Killybegs Sailing Club Still Going Strong
One of the hidden jewels in county Donegal is Killybegs Sailing Club based in the premier fishing port, Aidan O' Connell writes. It is one of those institutions that very quietly and without fuss has been operating for over 200 years. The membership over its long history has included some famous maritime personalities who, despite their fame kept a low profile. It is a great credit to all these members that the club has been maintained through all types of wars and major political upheavals.
All this with no support from governments, national sailing organisations or the present day tourist board. The records indicate that the club was formed by the fishing community in the late 1700's. At the time, all fishing boats were powered by sail and all crews were experts in sailing. An annual regatta was established for the first Sunday
in August each year and folklore indicates that it was a hugely attractive event. Newspaper reports confirm that the regatta for the year 1823 had to be cancelled due to an outbreak of typhus in the old town near St. Catherine's Well. Into this local community's fun event was added a new dimension, by the British Navy. Their support attracted the local landlords who provided finance and trophies, some of which were fantastic.
Last year, the club was successful in acquiring a trophy dated 1860 from a descendant of a British navy Commander who was based here in 1922. The trophy cost the club a fortune but its value for Killybegs Town is immense. It is a solid silver sherry decanter, similar to the British Open Golf Championship trophy, with beautiful sailing scenes, and engraved Killybegs 1860. For the past few years the club has been slowly emerging with one of the most prestigious regattas in the country.
This has been assisted greatly by members of Sligo and Mullaghmore Yacht Clubs joining the regatta. Also, the club has been promised a new marina for 2015, which will be a tremendous boom for both the club and local economy for the port.