Arrival of tall ships in Dublin expected to generate €30m for local economy


UP TO one million people are expected to visit Dublin’s docklands later this week for the Tall Ships Festival, which organisers predict could generate up to €30 million for the local economy.

The festival, in Dublin for the first time since 1998, will not formally begin until Thursday. However, high winds on the crossing from the last stop in the Spanish city of La Coruña saw a number of the vessels blown into Irish waters more than 48 hours ahead of schedule.

Some of the early arrivals were badly damaged by the stormy seas as they made the crossing from northern Spain.

Repair work is now under way ahead of Thursday’s gala opening.

Eight young trainees from Dublin were on board the Guayas, the training ship of the Ecuadorean navy, which was damaged on the voyage.

Capt Amillar Villavicencio said winds of more than 100km/h and 10m waves had shredded eight sails and damaged masts on board. “We are used to sailing in the Pacific and it is called that because it is pacific,” he said. “The best teacher for sailors is the sea and we have a master here.”

Another vessel suffered a broken mast in the stormy conditions on the crossing, while a third had to be towed into Dublin Port after suffering significant damage on the high-speed crossing.

The Tall Ships Festival has a budget of €3.6 million and festival project manager Mary Weir said it would generate €25-€30 million for the local economy.

“We all can remember seeing paintings of tall ships down as far as Capel Street Bridge in Dublin, but now we don’t see them as much any more, so I think that actually draws people. It’s a very family-orientated event,” she said.

While the big draw will be the 40 vessels moored in Dublin docks, there will also be a range of other events including skateboarding, outdoor cinema events, clowns and al fresco opera.

There will be 55 musical acts, including Duke Special, Delorentos and The Minutes. Grand Canal Dock will host a family zone, and Hanover Quay will have skateboarding, beatboxing and wakeboarding. A photography exhibition and a range of workshops will take place at CHQ.

“This is not about sailing lessons. It is about using a tall ship to teach people comradeship and it has rightly been described as a life-changing event,” said the head of operations at Dublin Port, Séamus McLoughlin. “When the young people join the ship, they are complete strangers and at the end they will be a team of people with a common focus.”

When asked about weather for the weekend, Mr McLoughlin said he was “not good at praying, but I am going to resort to that”.

The Government has provided some €450,000 in funding for the festival. Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar described it as “a very important tourism event for the capital city, and for Ireland”.

It would be “a great opportunity to see so many of these wonderful ships within walking distance of Dublin city centre”.