Cliff Walk Blocked Again

Having seen a Facebook post by Cllr Pat Kavanagh regarding the closure of the Cliff Walk from the Glen Turn entrance, I went down to investigate the situation myself this evening. As a regular user of this beautiful walk for the last 25 years, I was very upset to hear it had been blocked yet again.

For most of this year, there has been a potentially serious problem of erosion at a point c.100m from the beach entrance. The path at this point is just about to collapse into the sea and is a serious threat to walkers (see centre right of photo below). This definitely needs to be shut off and walkers protected in case it would collapse as someone walks across it. There is a sheer drop of c.20m below it.

Dangerous section ready to erode into the sea

Dangerous section ready to erode into the sea

However, immediately above this dangerous section is an alternative route on a rough rocky section that would be perfectly safe for walkers to use. A new path has already been beaten down into the dense fern growth beyond it, so there should be no need to deprive tourists and townspeople alike of the wonderful pleasure of the Brides Head/Wicklow Head cliff walk. Instead of the fence blocking access to the beautiful walk, it should be realigned to protect the dangerous section from walkers and allow safe passage above it – i.e. run it parallel to the walk.

Alternative path adjacent to dangerous section

Alternative path adjacent to dangerous section

This path has been subject to erosion for centuries and people have adjusted to the problem by making new walkways to continue using it. It is important that Wicklow County Council acts to keep walkers safe, but blocking access with ugly barriers when alternative options exist is most unhelpful.

Dangerous section with large blocking fence

Dangerous section with large blocking fence

The start of this section overlooks the Glen Turn beach and it is also subject to erosion. The next big easterly storm is likely to take away a substantial part of the pathway here, but at present this section is safe to traverse. There is no good reason at time of writing for this section to be blocked off. If they are so worried, a small diverting fence could be erected to make walkers move a little closer to the Golf Club fence as they pass through.

Path blocked at Gen Turn beach

Path blocked at Glen Turn beach

Health and Safety is a concept we all agree is important for the protection of the general public but this unnecessary belt and braces blockage on a coarse walking route when a perfectly feasible solution exists, is nonsense. Somebody in Wicklow County Council needs to get a grip and see the damage they are really doing to our “wild” heritage, one of Wicklows’ jewels. Depriving Wicklow residents and our visitors of a fantastic experience is not in anyones interest and our Local Authority, of all agencies, should be doing all in their power to allow access to such amenities.

A boy in 1963

In 1963, I achieved the heady age of 8 years in my hometown of Enniscorthy. As a pupil of the local CBS Primary school, my days were a mix of classroom studies, after school games and horseplay, ekker (homework) and family life. My parents already had 7 children with another on the way, of whom I was the oldest and in some ways, the boldest. I was very contrary, liked having my own way at everyone elses expense and had a history of destructive behaviour as a youngster. The most outstanding black marks against me were when I demolished a whole roost of hens with a stick as a small boy and when I slammed a metal gate on my brother Pete, breaking two of his fingers.

Television had arrived in our house during 1962 and RTE quickly established a foot hold in our lives – Rin Tin Tin, The Virginian, The Fugitive, Daithi Lacha and Amuith Faoin Speir being some of those early programmes that come back to me from that era. Occasionally due to atmospherics, we would get very excited when a BBC progamme would find its way onto our Bush TV screen but only for a teasingly short stay.

Also, in 1962, we had sat transfixed as a family in front of our new TV as the world was about to end – A Russian fleet loaded with nuclear armaments was bound for Cuba, a direct challenge to the power of our friends, the United States of America. We were a religious family and each evening during this tense situation, once the news was over, my father would lead us in a recitation of the Holy Rosary. As the oldest and the only one so far with the sacrament of Holy Communion, I was allowed the signal honour of leading a decade of Hail Marys. To us, it seemed like our prayers were answered when that great Catholic of Irish descent, whose ancestors had left from New Ross, USA President John Fitzgerald Kennedy saved the day and forced the Russians to turn for home with their tails between their legs. Such was the effect of his world saving efforts, my father placed a photo of him on our kitchen wall to one side of the Sacred Heart lamp, with Pope John XXIII on the other side – all great icons of our Roman Catholic world.

