lay her up on legs against the small pier where her remains are now. Gerry says Mick was a small man, who liked a drink, and used to sing a song called the “Gracie Blue” repeatedly about a notorious yacht that came into Schull at one time owned by a confidence trickster.


“A Dáil report from 1947 records that the Naval Service was ordered to intercept her, but they failed. No doubt starved of resources, as it still is. Unfortunately, Mick had a terrible voice, and would annoy the other customers. He was known as “Mick Paddy” to distinguish him from other branches of the O'Sullivan clan, as is the common practice in West Cork. His daughter Betty inherited his house which is still there, on the Colla Road about 500m from Colla Pier. Mick's son Johnny fished the boat by himself when Mick retired, using a small trawl. He would haul the trawl by taking in the slack when the boat heeled in the swell. Like his father, Johnny developed a liking for a drink, and he was the one facd with the sad task, when her fishing days were over, of laying up the Shamrock in Croagh Bay for the last time.


“Gerry Donovan as a schoolboy fished on various boats, including the St Dominic, a 36' double-ended ketch that was also built in 1910 by Henry Skinner for Dan O'Regan of the Western Calf island, so she deserves mention in this context. Gerry says she was owned by Willy Griffin at that time in the early-mid 1950’s, but he sold her to Sean Barnett of Schull. By then a Kelvin K2 had been installed, and she no longer sailed. So Séan decided to remove her supposedly redundant old iron mizzen sheet horse that was for the lower block of mizen sheet. He did not realise that, because she was a double-ender, she had a very long tiller that passed under the horse, which in turn kept the rudder in place. One day when Gerry was out fishing with Sean in a very heavy swell, the rudder lifted off the pintles and was lost. They managed to steer her into South Harbour on Cape Clear by putting out two heavy tyre fenders on alternate sides.

“Robert Marten saw the St Dominic on the slip at Skinners in Baltimore in 1967 when he was working for Willy Skinner. Finbar Murphy bought her at that time. David Burke and Robert fished crabs from her for a few years. She had a Perkins 4236 engine in her by then. Robert then spent a year or so restoring a yacht which he sold, and then fished crabs with David on the St Dominic for a couple of years while their fishing boat The Larissa, 36', was built by Paddy Hegarty in Old Court in 1971-72, with Robert doing some of the work on her, while Pip Marten did the engine.

Despite the proliferation of Mackerel boats in the late 19th to early 20th Century, only the St Patrick - owned by the late Mac O'Donoghue - is the sole other survivors in this area . She is on Cape Clear just west of the lake. Built in 1908 by Henry Skinner, and 29' in length, she was the last of the “Mackerel Yawls” to fish under sail (Levis 2008c), but now she is slowly but surely blending into the soil at her final resting place.


“Meanwhile, in about 1993, Liam Hegarty of Old Court decided to build himself a boat. She was based very loosely on “Blue Moon” designed by Thomas Gilmore. He never got around to giving her a name, but took her to the Glandore Classic Yacht Regatta. Here she was admired so much by Jeremy Irons that he bought her and named her “Willing Lass”. Jeremy is a very keen sailor, and participates in as many local regattas as his work allows. Nigel Towse also admired her, and approached Liam about building another one like her. However, Liam by this time had taken an interest in the Shamrock. He suggested to Nigel that it would be better to build another mackerel “yawl” or cutter like the Shamrock.

The un-named new boat became Willing Lass when impulse-bought by Jeremy Irons, seen here at the helmThe un-named new boat became Willing Lass when impulse-bought by Jeremy Irons, seen here at the helm

“In 1994 Liam and Fachtna O'Sullivan went to Croagh Bay and took moulds from Shamrock's hull. Nigel had by then decided to build another, working alongside Liam and Fachtna. By 1996 they had finished and launched her, and Liam named her very appropriately Shamrock 2, and her first public outing was to the Glandore Classic Regatta in 1996 - see here for a laser scan of her lines. Liam sold her to Ivan Wolfe of Monkstown soon after. Ivan had many years of enjoyment on her but he had to lay her up after he had an accident. He now owns the lobster boat Rose. (see below). Meanwhile, Nigel had been working on his boat which was completed circa 1998. He named her An Rún, “The Secret”. Building her was a steep learning curve for Nigel - he’d had a lot of sailing experience, for example on the Excelsior, a 77ft classic Lowestoft ketch-rigged sailing trawler, and on numerous other craft, but had no experience until then as a shipwright. Others were inspired to have additional replicas built. Brian Ormonde commissioned the Macalla 3 1 which was completed in 2000. She competed against An Rún in Crookhaven in 2001, and won. A cup was presented to Brian Ormonde by Billy O'Sullivan, nephew of 'Mick the Shamrock'. The cup is on permanent display there in O'Sullivans Bar. Macalla has a boom on her mainsail, whereas An Rún's is loose-footed. That probably made a difference.

