Tall ships in Dublin
THE VOLVO Ocean racing yachts that visited Galway earlier this year may be the peregrine falcons of the sea but if you want to view the swans of the ocean you should visit Dublin docklands this weekend when the Tall Ships are in port. Somewhat tousled and undergoing repairs at the moment as a result of an extremely rough and rapid passage from La Coruna in Spain, the traditionally rigged sailing ships will hang out their brightest flags for the four-day festival.
Tall ships may be the centrepiece of the festival, but free family entertainment at Grand Canal Square and along the docks should ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone. Live music, street theatre, food outlets, water based events and a parade of sailors to the Customs House will add to the interest generated by traditional and modern sailing technologies.
Up to 50 tall ships in four categories will be on display, ranging from great square-riggers to smaller, traditionally rigged vessels, along with modern rigged sloops, ketches, yawls and schooners: a feast for any nautically-interested person. As an island people, we have tended to turn our backs on the sea and these spectacular sail-training ships will offer an opportunity to appreciate what can be achieved.
Waterford hosted the event last year and attracted up to half a million visitors, with a considerable spin-off for the local economy. The tall ships last came to Dublin in 1998, before the Celtic Tiger got its claws into the city and transformed the Liffey waterfront. Despite the development of the docklands in recent years, the Liffey remains one of the most underused rivers flowing through any European capital.
The organisers will make full use of the newly opened spaces and expect up to one million visitors to attend outdoor activities during the festival, generating at least €25 million in additional spending. Beginning today, the event has been promoted as Ireland’s biggest festival for 2012. It isn’t all about profit, however, as up to one thousand volunteers will be involved in making the occasion a success. Apart from the tall ships themselves, highlights are likely to include the sailors’ parade and prize-giving on Friday, live music and theatrical performances and a parade of sail on Sunday as the ships make their way out of Dublin Port from mid-morning.
From there, they will race to Liverpool, offering the people of that city an opportunity to enjoy a whiff of old-time sailing and the delights of the sea.