Early in 1963, a large American car pulled up in our drive way and it seemed like 5 of the fattest people I had ever seen poured out to be greeted by my father. It turned out they were cousins of ours on a visit from California to meet their Irish relations. Two of them, father and son, were also called Charley Kavanagh. In recent years, I have discovered that these cousins were descendants through a common ancestor. My greatgrandfather, John Kavanagh, had maried twice, the second resulted after his first wife had died in childbirth. My father was a grandchild of the second union, while these newfound extra large American cousins were descendants from the first union. They stayed for a few hours and I’ve never seen or heard from them since.

Summertime in my memory was always sunny, resulting in occasional visits to the sea en famille. Local favourite beaches were Curracloe, Blackwater and Morriscastle, all less than 15 miles from our home. A memory from those trips was the visit to a red Morris van selling ice cream from the back. With no refridgeration, the lollipops were usually a bit runny which we had to consume quickly and our faces and bodies covered in the sugary runoff. Other summer pursuits were playing cowboys and indians in the woods around our house with my school friends and annoying younger brothers, as well as cylcling adventures around the locality.

At the ripe old age of 8 1/2 years that summer, I was allowed to go picking strawberries and earned some pocket money from my endeavours. An ad running on RTE for Clerys Department store featured a wrist watch for 11s 6d and I set my sights on it. My strawberry money came to about 8s and my father stumped up the rest to enable me achieve my target. I was proud as punch parading my new possession on my wrist for the next few years.

My father Simon was a fan of hurling and I was brought along to the occasional big match involving our Wexford heroes in Purple and Gold. Greyhounds were the great sporting love of his life and in 1963, one of his bitches, Cross Mistress, won several trophies at the local Enniscorthy track and set a Track Record which was never beaten in the lifetime of that particular track surface. He had many great successes as an owner but this one was special as he had put her in the ownership of my younger brother Dermot, who was 4 years old. His greyhound gene passed to my brother Johnny, who was born in early November 1963 and today operates as a trainer from our homeplace.

However, 1963 will always stand out in my memory for the Irish visit of President Kennedy, especially to Wexford, and his shocking demise at the hands of an assassin. My father brought my mother, myself, my brother Pete and our cousin Paddy to Wexford Park to witness the arrival of JFK to his ancestral county. In an overflowing GAA pitch, 4 massive green helicopters circled overhead, creating a terrible din, before landing on the middle of the pitch. The President and his large entourage were transferred into a waiting cortege of  official US cars. The excitement of the occasion was fabulous and even though our vantage point was well removed from the actual main focal point, it felt as good as actually meeting the great man. Our TV showed lots of footage of the monumental visit to various centres around Ireland but having seen the man himself in the distance, Wexford Park was it for me.

As a family, our new TV provided a focal point in the evening time. We would sit huddled near the open fire watching our favourite programmes before bedtime beckoned. One particular Friday evening in late November 1963, at the age of 8 3/4 years, has stuck in my memory. The face of Charles Mitchell, our regular newsreader, broke onto our screens, well before the normal news slot, under the banner of a news flash. The words he uttered sent us into shock and it seemed like our world as we knew it had ended – President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas and was feared dead. The great Catholic US President of Irish descent who had captured the heart of every Irish man and woman was no more. I’m sure I didn’t sleep too well that night and probably Nikita Krushchev, our great ogre in the Kremlin, wasn’t flavour of the month, mostly because of the Cuban missile crisis of a year earlier.

1963 has lots of memories for me but the visit of JFK and his assassination dominate. People of my generation around the world still define the moment they heard of Kennedy’s demise by what they were doing at that time, 50 years later. It is a small coincidence that 50 years later, the 22nd of November 2013 also falls on a Friday.

How blows the Wind for Wicklow Harbour?

A number of important announcements were made in the last week (1st/5th April 2013) which could have a profound bearing on the future of Wicklow Harbour – either for its betterment or in a worst case, its demise!

Firstly, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, announced the New National Ports Policy which effectively hands over control of Wicklow Port from the Department to the local authority, Wicklow County Council. With a new board in place and a local controlling body, it would be the hope of all marine minded Wicklow residents that the Harbour will finally be run for the benefit of all its citizens and that they will look to the future by developing a new commercial entity beside the existing harbour.


