Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Inland afloat headers

 

Displaying items by tag: liffey

When the multi-talented John B Kearney (1879-1967) retired from a distinguished career in Dublin Port in 1944, he re-focused most of his attention on his parallel interest as a yacht designer and builder. It was an enduring passion that went right back to his first own-designed sailing boat, which he’d built in his father’s boatyard in Ringsend in 1897. Yet by the time of his retirement, he was living in Monkstown on the south shore of Dublin Bay, where one of the rooms in his house was re-purposed to be his design office. And above its door, he affixed a small but conspicuous brass plate, inscribed on which it clearly said: “God Chooses Our Relatives. Thank God We Can Choose Our Friends”.

For as Cormac Lowth so clearly reveals in his recent very comprehensive and copiously-illustrated book Ringsend Sailing Trawlers – published by Hal Sisk’s Peggy Bawn Press, with the support of Dublin Port Company – not only was Ringsend for a hundred years and more a hotbed of trawler development and technological innovations in fishing, but its increasingly vigorous maritime community – enlivened by positive interaction between the established Dublin fishermen and the incoming Brixham fleet from Devon – was producing remarkable sea-minded families such as the Murphys, the Bissetts, the Scallans and the Kearneys.

The Dodder “waterfront” at the back of Ringsend’s Thorncastle Street in the 1920s as captured by Harry Kernoff RHA, when the boatyards of families like the Murphys and Kearneys were cheek-by-jowl with rowing cubs The Dodder “waterfront” at the back of Ringsend’s Thorncastle Street in the 1920s as captured by Harry Kernoff RHA, when the boatyards of families like the Murphys and Kearneys were cheek-by-jowl with rowing cubs 

The Kearneys in particular seemed to specialise in strong characters who might have been sent directly from Central Casting to become the Awkward Squad on both sides of the seaward city reaches of the River Liffey. Playwright Brendan Behan was a cousin. Another cousin, Peadar Kearney, was the propagandist and poet who wrote the National Anthem, “The Soldier’s Song”. And John B Kearney himself could be a prickly individual, for in 1923-25 when he and his brother Tom were beavering away together each evening after work at the day job to build one of John’s design masterpieces - the 39ft yawl Mavis - in a corner of Murphy’s Boatyard in Ringsend, they discovered one night that there was no sugar for their ritual 9.30 pm mug of strong tea. Neither would accept the blame. And thereafter each brought his own sugar. But the building of the Mavis was successfully completed without the two Kearney brothers exchanging a further single word.

Despite the expansion of the Ringsend fishing fleet in the late 1800s, their waterfront facilities remained very primitive, and they usually had to lie to moorings off what is now the location of PY&BC Marina. In a time of loosely-defined channels, it was not unknown for fishing boats moored like this to be run down at night by steamships.Despite the expansion of the Ringsend fishing fleet in the late 1800s, their waterfront facilities remained very primitive, and they usually had to lie to moorings off what is now the location of PY&BC Marina. In a time of loosely-defined channels, it was not unknown for fishing boats moored like this to be run down at night by steamships.

Another brother – Jem – was likewise a very talented shipwright, but he sought to build a miniature conglomerate of marine-related businesses, in which profitable night-time salmon fishing in the Liffey was regarded as a Kearney birth-right, regardless of what the regulatory authorities might think. Thus he was known in some circles as “Bad” Kearney, with stories of how he and his team were regularly apprehended in the dark at Islandbridge and Chapelizod - supposedly in search of a stolen net - becoming a staple of the District Court. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that John B Kearney in retirement wanted to put some physical distance between himself and the many Kearneys and the other colourful clans who dominated community life on both sides of the Liffey.

YOU MAY TAKE THE MAN OUT OF RINGSEND, BUT…..

But while you may take the man out of Ringsend, you can never take Ringsend out of the man. And though the houses backing onto the Dodder waterfront in Thorncastle Street in Ringsend, where Kearneys and Murphys and others had first seen the light of day, were all to disappear in the redevelopments of the early 1950s, many of the families stayed on in the new houses and apartments, with the community remaining largely intact and quietly aware of its special maritime heritage. And as for John B Kearney, he remained so closely in contact with his birthplace that it was he who designed the last sailing yacht to be built in Ringsend, the 35ft Gannet for the Somerville-Large family in 1954.

 John B Kearney at work on his drawing board, aged 83 in 1962. Photo: Tom Hutson John B Kearney at work on his drawing board, aged 83 in 1962. Photo: Tom Hutson

By this time he’d a quiet but definite national reputation as a yacht designer of some international note, and was still happily beavering away at his chosen course in life at the age of 75, with many productive years of yacht design still ahead of him. This was despite having “retired” ten years earlier as Dublin Port’s Superintendent of Engineering.

THE “REAL” HARBOUR ENGINEER

He had started with the port authorities in 1886 as an apprentice shipwright in their highly-regarded boat-building workshop, before going on to fill many key roles in the port’s development. But the fact that he had no university degree meant that he could never be officially acknowledged as the Harbour Engineer. So the position of Superintendent of Engineering may well have been created specifically for him in order to acknowledge his enormous contribution to Dublin Port’s innovation and development.

Yet apart from his boatbuilding tradesman’s accreditations, he did have an official qualification of sorts. Ever since childhood, his core ambition had been to achieve recognition as a yacht designer, and while still very young he had taken and passed a correspondence course in yacht design, with a certificate – duly framed and displayed– to accompany it. This gave him an added perspective to the experience he gained by working in his family’s boatyard on the banks of the River Dodder where it flowed into the River Liffey in the heart of Dublin port.

He also worked while very young in Murphy’s Boatyard nearby on that crazy little waterfront where aspirational rowing clubs rubbed shoulders with make-do-and-mend boatyards out the back of the houses of Thorncastle Street, where John Kearney and many others had been born into a community where maritime awareness and seamanlike instincts were absorbed with your mother’s milk.

