A pirate battle on the Boyne will kick off The Irish Maritime Festival – a spectacular celebration of all things seafaring which takes place in Drogheda from June 13 to 15.
A feast of maritime fun including the Boyne Boat Race, show-stopping water sports, a Boyne swim, a maritime pavilion plus a host of cultural and family entertainment will accompany the arrival of six classic sailing ships of a bygone era to Drogheda port.
The majestic sail-powered vessels visiting the port include three ketches – the Bessie Ellen, built in 1904, the Irene, which dates from 1907, and the Keewaydin, built in 1913.
They will be joined by the 80-year-old schooner Soteria, the Baltic trader Ruth and the sail schooner Vilma.
“The Irish Maritime Festival is going to be even bigger and better than the very successful tall ships event last year which attracted over 45,000 visitors to the town,” said Joan Martin, Director of Services at Drogheda Borough Council.
The event will start with a bang when a horde of buccaneering pirates re-enact a full-scale battle complete with real cannon fire, following a maritime sail parade up the Boyne.
Festivalgoers will be spoiled for choice with funfairs on the quays, boat and canoe trips on the river, stunning watersports displays, boat-building workshops, stand-up paddle boarding races and a maritime pavilion packed full of food, art, culture and kiddies fun zones.
Saturday sees another Battle of the Boyne take place as swimmers take to the river for the inaugural Boyne Swim, a 2.7 km course starting in Mell and finishing south of the Viaduct.
That day also features the Boyne Boat Race with rowing clubs from around the country taking part.
Watersport fans are in for a treat with regular world-class displays of jet skiing, water skiing, and wakeboarding plus expert demonstrations of jet-powered flyboarding.
“The festival is about giving people the chance to really enjoy the river,” said Paul Fleming, CEO of Drogheda Port Company.
Onshore at Drogheda Port a revamped warehouse will be transformed into the maritime pavilion, featuring a temporary beach area and a real food village celebrating local artisan food producers, along with art, photography, maritime history and kids play zones.
The Irish Navy will be in attendance at the maritime enterprise, education and careers zone.
The Festival sees the return of the Drogheda Tall Ships bursary scheme by Drogheda Port Company and Sail Training Ireland with local young people given the chance to be part of a once-in-a-lifetime on-board sailing experience for a week.