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Displaying items by tag: Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival

The Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival in West Cork will be held this weekend, starting on Friday and continuing until Sunday.

“This area has a long history of engagement with trans-Atlantic sailing ships, with Eastern-bound ships picking up a Pilot off Oileán Chléire to guide them into European waters. Generations of Chléire pilots had detailed knowledge of ports from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. The Festival will re-enact the rowing out of a ‘Pilot’ from the Harbour to a vessel under sail by Sherkin, the ‘Pilot’ has to jump on board and be sailed back to the Harbour. While this is a fun event, it can get very competitive,” says Mary Jordan of the Organising Committee.

The iconic Saoirse will be the Committee Boat. The original Saoirse was built in Baltimore in 1923 and was the first yacht to sail around the world under the new Irish flag, skippered by Conor O’Brien.

This year’s Festival will celebrate the locally famous 39-foot Ketch, The Richard. The first boat built by Paddy Hegarty in Old Court in 1948, whose sons and grandson continue this tradition of building heritage vessels, will be the subject of a talk by Maritime Historian Cormac Levis of Ballydehob on the opening Friday night at 8 p.m. in Baltimore Sailing Club.

Ketch Richard moored off Sherkin Island when she was owned by Dermot KennedyKetch Richard moored off Sherkin Island when she was owned by Dermot Kennedy 

The rowing race from Skibbereen to Baltimore can not be held this year as the tide is wrong for rowing down the River Ilen. Instead a new event for small boats will be Orienteering on the water, with boats hunting for designated rocks, headlands and landmarks, it should be fun to watch from land and sea!

Among the many visiting vessels, including the Shannon and Bristol Pilot Cutters, we are delighted to welcome two Bantry Long Boats who will be sailing/rowing together, the Unité from Bantry and Fionnbarra from Cork, replicas of the French Long Boats that came into Bantry Bay in 1798 to assist Wolf Tone.

While our maritime history is not taught in any Irish schools, this Festival gives an glimpse of the richness of maritime heritage and the wealth of traditional sailing and construction skills thriving in West Cork. It has one of the widest variety of traditional vessels in Ireland, from rowing currachs and punts to sailing Heir Island and Long Island fishing boats to large ocean-going vessels.

And not to forget that it is also a seafood festival in a village whose heritage includes the fishing industry.

Published in Historic Boats

Wooden boats will dominate Baltimore Harbour this weekend when the West Cork village welcomes back the annual gathering of traditional vessels.

Like many other events the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival, which had been held annually for seventeen years from 2002, came to a halt in 2019 with the wretched arrival of Covid. The organisers say that vessels are already arriving in Baltimore for the event in which there is huge interest.

Wooden boats will dominate Baltimore, West Cork this weekendWooden boats will dominate Baltimore, West Cork this weekend Photo: Simon O'Shea

“We are delighted to re-launch the traditional festival,” Mary Jordan of the organising committee told me. “And we’re going to do so with a very special commemoration marking the centenary year when the legendary Conor O’Brien sailed off to go around the world in Saoirse, the boat built for him at the Baltimore Fishery School.”

The spirit of the re-born Saoirse is captured in this February 2023 Kevin O'Farrell photo taken off Baltimore. Photo: Kevin O'FarrellThe spirit of the re-born Saoirse is captured in this February 2023 Kevin O'Farrell photo taken off Baltimore. Photo: Kevin O'Farrell

The newly-built Saoirse from Hegarty’s boatyard at Oldcourt, Skibbereen, for Fred Kinmouth, will be seen at the festival sailing in company with the Ketch Ilen, the last of Ireland’s traditional wooden sailing ships, also designed by O’Brien and restored at Hegarty’s.

Mary Jordan is my Podcast guest this week and makes a very interesting suggestion that Conor O’Brien’s circumnavigation should be used as a focal point of developing maritime training

Listen to the Podcast below.

Published in Tom MacSweeney

West Cork's annual celebration of traditional boats has joined the ever-lengthening list of cancelled sailing events writes Tom MacSweeney

The organisers of the Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival, scheduled for the end of this month, on the weekend of Friday, May 22 to Sunday, May 24, announced that: "Like nearly every other festival ours has to be cancelled. We send our good wishes to all the traditional boat community and hope you stay safe and sane for the coming summer. Thank you to everyone with supported the Festival for the last 18 years, we look forward to really celebrating with next year's Festival. Fair sailing."

The festival has been a major support to the development of interest in traditional working boats of the West Cork area and helped considerably in their revival.

"The festival forged links with all of those who love wooden boats from other areas of Ireland and overseas in a weekend of sailing, talking, learning and socialising," say the organisers.

Cork has suffered the cancellation of many major sailing events so far, which will also have a big effect on local economies which had been expecting a strong tourism and visitor period from them during the Summer. The list includes the Royal Cork's Tricentenrary, Cork Week, Glandore Classic Boats Festival and the international Dragon Gold Cup at Kinsale.

Published in Historic Boats

The Rankin Dinghy of Cobh, Cork Harbour 

A Rankin is a traditional wooden dinghy which was built in Cobh, of which it’s believed there were 80 and of which The Rankin Dinghy Group has traced nearly half. 

The name of the Rankin dinghies is revered in Cork Harbour and particularly in the harbourside town of Cobh.

And the name of one of those boats is linked to the gunboat which fought against the Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Easter Rising and later for the emergent Irish Free State Government against anti-Treaty Forces during the Irish Civil War.

It also links the renowned boat-building Rankin family in Cobh, one of whose members crewed on the gunboat.

Maurice Kidney and Conor English are driving the restoration of the Rankin dinghies in Cork Harbour. They have discovered that Rankins were bought and sailed in several parts of the country.