This meant that although John B Kearney’s growing selection of yacht designs gradually demonstrated his own signature style, the basis of the hull shapes were still rooted in the Brixham-Ringsend trawler types, vessels so seamanlike in concept and practical in rig that they could continue trawling in heavy weather when other types had long since headed for port.

 The “classic Kearney type” of the 1920s: his 39ft yawl Mavis – built in 1923-1925 and now restored in Maine - seen here winning Skerries Regatta 1928. Yet if specifically asked……… The “classic Kearney type” of the 1920s: his 39ft yawl Mavis – built in 1923-1925 and now restored in Maine - seen here winning Skerries Regatta 1928. Yet if specifically asked………

….John Kearney could create a yacht based directly on the Brixham-Ringsend trawler type, as seen here in the 1924-built Dolphin.….John Kearney could create a yacht based directly on the Brixham-Ringsend trawler type, as seen here in the 1924-built Dolphin.

So although he had already produced several yacht designs of an evolving “Kearney type” by 1924, when a Ringsend sailing enthusiast asked him that year to create a yacht of miniature trawler type, he produced the 28ft clinker-built Dolphin, which exactly fitted the bill.

And this linking of the hard-working seaworthy trawlers of Ringsend with the recreational sailing scene was reinforced by the Ringsend boats frequently using Dun Laoghaire as a harbour of refuge, while they also were keen competitors in regattas specially staged for them by what was then Kingstown Royal Harbour.

RINGSEND/BRIXHAM TRAWLER YACHT AND THE ASGARD GUN-RUNNING

One noted yachtsman who was particularly taken by the trawler type was the Dublin surgeon Sir Thomas Myles, who for several years owned the Chotah, a 48-ton 60ft cutter-rigged Brixham trawler type yacht built in Devon in 1891 by Dewdney. In 1913, Myles followed growing trawler practice by having Chotah fitted with an auxiliary engine – in this case a 4 cyl. Bergius Paraffin Motor made in Glasgow - and thus equipped, he was better suited, in the 1914 Erskine Childers-led gun-running, to transfer Conor O’Brien’s consignment of Mausers from O’Brien’s own engineless Kelpie to the Chotah, and then onwards to their planned landing place at Kilcoole on the Wicklow coast.

“The Sailing Surgeon and Gun-Runner”. Sir Thomas Myles’ 60ft Chotah was a trawler-style cutter-rigged cruising yacht built 1891, and fitted with an auxiliary engine in 1913. This helped significantly in her landing of the Mauser rifles in the 1914 gun-running at the beach in Kilcoole in County Wicklow“The Sailing Surgeon and Gun-Runner”. Sir Thomas Myles’ 60ft Chotah was a trawler-style cutter-rigged cruising yacht built 1891, and fitted with an auxiliary engine in 1913. This helped significantly in her landing of the Mauser rifles in the 1914 gun-running at the beach in Kilcoole in County Wicklow

RINGSEND’S PEAK BOAT-BUILDING YEARS

In his endlessly-fascinating book, Cormac Lowth reckons the peak period of trawler-building in Ringsend itself was from 1860 to 1880, even if the greatest of them all, the mighty St Patrick, was not built by the Murphy family in their yard for their own operation until 1887. But from 1860 to 1880, the pace-setter was Michael Scallan, who somehow found the time to be a master shipwright, trawler operator, active yachtsman, and publican with the ownership of the still-extent Ferryman Inn.

As Cormac drily observes, it was surprising how many of the Ringsend boatbuilders also ran busy taverns. We couldn’t possibly comment on that. But one of the joys of the new book is the insight it gives into the characters who were drawn to the commercial possibilities of the expanding Ringsend fishing industry. And for sheer exoticism, few could match John Robert Barklie, who seems to have been one of those Scotsmen who rose without trace and arrived in 19th Century Dublin as fully-fledged entepreneurs.

“He rose without trace and was identified by his bright spats”. John Barklie (right) was one of several businessmen who tried – with varying levels of success – to cash in on the Ringsend trawler boom. Photo: Courtesy Cormac Lowth“He rose without trace and was identified by his bright spats”. John Barklie (right) was one of several businessmen who tried – with varying levels of success – to cash in on the Ringsend trawler boom. Photo: Courtesy Cormac Lowth

Barklie’s primary notion was literally a dead cert. He quickly grasped that, in an era of high mortality even among the wealthiest and healthiest families, death and mourning made for big business. And nowhere was it bigger than in Dublin in the Victorian era, a time when rich yacht-owners ordered that all the varnished brightwork of their elegant craft be painted matt black for a period of three months when a member of the immediate family passed away.

“THE MOURNING WAREHOUSE”

At a more prosaic level, Barklie made mourning wholesale in Dublin. He either had a wicked sense of humour, or else had no sense of the absurd at all, as he was an undertaker whose most prominent outlet was “Barklie’s Family and General Mourning Warehouse”. Despite being called a warehouse, it was in a prime retail site at 99 Grafton Street in the heart of fashionable Dublin city, and claimed to be “Established for the Exclusive Sale of Every Article Suitable for Family Mourning”.

For those seeking some level of privacy and dignity, he also provided what would now be called a Funeral Home down past a few shop-fronts further along Grafton Street. But as he himself favoured day wear which featured spectacular spats, and hats which verged on the frivolous, the entire enterprise seemed to lack a certain solemnity and seriousness, and thus he may have turned to trawler ownership as an additional enterprise to give him more credibility in the commercial world, and maybe with it some access to the world of Dublin Bay yachting.

