Diarmaid Murphy, Atlantic Challenge

Meithal Mara, a city based organisation better known for exploits with currachs, is the most recent group to join the Atlantic Challenge Ireland family and is in the process of completing a longboat at their premises at Crosses Green, Cork.

The group intend to be on the water by June, in time for the ‘Ocean to City’ race when they will be up against other longboat crews from Bantry, Waterford and Antrim. In the meantime during the build, the crew will travel to Bantry and Waterford to gain valuable experience on board other longboats to learn the necessary skills to row and sail these dynamic vessels.

International crew in Genoa overtaking the Dutch team

 International crew in Genoa overtaking the Dutch team

2006 was a very busy and successful year for Atlantic Challenge Ireland, especially when the Bantry-based Irish crew were victorious in Genoa, Italy, winning the prestigious Atlantic Challenge International contest with style. There were sixteen boats in the contest with representatives from over twenty different countries.

To date, sixty Bantry longboats have been built worldwide, all of which are replicas of the original boat that was captured from the French Armada led by Wolfe Tone in Bantry Bay in 1796. The ‘original’, as it is referred to in ‘AC’ circles, is on display in Collin’s Barracks, Dublin, and is the oldest surviving vessel of the French navy.

Atlantic Challenge Ireland was founded in Bantry in 1988 when Bantry Rowing club was approached by Hal Sisk to participate in an event in Douarnenez, France. Borrowing a boat from the French, the Bantry- based rowers and sailors competed against three other nations.

In 1990, AC-Ireland built its own boat, Unite, and has been representing Ireland all over the world ever since. The Cork-based longboat will become part of an extended family that has become well established globally, and will provide many opportunities for people in the city to travel throughout Ireland and abroad.