Tall ships with 100 Irish trainees sail up the Liffey

Sail Training Ireland project aims to keep spirit of ‘Asgard II’ alive

Seven tall ships with 100 Irish sail trainees from both sides of the Border have berthed in Dublin Port for this weekend's river festival.

The flotilla, including three Class A square riggers, was escorted by the Naval Service sail training yacht LÉ Creidne up the Liffey yesterday.

Among the trainees on board was Anna-Marie Gleeson (21), a south Dublin physiotherapy student who had never sailed before.

She was offered a berth on the 70m long Dutch tall ship Gulden Leeuw (Golden Lion), which left Belfast last weekend and set course for Dublin via the Isle of Man.

Experience of a lifetime

“I saw the ships in Dublin over the last two years, put my name down, got an email and it’s been the experience of a lifetime,”Ms Gleeson said.

She and her fellow trainees, aged between 16 and 30 years, were placed by Sail Training Ireland, a charity founded by members of the board of Coiste an Asgard after the national sail training brigantine Asgard II sank off the French coast in 2011.

Earlier this year, four young people from Galway also participated in sail training, in New Zealand, after their participation in The Secret Millionaire television series.

Youth development

The four were attached to Foróige’s Ballybane Traveller Youth Project, in Ballybane, Co Galway, which involves young Travellers and young settled people.

Foróige integration worker Andrew Byrne, who travelled with the group, said the experience supported by the Irish Youth Sailing Trust was “as much about youth development as about sailing”.

Several of the Irish participants decided to return to full-time education after their 10-day Pacific experience.

Bigger picture

“It’s a wonderful way of learning about life and seeing the bigger picture,”Mr Byrne said.

The seven ships working with the Sail Training Ireland programme will be open to visitors over the weekend as part of the Dublin Port river festival.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times

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