The second item of good news was the announcement by Fred Olsen Renewables that they have planning permission to erect 220 windmills on the Codling Bank, c.12 miles from Wicklow Harbour. They also have applied for a further 200 windmills. This would mean that there could be up to 10 years work constructing these windmills and after that ongoing service needs to create substantial employment for the citizens of Wicklow town and the county.

These coincidental announcements could mark a Red Letter week for Wicklow – if the new Port Company, supported by the County Council, might see Wicklow Port as being the potential hub for building and servicing this massive windfarm undertaking. The controlling company for Fred Olsen Renewables is a worldwide Shipping and Engineering conglomerate with the resources to probably substantially fund a new harbour development. Obviously, it would be in the interest of future generations of Wicklow residents that our own County Council/Port Company should also invest in any new development, to keep some control over its asset.

Fred Olsen operate ferries, cruise ships, all types of commercial shipping, oil tankers, and a huge range of other related interests, including wind farms and other energy renewables. With their financial muscle, the cost of building a new breakwater and quays would be well within their reach. Their input could guarantee suitable facilities to accommodate all types of shipping required for delivery of the hardware as well as the service vessels. An added bonus could be the ability to handle larger commercial ships for Wicklow Port and even Cruise liners.

One of the great assets that Wicklow can offer is the fortunate convergence of the new Port Access road, the Railway and the possible extended Harbour just to the north of the town. Not many marine sites can offer such a land/sea benefit and our new Port Company directors should start focussing their minds accordingly. Should Fred Olsen decide to select Wicklow as its service hub, anywhere from 200 to 400 jobs and spinoff sustainable enterprises could be generated for the general Wicklow area. The only other realistic service port on the East coast of Ireland is Dun Laoghaire, as Dublin Port is already close to capacity.

So far our Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Port Company have failed to put any sort of plans into the public domain over the last 15 years to develop the towns greatest asset. A quick look at the last 3 Town Development plans will show a serious lack of foresight by these bodies when it came to its ideas for utilising Wicklow Harbour to its maximum advantage. On that note, I personally submitted Harbour development ideas for each of those three Plans – nothing was published – I rest my case. Perhaps, Wicklow County Council and the new Port Company directors will bring a new broom to the table – at least, this correspondent hopes so.

At a time when families are being divided by the curse of emigration yet again, this small town has a golden opportunity to buy into creating a future for several generations of its school leavers, so hopefully wise heads will grasp the nettle and at least talk to Fred Olsen Renewables with a view to seeing if they might be interested.

Another opportunity might also be out there – if OIL is discovered off the East Coast, Wicklow could be best placed to also service that industry – if we have a suitable harbour.

Of course, a new commercial harbour could have knock on benefits for the existing harbour, allowing it to become a tourism focal point for land and sea based visitors. By clearing the old quays of their ugby commercial buildings, leisure facilities including hotels, restuarants etc could live side by side with a marina. Wicklow could develop several hundred tourism related jobs on top of the windfarm service jobs – another major plus for the town and its environs.

Looking to the future - could Wicklow see a new Harbour?

Looking to the future – could Wicklow see a new Harbour?

Should the powers that be in our community let this opportunity go, Wicklow Harbour will continue to stagnate and deteriorate. The East pier, developed over 100 years ago under the watchful eye of Wicklow’s premier citizen, Captain Robert Halpin, is in need of serious repair. If it is breached, the existing harbour will become non-viable. Several Harbour Boards and Port Companies in my 30 years in Wicklow have run the Harbour as an exclusively Commercial Shipping entity, paying only token lip service to fishing, other commercial operations, sailing and other leisure users. The Harbour should be an asset that all those with an interest in the sea, whether commercial or leisure, all of whom should have a say in its operation. Our taxes have supported it but only a select few have had a voice.

Maybe the new Port Company Directors in tandem with Wicklow County Council will see the potential for approaching Fred Olsen Renewables – I’ll wait to see if a miracle might happen. Wicklow Harbour deserves a chance to join its bigger brothers around the coast to provide sustainable employment and enterprise for its population.Grasp the bull by the horns now – this opportunity won’t come again.

(see my post

Sorry for being off the airwaves for so long.

Sailing Mates Revisited

I started out on the old briny in 1977, 35 years ago this year. In that time, I went from being an enthusiastic amateur to being a professional Yachtmaster Instructor. Along the way, there were many adventures on the sea and especially there were several people who had a profound effect on my development as a sailor.