When “watching the yachting at Kingstown” was quite the done thing – John Barklie and his wife (left foreground) on a regatta day in Dun Laoghaire. In the days before cosmetic dentistry, very few smiled for the camera. Photo courtesy Cormac LowthWhen “watching the yachting at Kingstown” was quite the done thing – John Barklie and his wife (left foreground) on a regatta day in Dun Laoghaire. In the days before cosmetic dentistry, very few smiled for the camera. Photo courtesy Cormac Lowth

But the only photo we have of John Robert Barklie in anything approaching a yachting setting is of himself in that unmistakable hat sitting with his wife on the East Pier summer crowd watching the yachts go out at some regatta or other. And as for becoming a trawler-owning magnate, the Ringsend fishermen quietly put paid to that in their own way, but you’ll have to read Cormac’s book to find out how.

JOYCEAN SITUATIONS

In reading about the adventures of Barklie and others who came to Dublin on the make in that interesting era, we end up with leading figures who find themselves in situations which could have come straight out of the writings of James Joyce.

And Bryan Dobson of RTE – whose family’s connections with the area give him a direct personal interest in the story – rightly remarked, in his lively and enthusiastic launching of the book in Ringsend’s Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club, that if you could re-build the Dublin of 1904 from Joyce’s Ulysses, then you could re-build the Ringsend of 1885 from Cormac’s book.

At the launching of Cormac Lowth’s “Ringsend Sailing Trawlers” in the Poolbeg Y&BC were (left to right) Lar Joye (Port Heritage Director of Dublin Port Company), Bryan Dobson of RTE, Cormac Lowth, and Hal Sisk (Chairman of the Association of Yachting Historians and Director of Peggy Bawn Press).At the launching of Cormac Lowth’s “Ringsend Sailing Trawlers” in the Poolbeg Y&BC were (left to right) Lar Joye (Port Heritage Director of Dublin Port Company), Bryan Dobson of RTE, Cormac Lowth, and Hal Sisk (Chairman of the Association of Yachting Historians and Director of Peggy Bawn Press).

But in the end, while the people and their social and working situations are fascinating and at times heart-breaking, the true stars of the book are the wonderful fishing boats, the people who sailed them, and the versatility of both.

THE DUBLIN BAY PILOT BOATS

For instance, there’s the matter of the Dublin Bay Pilot Boats. As the port’s trade increased, and the size of the ships serving it grew rapidly, it had been generally reckoned by historians that all the guidance needs of the incoming larger ships could not have been met by the crews of hobblers rowing out in their relatively small skiffs to meet the pilot-seeking vessels.

Yet why are we not aware of the Dublin Bay Pilot Cutters as we are aware of the distinctive Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, or the even more splendid Le Havre Pilot Cutters as represented by the sublime Jolie Brise? The answer is simple. The best Dublin Bay Pilot Cutters were re-purposed cutter-rigged Ringsend Sailing Trawlers, or new trawler-style cutters built to be Pilot Boats in the first place.

The Dublin Bay Pilot Boat Sophia in Dun Laoghaire Harbiur. As the demand grew for all-weather pilot boats for Dublin Bay and Port, it was soon found that the Ringsend trawler type could be readily adapted for the role. Photo courtesy Hal Sisk/Cormac LowthThe Dublin Bay Pilot Boat Sophia in Dun Laoghaire Harbiur. As the demand grew for all-weather pilot boats for Dublin Bay and Port, it was soon found that the Ringsend trawler type could be readily adapted for the role. Photo courtesy Hal Sisk/Cormac Lowth

They were fast, they could keep the sea in almost all weathers, and in order to make them a pilot cutter even if they had been used as a fishing boat, all you had to do was clean the fish hold, put in rudimentary accommodation for pilots, and add a distinctive number or name on the mainsail, which would be kept white instead of the usual tan bark of the fishing boats.

Another question is that surely, with the expansionary nature of recreational sailing in the Golden Era of yachting from 1880 to 1914, the demands of racing big boats at close quarters would have sought to draw on the highly-regarded sailing skills of the Ringsend trawler men?

OWEN BISSETT, RINGSEND’S TOP YACHT RACING ACE

The answer is of course yes. But as they were regarded as paid hands in the very stratified social world of the time, only the top skippers achieved general name recognition. And of Ringsend’s galaxy of successful racing stars, the superstar was Owen Bissett.

The trawler Greyhound was owned and worked in winter by Owen Bissett of Ringsend, but often in summer he was away in the more lucrative position as a leading big yacht racing skipper, and it may well be that because of this, Greyhound is settimg a high quality white jib instead of the usual tanned sail. Photo: Courtesy Cormac LowthThe trawler Greyhound was owned and worked in winter by Owen Bissett of Ringsend, but often in summer he was away in the more lucrative position as a leading big yacht racing skipper, and it may well be that because of this, Greyhound is settimg a high quality white jib instead of the usual tanned sail. Photo: Courtesy Cormac Lowth

In the summer, he was the man to have on board if you wished to win in your big yacht. And in the winter he was owner-skipper of the handsome trawler ketch Greyhound, which in Cormac’s book is shown – unusually – as setting a white jib while all the other sails are tanned. The likely explanation is that the quality jib came off one of the yachts that Bissett raced, where the sails would be changed annually, an extravagant approach which would definitely not be replicated in the tightly-financed trawler business.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The hugely-significant Ringsend sailing trawler industry declined very quickly after 1914. Its demise was speeded by World War I, the rapid expansion of steam trawler fleets at larger purpose-built fishing ports, and the weakening of commercial cross-channel links with the establishment of the Irish Free State.

Thus we all owe a debt of gratitude to Cormac Lowth for his comprehensive book – in truth, there’s the makings of three books here – and to Peggy Bawn Press who, with the talents of Gary Mac Mahon of Copper Reed Studio in Limerick to draw on for the production challenge, and the support of Dublin Port to keep the show on the road, have given us all something attractively tangible to study. It helps us to grasp why it is so important to encourage Ringsend’s continuing sense of its maritime self, a cherished part of the greater project of maintaining Dublin’s role as a living, breathing, working city-port, with all the natural dignity which that brings with it.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

The great sailing trawlers may have gone as working boats, but some – such as the Leader in Carlingford Lough - live on as sail training ships. And meanwhile, the talents of the best sailing families come down through the generations.

