Being an island, we’ve always had a knack for playing around in the water. Just look at the facts: the oldest yacht club in the world, The Royal Cork Yacht Club, was founded here in 1720.
The island boasts the second largest natural harbour in the world, Cork Harbour. We even have our very own pirate queen – a notorious matriarch by the name of Grace O’Malley (Granuaile) who stalked the coasts in the 16th century, commanded a fleet of ships and caused all sorts of trouble.
These days, though, the only pirate queen in our waters is the Clare Island Ferry, named after Grace herself.
A big year for sailing enthusiasts!
You might have heard us mention that 2013 is the year of The Gathering, maybe a few times or more? Well, during this year-long celebration of Irish culture, the sport of sailing is well and truly is well represented. There are lots of brilliant maritime festivals taking place around the island, but here are ones to watch…
The Gathering Cruise (17 July)
Headed up by Ireland’s Round the World sailing legend, Damian Foxall, The Gathering Cruise will see hundreds of yachts from around the world converge on County Dublin’s Dun Laoghaire harbour. The international flotilla will cruise its way south along the Irish coast and into the ancient port of Kinsale, County Cork for a festival feast of artisan foods and Irish music and craic. The Gathering Cruise is open to all who have a passion for sailing and onboard camaraderie.
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IFDS Disabled Sailing Championships (22-30 August)
County Cork is getting in on the Gathering sailing madness, too. The beautiful port of Kinsale will host the 2013 IFDS Disabled Sailing Championships, with sailors battling it out across a variety of heats and sailing styles. While two ancient forts guard the approach into Kinsale from the sea, spectators can watch the action and taste the many reasons why this little village is known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland.
J24 World Championships 2013 (22-30 August)
Ireland’s largest sailing club, Howth Sailing Club, is hosting the J24 World Championships. The world’s best sailors will be taking part in these five-person keelboat races. A simple DART journey from the city centre, make Howth your base to watch the action, while munching on locally caught seafood, and even seeing if the resident seals will pop up to say hello!
Laser European Championships (30 August)
So impressive are our Irish waters that the prestigious Laser European Championships are taking place off the coast of Dublin in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Competitors from all over Europe will compete in the Woman and Men’s Radial Championships and the Standard Men’s Championships. Back on dry land, there will be plenty to keep the crowds entertained in Dun Laoghaire.
Pirate queens or not, the sea around Ireland is definitely still a playground and we’ve got the ports and sailing events to prove it. Drop your anchor with us in Ballycastle, Cobh, Dun Laoghaire or Strangford Lough for a quick sample of what goes on around these maritime towns.