Seapoint Boat Club Talk

(SLIDE 1: TITLE)

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

Talk by Vincent Delany on Monday 10th October 2022

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Before I start, I must acknowledge the late John Sisk of Seafield Avenue, who died last month, who contacted me some time ago, and gave me a suitcase full of documents relating to this interesting club.

My talk this evening describes some of the maritime activities of the residents of Monkstown at the early part of the 20th century. It relates to the Martello Tower at Seapoint, to the Aonach Tailteann Games, to what is probably The Irish Free State’s first success at any world sporting championship, to wars at home and abroad, and many other aspects of life in Blackrock and Monkstown.

The club I am talking about, this evening, is the Seapoint Boat Club which had its club premises in the Martello Tower at Seapoint, which the club rented from the Blackrock Urban District Council and subsequently also operated out of the West Pier Master’s House at Dun Laoghaire.

(SLIDE 2: SACKVILLE STREET AFTER THE UPRISING.)

Dublin in April 1916 was a place full of contradictions. Over the Easter weekend from 24th. to 29th April, an armed insurrection took place, when several groups of Irish Republican activists, The Irish volunteers, Irish Citizens Army, Fianna Eireann, Cumann na mBan, and the Hibernian Rifles attempted to overthrow British Rule in Ireland and to establish an Independent Irish Republic. It is probably true to say, that the people who lived in Monkstown would have been unlikely to have been great supporters of that revolution, but they would have preferred to maintain a United Great Britain and Ireland. The Dublin Rising is not the subject of this talk, but I have to refer to it as part of the social and cultural matrix of the time. The people of Monkstown would have been very shocked by the level of destruction in the centre of Dublin city, irrespective of who caused it.

(SLIDE 3: SBC, EDWARDIAN LETTERING and HARP illustration alongside)

This Edwardian style logo for the Seapoint Boat Club, was designed by professional artist, photographer and violinist, Archibald McGoogan, who was born in North Antrim in 1860. His greatest claim to fame, was, that he designed the Great Seal of Saorstat Eireann (that is the Irish Free State) which he based on the Brian Boru harp which is now located in Trinity College, Dublin. So, next time you receive an envelope through your letter box with a harp on the front, hopefully it will remind you of Archibald McGoogan. He was well respected as an artist, and most of his paintings were of calm rural scenes….. (SLIDE 4: TYPICAL MCGOOGAN PAINTINGS) with dappled light on the water which would have looked ‘at home’ in any South Dublin drawing room. He was a board member of the Museum of Science and Art in Kildare Street for 40 years and was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He was described by his friends as ‘A jovial and gifted artist, who was a good and proud Ulsterman, and a member of the Peace, Love and Harmony Masonic Lodge No. 666.’

(SLIDE 5: ARCHIBALD MCGOOGAN’S PAINTING OF SACKVILLE STREET)
McGoogan painted this image of Sackville Street in April 1916. It is in complete contrast to all the other pictures painted by him. The overwhelming colour in the painting is not verdant green or a blue sky reflected in a rippling stream. Darkness dominates, symbolising the birth of ‘a terrible beauty’. McGoogan lived at Ardenza Terrace, Monkstown, was a founder member of the Seapoint Boat Club, and was later to become its Commodore.

It is against this backdrop that the prosperous and predominantly Unionist residents of Monkstown came together in 1916 to form a recreational boating club. Were there not enough yacht clubs in the Dun Laoghaire at that time? The Edward Yacht Club, occupied the site of the present National Yacht Club at the east side of the harbour, and according to Donal O’Sullivan, author of the recently written club history, it was predominantly a club for retired Unionist gentlemen with a military background. The Royal St George Yacht Club was perhaps the predominantly Anglo-Irish Club. The Royal Irish Yacht Club was the club with a more nationalist tradition. All were perceived to be gentlemen’s clubs, full of ancient rules and traditions, snuff, cigars and port, and not welcoming to women, or young families. Thus, in 1916, there was no yacht club with a welcome for families who sailed together, or for boys or girls or women with an interest in messing about in canoes or boats.   

