Lochside Garage

Sailing boats make a welcome return to Lough Erne


From left, Fred Ternan, George Morrison, Bert Robinson, Brian Osborne, Liam Boyle, Eugene Brazil and Vivian McGovern with a snipe boat

SAILING boats that were once a regular sight on Lough Erne could race again on the Lough after an absence of almost 70 years.
The boats were thought to have been consigned to history but now a group of enthusiasts at Lough Erne Heritage are hoping to revive the sport.
And to show the public what the snipe looked like, one of the old wooden vessels they hope to restores was displayed in a recent weekend exhibition at Enniskillen Library. 
One of its members,  Fred Ternan, explained, “I wasn’t aware that snipes had sailed on Lough Erne until about two years ago, when I saw two snipes upside down in the boathouse at Crom. Then the late Lord Erne mentioned to me that he had sailed in snipes at Crom. We met up and I found he was very interested in the boats.”
Now it may well be that, after a break of 50 years or so, snipe sailing could come back on Lough Erne.
“In fact, the snipe is very suitable; you only have the two sails to deal with, so it would be a good boat for many people to begin to sail with.They are perfect for Lough Erne.”
“When we set up Lough Erne Heritage, I was contacted by Lord Belmore who said he had a boat in storage which was also a snipe.”
All of Fred’s finds need a lot of work, but he is confident the wooden boats can be brought back to their original state.
“All the boats that remain, and we know of four so far, they are restorable,” he said.
“Lough Erne has a great history of sailing, going right back to the 1800s and possibly before.
“Not only did the people from the big houses sail large boats, but people around the lough used oar and sail to get about.
And that has delighted Clones man Johnny Madden whose father first brought a snipe to the Upper Lough in the early 1950s.
That led to others following and soon weekend racing became a regular fixture in the calendar on the Lough, particularly among the gentry.
“I don’t particularly mind whether they go on the water or not. I just think they’re such beautiful things and I’d love to see three or four of them together, somewhere,” he said.
So far Fred has done a lot of research on the snipe. “Our intention is to restore them to museum standard and also take them on the water with their original sails,” he said.

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