Sun setting over Dublin Bay

In 1977, I was working in the Bank of Ireland Computer Centre at Cabinteely, Co Dublin. I had booked 2 weeks holidays on the staff roster but hadn’t a clue what to do with the time. Chatting on a tea break, one of my colleagues suggested I try Glenans, an Irish-French sail training organisation with 2 bases in Co Cork. I called into their office to get a brochure  and was immediately tempted by their adventurous offering. I called my brother, Simon, and asked if he was interested and sure enough, he said he was game to give it a try.

We spent 2 weeks on Bere Island, in Bantry Bay off the coast of West Cork and to this day, I haven’t enjoyed a holiday as much. We had a reasonable amount of wind all the time with a good mix of sunshine and only a few showers to spoil it all. While the sailing was good, the craic was mighty. Living in mixed-sex dormitory style accommodation, we had what can only be described as the perfect mix – we were c.80 persons, roughly half Irish and half French and again 50:50 male:female, with ages ranging from teens to 60’s. After a hard days sailing, and apres food, we all landed up to Dessies (O Sullivan) pub where the Irish and French drank and sang in competition with each other into the early hours for 2 weeks solid. I needed a week to recover after that wonderful experience. I am forever grateful to my colleague, Mick Mc Loughlin, for opening the door to a complete new and exciting world for me.

I took another 3 Glenans courses over the next 5 or 6 years and was keen to spread my wings further. After doing a 10 day stint on the Asgard II (Ireland’s Sail Training Ship) under the legendary Captain Eric Healy in the mid-80’s, I joined Wicklow Sailing Club. Here I had the good fortune to hook up with a fellow member who was in need of a crew and we forged a sailing friendship that survives to this day. The skipper in question was Dr Willie Fearon who owned a Prout 36 Catamaran called Spelian and we spent 5 or 6 summer holidays cruising up and down both sides of the Irish Sea. Possessing sails, an engine, VHF radio, some charts, a cooker and not much else, we managed to safely explore North Wales, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and the Irish coast as far as Kinsale. We had our fair share of adventures and long days with no wind and minimal fuel. I was the sailor and organiser of crew (mainly my family and friends) while Willie looked after provisioning, navigation and the troublesome smelly outboard engine – a very agreeable working partnership. It ended when I decided it was time to buy my own boat.

In 1990, I finally managed, with financial help from 2 of my brothers, to realise my dream of being a boat owner. We bought a little gem, a Galion 22 called Irena, and launched her in Wicklow. Not wanting to be too cocky, I decided to get some formal training and signed up for a Coastal Skipper course with Ulster Cruising School out of Carrickfregus, near Belfast. This was at a time when the Troubles were still a major problem in Northern Ireland and my heart sank when I discovered my fellow trainees were all from the Protestant side on board. The RYA Yachtmaster Instructor on board was English and female and managed to put us all at ease straight away. Her name was Sally Livsey Davies and she delivered a momentuous week of training that has stayed with me to this day. I came home from Carrickfergus with a bag full of new skills and a VHF certificate.

Gerry Moran, skipper of Meg of Howth on which I did my Yachtmaster exam

I was now ready to play a responsible role as skipper on Irena and proceeded to take our little pocket battleship on sailing adventures for the next 5 years. In 1995, I had reached my 40th year and decided that I needed to do something other than Banking for the rest of my life. I traded in Irena for a 30 foot cruising boat, Merry Bee, an Achilles 9m yacht. My next plan was to get my Yachtmaster ticket and was examined by my old skipper, Captain Eric Healy, who passed me with flying colours on Meg of Howth along with Gerry Moran and Derek Kelly. My ambitions were now turning towards Sail Training and I decided to take a formal course of training for Yachtmaster Instructor with the Solent School of Yachting, in Southampton. Having never taught anyone anything to do with sailing, I was very nervous on discovering my 4 fellow trainees were all currently working in Sailing Schools. Our instructor, Mike Dymond, an ex RN submariner, took us all uner his wing and taught us (that’s me really) a whole new range of sailing skills and teaching techniques. Indeed, my 40th year was a busy one, but I still had one major hurdle to cross.

