Shipshape sailors steal the show at Dublin docks
“THERE’S A parade coming,” says a young sailing/sailor fan to a friend at the Tall Ships Festival. “A parade of FINE THINGS!”
What I’m sure she meant to say was that the procession between the O2 and the Custom House featuring 1,800 crew members, aquatically themed costumes, pipers, brass bands and pipe bands was the perfect way to celebrate a shared nautical heritage.
Then she adds: “but it’s raining, will we go home?”
Other visitors thronging the docklands are hardier. They wander around despite the rain, wearing sea-faring kitsch, munching on hot-dogs and falafels, ringing ships bells, clambering around eye-burningly bright amusements and gazing both at groomed sailors in uniforms and ungroomed men on unicycles (unicycles seem to be this season’s other obsolete vehicle du jour).
“We don’t let the rain stop us,” says Rosaline Dunphy from Dún Laoghaire with a smile. Rosaline and her friend Ruth Mann are queuing to see the Mexican ship, the Cuauhtemoc.
Despite her stall-bought sailor hat, Rosaline considers herself to be “a land lubber”. “My family were sailors once upon a time,” she says. She says that two of her great-grandfather’s brothers died in the 1895 Kingston Lifeboat Disaster. Mann has a more tenuous link to the life aquatic, the daughter of a friend is a chandler (a ship chandler, I learn, is a purveyor of sea-faring equipment).
Other onlookers have even more saltwater in their veins. David and Kate Lovegrove laugh when asked if they sail. “For 55 years,” says David. “So I’ve been involved in sailing for a long time. Strange as it may seem, I will be the race officer starting these ships when they leave here on Sunday.” David and Kate love being on water. Why? “Seasickness, cold, bruises,” says Kate.
“It’s really hard to say,” says David. “We just do.”