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It’s all sailing, rowing and seafood in Baltimore this weekend

May 24th, 2024 8:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

It’s all sailing, rowing and seafood  in Baltimore this weekend Image

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THE Baltimore Festival is host to one of the widest variety of traditional vessels in Ireland, from rowing currachs and punts to sailing Heir Island and Long Island fishing boats to large ocean-going vessels.


The iconic Saoirse will be on view as the committee boat and tied up on the North Pier in the evenings for all to see. 

The original Saoirse was built in Baltimore in 1923 and was the first yacht to sail around the world flying the new Irish flag – the tri-colour- skippered by Conor O’Brien.

This year’s festival will celebrate the locally famous 39 ft ketch, the Richard, the first boat built by Paddy Hegarty in Old Court in 1948, whose sons and grandson continue this tradition of building heritage vessels. 

The maritime historian, Cormac Levis of Ballydehob, will deliver a talk on the Richard on the opening Friday night at 8 pm in Baltimore Sailing Club.

The rowing race from Skibbereen to Baltimore cannot be held this year as the tide is wrong for rowing down the River Ilen. 

Instead a new event for small boats will be ‘orienteering on the water’, with boats hunting for designated rocks, headlands and landmarks, it should be fun to watch from land and sea!

This area has a long history of engagement with trans-Atlantic sailing ships, with eastern bound ships picking up a pilot off Oileán Chléire to guide them into European waters. 

Generations of Chléire pilots had detailed knowledge of ports from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. 

The festival will re-enact the competition that existed  to row out and land a ‘pilot’ on a passing vessel. Currachs will race, each carrying a pilot, to a local lobster boat under sail off Sherkin Island.

The pilots have to jump on board and be sailed back to the harbour.  While this is a fun event, it can get very competitive.


Among the many visiting vessels including the Shannon and Bristol pilot cutters, we are delighted to welcome two Bantry long boats who will be sailing/rowing together, the Unité from Bantry and Fionnbarra from Cork, replicas of the French long boats that came into Bantry Bay in 1796 to assist Wolf Tone.

The 60ft tall ship Brian Ború , which is now a sail training ship, will also visit the festival this year and will be seen under sail and tied up on the pier for a closer look.

While our maritime history is not taught in any Irish schools, this festival gives a glimpse of the richness of our maritime heritage, and the wealth of traditional sailing and construction skills thriving in West Cork.


‘A Taste of Baltimore’ - Baltimore Seafood Festival

In Association with Guinness, May 24th, 25th and 26th 2024

When this gathering takes place it is a sure sign that summer is here as this festival traditionally kicks off our season in Baltimore.

The purpose of the festival is to promote Baltimore, the wonderful shellfish caught in this area, and of course to provide entertainment for our visitors and locals.

Over the past two decades the Wooden Boat Festival have run their festival in conjunction with the Seafood Festival, and we are delighted this year to welcome the Wooden Boat Festival community back to our joint day of celebrating.

We have a wonderful line up. We start off on the Friday with a mussel eating competition on the village square at 7p.m.

We will have live music on the village square on the Friday at 8p.m. and an official opening of the festival.

Saturday kicks off with the start of the very popular 2 day boat building competition on the pier organised by the seafood festival committee over the past 18 years and kindly sponsored by Baltimore 2000 committee.

There will be a Seafood BBQ on the patio at Casey's of Baltimore. We have great music Saturday night at 9p.m.

On the Sunday morning we look forward to the popular and often hilarious boat building challenge rowing and sailing race followed by a food and craft fair on the pier.

Up to thirty exhibitors will display and sell renowned West Cork food and craft including smoked and fresh fish, also ice creams, jam preserves, cake, bread and street food.

Baltimore Lifeboat will give us a demonstration out on the harbour at 12.15pm. In the evening the Wooden Boat Festival will be putting on a Wooden Boat Parade of Sail which has always so wonderfully complemented The Seafood Festival.

There will be a seafood taster on the square by Baltimore 2000 committee. Children's entertainment from 2p.m. including a circus skills, balloon modelling workshop with Bogle followed by fabulous music with "Hank Wedel" at 4p.m.

We would sincerely like to thank Guinness & Baltimore 2000 committee for their organisation and sponsorship without whom this event would not be what it is for the past 31 years.

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