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Our Story - Since 1875

Our story since 1875

Table of Contents

1. In the beginning, Arthur Guinness

2. Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose!

3. Our Club survived two World Wars and has the memorabilia to prove it!

4. The talented CY&BC cartoonists and the characters they portrayed!

5. Recollections of C.M. Sargent - a member of CY&BC for 50 years!

6. CY&BC 50th Anniversary and Centenary celebrations

7. CY&BC Today and Redevelopment Programme for 150th Anniversary!

In the beginning, Arthur Guinness

Our story begins back in 1875 when the Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club was born. Aided at its birth by the Guinness Family, it prospered and grew down the years with the continuation of that special connection.

Arthur Guinness later to be Sir Arthur Edward Guinness and then Lord Ardilaun was chairman of the Club from 1875 to 1911. His picture (see below) still hangs in the Clubhouse today.

He was a great grandson of the first Arthur Guinness founder of the St James Gate Brewery in 1759. Apart from his close association with our Club he is probably best remembered by Dubliners for his gift to the city of St Stephen's Green where a statue was erected to him in 1891.

Throughout his public life, this distinguished brewer, parliamentarian and philanthropist, born at St Anne's Clontarf in 1840 was conspicuous for his duty to good causes.

In the year 1874 Belvedere, now known as The Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club, was occupied by one Charles Heaviside who in the old records is designated as "merchant". In the following year, 1875, the Club in the name of John Sullivan took a yearly tenancy of the premises at a rent of £50 per annum. This reverted to the ground landlord, Col. Vernon, who In 1889 intimated to the Club that he would be prepared to enter into a long lease on condition that the Club would spend £400 on improvements to the property. This was not implemented until 1902 when a lease of 99 years was granted at a rental of £41 plus rates.

The name "Belvedere" was apt as there was an uninterrupted view across the water to the Dublin Mountains and Killiney. Over the years the clubhouse gained a fine front garden, a flagpole and eventually a carved Albatross head projecting from the blue and red club shield on the clubhouse wall.

On the seaside the jetty had the punts that served the bigger boats tied up to it. When the Dublin United Tramway Company moved onto the land next door, one club member removed the white covering from his sailing cap and refused to replace it. This was due to the tram company's employees having white caps as part of their uniform. A sign of less enlightened times perhaps.

Before that however, the land adjacent to Belvedere had been used by Clontarf Rugby club who made use of our sailing club premises when dressing for matches. An early example of our community spirit!

The first officers of the Club were:

Presidents: Sir Arthur Guinness & Col. J. E. Vernon

Vice-Presidents: John Bagot & Archibald

Founder & Captain: John Sullivan

Treasurer: Charles Fitzgerald

Secretary: Thomas H. Atkinson

Steward: Charles Abbott

The first Annual General Meeting of the Club was held in March 1876 with Mr.Tisdell, Vice President, in the Chair. Mr. Thomas H. Atkinson, Honorary Secretary, read the report of the Committee for the year 1875 from which it appeared that 98 members were enrolled in the Club, which came into existence on the 1st March 1875. In addition to furnishing the Club House, the Committee erected a new pier at the cost of £45. They also expended £32 on the cost of purchasing new boats for the use of members and £10-15-6 in repairs to the boat house, which had been greatly improved and enlarged.

Board listing the Presidents of CY&BC since 1875.

Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose!

It's interesting to see that the features of the CY&BC sailing season as reported by the Irish Times and Irish Independent in 1927-1929 remain relatively unchanged particularly the "At Home" event still a key part of the CY&BC Sailing calendar!

Our Club survived two World Wars and has the memorabilia to prove it!

World War I

The Monaleen Wheel

The Ships wheel belonged to a ship "the Monaleen" built during the First World War for the British Admiralty as a decoy ship. The purpose of the decoy ship was to entice any submarine of enemy aircraft to attack and thereby betray their position. Their holds were filled with empty barrels to keep them afloat if attacked. The Monaleen was one of the few decoy ships that survived and its Steering wheel (shown here) is safely in the Clubhouse.

The Ship's Wheel was presented to the Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club by J. J. Flanagan, President in 1950 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the Club 1875-1905. In making the presentation the donor maintained that the wheel belonged to a ship named the "Monaleen". She was built during the 1914--18 war for the British Admiralty as a Q / decoy ship. Her bow and stern profile were exactly alike when seen in silhouette on the horizon. It was difficult to determine which direction she was steaming. Her mission was to entice any submarine to torpedo her or enemy aircraft to bomb her thereby betraying their position. Most of these ships had false deck houses which concealed hidden armaments. Their holds were filled with empty barrels or other buoyant materials so that if torpedoed they remained afloat. Many of these ships were built. Few survived. The Monaleen was one of the few.