(SLIDE 6: FOUNDATION MEETING)

A meeting of local residents was held in the historic ‘Martello’ Tower at Seapoint on Saturday 27th May 1916 at 5.30 p.m. only four weeks after the rising, in order to establish a new boat club for the residents of Blackrock and Monkstown. Those present included:

Councillor Frank Stokes who was a Justice of the Peace, and lived at 14, Brighton Vale, Monkstown. He worked as a land agent. He was not the instigator of the club, but as a man of standing in the community, he Chaired the first meeting.

Others present were Blackrock Councillor Thomas Prushaw Callaghan of Grosvenor Terrace, he was Assistant Manager for the London and North-Western Railway in Ireland.

Herbert Massey Odbert, of 8, Trafalgar Terrace, was a Department of Agriculture, Technical Instructor from Co. Roscommon.

John Richard Felton. 3, Ardenza Terrace, aged 43, was a Solicitor’s assistant.

Charles .E. Pigott, a merchant.                                         

Noel Crawford Hartnell, 37, Belgrave Square, aged 24 was the son of Henry Crawford Hartnell founder and publisher of middle-class women’s magazine ‘Lady of the House,’ and founder of Wilson Hartnell, Dublin’s oldest advertising agency.

Archibald McGoogan, 8, Ardenza Terrace whom we have heard about already.

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

(SLIDE 7: RESOLUTIONS) The following resolutions were proposed and carried at the meeting:

1.      That the club be called ‘The Seapoint Boat Club.’

2.      That the membership be limited to twenty-five persons. (This may have been due to the limited size of the Martello Tower and the number of people who could fit inside.)

3.      All members elected subsequent to 27th May 1916 to pay an entrance fee of five shillings. (About £20 sterling today)

4.      To purchase a punt for the general use of members of the club, the cost of such punt not to exceed £2 (£160 today). The punt to be purchased out of a fund to be subscribed to at a rate of 2 shillings and six pence per member. A lock and chain for the boat with a key for each member to be supplied out of the above fund.

5.      To engage the services of a boatman to look after members boats, clean same, and pull them up in the event of bad weather. The boatman to be responsible for all oars, spars and other gear, the property of members. Boatman to be paid twelve shillings per week, and to work between the hours of 9.30 a.m. till 9.00 p.m. starting 3rd June 1916.

Did the club achieve these objectives? They had 16 members in the first year. All paid their memberships. A small rowing boat was purchased. Mr. Kells was appointed club boatmen for the 1916 season. It would have been his duty to lay moorings for the members yachts. In 1916 they made a profit of £15 3s. In 1917 a profit of £20 18s. 3d. and in 1918, a profit of £29 8s. 2d.

(SLIDE 8: CONTRACT FOR LEASE OF TOWER) The directors of the club, Thomas P. Callaghan, Charles Haig and Noel C. Hartnell entered a lease agreement with Blackrock Urban District Council to rent the Martello Tower at Seapoint for the sum of half a crown (Two shillings and six pence) payable each Monday from 20 August 1916. It was a weekly tenancy which could be discontinued by either party at a week’s notice. The lease demanded that no alterations be made to the building inside or out, and that no advertising signs be attached to the outside of the building without the permission of the Blackrock Council. Another matter came up in negotiations with the Blackrock Council, was the issue of bathing.

(SLIDE 9: BATHING REGULATIONS) Because the Seapoint Boat Club encouraged swimming as well as rowing and sailing, they were most concerned to overturn the Blackrock U.D.C. bye-law which prohibited bathing at Seapoint after 9.30 a.m. in the morning. For us it is hard for us to understand why such a rule should existed at all.  We presume the Club were able to have this regulation lifted.

(SLIDE 10: MAP OF SEAPOINT AREA) It is worth reminding ourselves of the geography of the area we are talking about. In the centre we have the Seapoint Martello Tower which had existed here since it was solidly built of local granite in 1804 by a Mr. John Murray.