In 1996, I decided to finally give it a go and I applied to the RYA to be assessed as a Yachtmaster Instructor. This is a very tough process and they deliberately maintain a maximum 50% pass rate ratio in any one year. I arrived to Plas Menai in North Wales with 2 other hopefuls to be assessed over 5 days by John Goode, a veritable legend in RYA circles. I can safely say, I have not endured as tough an ordeal before or since and I was both physically and mentally exhausted when we stepped off the boat. He referred me to come back a few weeks later, once I had ironed out a few issues and in late September 1996, I became the proud possessor of an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor Certificate.

I duly applied for a career break from the Bank and set up South East Cruising School, which has traded from 1997 to 2011, when the Irish Department of Transport Regulations finally put paid to my dream. Now in 2012, I have been lucky to get some work with other schools – my protogee, Jim Grey in Canary Sail gave me a week in January and recently, Ronan O Sioochru of Irish Offshore Sailing School has been generous in providing me with several training slots.

Sally Livsey Davies and Mike Dymond on Fortyniner in the Solent Oct 2012

2012 is also notable for a set of happy coincidences relating to most of my sailing mentors. Firstly, Mick Mc Loughlin who started it all for me, helped me out by doing some inspection work on a delivery yacht I was taking from Kinsale – I had limited contact with him over the years. To add to that, my crew for the delivery was none other than Willie Fearon and he came with me as far as Brighton, our first time sailing together since 1989. To top all of that, I went to the Solent to do my 5 year YM Instructor update, a 2 day formality, where I had the good fortune to be reunited with my 2 early RYA mentors, Mike Dymond and Sally Livsey Davies. It certainly is a small world at times.

God only knows what the future will hold for me, but the valuable sailing lessons I learned over the years from my various mentors and my own experiences have made me sure of one thing – SAILING is in my blood and whatever comes next, I’ll be hoping to be bobbing on the waves somewhere. There is a world of lands, islands, oceans, ports and anchorages waiting to be explored – fair winds and a safe passage will get me to some of them.

Forty years on ….. the SPC Class of ’72

The Pugin Chapel and Tower buildings that defined St Peters College, Wexford for many generations.

In 1967, a new intake of fresh faced innocent young boys started on a new adventure (loosely speaking) in the corridors of St. Peter’s College, Summerhill, Wexford. Noted as a distinguished lay school and also as a diocesan seminary, it turned those raw youths into fine young men who served their communities, county and country in matters vocational, sporting and cultural from the early 19th century and continues to do so today. Our class consisted of 66 wiser and fitter lads who graduated in 1972 and 38 of of us showed up for the 40th reunion at SPC for a Mass and school tour followed by dinner in the Ferrycarrig Hotel.

Freshfaced teenagers pose for the 1972 Class photo

A group of early arrivals with An t-Athair Seamus de Val, our Irish teacher and noted historian – now Diocesan Archivist.

Summoned to attend the College for a Reunion Mass, our classmates arrived in dribs and drabs, looking curiously at several faces trying to wind back 40 years to match a hazy name to a somewhat older visage. I was stumped by several but fortunately, I wasn’t the only one, and we had great fun watching each others reactions as new arrivals tested our memory cells. A  quick visit to the Ref (refectory), where the not so delectable fare was served up by the St. John of God sisters aided by young girls and boys in their care was followed by a slow “procession” to the famous Pugin Chapel, built in the mid 19th century.

Class of 72 entering the SPC Pugin Chapel for our Reunion Mass

Fr Jim Butler, the only priest still serving (from 5 in our class), did the honours by celebrating Mass for us. I would think that he had a more attentive congregation than most of his peers in our day enjoyed. After our trip down memory lane, we were brought on a quick tour of the new college buildings by the Principal, Robert O Callaghan. It is great to see the modern college that the current students now enjoy – our classrooms were a mix of 19th and 20th century styles but managed to do the business in equipping us academically for the real world.

The Tower, which had an attaching dormitory, overlooking the Cloisters. It was reputed to be haunted by the ghost of Bishop Furlong.

The majority of us were boarders and the dorms were our places of refuge after a day of learning or on the sports fields and elsewhere. St Josephs, St Aidans, the Attic and the Tower all brought back memories to us. Nowadays, there are no students (or priests) living in the College during school term, the one major change from our day. The Far Side, the ecclesiastical wing of SPC, is also dormant and probably a good thing too. More than one bad egg put on a Roman collar from those young men – giving the College a bad name as a breeding ground for paedophiles.

