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Europe’s Oldest & Longest Inland Sailing Race is Irish

19th June 2021
Revived back in 1972, the Cong Galway Race will be sailed on Sunday, June 27.
Revived back in 1972, the Cong Galway Race will be sailed on Sunday, June 27

Europe’s oldest and longest inland sailing race is part of the history of the West Coast of Ireland.

The history of Galway itself claims that Ptolemy, the astronomer and mathematician born in 100 AD at Alexandria in Egypt and who began the belief that Earth was at the centre of the Universe even referred to Western Lakes in the 2nd century and that was before, as Galway people will tell you, Columbus arrived in Galway Port to recruit sailors for his explorations!

Archaeologists have discovered boats and artefacts in Lough Corrib which date back to pre-historic times while the unique race that is held there in two parts on one-day dates back only as far as 1882, but is still the oldest and longest inland sailing race in Europe. When started by the then Royal Galway Yacht Club from the Fisheries Field it went to Ashford Castle and back, a distance of 61 nautical miles. That continued annually until 1914 when it was affected by the rigours of the First World War and was last sailed in 1931.

Boats of all shapes and sizes, including catamarans, compete in the Cong Galway RaceBoats of all shapes and sizes, including catamarans, compete in the Cong Galway Race

The race is now known as ‘The Cong-Galway’ and Galway Bay Sailing Club, 50 years old is involved in organising it with the Corrib Rowing and Yachting Club, Galway City Sailing Club and Cumann Seoltoireacht and Spideil. The Galway Hooker Sailing Club will be racing in those iconic boats. Revived back in 1972, it will be sailed on Sunday, June 27.

My Podcast guest this week is John Barry of Galway Bay Sailing Club, one of the organisers of the race:

Listen to Podcast below

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

Email The Author

Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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