Up to a million expected to visit Tall Ships Festival
THE TALL Ships Festival gets under way in Dublin this morning and up to a million people are expected to flood the docklands between today and its climax early on Sunday afternoon.
A flotilla of 40 tall ships and at least a dozen accompanying vessels have sailed up the Liffey and huge masts now line both sides of the river east of the Sean O’Casey Bridge. The city is the final port of call for races that began on July 5th and travelled through ports in France, Spain and Portugal.
More than 3,000 crew members will celebrate the climax of the races on Sunday when the rigged ships will provide a parade of sail, one of the most spectacular sights on the world’s oceans, to a musical accompaniment provided by the Dublin Gospel Choir.
Free tours of most of the ships, food stalls, street theatre, concerts and other events will take place in the docklands as part of the event organised by Sail Training International, a charity aimed at educating young people, regardless of nationality, culture, religion, gender or social background.
It is the first time Dublin has hosted the Tall Ships Festival since 1998, although the fleet has visited Belfast and Waterford since. More than 50 acts are scheduled to perform free.
The first act takes to the stage at 2pm today, and the line-up includes Scullion, Duke Special, Cathy Davey and Jerry Fish.
Tomorrow will feature the Minutes, Mark Geary and Ryan Sheridan while Ash, the Frank Walters, Therapy? and the Undertones will play on Saturday night.
The arrival of the tall ships marks the 322nd anniversary of the arrival of another tall ship – The Ouzel Galley – which the Dublin Chamber of Commerce said yesterday was the cause of its existence. That merchant ship left Ringsend in 1695 and was not heard of for five years until it returned to Dublin laden with pirate loot. Following an argument about ownership of the ship’s cargo, a group named “The Ouzel Galley Society” was set up to resolve the dispute. The group eventually became the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.