Members of the class of ’72 pose on the front steps of SPC

After our tour, we congregated on the College steps for a final photo before departing to our hotel for the meal. The old school looked the same with a few embellishments but the new section has certainly taken our Alma Mater into the 21st Century and hopefully will continue the tradition of turning out fine young Wexford men for many more generations.

Students of the ’72 class and teachers in Ferrycarrig Hotel, Wexford

Dick Bates and his organising Committee had arranged for a  4 course meal in the Ferrycarrig Hotel, the same place we had congregated 19 years previously. It was very gratifying to see 38 of our buddies at the gathering but alas not all could be present. Sadly, since we left in 1972, 5 of our classmates have passed on – Richard Culleton, Joe Ralph, John Jordan, Willie Gannon and John Walsh – they were with us in spirit as the night unfolded.  With 5 teachers present, we got into the act of reliving memories, good and bad, of those days when corporal punishment was still a valid tool in our schools.

Our 21st Reunion (1993) in Ferrycarrig

Reliving memories at the dinner table

Frank Scallan winding back the clock

Our Senior-of-the-House, Frank Scallan, now a successful doctor in Canada, spoke eloquently of times past, followed by several other impromptu speakers. Fr John O Brien known to one and all as “Little Sam”, replied on behalf of the teachers. He had been the only resident in the College but has been out of it for several years now and unfortunately has health issues. Others present were the previously mentioned Fr de Val, Fr Seamus Larkin, James Golden and Emmet Cullen.

List (2 of 2) of attendees. Pat O Brien and Con Relihan didn’t make it.








Pat Power wowing classmates and some hotel guests with his tricks

As the food finished and the drink flowed, the chat flourished as old pals caught up with each other. Pat Power wowed us with his magical tricks and even a few hotel guests strayed in to be dazzled by his wizardry. He spends part of each year bringing a smile to the kids of Nepal where he uses his magic as part of a charitable contibution to those less well off in that mountainous state.

After we exchanged e-mails and phone numbers, with the crowd thinning and the bar closed, the time came to bid adieu. Small groups will be in contact, but those of us not living locally will rely on another get together for the next catch up session, probably for our 50th reunion. Let’s hope all will survive to be there and a few more of those not present will see their way to joining us.

St Peter’s College might not have always been the most desirable place to be in but it played a major role in laying a solid foundation for the 66 of us who left in 1972, most of whom are successful in their chosen fields and have made a solid contribution to society wherever they have put down their roots. Lifelong friendships abound and armed with a broad education, our young men have passed on those values they learned to the next generation – a true testament to the priests and teachers who helped to mould us.

Round Ireland Yacht Race 2012

It’s now Wednesday morning 27th June and the entire fleet of 36 racing boats are stretched between Belfast Lough (Tonnere de Breskens 3) and Slyne Head off Galway (Ocean Tango). There have been no major dramas other than a collision on the start line and a few minor in-boat problems with gear (Lula Belle had to repair a broken gooseneck, etc)

Check out the start –

As with all sailing events, the wind is a major contributing factor and this race has been a light to medium wind event so far. The forecast is not promising any real fireworks either. With light airs, another enemy comes into play – the tide. Currently, 2 boats have made it through the North Channel tide gate and are now neck and neck on the “charge” to Wicklow. Tonnere, a Ker 46, is leading the way ahead of his much larger foe, Green Dragon, a V70, which in theory should be well out in front.

See the Race tracker

On handicap, a real dogfight has developed between Tonnere and Inis Mor, who between them have lead the race on corrected time since the start. Other challengers, NUI Galway and Noonmark VI are keeping tabs on the leaders but the one all of them will be watching is Cavatina. Already a 2 time winner, Cavatina, has hauled herself up from a lowly placing in the 20’s to 5th this morning. I guarantee you, the tacticians on board the leading boats will be watching her progress every inch of the way.

It’s unlikely that we’ll have a finish before dark tonight and it is quite likely that we could have a match race to the finish of the 46 and 70 footer rivals sometime in the late evening today, early hours of Thursday morning. Winds are southerly but not very strong, so they’ll probably be tacking down the Irish Sea.