The West Pier of Dun Laoghaire harbour which was started in 1820 is at the right-hand end of the map. I believe the Pier Master’s House was one of the buildings where the Irish National Sailing School are now located. Beside the pier stood the marvellous Salthill Hotel, which the club used for general meetings and club dinners. Ardenza Terrace is not specifically marked on the map. It is located to the west of the Martello Tower near the present Seapoint Railway Station. It is worth mentioning here that there is a shared lawn in front of the houses of the terrace. Belgrave Square is clearly shown. Finally Blackrock House been in place since 1774 and has the fine gardens and garden buildings.

The unique selling point of this new club was as follows:

1)      It encouraged families to sail and to mess about in boats.

2)      It encouraged youngsters with canoes and small open boats to partake in the spirit of ‘Swallows and Amazons’.

3)      It encouraged women to partake in rowing, boating and swimming.

4)      It provided facilities locally- that is within walking distance of where the members lived- which was mostly on Belgrave Square, Ardenza Terrace and the surrounding terraces. 

The club membership increased to thirty-seven members by 1918, necessitating a change to the early club rule, restricting the number of members to twenty-five. At its peak (in 1923) the Club membership grew to one hundred and thirty-four, which was enough members to rival the long-established Kingstown Royal yacht clubs. Once the club had grown this large, the general meetings were held in the adjoining (SLIDE 11: SALTHILL HOTEL) Salthill Hotel which, as you probably know, was built at the termination of the Dublin to Kingstown railway in 1843 by architect John Skipton Mulvany. It was enlarged and improved by John McCurdy architect in the French style at a cost of £5,000 in 1864. It was destroyed by fire in 1970.

The Seapoint Boat Club activities over the first few years consisted of sailing, rowing, swimming and canoeing from May to September. Were formal races held? Yes, they were but they must have been somewhat haphazard, and with all the boats being of different types. It would have been challenged the club management to produce a fair handicap system.

 Mr Mc.Donald, former fisherman was engaged as boatman in place of Mr. Kells. McDonald was provided with a cap, jersey with the club name embroidered on the front and a pair of slacks, all at a cost to the club of twenty-seven shillings. Sometime during his first summer on the job, a row broke out between the club management and their boatman. McDonald being a clever man, employed a boy, to stand in for him, for many hours during the day. There was a concern among the club officials that they would be liable for the boy, in the event of an accident. The row was only calmed down when the committee were advised, that the boy was McDonald’s responsibility, and not theirs, and that McDonald should be maintaining insurance for his sub-contractors.

By 1920, a Sailing Committee of eight men had been appointed, and they submitted a report to the General Committee outlining the proposed Sailing Instructions. The described which courses should be sailed for every wind direction, how to divide the club boats into three different classes, and recommended that all races would be started from the roof of the Martello Tower with an anchored buoy or yacht forming the other end of the start line.

(SLIDE 12: A RACE START) In this picture you can see three dinghies starting a race. The photograph was taken from the roof of the Martello Tower. At the outer end of the start line is a boat anchored in place, marking the outer limit of the starting line. Beyond, there is a larger yacht from waiting to start her race. There was an entrance fee of a shilling per boat per race. The races went around buoys laid by McDonald the boatman, which were located off the West Pier and off Ardenza Terrace. (One must remember that the waters of Dublin Bay were deeper in those days that they are now.) Cash prizes or silver spoons were awarded to the winners. The club fleet was divided into three classes based on the size of the boat:

Class 1 was for the largest boats with fixed keels of between three and ten tons of which there were ten boats entered in 1928.

Class 2 was for smaller keel boats of under three tons. This class survived with eight boats until 1925 and thereafter disappeared, and despite strenuous efforts by the committee, they were not able to revive it.

Class 3: Open boats and canoes. This class operated with up to five boats until 1925 when they were replaced by the six 12 foot International one-design dinghies.

By 1923 there were sixteen yachts registered with the club, but because the boats were of differing sizes and rigs, the club adopted a ‘time on time’ handicap system, with F.P. Cantwell and E.H. Bermingham appointed to allocate suitable handicaps to each boat. This system records the time taken for each boat to complete a given course. The committee having already allocated a time factor to each boat. The time factor is applied to the time taken to complete the course, and the winner is the boat which took the shortest time.