While Nigel Towse’s seagoing experience included offshore sailing on this 77ft Lowestoft trawler Excelsior, he was a novice shipwright when he took on the building of An RunWhile Nigel Towse’s seagoing experience included offshore sailing on this 77ft Lowestoft trawler Excelsior, he was a novice shipwright when he took on the building of An Run
Macalla racing against An Run for the O’Sullivan CupMacalla racing against An Run for the O’Sullivan Cup


“Macalla was sold and taken to the South of France, but was brought back to Hegarty's in September 2009. The heat in the Med did not do her much good, causing some splits, but she was repaired and Liam now owns her, and sails her most weekends in the summer months. The Nellie B was then built for Tom McCarrick of Sligo, and made her first appearance at Glandore Classic Boat Regatta in 2003 (see a fine photo of her in Levis 2008c, p. 282). Tom intended to go cruising in her, so she was built with a coach roof and self draining cockpit. Unfortunately, he died before he was able to fulfil his dreams. She was lying in Hegartys for a couple of years, until she was bought by Uilliam O'Lorcáin in 2007. He had Hegarty's boatyard convert her back to the open cockpit format in 2008. He renamed her An T'Iascaire “The Fisherman “. Fig. 18, p. 7 below, shows her sailing in 2009, Ted O'Driscoll, a mainstay of the festival, bought a 26' Maurice Griffith sloop in about 2004. He acquired his present boat, Speckled Wood in 1975. She was a McGruer built “Formula 1” Bermudan-rigged racing sloop.

An T’Iascaire was originally new-built as a seagoing cruiser with full accommodation and a self-draining cockpit, but was subsequently changed to the classic one layoutAn T’Iascaire was originally new-built as a seagoing cruiser with full accommodation and a self-draining cockpit, but was subsequently changed to the classic one layout

“Leo McDermot had bought an ex-fishing boat out of Schull called Síle, built originally by Paddy Hegarty for Jimmy O'Reilly of Schull. He extended her length by adding on to her stern, and converted her into a fine ketch, completed in 2011. He renamed her Síle a Dó . It was a learning experience for him, guided by the Hegarty team. Hegarty's restored the Guillemot in 2014, she is a 28' gaff cutter, built at the Fishery School in Baltimore around 1893 by Henry Skinner for Col. McCarthy-Morrough of Inishbeg island. The Teal made her appearance in 2014, she is a Falmouth Quay Punt.

Contrasting styles - Leo McDermott’s lengthened ketch Sile a Do, and Kevin O’Farrell’s classic Mylne-designed Scottish Islands OD CaraContrasting styles - Leo McDermott’s lengthened ketch Sile a Do, and Kevin O’Farrell’s classic Mylne-designed Scottish Islands OD Cara

“A new chapter in the story of the revival of the traditional boats of West Cork was opened in 1999, when Nigel Towse heard Cormac Levis give a lecture to the Irish Cruising Club on the lobster boats of Heir Island. This was a couple of years before Cormac published his important book on them (Levis 2002). Nigel at that time was living near the Colla Road in Schull where he was told by an elderly neighbour that he had once owned a mackerel boat, and that she was lying in Mill Cove at the north east corner of Schull Harbour (named after a water powered flour mill where Gerry Donovan the writer’s old pal was sent as small boy to collect flour. The mill with its mill wheels still intact and is now a private house). Nigel went to Mill Cove and found that it was in fact a lobster boat. He asked Cormac about it, who told him that she was the Hanorah, S463.


“The Hanorah is a gaff rigged cutter, 24.6 ft in length, built in 1892 or 1893 by Richard Pyburn on Heir Island for Con Harte, also on the island. She was well built with pitch pine planks and she was fished until 1984 with one short break. Cormac Levis (2002 and 2008b) gives her history in detail. Hanorah was in very poor shape in 1999 and would not float. In order to get her to the nearest slip, Nigel and Liam Hegarty tied two blue plastic barrels used by the mussel fishery into her and towed her to the nearest slip. There is a photo of this event in Levis (2008c). Cormac, who witnessed the historic event, records that for good measure they then also had a couple of mishaps with the trailer.

“Hanorah was brought to Hegartys Yard where a lot of alterations such as a pot hauler, an extra plank etc were removed to bring her back to her origlnal structure. Nigel then replaced the stem post and transom, and Liam took moulds off her. Ted O'Driscoll drew her lines in 2000. Nigel then brought Hanorah over to Sherkin and got her into Richard Collins's shed. She was restored to her original condition and colours during a boat building course given by Nigel and Liam Hegarty. This course was an annual event sponsored by the FETAC Further Education Training Council.


“A photo of her official launch on Easter Sunday 2005 is in Cormac Levis's chapter on the Lobster Boats (Levis 2000b, p. 264). It was a poignant occasion. Present were the late Jack Pyburn of Heir Island whose grandfather had built her, Séan Harte, grandson of the original owner, as well as Nigel and Liam Hegarty. See here for a laser scan of her lines, while the photo below shows her in full sail. Colm O'Cuilleannáin had seen Hanorah set up initially, and said he must have one built. So the Fionn was started for Colm and Mary Jordan, joint owners, and launched in 2002 . This was the first boat to be inspired by the resurrection of the Hanorah, after which the fleet grew. An interesting feature is that historic photos show the Lobster boats rigged as cutters, with a bowsprit. The new ones have dispensed with this feature, though the Fionn was originally rigged that way.

The inspiration. Nigel Towse sailing Hanorah, whose re-build resulted in the creation of several sister-shipsThe inspiration. Nigel Towse sailing Hanorah, whose re-build resulted in the creation of several sister-ships

“By 2001 there was by then a small fleet of traditional West Cork sailing boats in the locality: two Mackerel “Yawls” or Cutters and one lobster boat. As noted at the beginning of this account this inspired Nigel Towse and Brian Ormonde to hold the First Baltimore Traditional Boat Festival - as it was then called - in 2002, and from 2002 programmes for each festival were produced annually.

“The writer watched from shore. There was a fresh NW breeze. The boats that participated were the mackerel boats An Rún and Macalla, the Lobster Boat Fionn. Tom Hegarty's Curlew, an Itchen Ferry type, was well reefed down, but had to retire; Cork One Design C2 Elsie and Pat Tanner's An Faoileán, a type of Galway Hooker. The mackerel boats carried their topsails and their lee rails were just awash.

“The next Lobster Boat to be built was Mary Collette for Michéal O'Crualaoi and John Collaron, and the Saoirse Muireann for Cormac Levis in 2002. Next was the Rose for the late John Punch in 2003. She was laid up on the beach under a cover until 2017 when Ivan Wolfe bought her. Meanwhile the Mary Ann was built in 2006 for a partnership of John Desmond, Rose-Marie Punch and Micheál O'Crualaoi. A new lobster boat Ellen was completed in Hegarty’s Yard in 2019 by “Tash”, who however built her entirely himself, after some initial guidance from Fachtna O'Sulliivan. He keeps her in Castletownshend.


One of many evocative posters created by Gary Mac Mahon and the team at Copper Reed Studio in Limerick.One of many evocative posters created by Gary Mac Mahon and the team at Copper Reed Studio in Limerick.

