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Ilen
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An international gathering at the Ilen School, Roxboro, Limerick of expert marine traditional riggers, sailmakers and classic boatbuilders, might induce one to speculate that a sailing ship is somewhere in Ireland nearing completion. And yes, this gathering of last Friday,…
The Ilen is a short film on the joy of working with wood, it documents the words and skills of Ireland’s few remaining traditional shipwrights, currently occupied in the rebuilding of Irelands sole surviving sail trading ketch. The award comes…
Howth Sailor Injured On Antix Told Shipmates to Stay Silent
#antixfinger – When you play in the big boys game, then you play by the big boys' rules writes W M Nixon. And you take it like a man. That seems to be the attitude of the amateur crew who…
Ilen Gandelow Rowing Crew Celebrate Baltimore Wooden Boat Prize
#baltimorewoodenboatfestival – The Ilen School Gandelow crew are celebrating back in Limerick after taking the big rowing prizes at the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival last weekend. Rowing races at the West Cork festival included on Sunday a Pilot Race Event under…
BBQ on Board Can Pose A Danger from the 'Silent Killer'
#carbonmonoxideboats – Whether at home or on holiday, summer is BBQ time but they can pose a real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if used in poorly ventilated or confined areas like inside a tent or the awning of a…
Ilen – Uniting Ireland's Coastal Communities Through Educational Endeavour
#ilen – As previously reported by Afloat.ie, the good ship Ilen's whiskey plank was jointly nailed home by Minister For The Marine, Simon Coveney, Mrs Kate Jarvey of Ruth Lily Philanthropic Trust, Mr Gerry Boland of JP McManus Charitable Foundation,…
Simon Coveney to Nail 'Ilen's' Whiskey Plank at West Cork Ceremony for Ireland's Last Traditional Sailing Ship
#ilen – Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Agriculture, Food & The Marine and Minister For Defence will hammer home the final 'whiskey plank' of European larch on the hull of the good ship Ilen on Monday, 16th February. The whiskey…
Ilen Project 'CityOne' Dinghies for Culture Night, Limerick City
#cityone – The Ilen School's new sailing boat CityOne will be on exhibition for Culture Night in Limerick City, Friday September 19th. A fleet of four CityOnes will be on view from 6pm to 9pm on Howley's Quay. Culture Night,…
Kinsale Remembers Former Scora Commodore With A Minute's Silence Before Racing
#kinsale – Sunday's racing at Kinsale Yacht Club in County Cork was overshadowed by the sad passing of former Scora Commodore Vinnie O'Shea. Vinnie had been a great supporter of Kinsale Yacht Club and was well known as the Skipper…
International Boat Builders Gather in Roxboro School for Ilen City One Project
#cityone – An international and local team of boat builders and naval architects have assembled at the Ilen School, Roxboro, as part of the Limerick City of Culture 2014 celebrations. The school is well underway towards the rollout of its…
Lecture: The Ketch Ilen - Ireland's Sole Surviving Sail Trader
#LectureILEN - "The Ketch Ilen-Ireland's Sole Surviving Sail Trader" will be the public lecture presented by Gary Mac Mahon next Thursday (7 November) in the Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club, Ringsend. The talk which forms the members of Les Glénans…
Foghorns Fall Silent

Foghorns Fall Silent

12th January 2011 Ilen
Yesterday lighthouses around Ireland ceased sounding fog signals. Lorna Siggins has a piece in the Irish Times this morning complete with a slideshow. We've also been covering the story here on afloat.ie over the last couple of days, and many…
Ireland's Fog Signals to Fall Silent
The Commissioners of Irish Lights has said it consulted widely about discontinuing the last remaining fog signals around Ireland's coastline, The Irish Times reports. Nine lighthouses operated directly by the authority in the Republic and Northern Ireland, along with several…
Building The Ilen, a mysterious and ancient craft
It would be a dream come true for some people – working with some of Ireland's few remaining traditional shipwrights, refitting Ireland's sole surviving sea-going sailing ship: The Ilen. Photos: Courtesy of Kevin O'Farrell and Gary MacMahon/AK Ilen Company  Ketch…

Ireland's Trading Ketch Ilen

The Ilen is the last of Ireland’s traditional wooden sailing ships.

Designed by Limerick man Conor O’Brien and built in Baltimore in 1926, she was delivered by Munster men to the Falkland Islands where she served valiantly for seventy years, enduring and enjoying the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties.

Returned now to Ireland and given a new breath of life, Ilen may be described as the last of Ireland’s timber-built ocean-going sailing ships, yet at a mere 56ft, it is capable of visiting most of the small harbours of Ireland.

Wooden Sailing Ship Ilen FAQs

The Ilen is the last of Ireland’s traditional wooden sailing ships.

The Ilen was designed by Conor O’Brien, the first Irish man to circumnavigate the world.

Ilen is named for the West Cork River which flows to the sea at Baltimore, her home port.

The Ilen was built by Baltimore Sea Fisheries School, West Cork in 1926. Tom Moynihan was foreman.

Ilen's wood construction is of oak ribs and planks of larch.

As-built initially, she is 56 feet in length overall with a beam of 14 feet and a displacement of 45 tonnes.

Conor O’Brien set sail in August 1926 with two Cadogan cousins from Cape Clear in West Cork, arriving at Port Stanley in January 1927 and handed it over to the new owners.

The Ilen was delivered to the Falkland Islands Company, in exchange for £1,500.

Ilen served for over 70 years as a cargo ship and a ferry in the Falkland Islands, enduring and enjoying the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties. She stayed in service until the early 1990s.

Limerick sailor Gary McMahon and his team located Ilen. MacMahon started looking for her in 1996 and went out to the Falklands and struck a deal with the owner to bring her back to Ireland.

After a lifetime of hard work in the Falklands, Ilen required a ground-up rebuild.

A Russian cargo ship transported her back on a 12,000-mile trip from the Southern Oceans to Dublin. The Ilen was discharged at the Port of Dublin 1997, after an absence from Ireland of 70 years.

It was a collaboration between the Ilen Project in Limerick and Hegarty’s Boatyard in Old Court, near Skibbereen. Much of the heavy lifting, of frames, planking, deadwood & backbone, knees, floors, shelves and stringers, deck beams, and carlins, was done in Hegarty’s. The generally lighter work of preparing sole, bulkheads, deck‐houses fixed furniture, fixtures & fittings, deck fittings, machinery, systems, tanks, spar making and rigging is being done at the Ilen boat building school in Limerick.

Ten years. The boat was much the worse for wear when it returned to West Cork in May 1998, and it remained dormant for ten years before the start of a decade-long restoration.

Ilen now serves as a community floating classroom and cargo vessel – visiting 23 ports in 2019 and making a transatlantic crossing to Greenland as part of a relationship-building project to link youth in Limerick City with youth in Nuuk, west Greenland.

At a mere 56ft, Ilen is capable of visiting most of the small harbours of Ireland.

©Afloat 2020

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