17th July

Ireland’s last traditional sailing ship tacks ever closer to the sea

Anthony Keane, Order of St Benedict

Plank by plank and celebration by celebration, Ilen inches ever closer to the sea. Built in Baltimore in 1926 and delivered to the Falklands by Conor O’Brien and Cadogans Denis and Con, she felt the Furious Fifties for seventy years, telling to the Southern Cross her sad tale of woes, until brought back to Ireland by Gary McMahon in 1997.


Official hammering: Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, secure the whiskey plank. Photo Anne Minihane

Regaining her strength and waxing fat in the Corn Store in Liam Hegarty’s boatyard in Oldcourt, her shivered oak frames replaced and newly planked with magnificent Bavarian larch fixed with bronze from Pete Langley’s Port Townsend Foundry, she moves again irresistibly to the sea. Whiskey plank in place The final bronze fastening was driven home, the final whiskey plank secured, and the deal sealed by marine minister Simon Coveney on February 16 2015.

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Shackleton - By Endurance we Conquer

Cian Gallagher

Review Shackleton

Author Michael Smith'slifetime of knowledge and reading on Antarctic exploration, his commentaries on Shackleton's activities, and general research is vast. The sheer lengths to which he reached for fact and breadth of investigation would impress even the hardiest of scholars.

Read more: Shackleton - By Endurance we Conquer

Kinsale Harbour: A History

Jermoe Lordan

Author John Thullier of this timely publication is steeped in Kinsale’s maritime tradition. His family was involved in the design and building of all sorts of vessels for hundreds of years up until 1958. He is also the man responsible for introducing a maritime module at the Kinsale Further Education College, providing students with marine skills such as navigation, seamanship, net making and sailing.

Review Kinsale-Harb

These skills were in danger of being lost at that time as the town’s maritime traditions went into decline. A keen sailor and a great researcher of local marine affairs, he brings a lot of his skills to the table in this long overdue compilation of the famed harbour town.

Read more: Kinsale Harbour: A History

Exploring our maritime heritage

Birgit Faye-Roth

Over 100 participants gathered lat October at the National Maritime Museum in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, to discuss the aims and challenges of preserving Ireland’s maritime heritage.

Topics discussed during the working groups and a plenary session chaired by Marcus Connaughton of RTE’s Seascapes ranged from the potential of Ireland’s maritime museums and the preservation of historic ships and traditional boats as well as shore-built maritime heritage, to maritime archives and genealogy sources, maritime tourism networks and joint marketing initiativesand partnerships.

L-R: Richard McCormick, Library NMMI; Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Peadar Ward, President NMI and An Cathaoirleach, Cllr Carrie Smyth


L-R: Richard McCormick, Library NMMI; Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Peadar Ward, President NMI and An Cathaoirleach, Cllr Carrie Smyth

A key concern shared by the diverse groups and institutions was the fragmentation of the maritime heritage sector in Ireland, due in part to the geographic location of sites on the outer fringes of the Irish coastline, as well as the small scale of operations ― often driven by volunteers and operating on negligent budgets.

Read more: Exploring our maritime heritage

Centenarian vessels still sailing hard in Norwegian waters

In a brisk south-southwest wind, several Colin Archer designed ‘Redningsselskapet’ (Norwegian Lifeboat Institution) vessels raced with other classic boats in the relatively sheltered waters inside the archipelago off the mainland at Risør on the southeast coast of Norway.Risor II held off a strong challenge from Larvik to take the gun to the delight of the home crowd.

Risor 2013

 Designed by the very same naval architect and builder of Asgard (1905) preserved and on display in Collin’s Barricks, Dublin, these pre-1936 vessels ― now mostly privately owned and superbly restored and maintained ― would set to sea whenever the weather got bad to shepherd the local fishing fleets safely into port. These sail-only vessels are therefore very well suited to racing in these conditions.

Upwards of 100 craft of various designs participated in the annual wooden boat festival now in its thirtieth year. The three-day event also featured age-old maritime craft displays and demonstrations along the town’s quayside. Risør once prospered as a flourishing exporter of timber to the Netherlands.

Typical of the era, traditional wooden buildings were built very close together and wood, oil and candles were used to heat and light homes. In 1861, a major fire destroyed almost 250 houses; however due to strong local economy, the town was rebuilt. Today, just a few original buildings remain.

In 1991 after a 30-year debate, a plan to protect the town was agreed by the municipal committee. This involved the restoration and maintenance of almost 600 of the distinctive white clapper-board houses, and work to the streetscapes and lighting.

(Visit the 'Archive' Issue 9.4 (Aug/Sept) to view more images of the event)

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