Dublin Bay looked like the setting for a remake of the popular BBC series from the 1970s, The Onedin Line, yesterday as it hosted the ceremony to mark the closing spectacle of the Tall Ships Festival.
Many of the boats departed the port under full sail in a magnificent display of maritime vessels which attracted thousands of visitors along the shore.
Gardaí reported traffic congestion in many parts of the city as spectators availed of glorious sunshine to take up vantage points stretching around the bay from Howth to Bray to witness the 40-strong fleet mark the end of the 2012 Tall Ships Race.
The naval ship LÉ Emer led the Parade of Sail featuring all 41 participating vessels down the mouth of the River Liffey before the flotilla headed on a course towards Dún Laoghaire.
Following a 21-gun salute, the tall ships travelled in a loop back towards the Baily Lighthouse in Howth before heading off towards the horizon and their various home ports.
Along the quaysides of the River Liffey, some of the planned ancillary events had to be cancelled or forced to finish earlier than scheduled on the advice of gardaí due to the size of the crowds which were estimated at up to 200,000.
The organisers of the four-day festival claim the event attracted more than 1.15m visitors since Thursday.
An estimated 100,000 watched yesterday’s Parade of Sail, while the organisers claimed 520,000 people visited the docklands where the ships were moored on Saturday.
Such was the scale of the crowds gathered along the river yesterday that the festival’s organisers were forced to cancel a planned world record attempt for the most number of people doing “Rock the Boat” in one place.
The record attempt, which was organised by the youth organisation Foróige, was originally due to be staged at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay before being transferred to Custom House Quay. However, the event was subsequently cancelled on health and safety grounds.
The success of the Tall Ships Festival was praised by Leo Varadkar, the minister for transport, tourism, and sport, who described the four-day event as “really fabulous”.
“It’s been a huge boost to tourism — not just for Dublin but also for Ireland as well. It has succeeded all expectations,” said Mr Varadkar, who was accompanied by Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Naoise Ó Muirí.
Mr Varadkar predicted that the organisers would surpass their target of attracting more than 1m people to visit the event.
The minister claimed the Tall Ships Festival would result in economic benefits worth €30m for Dublin, with many hotels and restaurants reporting they were virtually full since Thursday.
He indicated that the tourism authorities would look at the possibility of bringing the Tall Ships Race back again to Dublin, based on the success of this year’s hosting of the event.
The race will next visit Ireland in 2015, when Belfast is one of the host ports.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved