The latest addition to Ireland’s maritime research fleet was met in the Shannon estuary at the weekend by a flotilla of yachts and pleasure craft as it sailed into Kilrush Creek Marina.
Hundreds of people turned out to see the yacht, with some discharging distress flares and smoke signals to welcome it to Clare.
Mayor of Kilrush Ian Lynch, a member of the RNLI, was at the helm of the local lifeboat which escorted Celtic Mist into the marina and its new home port. The Haughey family donated the 17-metre steel-hulled ketch to the IWDG last April.
IWDG co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow said: “This is a great platform for us and it’s a great opportunity to get people out on the water to see whales and dolphins. It has opened a whole new chapter for the group here in Kilrush and it’s nice to have it based here.”
Celtic Mist had been on sale in Britain since last year with a price tag of €175,000 and was the only Irish entry in this year’s Tall Ships Race in Waterford.
Mr Lynch added: “This is really a great day for the town of Kilrush and west Clare. There is a lot of history behind this boat but the future is what is most important. Celtic Mist is a great asset to Dr Simon Berrow and his group and they will be able to carry out so much work which they couldn’t do before.
“On top of this, the timing of the arrival of the Celtic Mist to its new home coincides with the opening of the Loop Head Lighthouse. There are now two additional attractions in west Clare and I would be hopeful that both the lighthouse and the yacht will attract many visitors and much-needed business to the area.”
It had been feared that prohibitive annual costs, such as berthing fees, could have seen Clare miss out on the chance to be the yacht’s base.
However, a berth sponsored by Shannon Development was secured at Kilrush for what the company has described as an “important asset for west Clare”.