Ross McDonald of Howth, for instance, current Champion of Champions in the International 1720s and other classes, is a direct descendant of Owen Bissett. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

International 1720 European Champions (and Boat of the Week) with Atara at Cork Week are (left to right) Aoife English, Paddy Good, Killian Collins, Robbie English and Ross McDonald. Ross McDonald is a direct descendant of Ringsend sailing superstar Oen Bissett. Photo: Rick TomlinsonInternational 1720 European Champions (and Boat of the Week) with Atara at Cork Week are (left to right) Aoife English, Paddy Good, Killian Collins, Robbie English and Ross McDonald. Ross McDonald is a direct descendant of Ringsend sailing superstar Oen Bissett. Photo: Rick Tomlinson

As for the great Ringsend maritime names of Murphy and Kearney, they did not go gently into the night of anonymity. The great days of fishing may have been over, but as Dublin port’s ship berthing development progressed, the innovative Joe Murphy – who somehow still managed to look like a film star even when jammed into the brutal confines of a heavy diving suit – was there in the front line of development. And when the famous Diving Bell was threatened with scrapping, he played a key role in ensuring it was preserved as something of exceptional interest.

It takes real style to continue to look like a matinee idol when jammed into a traditional diving outfit, but Joe Murphy of the famous Ringsend boatbuilding and fishing family could carry it off. He was also instrumental in preserving Dublin Port’s historic Diving Bell, and he drew the lines and construction plans for the Clondalkin-built Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan.It takes real style to continue to look like a matinee idol when jammed into a traditional diving outfit, but Joe Murphy of the famous Ringsend boatbuilding and fishing family could carry it off. He was also instrumental in preserving Dublin Port’s historic Diving Bell, and he drew the lines and construction plans for the Clondalkin-built Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan.

And Joe Murphy’s boat-creation talents stayed with him to the end. When it was decided by the Clondalkin Community Group more than twenty years to build the big Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan as an Irish language project, it was to Joe Murphy that they turned for line and constructional drawings, and the skill and success of his efforts can be seen in the authenticity of the Naomh Cronan, now based in Galway City.

As for the Kearneys, well, boat-builder Jem Kearney – now with his yard at the East Wall - continued on his merry way as someone who availed of every opportunity for enjoyment, his way and style of life totally at variance with the popular conception of the 1950s as a drab time of economic gloom and inevitable emigration.

A family thing. Playboy boatbuilder and salmon fisherman Jem Kearney testing the limits of the bona fide traveller regulations at the Boot Inn with Cormac Lowth’s Granny Nora (left) and Great Aunt Eileen (right). Photo: Courtesy Cormac LowthA family thing. Playboy boatbuilder and salmon fisherman Jem Kearney testing the limits of the bona fide traveller regulations at the Boot Inn with Cormac Lowth’s Granny Nora (left) and Great Aunt Eileen (right). Photo: Courtesy Cormac Lowth

And his brother John quietly got on with designing, with his yachts now built in Malahide Shipyard, while the 17ft Mermaid - which he’d originally designed in 1932 – became the largest class in Ireland in the 1950s and early ’60s.

Yet it was after he’d turned 80 that the greatest challenge arrived on his design board in Monkstown. Perry Greer, an engineering polymath who headed up the large Unidare industrial conglomerate, had for several years been the owner of the successful 16-ton Kearney-designed yawl Ann Gail. But his dream was of something larger, and somehow in the early 1960s he brought together the special but highly individual and sometimes spiky talents of designer John Kearney of Ringsend and boatbuilder Jack Tyrrell of Arklow to create the 54ft 29-ton yawl Helen of Howth, which was launched in 1963 when John B Kearney was 84.

The sparks might fly – Jack Tyrrell and John Kearney at one of their weekly Saturday morning meetings in Arklow during the construction of Helen of Howth in 1962. Photo: Perry GreerThe sparks might fly – Jack Tyrrell and John Kearney at one of their weekly Saturday morning meetings in Arklow during the construction of Helen of Howth in 1962. Photo: Perry Greer

Helen of Howth – as created by a Ringsend boy at the age of 83. Not shown in these plans is a centreboard for improved windward performance, but she could make to windward without using it.Helen of Howth – as created by a Ringsend boy at the age of 83. Not shown in these plans is a centreboard for improved windward performance, but she could make to windward without using it.

The quality of the plans of Helen as drawn by this very focused octogenarian tell us much of the man. And with her sea kindliness and effortless yet comfortable speed, she had all the most attractive characteristics of the best Ringsend sailing trawlers. She was one of the most comfortable boats I’ve ever sailed on, though over the years her racing competitiveness was blunted by the fact that Perry Greer could never resist adding items – sometime heavy ones – which augmented this comfort, such that she became a home-from-home of so much welcoming warmth that on one round Ireland cruise with many stops, her owner-skipper never went ashore at all, as he could enjoy all the scenery from the comfort of his beloved boat, while the food was better than anything else available in the neighbourhood, as he was an ace cook.

Helen of Howth was renowned for her seakindliness and easy speed, but her racing competitiveness was blunted by owner Perry Greer’s tendency to add new creature comforts each year – so much so, in fact that the boot-top had to be raised every few years.Helen of Howth was renowned for her seakindliness and easy speed, but her racing competitiveness was blunted by owner Perry Greer’s tendency to add new creature comforts each year – so much so, in fact that the boot-top had to be raised every few years.

Yet while Helen of Howth is believed to be no longer with us, the spirit of Ringsend lives on with vigour. And Cormac Lowth’s Ringsend Sailing Trawlers gives us a new insight into a very special community, and an area which provides a living accessibility to times past, adding extra meaning to the widely-shared determination to make the very best of Dublin as a true city port.

