West Cork-built Ilen arrives in Madeira
THE historic Irish cargo vessel the AK Ilen has retraced the path of legendary Irish sailor Conor O’Brien, following his route from Ireland to Funchal on the island of Madeira off Portugal to commemorate the centenary of his sailing.
Skippered by Conall Morrison, with a 10-man crew, the AK Ilen arrived into the port of Funchal last week as part of an event called the Saoirse Rally, commemorating the centenary of the circumnavigation of the globe by O’Brien, who originally built the boat in Baltimore in 1922.
Authorities in the city were so captivated by the story of sailor O’Brien that they committed to working with the Irish Cruising Club to host the international event. O’Brien (1880-1952) was a legendary Irish sailor from Foynes, Co Limerick, who designed and commissioned the Saoirse, a 42-ft ketch for the circumnavigation, built in Baltimore in 1922. His journey began in Dun Laoghaire on June 20th 1923. It took him two years to complete and covered over 40,000 miles.