Every year Gary McMahon from Limerick, of A.K. Ilen fame, produced beautiful posters. An example from 2016 is in it shows a variety of the boats that participated. On the left, partially shown is An T-Iascaire, then Lobster Boats Hanorah, Fionn, Rose, then An Rún, and outside is Thomas Drewes beautiful cutter Jane Paul. Unfortunately all of the registration forms for all of the festivals over the years have not been kept. The writer has a spreadsheet of the entries for 2018. This shows that there were eight curraghs, always an important part of the festival, five lobster boats, two gaff cutters, Jane Paul and Guillemot., Mark Bushe's Cánóg, two mackerel boats, An T'Iascaire and An Rún, An Faoileán, a type of Galway hooker, two Water Wags Good Hope and Mary Kate, two Ettes, Sagette and Minuette, A cruising yacht Hafod, Cara a beautiful Scottish Islands Class OD Bermudan sloop owned by Kevin O’Farrell, Grishka, a dinghy, and Shearwater another very old restored dinghy. The total number of boats was an impressive thirty six.

Mark Bushe's father George built Cánóg for him in Crosshaven, and Mark has brought her to many festivals, as well as his yacht Dainty, now sold. The long-established Bushe family tradition of boat building - originally of Baltimore and subsequently from Crosshaven - is still being continued internationally from a Swedish base by Killian Bushe. Swallow, built by Richard's father Tom Bushe. has appeared at several festivals. She was originally built for sailing, and was featured in the 2015 festival with a photo of her being sailed by Tom on the cover of the programme. The Swallow has been cared for by the family over the years, but has not sailed for a long time. She has had an outboard for maybe 50 years, and Richard was a familiar sight heading out the harbour with his dog Rex


“2018 saw the of two Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters - Freya and Marian - came and made an impressive sight. They are powerful boats, and were well reefed down in deference to the smaller boats. 2019 was a special year for the village and the festival, as it was the centenary of the arrival of Baltimore’s first lifeboat, the 45’ Watson Class ON649 Duke of Connaught which arrived on station in 1919. She was renamed the Shamrock in 1920, because of the political sensitivities of those times. The programme had a photo of her under way, taken by Winne Atkins of Dunmanway.

“The 2019 festival was a success, but though the registration form exist, the person who holds them has not managed to produce them despite repeated entreaties over the past three years! On the Friday evening there was a most interesting talk given by Arista Holden in Baltimore Castle on the “Apprenticeshop” based in Maine. Two days of great sailing were enjoyed in 2019, the curraghs raced well down the Ilen from Skibbereen, and they also participated in the Pilot Race. Once again we were lucky with the weather. The Covid 19 pandemic struck in early 2020 and the country was in lockdown until restrictions were eased in early 2022. As a consequence no Festival could be held in 2020 and 2021. As a result of lifting of restrictions in February, planning for 2022 started very late, and it was not known if infections might re-occur.


“Most importantly, Ted O’Driscoll could not get insurance cover. However, very late in the day, the Sailing Club offered to host it, on condition that participants produce their insurance documents one week before the start. At this stage several of the long time organisers decided that they had had enough, and felt that they did not have the energy to try to organise all of the events, talks, supper etc in such a short time frame - these individuals were Nigel Towse, Chairman; the writer, Secretary, and Ted O'Driscoll, Treasurer. The Seafood Festival organiser Dominic Casey was very anxious that some form of festival should proceed, so we 'organised,' if you can call it that, an informal sail around on the Sunday, for fun and give a bit of a spectacle, then rafted up in the harbour for refreshments, and this this proved to be an enjoyable and successful compromise.

Visiting Pilot Cutter Freya and Marianne provide a glimpse of more complex gaff rigsVisiting Pilot Cutter Freya and Marianne provide a glimpse of more complex gaff rigs


“First, the writer apologises for omitting to refer to the articles in successive Community Newsletters, mainly by Mary Jordan, which give excellent summaries of Festivals, and mention important boats that visited, such as the Edith Grey, Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter in 2014. Nevertheless it is unfortunately clear that records of the Festival from the start are sadly deficient because the registration forms have not been kept., with the important exception of the accounts. It is suggested that present and former committee members, especially the former, put their heads together and try to make a record that has some detail to it.

“Photos of past festivals will be important for this. For example, the writer has only just recalled such memorable entries as Mab, Flying Fish, Rui and Ankes clinker built sloop, whose name escapes me, and of course the Peel Castle, PZ17. I'm sure there are others I have forgotten. We decided to try to hand over to a new younger committee for the following year, and happily this has happened in 2023. Ted later relented and has stayed on as Treasurer., so there’s welcome continuity going hand-in-hand with refreshing new enthusiasm”.

Published in Historic Boats
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