Re-Building The Ilen
The eponymous Auxiliary Ketch Ilen, our flagship, 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 with powerful ribs of grown Irish oak, and long planks of European Larch from our gallant allies in the Bavarian Alps, she pitches impatiently in the trammels of the Corn Store in Hegarty’s yard, Oldcourt, as eager as a young salmon to get to the sea.
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.
The Ilen – Reality and Myth
Once on the oceans, free of all ties save for the luminous silk threads of the net, the Ilen will explore the world on behalf of many, and then, the greatest adventure of all, rediscover and retake Ireland from the sea, in a remake of Leabhar Gabhala Eireann*. From Roaring Water to Inis Glora, from the maelstroms of Mweelrea to the winter waves of Moyle, from nine waves and more offshore to the havens and hollow hills of Ireland, from the kingdom of Niamh to that of Oisin.
It is our hope that with the active participation of the young of all ages, the virtual and real, and the safely represented and the daringly direct, the thrilling, rejuvenating, magnificent exuberance of Ireland’s approaches from the sea will be rediscovered and shared.
*Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland) This book consists of a collection of poems and prose narratives on the mythic history of Ireland.