18th October

Link to Lusitania returns to the Irish Sea after a 21-year restoration

Tim Magennis & Gillian Mills 

Sailing through Dalkey Sound on Ireland’s east coast in a fresh southerly breeze (July 25), en route from her Connemara base to her original Isle of Man home of Peel, was the splendidly restored former Nobby fishing boat, Aigh Vie (‘Good luck’ in Manx Gaelic), owned by Dublin blacksmith and noted classic boat enthusiast, Paddy Murphy.

Aigh Vie web2

Aigh Vie sailing through Dalkey Sound bound for the Poolbeg Yacht Club in Dublin and onwards to Peel, Isle of Man

Not a totally unusual sight for Dublin Bay which boasts many classic and traditional wooden vessels, but none perhaps with such a colourful history as this centenarian vessel. For Aigh Vie has a direct link to the sinking by a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale, of the luxury liner Lusitania on May 7, 1915.

The first vessel on the scene to the rescue of survivors was the Peel-based fishing boat, Wanderer, with its crew of five who were engaged in seasonal fishing under skipper, William Ball. Wanderer remained at the scene for two hours, taking on board 160 survivors and two full lifeboats-in-tow back to land at Cork.

Some time later, skipper Ball was contacted on behalf of a wealthy American female survivor of the tragedy. She wished to express her appreciation to the Wanderer and her crew by arranging for Captain Ball to have built in Peel a fishing craft of his choice.

The boat was designed and built and launched there in January 1917. She fished successfully in Irish Sea waters before her purchase for conversion for pleasure- yacht purposes.

Paddy Murphy found her in Strangford Lough, Co Down, in the ‘90s and set about her restoration – first in Dublin Port and then for twenty-one years, in Connemara. It was his frequently expressed hope that on completion of the restoration, her first deep water passage would be home again to Peel.

Accompanying Aigh Vie to the Peel Traditional Wooden Boat Festival (July 27-29) are Dublin Bay boats including the Galway Hooker, Naoimh Cronan, and classic cutter, Tír nÓg, whose owners and crews had participated on occasional weekends down the years in the extensive programme of her restoration.

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