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

(SLIDE 13: MARTELLO TOWER) In addition to the ‘Martello’ tower, the club utilised the public slipway located beside the tower which the Blackrock Urban District Council agreed to keep free of weed and slime. The Council also agreed to provide some seating around the tower to facilitate spectators of the yacht racing. Because two of the Blackrock Councillors were on the club committee, the Council were initially responsive to requests to undertake works in support of the club’s activities. (SLIDE 14: MARTELLO DOORWAY) However, despite the obligation in their lease not to change the Martello Tower internally or externally, on 22nd July of 1916, the club requested to have the entrance door to the tower widened to six feet wide and extended down to ground level. A Club sub-committee was appointed to negotiate with Henry E. Powell the Blackrock Urban District Council Surveyor on the matter. Why was such a large door required? The tower was useful as a secure dry store for yacht equipment such as oars, cotton sails, etc. . Unless the door was widened, it was not suitable for storage of the club punt or for rowing boats or canoes. If the club punt were stored indoors, it would have been less liable to damage. At the end of the day the Council ignored their tenant’s requests.

The club members believed that they had a social responsibility, so, as early as 1917, they organised two entertainments for wounded soldiers from the Great War. One on 28th July and the second a month later on 25th August. Initially a committee of men was put in place to organise the event, but they quickly realised that they knew nothing about catering, so they co-opted several women to their committee. They were Mrs Riggs, ‘Arbutus’ Monkstown. Mrs Haigh, 6, Ardenza Terrace. Misses Birmingham, 1, Ardenza Terrace, Monkstown. Mrs Cantwell, Temple Hill. Mrs Felton, 3, Ardenza Terrace. The ladies decided to provide tea, bread and jam, and cakes etc. for the troops at Ardenza Terrace, after they had been out in the boats, but Mr. Charles Haigh, the committee chairman, stated that he would not accept such a suggestion, he insisted that ham, salad and stewed apples be added to the menu.

Injured soldiers came from all the local hospitals and homes including Monkstown Auxiliary Hospital, Monkstown Hospital, The Military Orthopaedic Hospital, Blackrock, and Stillorgan Convalescent Home, Temple Hill.  The 50 soldiers were brought to the club in members and their friend’s cars, and taken out for a boating trip in Dublin Bay in the member’s boats. (SLIDE 15: ARDENZA TERRACE) Afterwards, tea was served at Ardenza Terrace where a musical entertainment was laid on, and Miss Whittaker sang many popular tunes.  How were these events paid for? Despite voluntary contributions, the event lost £1 19s. 6d., and a levy was put on all the members to cover the deficit.

Sixteen thousand casualties of the Great War were sent to Irish hospitals from Europe, so, in 1918 the Seapoint Boat Club sent invitations to hospitals further afield. To King George V Hospital, Arbour Hill, Mater Hospital, Mercers Hospital, Stephen’s Street, and Meath School Hospital for an event for injured soldiers on 20 July. Following requests from the previous year, fishing was undertaken from members boats followed by tea at Ardenza Terrace and clock golf, with a first prize of 100 cigarettes, second prize of 50 cigarettes. Golf-croquet, or croquet played with golf balls and putters was considered a suitable activity for injured soldiers, and cigarettes were again given as prizes. This time the hospital matrons insisted that the men would return to their institutions by 8 o’clock in the evening. Mr. Archibald McGoogan agreed to the Committee suggestion to take a photograph of each of the war wounded, which he sold to members of the Club for a profit. They were sold at £1 for two dozen pictures.

