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Ireland's only surviving wooden ocean ship has set sail for Greenland

The ship, named the Ilen, was re-built through a community educational programme in Limerick earlier this year.

IRELAND’S SOLE SURVIVING ocean-going wooden sailing ship set sail from Limerick Docks last night – to follow the migratory journey of salmon in the Shannon River to west Greenland.

The ship, named the Ilen, was re-built through a community educational programme in Limerick earlier this year. 

The rebuilding of the Ilen and her preparations for sea were completed in June and the crew from all parts of Ireland are looking forward to her longest ocean voyage since 1926.

Young people from Limerick and West Greenland are participating in this project and discovering what both communities share as North Atlantic maritime island peoples.

Sean Canney, who is the minister with responsibility for Inland Fisheries said:

The Salmon’s Wake’ project is just one of a number of initiatives taking place across the country as part of International Year of the Salmon to raise awareness of what humans can do to ensure salmon and their habitats are conserved and restored against a backdrop of several environmental factors.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland is co-ordinating International Year of the Salmon in Ireland and is supporting the The Ilen Project’s Salmon Wake initiative to generate interest in the status of salmon populations and the role they play in Ireland’s economic and cultural heritage.”

Atlantic salmon populations are widely distributed throughout Irish freshwaters with over 140 such systems designated as salmon rivers. While in the 1970s, the number of Atlantic Salmon returning to Irish waters peaked at 1,800,000, the numbers returning have decreased by 70% in recent decades.

Gary MacMahon, Director of The Ilen Company said: “The Ilen is today setting off for its longest voyage in decades. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work by so many in our community who helped us realise our vision of reimagining this impressive ship.

“Throughout this journey, participants in the project have shared and learnt skills through the build which will remain with them for a lifetime. It is a symbol of what can be achieved when people work together and it is fitting therefore that our ‘Salmon Wake’ journey is highlighting the decline in salmon populations.”

The Captain of the Ilen will provide updates on the ship’s progress as it follows the route of salmon migration to West Greenland, as a guest blogger on Inland Fisheries Ireland’s blog www.fishinginireland.info

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