A small wooden ketch sailed quietly into Dublin Bay last weekend (May 11-12) after a 21-year absence. Not many of the onlookers perhaps knew the story of this 52ft boat that had left Irish shores over seventy years ago, to endure service in the turbulent waters of the Southern Ocean.
Ilen was located at the remote island by Gary Mahon who had discovered the whereabouts of the famous boat, built and skippered by fellow Limerick man Conor O’Brien, also patriot, adventurer and author.
Following a 12,000 mile journey back to her native West Cork, Ilen was restored to painstaking detail by master shipwright Liam Hegarty in Oldcourt, Skibbereen.
Back in her native waters, the Ilen Project now offers young people of all walks of life a platform for team-building and personal development through a sailing experience where equality is absolute on the water.
Voyage to Dublin
A group from Aiséirí (a dynamic residential treatment centre for adults affected by addiction) joined Ilen in Dunmore East, bound for Dublin. The ‘voyage of recovery’ was arranged by Sailing into Wellness – an organisation with a mission to inspire positive change in individuals and communities through the medium of sailing.
In July, Ilen sets sail from Limerick bound for Western Greenland with youths on board from both shores, in the wake of the wild Atlantic salmon. This educational and outdoor adventure programme will unfold in schools, through boat building workshops community days, along with river, sea and ocean sailing.