Ringsend Sailing Trawlers

By Cormac Lowth
Published by Peggy Bawn Press
€27
[email protected]

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under

Community spirit was alive and well on the River Liffey this week as Stella Maris Rowing Club joined Ringsend's 14th annual May Day Parade in Dublin City last Monday.

A marching band and appearances from various clubs, organisations, and members of the wider community were involved in the parade, including Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club.

It was a busy start to the coastal rowing season for the Stella Maris rowers at the Dublin Port-based club with an entry in the 15.4km row in the offshore double division at Clogherhead Strand in the Boyne boat race last weekend. 

The club was also involved with the launch of three Currachs on the river, as Afloat reported here.

Published in Coastal Rowing

These past few days have been purest serendipity for historic Irish boatbuilders. Just two days after the 1926-vintage West Cork-built Limerick ketch Ilen was celebrated beside the River Thames in London on Wednesday, the 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow 43ft ketch Maybird was being honoured last night beside the River Liffey in Dublin Port. In fact, the legendary Arklow boat-builder Jack Tyrrell was up in lights twice over, as last night’s (Friday) gala Awards Ceremony of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association in the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club also saw the inauguration of a new trophy, celebrating the memory of a former owner of the 1963 Tyrrell-built vintage Bermudan sloop Tjaldur.

We’d best take things chronologically. As Ilen’s date with destiny beside Tower Bridge for a first London cultural-exchange visit came up the agenda on Wednesday, not all the ducks were staying neatly in a row. Award-winning actor Dominic West of Glin Castle on the Shannon Estuary was finding serious diary problems in taking up his role as MC.

CELEB STAKES: HOW TO UP-GRADE FROM A BAFTA TO AN OSCAR

But not to worry. Ilen Marine School Director Gary Mac Mahon has a contacts book worth much more than its weight in gold. So you’ve a problem? You can’t get a BAFTA-winning thesp from a castle on the Shannon for your long-planned big event in London? No problem. Get an Oscar-winning superstar from a castle in West Cork instead, and the show is even more firmly on the road.

Dr Mick Brogan, Gary Mac Mahon, Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Irons at the Ilen London ReceptionDr Mick Brogan, Gary Mac Mahon, Sinead Cusack and Jeremy Irons at the Ilen London Reception. Photo: Claire Frew

In fact, as Jeremy Irons – who would call over betimes from nearby Kilcoe Castle to see Ilen while she was being restored by Liam Hegarty in the boatyard at Oldcourt – also brought his wife Sinead Cusack with him to the Ilenfest at St Katharine Docks on Wednesday, it was a stardust event, with the marine element including the distinguished Chairman of Crunnui na mBad in Kinvara on Galway Bay, Dr Mick Brogan, while the exchanges of goodwill were headed by speeches from Alison Gowman, Sheriff of the City of London, and Councillor Daniel Butler, the Mayor of Limerick.

Ilen well-wishers starting to gather in the ultimate urban setting. Photo: Alistair CraigIlen well-wishers starting to gather in the ultimate urban setting. Photo: Alistair Craig

BUSY NIGHT IN DUBLIN PORT

With the main event safely logged, Ilen’s Thames Estuary calendar is filling up over the next few days. But meanwhile, last night in Dublin Port saw an impressive number of boxes being ticked as the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers moved into post-pandemic overdrive, with minds well-focused by the presence of Old Gaffers Association overall President Patrick Vyvyan-Robinson.

Patrick Vyvyan-Robinson from Wales, President of the Old Gaffers AssociationPatrick Vyvyan-Robinson from Wales, President of the Old Gaffers Association

He’s a dyed-in-the-wool four-sided mainsail man who cruises the traditional-style Heard 28 Capraia out of the Bristol Channel and southwest England. But in coming to Poolbeg he was able to savour the essence of Irish Old Gafferry, for although the traditional boats of Galway Bay and Connemara continue in their own magnificent solitary splendour, in the rest of the island the Old Gaffers have rationalised themselves into the one setup, the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association. Its widespread reality is reflected in the fact that the current President is northerner Adrian “Stu” Spence with the ketch-rigged Vagabond 47 El Paradiso, while the Honorary Secretary is Crosshaven-based Darryl Hughes with the 43ft 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird.

OGA President Vyvyan-Robinson was there to personally present one of the main association’s top trophies - the Jolie Brise Cup - to Paul Keogh of Dublin for his tireless work over 25 years and more in keeping the Clondalkin community-built Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan in good order and busy afloat throughout the Irish Sea and beyond.

SIXTY YEAR CELEBRATIONS ON HORIZON

And as well the President was there to remind everyone that 2023 will be the OGA’s 60th anniversary. The Golden Jubilee in 2013 saw the Dublin Port stopover being one of highlights of the celebratory Cruise-in-Company, so the building blocks are being put in place to make sure that 2023 can provide the same or even better for the 60th.

The Tyrrell ketch Maybird has had several rigs and re-rigs in her 85 years, and as she is also the oldest boat ever to have completed the Round Ireland Race, Darryl Hughes reckoned that a bit of one of her discarded masts could be usefully re-purposed as a prize for future holders of the “Oldest Boat to Complete” in Round Ireland Races, and for that the “Maybird Mast” trophy was entrusted to Round Ireland organizer Hal Fitzpatrick of Wicklow Sailing Club.

