Plan for all-island tall ship to replace ‘Asgard II’ unveiled

Three-masted ‘Spirit of New Zealand’ offers best model, says Atlantic Youth Trust

Youth development: a concept graphic of the  proposed all-island tall ship. © Dykstra Naval Architects and Damen

Youth development: a concept graphic of the proposed all-island tall ship. © Dykstra Naval Architects and Damen


Plans for an all-island tall ship to replace Asgard II have been unveiled by a cross-Border trust which has been working on the project for the past three years.

The Atlantic Youth Trust says that it believes a new ship should be modelled on the 45-metre steel-hull vessel built for the Spirit of Adventure Trust in New Zealand.

The three-masted barquentine Spirit of New Zealand was commissioned in 1986, and is said to be one of the world’s busiest youth ships. The Atlantic Youth Trust estimates the cost of building a similar ship here at €16 million.

The State received about €3.8 million in insurance for the loss of the Asgard II and the National Lottery contributed about €900,000 a year.

The trust believes this money, combined with cross-Border peace funding and corporate and philanthropic donations, could pay for the vessel, which would have double the capacity of the Arklow-built brigantine. It could offer 1,000 youth development berths a year during the ship’s 30-year lifespan, the trust believes.

The trust, chaired by Lord Glentoran and with Enda O’Coineen as president, undertook a global study of the tall ships sector before coming up with its design, and a business case was carried out by Ernst and Young.


It has been endorsed by Tall Ships Belfast chairman and Atlantic Youth Trust trustee Dr Gerard O’Hare, who noted that “the tasks and chores while living on a tall ship are directly transferable back to dry land – hence education systems around the world endorse such activities”.

Since Asgard II sank off the Brittany coast in 2008, Irish sail trainees have been placed on “ships of opportunity” by Sail Training Ireland (STI), a charity formed in 2011 with Dublin Port’s support.

Trainees have secured berths on such vessels as the Dutch-registered brig Morgenster and the Dutch schooner Gulden Leuw, and a 21-metre classic schooner named Spirit of Oysterhaven, which is Ireland’s only operational non-Naval Service sail-training vessel.

Round the world

Ilen Spirit of Oysterhaven