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One for the buoys at the RCYC

John Daly


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'The longevity of the Royal Cork Yacht Club through three centuries of troubled times returns continually to one essential certainty - a love of sailing and the sea.' Photo: David Branigan/Oceansport

'The longevity of the Royal Cork Yacht Club through three centuries of troubled times returns continually to one essential certainty - a love of sailing and the sea.' Photo: David Branigan/Oceansport

David Branigan

'The longevity of the Royal Cork Yacht Club through three centuries of troubled times returns continually to one essential certainty - a love of sailing and the sea.' Photo: David Branigan/Oceansport

Surviving and thriving for 300 years is an impressive record in anyone's book - a nautical reality they're celebrating later this month at the Royal Cork Yacht Club. Known locally by the acronym RCYC, the club commemorates its tercentenary as the oldest yacht club in the world - offering a lens to the social and political upheavals of Ireland itself over three centuries.

Founded originally as the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork, its maritime majesty got top masthead billing by the Cork Hibernian Chronicle: "Yachts and boats, each vying with each other in gaiety of dress and cheerfulness of appearance, blazed upon the water. Flowing colours, snow-white sails and gilded poops, all conspired to imagine the famed Queen of Egypt sailing down the silver Cydnus."

Not your 'rub-a-dub-dub' kind of stuff, obviously. If the origins of the RCYC were inevitably linked to a colonial and military past, it retained a distinct Irish ancestry running throughout a membership of landowners, merchants and military. People like the O'Briens and Inchiquins, descendants of Brian Boru and Irish through and through, but who changed religion according to the political needs of the time.