(SLIDE 16: ANNUAL REGATTAS) Annual regattas were held from 1919 with many competitors coming from Kingstown, Howth and Clontarf. The first three regattas, in 1919, 1920, and 1921 were held at the Martello Tower, but crowd management quickly became a problem, as did the issue of charging the public to come in and see the regatta. (SLIDE 17: BLACKROCK HOUSE) So, for 1922, they made arrangements with Mr. Thomas McCormick (who was described in the census of 1911 as a shipping merchant) to hold the regattas at his historic 18th century Blackrock House, (SLIDE 18: Map of BLACKROCK HOUSE) which had a large garden running down to the sea. Spectators could wander around the gardens, visit the ice house, cross the railway bridge and go down to Vance’s harbour, the bathing places and the little tempietto changing rooms (which unfortunately have been vandalised in recent years.) The spectators had a good elevated vantage point to watch the swimming and rowing races below. It had been planned to hold the annual regatta of 1922 on 1st July, but due to the ‘Breaking out of hostilities in Dublin’ it was rescheduled for 29th July. That regatta was a financial disaster partly due to clashes of fixtures with other swimming gala and tennis tournaments. To make things worse, a letter demanding payment of Amusement Tax arrived, demanding payment of tax in respect of the visitors who had paid in to see the regatta. The committee ran a raffle to raise the outstanding amount due. In that year 1922 an additional attraction at the regatta was motor boat racing with fourteen boats from the Motor Yacht Club of Ireland competing. Most of these boats would have been former racing yachts which had paraffin engines installed.

In 1924 the Tailteann Games, were organised by The Cumann na nGaedheal Government, to help heal the deep wounds caused by the civil war, and to encourage young men and women to take up healthy outdoor athletic pursuits, in place of the activities with guns. To show how important the event was, to the Government, the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. J.J. Walsh was appointed Director of An Aonach Tailteann.  W.T. Cosgrave described the games as follows:

“The purpose of the promoters of the Tailteann Games is to give a new impulse to this necessary and valuable form of national life, and to remind the Irish People, as Thomas Davis sought to remind them, that there is more, much more, in the life of a nation than politics and economics.”

The games extended beyond the normal field athletic pursuits to include sailing, motor boating, dancing, art, singing, opera, billiards and chess. Mr. L.P. Douglas was appointed as the Seapoint club’s representative on the Tailteann Regatta Sub-Committee. The first meeting of the sailing sub-committee took place at the Tailteann offices in College Street on 28 May 1924. This did not leave much time for preparation by either the organisers or the competitors, as a decision had been made to hold the Tailteann sailing and motor boating Regatta in Dun Laoghaire 9 weeks later, on 9th August. Other members of the sailing committee of the Games were F.S.J. Worrell, F.H. Kennedy, J. Stoddard, F. Caldwell, W. Hutchinson, and Myles M. Kelly who was the editor of The Irish Field magazine, who was keen to promote the event. It soon became apparent that (for political reasons) the Belfast yachts had no interest in competing, so the organisers were dependent on who could come from Cork or from the River Shannon. It was agreed to hold races for seven classes of which Race 5 was a handicap match for competitors from Clontarf, Seapoint No. 2 Class and similar boats.

(SLIDE 19: 1924 MEDALS) Three medals were won by Seapoint club members in the small keelboat handicap races. The event was won by Klysma, sailed by C. O’Loughlainn from Dublin Bay, but Seapoint’s Messrs. Hartnell and McGoogan’s Bonita, took second place and Mercia III owned by W.J. Smalldridge from Longford Terrace in third place. Events such as this were a great boost to the club morale which had previously seen itself as being Cinderella compared with the long-standing Kingstown Yacht Clubs.

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

In that same year 1924, (SLIDE 20: CAPT JIMMY PAYNE) Captain Jimmy Warren Payne, a bank clerk, from Glenbrook in Cork travelled with his wife Aileen to Antwerp to represent the Irish Free State at the first World Dinghy Championships in September to compete for a new trophy presented by His Majesty, King Albert the first, of the Belgians. Other entries came from England, France, Holland, Belgium and Italy. That is Jimmy and Aileen Payne at the right hand side of the group.