The 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow-built ketch Maybird is owned and sailed by DBOGA Honorary Secretary Darryl HughesThe 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow-built ketch Maybird is owned and sailed by DBOGA Honorary Secretary Darryl Hughes

DBOGA President Stu Spence sailed many thousand of coastal and offshore miles in the 1874-vintage gaff-rigged pilot cutter Madcap, but now he has relaxed into the furling Bermuda comforts of the Vagabond 47 El Paradiso. However, the word is that he and fellow Arctic veteran Paddy Barry will have Paradiso up beyond Svalbard in the high Arctic this summer, but meanwhile in acknowledgement of the fact that classic Bermudan-rigged boats play a significant role in today’s OGA, he introduced the Tjaldur Trophy in honour of the late and much-missed Sean Whiston, who sailed the 1963 Peter Brett-designed Tyrrell-built 13-tonner Tjaldur for many happy years, the new trophy in his memory to go to the top-place Bermudan-rigged boat in the annual DBOGA Regatta.

DBOGA President Adrian Spence’s Vagabond 47 El Paradiso. His previous boat for very many years was the 1874-built Pilot Cutter Madcap. Photo: W M NixonDBOGA President Adrian Spence’s Vagabond 47 El Paradiso. His previous boat for very many years was the 1874-built Pilot Cutter Madcap. Photo: W M Nixon

The DBOGA has been exemplary in keeping things going through the lockdowns with a series of Zoom sessions on a wide variety of nautical topics, and in keeping with their traditions, they introduced the electronic equivalent of donating to the yellow welly for the Howth lifeboat, and Howth lifeboat fund-raiser Rose Michael – who will be marking forty years of raising the wind for the lifeboats next year – was there to receive the large ceremonial cheque as another highlight of the DBOGA’s many and various activities.

The late Sean Whiston sailing his 13-ton Tyrrell-built sloop Tjaldur.The late Sean Whiston sailing his 13-ton Tyrrell-built sloop Tjaldur

Published in W M Nixon

Three currachs will be launched on the River Liffey this Saturday.

Traditional Boats of Ireland Editor Criostoir Mac Cartaigh has been invited to officiate at the launch proceedings.

Launching at noon from the slipway beside the Stella Maris Rowing Club in Ringsend, a 'few tunes' will accompany the launch, according to organiser and Liffey Currach rower Dave Kelly. 

One currach is a racing version, built in Connemara, used on the Liffey then sold on to a Dublin crew where a revamp took place. The old canvas was taken off in favour of fibreglass, new hardwood and pins fitted and a nice new paint job.

The other two, a two-seater and a three-seater, were built by Ed Tuthill, a Liffey rower, and both built in Clane Co. Kildare.  The three-seater was built during the lockdown.

Two of the Liffey Currachs sitting nicely on their river mooring at Ringsend(Above and below) Two of the Liffey Currachs sitting nicely on their river mooring at Ringsend

Two of the Liffey Currachs sitting nicely on their river mooring at Ringsend

Meanwhile, Producer/ Director Pat Larkin at Misery Hill Films has put together a fantastic piece entitled 'Draoicht na Life' (below) on currach rowing on the River Liffey that features onboard action - plus some sea shanties - of currachs going under several of the capital's low air draft bridges at high tide!

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

Dublin Port Company has taken delivery of a new Pilot Boat named DPC Dodder.

The state-of-the-art vessel represents a significant investment to support the critical service performed by the pilots and pilot boat crews on the River Liffey and Dublin Bay.

Built by Goodchild Marine, the boat was accompanied on its journey home by its sister ship, the DPC Tolka and flanked by tug boats Beaufort and Shackleton.

Dublin Port Company has taken delivery of a new Pilot Boat, named DPC Dodder. The state-of-the art vessel, which represents a significant investment to support the critical service performed by the pilots and pilot boat crews, arrived in Dublin Port having set sail from Great Yarmouth last week.

Taking delivery of the 17.1 metre ORC vessel in Dublin Port was Harbour Master Captain Michael McKenna and Assistant Harbour Master Paul Hogan. The latest addition to the Port’s fleet is the second incarnation of the DPC Dodder, as the original was retired in 2020 following 23 years of service. The new Dodder joins pilot boats Liffey, Camac, and Tolka amongst the Port’s fleet of working vessels, which also includes tugboats Shackleton and Beaufort and multi-purpose workboat the Rosbeg.

Piloting the new vessel on her maiden voyage to Dublin was Alan Goodchild of the leading UK boat builder Goodchild Marine Services Limited, the Norfolk-based company that built DPC Dodder having secured the contract to construct the boat in 2020. This is the second pilot boat that Goodchild Marine has supplied to the Port in recent years, having delivered the DPC Tolka in 2019.Piloting the new vessel on her maiden voyage to Dublin was Alan Goodchild of the leading UK boat builder Goodchild Marine Services Limited, the Norfolk-based company that built DPC Dodder having secured the contract to construct the boat in 2020. This is the second pilot boat that Goodchild Marine has supplied to the Port in recent years, having delivered the DPC Tolka in 2019. Photo: Conor McCabe

Designed by French Naval Architect Pantocarene for both fuel efficiency and performance in challenging weather conditions, DPC Dodder features the latest navigational and safety equipment on board, including a dedicated Pilot workstation in the wheelhouse and hydraulic Man Overboard Recovery Platform at the stern.

With shipping companies increasingly deploying longer, deeper ships capable of carrying more cargo, DPC Dodder represents a vital upgrade and expansion in the provision of pilotage services at the Port and will allow Dublin Port’s team of highly skilled marine pilots to reach and board these ships in all weather conditions from a greater distance out into Dublin Bay.

Dublin Port Company has taken delivery of a new Pilot Boat named DPC Dodder.

Dublin Port Harbour Master, Captain Michael McKenna, said: “Dublin Port Company is delighted to take delivery of DPC Dodder, another state-of-the-art vessel from Goodchild Marine. Demand for pilotage continues to grow as the Port does, and DPC Dodder will help meet the operational and navigational needs of both regular customers and visiting vessels in the years ahead. We were delighted to work with Goodchild Marine again and thank them for their skills and workmanship in designing and delivering this vessel.”