At the outbreak of World War II (1939) she lay in the harbour at Gibraltar for sale at a nominal figure. She was purchased by the Limerick Steamship Company and sailed on the difficult Dublin-Lisbon run throughout the second World War carrying her cargo back and forth with great regularity. She had also the distinction of being the first Merchant Ship to fly the Tricolour in Belfast Harbour. She made her last trip to Dublin in 1948 and was subsequently broken up by the Ringsend Dockyard Company. The donor remarked that having come through numerous dangers,the Monaleen could indeed be regarded as a lucky ship, and he expressed the hope that the luck might now come to the Club with her wheel.

World War II

The curious incident of the Second World War RAF pilot which crashed close to the Club moorings.

The pilot's letter of thanks to the Club for their kindness is reported in this article below.

The following lines are to the memory of all yachtsmen from clubs around our shores who lost their lives during the World Wars. It was found in a Club scrapbook.

The talented CYBC cartoonists and the characters they portrayed!

This collection of cartoon caricatures which still adorn the club walls are like the ghosts of CYBC members past! We can get some insight into the people that were members during the earlier part of the last century when the Club was small with a local membership. The Club tradition of friendliness was evident even then and new members were soon made to feel at home.

The personalities and foibles of many of the members have been preserved by the excellent caricatures (as seen here) created by Walter Till with good humoured satire! A commercial artist of exceptional ability Walter was a naturalist, producing interesting studies of game birds.

Andrew Devereux was another talented club member as both landscape and portrait painter while another member John Kelly was curator of the Municipal Art Gallery.

In the 1950s Bob Fannin used his talents to enhance the Club collection of cartoon caricatures as seen below.

Dandy - Victor Lyons, "Dandelion" to his
pals, pockets always crammed with
miscellaneous odds and ends.
Artist Walter Till

Moustached Man with Golf Clubs John
Garvey, loved to talk of the thousands of Duck
and Geese he claimed to have shot,
but really a good sportsman. Evidently
before the Brent Geese began visiting CYBC.
Artist Walter Till

All The Best - Dave Borland, he enjoyed
"one of the best" and claimed to be a 365
day supporter of the "Club's backbone".
Artist Walter Till

The Dry Fly W Roche, retiring from business
he thought he would like to live in the Channel
Islands, the German Army arrived a few days later!
Artist Walter Till

By Special Request John Kyle,a melodious Baritone.
Known to go on the concert platform with his Cycle
Clips on.
Artist Walter Till

We Know He Was a Sailor For He Wore
a Sailor's Cap - R.J.McNally, "Bob's your
uncle" is slang however "Bob's our mentor"
was just where it was as far as sailing was
concerned. Known as a sage and jovial counsellor.
Artist Walter Till

I Am Ready To Answer Any Question-
F.W.Christian, Hon.Treasurer for many
years. Most ready when heckled. Artist Walter Till

Silence Dr. W.J. Coyne, apparently he told a
story in 1925 that was unfit for publication!
Artist Walter Till

And Why Shouldn't We Have T.V? - Joe Dobbs
& Harry McGarry.
Artist Bob Fannin

Title,artist and subject unknown a great
depiction however of knot tying and
balancing skills coming together.

Recollections of C.M. Sargent - a member of CY&BC for 50 years!

"My introduction to Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club was in 1922 when my family came to live in Clontarf. The Club tradition of friendliness was evident even then and new members were soon made to feel at home.

Then, as now, the Club was a most democratic institution. The Sailing Secretary from many years was George H. Porter (A. Guinness & Son of course!) who was the doyen of the Club sailing activities. He was once described as the "Best known and most popular yachtsman on the Dublin Coast".

Juniors at that time were just not catered for and had to invent their own ways of getting afloat. The boys of my own age had constructed sailing canoes or rather miniature sailing boats out of wooden barrel hoops and timber laths, the frame being covered with painted canvas. Sails were made from old shorts and cans filled with water carried as ballast.

We certainly learned our seamanship the hard way, no life jackets or crash boats being available. Some of the skippers of the larger boats were quite sympathetic and at times shipped a Junior as extra ballast when the going was rough. John Kelly took me under his wing and with great patience taught me how to sail thereby introducing me to a science and sport that has held my interest ever since.

