With the terrifying prospect of the Ilen sailing ship returning to Limerick in 2016, there is general panic along the quays, as people who thought of themselves as master mariners face the reality of the test. People are revising and researching at home and rushing off to do further courses on the arcana of navigation, rigging and sail making. Their fear is respectful and salutary: ship handling skills at sea not only keep one safe, but also allow one to discover a cosmic harmony in the elemental forces that surround and carry us.
On this first five day voyage in July 2015 voyage, five young people from Limerick voyaged alongside five young people from Belfast. The Ilen School’s partner organisations for this first sail training voyage were Atlantic Youth Trust, Sail Training Ireland and PeacePlayers International. We hope to share the joy of sailing the seas as widely as possible.
The City One dinghies serve well for beginners. The Ilen serves the committed and the free, and those who might venture further off shore.
Limerick, Ireland’s midland port, may seem a good location to build a national sail training programme. Such programmes offer young people in particular the chance to exercise their growing social skills, and confidence. A sea voyage offers the containment for team building with fellow crew members, the expansiveness of venturing on sea overseas, and the opportunity of facing new challenges.