Report at CRYC AGM, 4 March 2020,
by Zara Brady
I was delighted when our President Leo Leonard asked me to say a few words about the Royal Galway Yacht Club at our AGM this evening. Mr father, the late W. Harry Culleton was Secretary of the Royal for many years.
Twelve months ago, in March 2019, the Trustees of the Corrib Club received a letter from Mr. Brian Siggins and Mr. Donal Morrissey. They wrote to inquire if our Club would be willing take over the guardianship of the Royal, by way of amalgamation, with Corrib Club.
These gentlemen were the last Trustees of the Royal Galway – others having been Maurice Semple and Stanley Lowe.
They were anxious that the memory of the Royal Galway would not be completely lost and forgotten. And, that their Minute Books dating back to the 1800’s, their club burgee, their memorabilia, could be safeguarded and well looked after.
Following three months of negotiations, an agreement was reached, and the amalgamation of the two clubs was signed by the President and Trustees in July 2019.
The very tattered little Burgee flag has been taken to a fabric conservator in Dublin where it will be gently cleaned, have very minor repairs and be mounted.
We intend to have replicas of the burgee made – because Corrib Club members will be entitled to sail, under either flag, according the rules of Irish Sailing..
So let’s find our place in history: The Royal Cork Yacht Club claims to be oldest yacht club in the world. It was founded in 1720. It is located in Crosshaven, Co. Cork.
Cork nowadays – is associated with Safehaven Marine, where the “Barracuda” – the stealth military assault vessel was designed and built. It is a fully armed, high-speed Intercepter vessel. Used for law enforcement. She is like something out of a James Bond movie. She is just as mean as she looks.
• The Royal Western Yacht Club was founded in 1827
• Corrib Rowing & Yachting Club founded in 1884.
• Commercial Club followed in 1875.
• Royal Galway Yacht Club in 1882.
Some well-known names who rowed for the Royal Galway were Geoffery Palmer, George Maugham who worked for the Bank, Mr. Edmond who had to do with Congested Districts Board.
Philip O’Gorman – an ancester of our own Kyran, was the Secretary in 1894. They ran races and regattas on the River, on the lake and in Galway Bay – of course they had the canal then.
There was intense rivalry between the clubs, and yachts such as, the Pansy, Bolshevist, Flying Dutchman, Violet, Mary Rose, Gracies, Corrib II and the Queen Dhu – all competing for Cups and Trophies.
There are lot of interesting members too …there was Captain Edward Anketell-Jones owned Inis Sean Bó – he purchased a beautiful Victorian yacht and sailed it home from Southend.
He died in 1933 – but the yacht still survives in front of the island – albeit in about 25 feet of water.
His brother Major Spencer Anketell-Jones lived in Gortdrisagh House, in Glann from the late 1890’s. He was tragically killed in a bob sleigh accident in January 1909 in Switzerland.
Their team was determined to win the race and break the record, which stood at 3 minutes 13 seconds for a course of exactly two miles.
The Daily Mail reported : “It was a brilliantly sunny afternoon, and there were 1,500 spectators, most of whom were English. Fifteen teams entered for the race.
Major Anketell-Jones’s sleigh, the “Matchiche” was the favourite, as he had successfully covered the course without applying the brake on a previous occasion.
At the last and most difficult turning the sleight was travelling at great speed, the leader dispensing with the brakes. A telegraph post was dangerously near the course, but the sleigh was seen to dash up the bank, all except the helmsman, were leaning out far. Then the sleigh overturned in a cloud of snow. The Games were, of course, stopped and the injured were taken to Monteaux”.
The Major, who was already dead, was buried in the English cemetery. His team member, a Miss Henderson was badly injured with head wounds and serious internal injuries.
His older brother Patrick Willoughby Anketell-Jones, who lived in Currarevagh, was also in the bob sleigh. He survived with minor injuries. The wives of both Major and Mr. Patrick Anketell-Jones were among the spectators of the fatal race.
There was one man on Lough Corrib who was very hard to beat in a sailing race – he was Lord Headley of Rabbit Island. He was Commodore of the Royal from 1907 until 1913. His yacht was Vectis. She was cutter-rigged, 26 ft long with a 7ft 2in beam. When she was offered for sale in 1913 she had 5 headsails, a spinnaker, gaff, topstail and mast, plus 1½ ton of lead.
I might just conclude a little story about another great member of the Royal Galway Yacht Club:
Henry J. Anderson had been Commodore of the Royal for umpteen years. He was the first President of Connacht IRFU for 25 years – and was capped four times for Ireland, as a wing three-quarter, against England and Scotland in 1903 and 1906.
When he died in 1949, his son Cecil put his yacht ‘Bluebird’ up for sale. Cecil Anderson, was a Flight-Lieut. in the RAF at the time.
Dr. T.E. Lydon from Headford was interested in the boat and contacted Blake and Kenny Solicitors in Galway – they were handling the sale – and the deal was done.
He was assured she was fully equipped, ready for use – which meant that it had an engine capable of being worked – and was seaworthy and properly ballasted.
Maurice Semple, was then a young assistant solicitor with Blake and Kenny and he was sent up the lake to Annaghkeen Island to collect the boat.
On the day appointed, Mr. Semple, the storekeeper from the club and a couple of other fellows headed up to Annaghkeen. Simmons, the gardener met them a the pier and told them everything was ready to go. They went to to start the engine, but the magneto would not work – they had to put some parts into it to start it.
On the way down the lake at Kilbeg, the boat keeled over dramatically, giving them all a terrible scare, but eventually they made it to Galway. Mr. Semple pronounced the boat was an giddy craft and impossible to steer.
They settled their nerves with a strong ball of malt, and set about examining the boat. She was found to contain 5 cwt, 5 stone and 9lbs of lead.
Now being 30 ft in length and 6 ft in the beam, she was a rather narrow old girl, and needed a lot of ballast. She could have done with at least 15 cwt of lead.
The young folk here tonight don’t have a notion of what a hundredweight (cwt) is, so I will explain: it was equivalent to about 112 lbs or 50 kg. About the size of myself.
To make a long story short, the case of the missing lead went to court and Simmons the gardener was accused of having stolen it. He gave evidence that every winter he was instructed to take 30 blocks of lead out of the of boat and and the following March to put the lead back into the boat again.
But that year he couldn’t find the blocks, as they were all under water. Some time when later the the flood had gone down, he did find them. But sure the boat was gone then.
He went over to Tuam and sold the lead to a fellow for £29.
he Judge told him he better go and find the £29 now, and give it back to the Flight-Lieut. or he’d be on a flight over the road to the County Gaol.
Zara Brady, Rinnaknock