(SLIDE 21: WORLD DINGHY CHAMPS 1924) The racing in 12 Foot International Dinghies was organised on the river Schelt by the Belgian Yachting Federation, and Brussels Royal Yacht Club. Each country was permitted to send one helmsman and one crew. Because all the boats are designed and built to the same design, and all are exactly similar, it was said that ‘The difference between one national team and another, was the skill of the helmsman and the nippiness of the crew. In the interests of fairness for the six teams entered, it was necessary to hold six races, with each competitor sailing one race, in each of the six boats provided by the Belgians for the event. Captain Payne finished in second, second, first, fifth, second and first places, which was enough to win the championship.

(SLIDE 22: 12 FOOT DINGHY TROPHY) Captain Payne and Aileen received this beautiful silver trophy which is currently held by the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Their victory, according to the Yachting World magazine, was immensely popular, and an unusually large crowd of spectators were present to cheer Captain Payne. When the winning gun was fired, the green white and orange of the free state was broken out on the flagstaff of the Brussels Royal Yacht Club. This almost definitely was the earliest international sporting success for the fledgling country, The Irish Free State, which had only been founded in December 1922.

At home, Irish sailors were most impressed by the idea that various nations could sail against each other without using handicaps, and the larger nations carried no advantage over smaller nations. In Seapoint, Dr W.M.A. Wright made a proposal to the committee of the Seapoint Boat Club in October 1924, which was put to the members at their Autumn General Meeting in the Salthill Hotel ‘That it is in the interest of the club, that a one-design 12 foot class be established in lieu of the present No.3 class and that the committee take such steps as may be necessary to start same.’ A quotation had been obtained from Mr. Michael Mahony of Patrick St, Dun Laoghaire

(SLIDE 23: MAHONY NOTE PAPER and 12 FOOT DINGHY) who confirmed that the boats could be built and fitted out for racing, using the best mahogany, elm, spruce and oak, for under thirty pounds each.

(SLIDE 24: COST OF FITTING OUT THE BOATS.) Messrs Perry of Georges Street Dun Laoghaire put in a keen quotation to supply the sails and all the wires and ropes necessary for £4 7s. 6d on condition that it was a bulk order for six of everything. Six members agreed to buy boats, which were built by Mahony, and were allocated to their owners by ballot. By agreement between the owners, the new boats were all allocated bird’s names: Cormorant (No.1,  H.J. Wright), Kittiwake (No.2,  A. McGoogan), Seamew (No.3, W.B. Conyngham), Curlew (No.4, Thomas Kelly & J.R. Felton), Redshank (No.5, W. Synott-Glenn) and Ibis (No.6, John Wallace).They held their first race on 13th June 1925, and quickly provided the best competition within the club. In 1926 the club held a ballot by selling tickets and the winner won a 12 foot dinghy. The boat was won by S.T. Robinson who caller her Kestrel. Robinson was a motor car dealer in Dublin, with a showroom at King Street, who held the agencies for Talbot, Buick, and Lea-Francis sports cars.Despite several suggestions at General Committee level to hold another ballot for a 12 foot dinghy, the only other ballot held, was one for a stopwatch.

The second Tailteann games were held in 1928. Again, this was a great test for the Seapoint sailors. The Tailteann Sailing Regatta took place in Dublin Bay on Tuesday 14 August 1928. Tuesday was an unfortunate day to hold such an event and many larger boat owners complained that they were unable to compete because their crews could not take time off work on Tuesday. The Seapoint boys and girls had no success is the class for yachts between 5 and 10 tons as they had done previously. However, this time there was racing for the 12 Foot International dinghies, and the Cork boys were unable to compete because of the cost of transporting their boats to Dublin by train. According to the newspapers of the day, first place was won by Ibis, belonging to J. Walker. In fact, it was John Wallace (SLIDE 25: JOHN WALLACE) from Seapoint Boat Club. Second was Kittiwake sailed by Archibald McGoogan, and third place went to Seamew, W.B. Conyngham. The Seapoint boats took Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals in the 12 foot International class.

