For the Ilen Company and Boat Building School, the year 2015 has been one of consolidation of past advances and of laying ground work for the great leap forward hoped and planned for in 2016 and 2017.
Our students and community fellow travellers have been happy to be learning and working in a context as magnificent as Limerick’s engagement with river, estuary, and the oceans beyond.
As for the Ilen School, that great educational programme, there is a rapidly growing sense of increasing proximity of salt water. Like a young salmon, the school experiences a growing excitement and awe as the terrifying destiny of the work approaches. The sobriety of our earlier narrative – the destination is the journey itself – is giving way to a quiet confidence that all things are now coming together coherently in their final cause. The discipline and purpose of class time is enlivened by a sense that soon students and teachers alike may find themselves totally at sea. The land base will remain to recruit and train new cohorts and to further build the city’s fleet.
All the while the highest standards of ship’s carpentry and other skills are being applied to the manufacture of the rigging and other components of the ship at our school in Roxboro. The hollow polygonal spars and the solid main, top and mizzen masts are as impressive pieces of shipwrighting as most have seen.
Some of our students arrive spontaneously, hearing the action. Others come in larger groups, often organised by educational and therapeutic agencies.
Currently these agencies include:
- Irish Wheelchair Association
- Limerick Mental Health
- Brothers of Charity (Intellectual Disability / Autism)
- Headway (Brain Injury Services & Support)
- HSE Occupational Therapy Dept.
- Focus Ireland
- Coisceim Education Centre (Youth Behavioral Problems / Difficulties)
- National Learning Network
- Jobs Bridge
- TUS (Community Work Placement)
The school also enjoys the participation of a cohort of 20 active community volunteers
The dividend on our company’s productivity is shared not only with our volunteers and students, but also with everyone living in Limerick and further afield. Already there is an improvement in Limerick’s self-perception as well as in external perception, as the latent resources of nature and of infrastructural and cultural heritage of the city begin to be once more engaged with and realised.
The thrilling Gandelow Races on the Shannon this year, for all who saw or heard of them, proclaimed that the waters of the river give joy to God’s city, and that, far from being its end, they are the source and beginning of life.
In severe contention with the oarsmen of Kerry and Cork, our teams have drained the South West of silver, causing a temporary seizing of the economy there, so that scarce a beast can be bought or sold between Dingle and Kinsale. We hope they will have sufficiently recovered to meet us again in 2016 when we may have great Mother Ship Ilen in attendance.