Dublin Port Company has taken delivery of a new Pilot Boat named DPC Dodder.

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said: “At Dublin Port we are always investing in infrastructure, but that is not simply confined to marine engineering works such as building quay walls, but also extends to the fleet that keeps the Port operational around the clock. Our pilots increasingly need to embark and disembark from much larger capacity ships, often in poor weather conditions or at peak times when demands for pilotage services are highest. DPC Dodder has allowed us to upgrade our equipment in line with customer investment in new ships and additional capacity on existing routes.”

Published in Dublin Port

One of the most entertaining events of the constrained pre-Christmas season was the All In A Row charity event for all-comers - provided they were oar-driven – in Dublin’s River Liffey on Saturday, December 11th 2021. It mustered an exceptionally varied fleet including everything from classic authentic currachs to hefty big traditional coastal rowing skiffs. The widely-different craft in between including the legendary Lorelei, built by the great George Bushe of Crosshaven in 1954 using then-revolutionary construction methods to produce a very fast shell for the Cork Rowing Club.

Lorelei had become something of a sleeping beauty, as she was slumbering for many years dust-covered in a hidden corner of one of the sheds at Crosshaven Boatyard, when classic boat enthusiast Darryl Hughes – who winters his Tyrrell-of-Arklow-built 43ft ketch Maybird in Crosser where he now lives – immediately spotted that this was something very special indeed.

The classic coastal rowing skiffs – some of them as long as 32ft - can be quite a challengeThe classic coastal rowing skiffs – some of them as long as 32ft - can be quite a challenge

As the local rowing clubs already have their hands full with some of the latest craft, he contacted the Stella Maris Rowing Club with its many members in Ringsend in Dublin, and they agreed to take on the custodianship of Lorelei – she’s supposedly so called because the top movie of 1954 was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in which superstar Marilyn Monroe was the glamorous showgirl Lorelei.

Worth her weight in gold….the 1954 George Bushe-built Lorelei makes knots past the Central BankWorth her weight in gold….the 1954 George Bushe-built Lorelei makes knots past the Central Bank

Be that as it may, Lorelei the swift rowing skiff is a star in her own right, and she cut a speedy dash up the Liffey on December 11th when she and her fleetmates were brilliantly successful – they gave everyone a great time, they successfully demonstrated the wide range of rowing craft in Ireland, and they raised a total of €18,000 to be shared between the Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search & Recovery Unit. The presentation of the cheques will take place this Friday (December 4th) at 8.0pm in the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club.

Crew of all ages contributed mightily to the fund-raising effort on December 11th.Crew of all ages contributed mightily to the fund-raising effort on December 11th.

Published in Coastal Rowing
Tagged under

‘All In A Row 2021’ is coming back to the capital’s River Liffey on Saturday 11th December with a rowing challenge for the teams to smash a 1,000km target in eight hours. Forty skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs will all be on the water to raise funds for RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

The organisers are hoping to exceed last year’s target of rowing 1,000km during the event on the river, which will start from St. Patrick’s Rowing Club at the Tom Clarke Bridge (formerly the East Link Bridge) and go up to the Ha’penny Bridge. The challenge is being undertaken with the aim of showcasing the River Liffey as one of Dublin’s best amenities while raising funds for the water-related charities, RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit. The event raised €15,000 in 2019.

The event will start at 9 am on Saturday 11th December and at 1 pm all boats will gather on the Liffey at the Sean O’Casey footbridge. A wreath-laying ceremony, attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, will take place to commemorate all those who have lost their lives through drowning.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland, who will be attending the event, said “The River Liffey is such an important part of the city of Dublin and it is wonderful to see so many people using and enjoying the river in a range of skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs. Best of luck to all those taking part and well done for rising to the challenge of rowing 1,000 km, showcasing our beautiful river and raising money for two great water-related charities, RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.”

Many Dublin rowing clubs have their home on the River Liffey and are a regular sight on the water. At the port end of the river is St. Patrick’s Rowing Club, Stella Maris Rowing Club, East Wall Water Sports Group and Poolbeg Yacht and Boat club. Ringsend Basin is home to the Plurabelle Paddlers (dragon boats) and the Dublin Viking Dragon boats.

At the other end of the city beyond Heuston Station, there are many river rowing clubs and kayaking clubs, including Phoenix Rowing Club. Rowing clubs from other parts of Ireland will join in this challenge to raise funds for RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

Published in Dublin Bay
Tagged under

Dublin Port has today reached an important milestone in delivering Masterplan 2040 with the appointment of Grafton Architects to design the Liffey-Tolka Project, the most important Port-City integration project to date.

The Liffey-Tolka Project will create a new public realm along a 1.4 km dedicated cycle and pedestrian route linking the River Liffey with the Tolka Estuary through Dublin Port lands on the east side of East Wall Road and along Bond Road.

The new linear space ranges from twelve metres to nine metres wide and will be an extension of the campshires on North Wall Quay.

The Liffey-Tolka Project will bring cyclists and pedestrians from the Liffey to the start of a second Port-City integration project, the Tolka Estuary Greenway.

A graphic of the Dublin Port Company Liffey/Tolka Project that will create a 1.4km cycle path through port landsA graphic of the Dublin Port Company Liffey/Tolka Project that will create a 1.4km cycle path through port lands

The Tolka Estuary Greenway is a 3.2 km route along the northern perimeter of Dublin Port overlooking the Tolka Estuary. Construction of Phase 1 (1.9 km) will start next month and works will be completed by Spring 2022. Phase 2 (1.3 km) will be constructed over the following five years as part of large port infrastructure projects to deliver additional Ro-Ro freight capacity at the eastern end of Dublin Port. 

Dublin Port Company will apply to Dublin City Council for planning permission for Grafton Architect’s design for the Liffey-Tolka Project by April 2021 with a target to commence construction by September 2021 and to complete the works by the third quarter of 2022. The new route will include a dedicated bridge for cyclists and pedestrians to safely cross over the busy Promenade Road, the key artery that links Dublin Port to the Dublin Port Tunnel and one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the country.