Theo and Dennis of our race team will be on hand to greet their crews on arrival and it will be fingers crossed that it will be high tide so that we can get them alongside for a few hours, due to their deep draughts. We hope they’ll consume several draughts of a black liquid if they do make it ashore in Wicklow! The bulk of the fleet will be arriving Thurs pm through to Fri pm, so we expect a fairly buzzing Wicklow Sailing Club clubhouse over the next few days.

After such a brilliant start and a wonderful SailFest, all we need now is a nailbiting finale with mid fleet boats staying in the hunt right up the finish line. Come on Cavatina – no. 3 is in sight, we’re all rooting for you. The other serious dark horse out there at present are the students of NUI-Galway – any Irish winner would be a boost to our flagging morale.

Of course, there is a lot of interest from Wicklow with 6 or 7 sailors scattered amongst the fleet. Currently, the one doing best is Simon Johnson, bowman on board Tonnere. Brian Flahive, on Lula Belle, had been well up the fleet until they broke their gooseneck – the joys of sailing. As always, we wish all our sailors a safe passage and hope to see them again in 2 years time.

Ireland v Republic of Ireland

Two Irish teams were on pitches on the opposite side of the world playing their respective World Champions within 36 hours of each other this last week. In soccer, our boys in green took on the mighty Spanish in Gdansk, the current European and World Champions and lost miserably despite the wonderful support of c.20,000 very forgiving fans. In New Zealand, our rugby team returned for a second bite of the apple against the formidable All Blacks in Christchurch and almost beat them, despite having minimal support.

Lambs before the slaughter


Elegant Matadors preparing for the kill

A sea of Green fans fails to inspire limp Irish team

15 Irish warriors face down the fearsome Haka

Roy has a go at low standards in the Irish camp

Whether we like it or not, Roy Keane told us a few uncomfortable home truths after the game against Spain about our standards and expectations. Speaking as an expert panellist on ITV, he lambasted the Irish performance and also the singing of the fans despite the trouncing being handed out by the World Champions. Largely, I have to say I agree with his core point but his delivery was OTT and to an extent, offensive. As he is probably one of the best players ever to pull on an Irish shirt and in his playing days, his standards were always for perfection, he is in a place to hand down criticism. This team has nothing like the quality of players assembled by Jack Charlton so it is unfair to be overly harsh on them.

Giovanni Trappatoni has achieved his target of reaching a major championships but without players of sufficient quality to grace such a vaunted stage. There are rumours of dissent among the players, quality young players are being ignored and his ideas seem to focus on his way or no way – a recipe for disaster when other teams know the script before taking the pitch. Ireland is not producing the Roy Keanes, Liam Bradys, Paul Mc Graths etc at present and even if we were, Trap might ignore them! Many of his players now ply their trade in lower status teams and are not on the mercurial wages of many of their illustrious predecessors.

Enda calls for an all island Ireland team

Even though it is a political hot potato, maybe Enda Kenny is right – why not join forces with our fellow islanders north of the border and form an all island Ireland team. In the past, it would have been a delight to see George Best, Pat Jennings, John Giles and Liam Brady play together in green. There could be future talent waiting in the wings on either side of the border and what a joy it would be to see them playing as a united team. It works well in Rugby – where would this team be without Rory Best, Stephen Ferris, Andrew Trimble and previously such luminaries as Willie John Mc Bride, Mike Gibson and Trevor Ringland. We are too small of an overall population to be splitting our resources.

BOD has a go at the Kiwi defence


Robbie Keane in better days







When you compare the leadership qualities of both Robbie Keane, Ireland’s soccer captain and Brian O Driscoll, our rugby captain, both are top scorers and multiple cap winners for their country, there is no comparison. O Driscoll appears to lay his life on the line everytime he wears the green of Ireland, while Keane, admittedly a trier, drifts in and out of games and often lets the head down if things are not going our way. Of course, his cause is not always helped by a very poor service from mediocre players, while O Driscoll has a lot of quality players all around him to help his case.

Roy Keane and Enda Kenny are shooting from the hip on different angles but our soccer team will not achieve miracles without the best talent available from this tiny island as a whole. We might be higher in the rubgy pecking order as only a relatively few nations play at the top level but our cause is helped immeasurably by being an all island team. As with the Peace Process, let us move forward towards sporting unity and maybe political unity might follow someday.