Ireland’s last wooden cargo ship became captain of the Thames after sailing from Limerick.
Ctors Jeremy Irons and his wife Sinead Cusack were among guests joining the crew of the Ilen in London this week at a special event to celebrate Anglo-Irish trade and cultural ties.
The 96-year-old cargo ketch left Steamboat Quay in Limerick on April 23 for the 750 nautical mile voyage, sailing up the Thames and docking at St Katharine Docks in the shadow of Tower Bridge.
“The purpose of this voyage is to celebrate the ancient cultural and commercial relationship between the two port cities,” said the ship’s skipper, Gary MacMahon of Ilen Marine School.
“It is the culmination of a series of voyages – the Kingship voyages – to many of the Irish cities that have grown from medieval walled settlements built at the mouths of tidal rivers.
“Limerick and London are both highly developed metropolitan bastions with maritime and river heritage, and they share long histories.”
Since her rebuilding and launch in 2018, the Limerick-registered Ilen has traveled over 10,000 nautical miles – across the North Atlantic to Greenland and most of Ireland’s major ports.
Built in Baltimore, West Cork in 1926, the ketch served hauling cargo between the Falkland Islands for over 70 years before being returned to Ireland 20 years ago and restored by a team led by Limerick man MacMahon.
It now serves as a community education platform.
The Ilen will remain moored in London’s Docklands until May 14 in the hope that further commercial and cultural collaborations can be arranged.
The cultural event, which was also attended by Limerick Mayor Cllr Daniel Butler and City of London Sheriff Alison Gowman, was supported by Limerick City & County Council, the Limerick Civic Trust, the University of Limerick, Tourism Ireland and the Irish Embassy supports the UK and the Falkland Islands Government.
https://www.independent.ie/news/irelands-last-built-cargo-ship-sails-from-limerick-to-the-thames-41621146.html Ireland’s last cargo ship sails from Limerick to the Thames