Construction of the new civic space will transcend the opening of the new T4 Ro-Ro freight terminal as part of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project. As an indication of its scale, the T4 terminal will provide more Ro-Ro freight capacity than Rosslare Harbour. More importantly, the opening of T4 will allow Dublin Port Company to close one of the HGV entrances on East Wall Road and to redirect heavy goods traffic onto Dublin Port’s internal road network thereby greatly reducing heavy traffic along one of the city’s most hostile stretches of urban road.

Commenting on Grafton Architects’ appointment, Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive of Dublin Port Company said: “Delivering Masterplan 2040 is very complex and our focus to date has been on projects which deliver additional freight capacity. However, an equally important, albeit smaller part, of our Masterplan is integrating Dublin Port with Dublin City.

“We have been delivering projects such as the Diving Bell in 2015 and the Opening of Port Centre in 2017 as isolated stepping stones to integrate the Port with the City but, with today’s appointment of Grafton Architects to design the scheme to link the Liffey with the Tolka, we have cut the Gordian knot of the complex challenge to open up Dublin Port to Dubliners.

“Dublin Port is not going anywhere, and we are committed to developing nationally important port infrastructure in accordance with the principles of proper planning and sustainable development. This requires us not only to cater for the needs of cargo and commerce; we must also create real gain for the citizens of Dublin.

“Within two years, we will have completed a dedicated cycle network throughout Dublin Port and along most of the Port’s perimeter. Doing this in a small but extremely busy port requires great design and we are delighted to be working with Grafton Architects as we take on a unique challenge to integrate Dublin Port with Dublin City.

“We have been working with Grafton Architects for the past year to prepare the Flour Mill Masterplan as the blueprint for the redevelopment of the former Odlums Flour Mill on Alexandra Road. This development is an integral part of our plans to deliver the €1.6 billion of port infrastructure projects required to bring Dublin Port to its ultimate capacity by 2040 

“Developing masterplans is one thing; but turning great design into completed projects is the real challenge. We are delighted to have the empathy and expertise of Grafton Architects to help us realise our ambitions as we link the River Liffey to the Tolka Estuary. We couldn’t be in better hands.”

Commenting on Grafton Architects’ appointment by Dublin Port Company, Shelley McNamara said: “An influential and important exhibition took place at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010 with the title Small Scale: Big Change. The architectural projects exhibited were transformative in their effect rather than their size and highlighted the capacity for incisive creative thinking to open up new possibilities within communities and cities 

“The Liffey-Tolka Project to connect the River Liffey to the Tolka Estuary, along East Wall Road and Bond Road is not so small but, at the scale of the City it might be considered to be. However, its transformative effect will be immense.

“The currently hostile East Wall Road will become a linear Civic Space. This will form a new sense of entry to the City when travelling from the North and from the Dublin Port Tunnel.

“The drama, scale and animation of the Port will be revealed, joining up with the life of the City. The visual barrier which currently separates these two interdependent worlds will disappear. The pavement area will increase from a two metre width to twelve metres, offering a safe pleasurable landscaped space for people to walk or cycle. This new ribbon of space, bridging over Promenade Road, will connect the East Coast Trail and Dublin Port’s Tolka Estuary Greenway to the Liffey, terminating in a sunny public space on the water's edge. This will be a new Urban Amenity for day to day use and for enjoyment in times of leisure.

“We developed a deep appreciation and understanding of Dublin Port from our work on The Flour Mill Masterplan and we are very excited now to have been appointed to bring a project as important to the City as the Liffey-Tolka Project to the consenting phase and, hopefully, to construction next year.”

Published in Dublin Port
Tagged under

All In A Row 2019 came to the capital’s River Liffey last Saturday, 30th November, and challenged teams rowing 40 skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs to exceed a 1,000km target in eight hours in aid of the RNLI.

As Afloat reported earlier, Dragon Boats from the Plurabelle Paddlers and the Dublin Viking Dragon boats created a great spectacle with their drummers beating out the stroke rate. Phoenix Rowing Club from the western side of the Liffey joined with rowers from St. Patrick’s, Stella Maris and East Wall Water Sports Rowing Clubs on the east side, together with teams from Cork, Belfast, Rush, Skerries, Arklow, Carlow, Greystones, Drogheda and Dalkey to raise funds for RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

The Skipper of the Lagan Currach, at 10 metres/ 33ft long and weighting 1 Ton, was heard to say “ It was a bit of a tight squeeze. Apparently O'Connell Bridge is as wide as it is long. The tunnel under it seemed to go on forever, or maybe it's just the claustrophobia speaking!“

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
Tagged under

#Rowing: The All-in-a-Row charity event on the Liffey drew a flotilla of varied craft to the Liffey in central Dublin today in aid of the RNLI and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (IUSRU). There were over 40 boats on the water, and there was a festive air to the outfits of many who guided them.

 The IUSRU does the valuable work of recovering bodies of those who have been lost in water. It is a low-profile group which is made up entirely of volunteers. At a reception in the Dublin Docklands building on the Liffey, Richard Kaye of the IUSRU welcomed the funding and boost in profile given by the All-in-a-Row event. Gareth Morrison of the RNLI also expressed his thanks. He spoke of the ambitious plans of the RNLI to cut deaths by drowning. A donation was also made to the St Vincent de Paul, and tribute paid to the men who died on the Kyle Clare, which was sunk in the Bay of Biscay 75 years ago, with the loss of many men, including four from Ringsend.

 Wreaths were laid and the Last Post played (by Pat O’Connor of the Communications Workers Union). The reception was attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Chris Andrews.

Published in Rowing
Tagged under
Page 1 of 5

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating