AFTER over 50 years a Snipe dinghy took to the waters around Crom Castle.
Until the late 1960s, a Snipe could be seen crossing the waters of Lough Erne around Crom when regularly raced. However, this did not last.
But thanks to the expertise of two brothers – Fred and George Ternan – a pre-WWII Snipe named Ranger was restored and returned to Crom on Saturday August 7th.
Speaking of the Snipe dinghy, Fred, who is secretary of Lough Erne Heritage, explained the legacy of the boat.
“The Ranger was built before the war and was first brought to Crom from Belfast Lough in the mid-1950s by Major Madden of Hilton, Clones and raced at Crom for the next 15 years.
“She was owned and piloted by Johnny Madden and Robin Hanbury-Tenison. It was then stored in the boathouse for many years until it was donated, along with two other Snipe dinghies, by Mr. Madden to Lough Erne Heritage.
“With her, 1952 cotton sails made by Ratsey and Lapthorn, which were used on Ranger after it launched on Saturday.”
While still ashore on her road trailer, the Ranger’s mast was erected and she was dressed in a set of international signal flags.
These were removed before she was slowly lowered onto the slipway under the careful control of Gabriel Fitzpatrick, Johnny Clements and Brian Osborne.
Afloat, she was applauded by the guests who watched her. Her sails were hoisted and she set sail for the boathouse, helmed by Edwina Ternan and piloted by her father, Fred.
Further applause was heard and she began to beat west along the channel to Crom Bay, accompanied by two security boats provided by Gabriel Fitzpatrick and Brian Osborne, who also had cameramen on board.
The rain had stopped and there was a pleasant breeze from the west, which the boat reveled in.
“An excellent view”
“After reaching Gad Island, Ranger tacked and sailed towards the old castle, from where visitors had an excellent view, from where he veered again and headed for the entrance. of Trial Bay, ”said Fred, explaining the trip the Snipe made.
“He then took off to starboard and gybed to sail towards the entrance to the channel that leads to the 1840s boathouse built as the HQ of the then Lough Erne Yacht Club.
“Ranger carefully tacked along this narrow channel and anchored in front of the boathouse, where in the 1950s and 1960s he had been kept at anchor with ten or 12 other Snipe-class dinghies. ”
After sailing, the crew were brought ashore and those present drank tea and coffee while viewing some photographs on display, some of which were taken in the 1950s and provided by Johnny Madden.
Speeches were given by Lord Erne, Mr. Madden and yachting journalist Betty Armstrong.
Afterwards, a very pleasant lunch was taken by all in the Inishfendra room of the National Trust Visitor Center.
“Many thanks to the National Trust and Enniskillen BID, without whose support such a historic day would not have been possible.
“Since then, the America-based International Snipe-Class Association has circulated the history of Snipe racing during the relaunch of Crom and Ranger to all of its members around the world,” added Fred.
Thinking back on the day, Fred spoke of his joy, saying, “I really enjoyed the day, which was made especially so by so many people making the effort to come even from far away.
“Some of the visitors and their families had been a part of the Snipe era of sailing in Crom, with many stories to tell.
“We heard that two members of the Corbett family sailed one of Crom’s Snipes across the Channel to France in an organized race from Folkestone to Boulogne. It was in the 1950s.
“The launch event served to highlight the importance of Crom and the families involved in the club that sits there in the pursuit of sailboat racing.
“It was definitely worth doing, and there have been many congratulatory emails since then and we are now in contact with a Snipe Sailor in Japan.
“[It was] an important day in the history of sailing on Lough Erne and hopefully will generate enthusiasm for sailing races among the youth of the community. It was all worth the restoration effort, ”he added.