(SLIDE 26: TAILTEANN MEDALS)  Was seven the final number of 12 foot International dinghies at the Seapoint club? No. Lieutenant Colonel The Honourable Claud Maitland Patrick Brabazon of Fassaroe near Bray,brought an eighth 12 Foot International Dinghy to the club in July 1928. It was called Gadget(SLIDE 27: GADGET) Claud Brabazon was the third son of 12th Earl of Meath, Reginald le Normand Brabazon. Claud Brabazon was born in 1874, educated at Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Of course, being the third son, he did not inherit any title. (SLIDE 28: CLAUD BRABAZON) When he left college he joined the Royal Field Artillery, and served in England and Malta. He was a founder member of the Irish Guards, and commissioned in the Mid Ulster Artillery in 1897.  He saw active service in the Boer War in 1902, where he experimented with the use of manned balloons to ascertain where the enemy were located. Yes, he was interested in ballooning as a past-time. In 1907, in the Gordon Bennett balloon race he took off from Battersea Park in London and impressively stayed aloft for 25 hours, during which time he travelled a total of 350 miles from London. (To you mathematicians, that represents an average speed of 14 miles per hour.) He was a friend of Eustace, Horace and Oswald Short, who are better known to us as the Short Brothers, who later became balloon manufacturers, and later still aircraft manufacturers in Northern Ireland. He served with the Irish Guards and was appointed Major. In 1909, he was seconded to the Egyptian Army and served in Cairo and on the Upper Nile, and Sudan. The Royal Aero Club were initially a branch of the Royal Automobile Club because Mr. Charles Rolls, of Rolls Royce fame, was an early ballooner. Claud Brabazon obtained Royal Aero Club, Aviators License no. 279 in September 1912, and worked on the airship programme. He was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps in August 1914, one month into the Great War, where he commanded the experimental army airship ‘Eta’.

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

(SLIDE 29: AIRSHIP ETA) Despite his mother being a Maitland, he married Kathleen Maitland in 1915. He was later transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service as Squadron Commander at Roehampton and in June 1917 was Commander in charge of airship base at Pulham, Norfolk. He was awarded an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) in 1919, and retired as Lieutenant Colonel in 1920. About 1921, he bought a 12 foot International dinghy which he later brought to Ireland, when he relocated to live on the Meath Estate in Fassaroe House, Co. Wicklow. It was 1928 when he joined Seapoint Boat Club and his boat was renumbered from the English number K29 to 8, a Seapoint Boat Club Number. (SLIDE 30: GADGET) The highlight of the 12 foot dinghy racing in 1926 was a challenge put out by the Cork 12 foot dinghy sailors to see which Club had the best 12 foot sailors in Ireland. The Seapoint boys rose to the challenge, and W.B. Conynghan, Frank McCarthy, Kedo Odbert, W.P. Campbell, F.P. Douglas and W.S. Glenn headed to Cork on the train. The plan was to sail in the Royal Munster Yacht Club dinghies in Crosshaven. The Seapoint team realised that they had to match other teams in Ireland, before they could take on the rest of the world. In the end, it was the Cork team under Captain Payne which dominated, due to having more experience in this type of boat. In 1927, the Royal Munster Yacht Club sent a team to compete against the boys in Seapoint. It was again led by Captain Jimmy Payne, and the rest of the team were Mr. G. Ogilvie and S.J. Morrogh. But, unfortunately, the weather was not suitable for sailing, so no competition took place, and the Cork Boys went home empty-handed. (SLIDE 31: SEAPOINT IN STRONG WINDS)

In response to the debacle of the Cork Competition, in 1928, a unanimous decision was made at the Spring General Meeting of the Seapoint Boat Club of 1929 to relocate the Class 3 boats, the 12 foot international dinghies to Dun Laoghaire Harbour where the water was less choppy and better suited for the launching and sailing of small dinghies. The West Pier Master’s House was rented for the purpose.

(SLIDE 32: EDMUND JOHNSON TROPHY) Among the trophies which the 12 foot International dinghies competed for, was this beautiful trophy known as the Edmund Johnson Trophy made by the silversmith, goldsmith and diamond merchants of that name of 94 Grafton Street. The trophy was first presented in 1930. Edmund Johnson limited were jewellers by appointment to her Majesty Queen Victoria in Ireland. They were such a prestigious silversmith and goldsmith, that they were appointed to restore the Ardagh Chalice following its discovery in 1868.

