Youghal Town Council ~ 23rd August 2001
While other ship projects such as the Jeanie Johnston and the Dunbroady have run into a financial storm, one of the south coast's infamous watering holes, Youghal's Anchor Bar, has succeeded in turning back the tide of time with the return of the sailing ship the Kathleen and May. The last remaining vessel of the fleet registered in Youghal during the sailing era and the only surviving example of her class of ship, the 101-year-old schooner has been completely refitted and refurbished and completes her return voyage to Green's Quay in Youghal at 12 noon on Monday 27th August. Among the 28 passengers and crew on this historic voyage will be Brendan Aherne, grandson of Captain Joe Aherne, the Kathleen and May's former master. Brendan is accompanied by a Dutch TV crew who are making a documentary on the history of the ship.
The town of Youghal is geared up to lay on a spectacular welcome home for the Kathleen and May and her new owner Steve Clark from Bideford in Devon, England. Following four years of meticulous restoration, the Kathleen and May has been returned to her former glory and is a stunning example of the "ships of the narrow seas" - the scores of trading schooners that were once a common sight on the Irish coast. Because of the ship's decades of association with Youghal and the fund-raising carried out by the Kathleen and May Preservation Trust based in the Anchor Bar, Youghal, her new owners have committed to spending two weeks of each year in Youghal during the next five years.
This initial visit will last from Monday 27th August until Monday 17th September. A gala docking ceremony will take place at noon on the 27th featuring a flotilla of Youghal fishing boats and pleasure craft, RNLI lifeboats, Coastguard patrol boats and helicopters. The people of Youghal will welcome the passengers and crew at Green's Quay, Youghal's deep water anchorage. During her stay in Youghal, the Kathleen and May will undergo sea trials to test the craft and her crew and will also conduct a Children's Community Project on board the ship to allow local people to become familiar with a spectacular example of Youghal's maritime heritage. Youghal's Festival Committee has also arranged a courtesy visit from the Irish Navy vessel the LE Ciara.
On Thursday, 30th August, there will be a civic reception at the Old Imperial Hotel, Youghal, aimed at stimulating new initiatives to complete the work on the Kathleen and May and to explore the possibility of having the ship based in Youghal for longer periods of time. The port of Waterford has already expressed keen interest in having the ship moored in Waterford, so it remains to be seen whether or not Youghal will be able to entice the ship and its owners back to her former home for longer spells.