Sailing for 75 Years in Dungarvan
Dungarvan has always been noted for its sailors and its great sea- faring families and the tradition of the bygone days of the coastal schooners is reflected there today in the strong active sailing club which was founded at a public meeting in the Town Hall on Friday 2nd August 1946. The first officers were Bernard Mulcahy, Commodore, Reveille Farrell, Vice Commodore, Maurice Kiely, Secretary and Joe Donovan, Treasurer.
The inaugural race of the club, for the newly presented Mulcahy Cup, was held over a 6½ mile course with a fleet of 4 boats; “Mairead” built by Tyrells and owned by Bernard Mulcahy, “Maise” formerly of Dublin owned by Maurice and Peter Kiely, “Naomh Breandáin” owned by Gerard Walsh, and “Jane Shore” owned by James Villiers Stuart. The race was won by Maurice & Peter Kiely.
Helvick based boats then showed an interest and these craft, mostly gaff rigged salmon boats crewed by fishermen from the Helvick and Ring Gaeltacht, were usually well placed. Amongst these “Pauls Boat” and “Slatterys Boat” were outstanding, leaving the “yachts” a poor second on more than one occasion.
In 1948 Reveille Farrell bought “Susanna”, a nine-ton Bermudan cutter designed by Norman Dallimore and built in 1936. She was to become well known for her many cruises to the West Coast of Ireland, in the English Channel, and Brittany. The most famous of these was in June 1957 when accompanied by Gerard Walsh and John Ballot she sailed to Spain and back. This was a considerable achievement at the time as it was believed that the passage across the Bay of Biscay and back again was beyond the capacity of the average cruising yacht in the normal holiday period. Coincidental with the arrival of “Susanna” some of the older boats changed hands and were lost to the club and big boat racing activity declined. They were replaced by a few one-man canvas sailing canoes, owned, and frequently capsized by Col. Jack Hockin, Maurice Kiely, and Tim MacCarthy – which were the beginnings of dinghy sailing in Dungarvan Harbour. The first meeting of the revived Dungarvan harbour sailing club was held on Saturday 21st of November 1959. From there it progressed steadily over the years. Some of the founding members being John Flynn, Austin Flynn, Gerard Walsh, Tim McCarty, Maurice Kiely, John Whelan, Bernie Mulcahy, Revell Farrell to name but a few. At the time there were a dozen or so sailing craft ranging from 10ft dinghies to 10 ton yachts but soon some of the members wanted to build their own sailing boats. The final choice of boat to be built was the 16ft “Storm Petrel ". The 16ft " Petrel " was designed by the American naval architect William D Jackson in 1941. The Petrel was to be either an open cockpit sloop or with a small cabin. Center board or with a keel and they were built using marine grade plywood. Due to the lack of availability of marine plywood the first local Petrels were built using Larch planks which made them rather heavy. The first local Petrel built was named " Village girl " and was a cabin version. She was built and owned by John Flynn and Austin Flynn. From there a fleet of planked open cockpit Petrels followed and all being homemade. Even sails were homemade. Some of the owners of these Petrels included No.2 “Stella" Gerard Walsh, No.3 " Annette" Maurice Kiely and No.5 Tim McCarty.
Eventually marine grade plywood became available so by the early 1960's a fleet of plywood Petrels steadily grew in number. The first of these was No.10 " Inversnaid " built by John Flynn for Revelle Farrell, No.11 John Whelan, No.12 Nicky Cleary, No.13 John Mansfield, No.15 Jim Bailey, No.16 J D Halley, No.19 " Joemifra " Bernie Mulcahy. No.23 " Manannan Mac Lir " Tom Timmins. No.24 " Tick Tock " Richard Dalton, No.25 " Village girl " John Young, No.26 “Alice " Tom Fitzgerald, No.27 " Concord " built by John Beresford and later owned Bill O'Meara. By the mid 1980's very few if any of the original planked Petrels survived. A second cabin version Petrel was built by Michael Dwyer in the 1970's. Later the cabin was removed. Unique to this Petrel was the Gunter rig.
In the early 1980's it was decided to build Petrels in GRP. Austin Flynn built No.29 “Rastas " which was to become the plug for the mould to build these GRP hulls. Around 10 GRP hulls were built from 1983 to 1995. In 1983 Billy Ahearn from Clonmel built a marine plywood Petrel No.28 called " Ozzation " and in 1987 another was built by John Whelan. In 1992 John Whelan built a new marine plywood Petrel for John Young called " Denise " and in 1993 he built another for Michael ( Jon A ) Higgins. Overall, the fleet numbered around 42. The highlights over the years include races in Monkstown Cork and a race to Ardmore. Along with numerous local races for cups and trophies. These include the Pfizer cup, the Parton Trophy, and the Dick Beattie Perpetual trophy to name just a few. Races included the 3 harbours race, swap the boats race for the Audrey Thompson Cup and ladies race for the Hockin Cup. As for boats on water in 1984 there were 24 Petrels afloat and in 1994 there were 20 afloat. The last Petrel race was on Sunday 23 May 2010. Five Petrels took part in this race.
The GP14’ class was popular for a while during which period the club hosted the Purcell trophy. Nowadays the dinghy fleet comprises of Wayfarers, Lasers, Mirrors and Toppers sailed by a highly active junior section. Our young sailors have represented the Club and the Country in competition all over Ireland and in Germany, France, Croatia, Finland, and the UK. Many of our young sailors have taken their skills to the US as J1 Students.
Junior Sail Training is the corner stone of Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club. We have been fortunate to have had great Junior programmes for the past forty years run by Austin Flynn, Fergal Brazil, John Quealy, Sandra Wynne. The junior training this year is run by Edwin Fay, Brid Kennedy and Willie Bumster and is now one of the best Training Centres in the country. We are fortunate to have great support from the parents and other club members without this the programme could not run.
The cruiser fleet has also expanded and the burgee of DHSC has been carried far afield. Members have logged many miles from Cape Horn to the Northern Latitudes.
Reconstruction of the Quay area has injected new life into this area of the town and created the opportunity for Dungarvan Harbour Sailing Club to take the brave decision to borrow the money and purchase a site on the quay front on which to build a clubhouse. This building was designed by Damien Dillon and built by Ryan and Guiry. It is now the focal point of club activities. The Clubhouse has been the venue for many very enjoyable social events as well as the perfect location for our training programmes
The next big project was the pontoon on the Quay. This was a major investment in the future of the Club and Dungarvan Harbour. The pontoon together with the abundance of excellent restaurants and the other onshore facilities available has established Dungarvan as a compulsory stopover for cruising yachts.