The Seapoint club had a campaign to put in a winch and rollers to facilitate the boatmen hauling up the boats so that seaweed and barnacles etc could be removed from their hulls. The UDC considered the matter but decided that wealthy yachtsmen should pay for such facilities themselves if they wanted them.

Following a decline in numbers of boats racing in 1931, in the following year a decision was made to wind up the club and no racing was held during that season. The club was unable to fund the boatman because most of the members had joined the rival Dublin Bay Sailing Club. Many of the silver prizes including the Edmond Johnson Cup and the McGoogan Cup were represented to Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club, while the Smalldridge Cup was offered to Dublin Bay Sailing Club.[1]

What was the cause of the demise of the club? Firstly, the club has moved away from its original principles of being a swimming, canoeing, and rowing club for boys and girls. The replacement of canoes and rowing boats by the 12 foot International dinghies put more of an emphasis on sailing and yachting. Dun Laoghaire harbour offered more sheltered moorings for the larger boats, and better sailing conditions for the smaller boats in Class 3. Perhaps the ease of movement by bicycle, tram or train to Dun Laoghaire was the final nail in the coffin of this enterprising club which brough many young people into sailing for life.  

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

(SLIDE 33: POSTSCRIPT) This picture by Archibald McGoogan shows the gardens to Blackrock House which was used on the cover of the Seapoint Regatta Programmes.

In an extraordinary twist of fate, Dublin Bay Sailing Club which had not previously owned or rented any property, decided in 1958, to rent some of the land located at the west pier in Dun Laoghaire close to Salthill Train Halt where they established a Junior section of their sailing Club. Huge numbers of children joined in the summer of 1959, initially children of members of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club senior section, but quickly it was opened to anybody who wanted to join. 

(SLIDE 34: DBSC MANAGEMENT) The men behind this development were Jimmy Mooney, a brilliant sailor and a Dublin Dentist, George Craig a director of Brooks Thomas Ltd. builders merchants, Mr Thompson, owner of a building contractors firm who lent the club some site huts which were used for changing rooms. Sean Hooper was a popular and well-known Dun Laoghaire Solicitor and finally Terry Roche owned the Dublin woollen mills at the halfpenny Bridge in Dublin. All of these men had young children whom they wished to introduce to boating. The existing Dun Laoghaire waterfront clubs had no interest in children, so it was the Dublin Bay club which followed the example of the Seapoint Club of 40 years earlier Pressure was put on Players Wills and Company the cigarette manufacturers, who agreed to provide two new boats for club use. Those boats were named Gold Flake and Boston. Work groups of parents brought down buckets and spades to mix concrete and to repair the ancient slipway and to make it safe.

(SLIDE 35: SITE) The site was little more than a rough field, but it was fenced and was suitable for the storage of small plywood boats. A flagstaff was hoisted. These photographs were taken by a Kodak Brownie camera which might explain the quality of the images.

(SLIDE 36: LAUNCH) The club was formally unveiled on 6 June 1959 with the launch of Terry Roche’s daughter’s Aries from the repaired slipway. In many ways, this was the continued the spirit of Seapoint Boat Club to encourage youngsters to ‘mess about in boats’. In the background of this picture you can see the Martello Tower which had been used by the Seapoint Boat Club many years earlier.

(SLIDE 37: CORA LAUNCH) Perhaps there is some justice in the fact that one of the earliest boats to be launched from the repaired slipway at the Dublin Bay sailing Club premises was Gadget, which had formerly been Claud Brabazon’s 12 foot International dinghy, but had passed through many different owners in Howth, Sutton and Valentia Island in Kerry, before arriving back in Seapoint Bay. Incidentally, that is me wearing the Mae West lifejacket with my back to the camera.

I hope you have enjoyed this presentation and learned something new about the Blackrock area.(SLIDE 38: THE END) (52 minutes 0 seconds to here)

Followed by questions from the floor

Accompanying photographs from slides Click Here

Go to Blackrock Society Main Page Click Here