At the close of each season all Motorboat and Sailing men teamed up to get the boats hauled and laid up. As no launching truck was available for the larger boats they were man-handled off the beach across the road and into the Club yard on special keel rollers. During this operation the tram service past the Club was somewhat disrupted.

In 1939 the outbreak of war was to have a greater effect on sailing than one could have imagined. Sailing men from all clubs on the East Coast were brought together and out of this was to emerge a new conception of sailing activity. The IDRA was formed in 1946 and the adoption of the IDRA 14 Dinghy class was the beginning of development of dinghy racing in the bay. This was followed later in 1953 by 6 boats of the Mermaid class. It was the experience gained in these class boats that has brought CY&BC helmsmen into the forefront of dinghy racing. As a result, the junior training was well planned so that CY&BC Juniors went quickly to the top in open events."

The family remains a key presence in the Club with Ian Sargent continuing to promote sailing particularly the IDRA class.

CY&BC 50th Anniversary and Centenary celebrations

50 years at CY&BC is marked with a Jubilee Dance!

In 1975 CY&BC celebrated its first 100 years.

The links between Arthur Guinness since the Club's inception were maintained and recognised at the 100th anniversary celebrations. The Club expressed its gratitude to Lord Iveagh then Chairman of Guinness for his kind presentation of the commemorative plaque and to Guinness Group Sales (Ireland) Ltd for the financial assistance provided towards the costs associated with the commemoration.

John J. Walker, then President of the Irish Yachting Association had the following observations on CY&BC in its centenary year: "This year Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club is 100 years old and this is a cause of celebration among all Irish yachtsmen. It does not however show its age. On the contrary it is a thriving go-ahead club, imbued with great club spirit and energy, running one of the best junior sections in Ireland. With a background of 100 years existence, its members show a wealth of experience and expertise in sailing and knowledge of the sea, not only as hard and successful competitors but also as administrators and race organisers. Although the Club will be faced with many challenges over the coming years I and all the numerous friends of Clontarf have no doubt that nothing will destroy this Club and that Phoenix like, it will emerge from its problems tougher and stronger if this is possible"

Women sailors and CY&BC


1922 - the Irish Free State gave equal voting rights to men and women

1948 - CY&BC rules changed to allow "lady boat owners to become Associate Members

1975 - First female Commodore of CY&BC elected

2013 - First female Club President of CY&BC elected

2019 - Clontarf ladies participate in "Women at the Helm" event.

2020 - Minister for Sport Richard Bruton opens upgraded facilities for women at CY&BC

CY&BC Today

The Board of Commodores since 1875.

Commodore Aidan Cronin presides over 144th AGM of CY&BC assisted by Martina Beck outgoing Honorary Secretary and Aoife Canavan outgoing Treasurer.

CY&BC continues to be an active club with a full sailing calendar of events each year including the annual "At Home", E Boat Nationals, Mirror regional racing and IDRA& Mermaid events.

The friendly and welcoming atmosphere at CY&BC still prevails particularly for the Adult Sailing Course and Tri Sailing events.

CY&BC focuses on making sailing and boating more accessible with our volunteer members facilitating Fishing Days for the CRC and St. Michael's House, ex-Commodore Larry Meany has been a driving force for these events; Sail Against Suicide events; offering facilities for charity and community events such as the Harbour to Harbour Aware Charity Walk and providing rescue boats and volunteers for events including Focus Ireland All in a Row on the River Liffey.

New Facilities

Due to increasing female membership and outreach, particularly for those with disabilities, CY&BC urgently needed to upgrade and expand female changing facilities and build a wheelchair accessible shower. With the funding awarded under the Sports Capital Programme and supplemented by the Club members, the refurbishment project began last year. The first phase of the building programme has recently been completed with fully refurbished ladies shower rooms, lockers and toilets. A full wet room has also been constructed using universal design facilitating all members including those with disabilities. The entrance and corridor have also been adapted to facilitate access for all. The necessary building and insulation work along with the incorporation of Fire Safety requirements have also been carried out.

150th Anniversary plans

CY&BC will soon be approaching its 150th anniversary and a dedicated 150th anniversary Committee is currently being set up to begin looking at the necessary preparations.

It is planned to progress and complete the renovation of the Clubhouse so that it will be a fully functioning and upgraded facility for the 150th Anniversary celebrations. A revitalised Club with the capacity to maintain and develop sailing at Clontarf for another 150 years. It is intended through the renovations to preserve the rich historical legacy of the Club to increase the numbers of those availing and enjoying the Club facilities particularly the next nautical generation!


The Fascinating History of Dublin Port (to be further updated)

Last updated 10:38 on 24 October 2022

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