A Short History of Sutton Dinghy Club’s ‘All Ireland Inter-Schools Sailing Event‘ – The first ever “National Inter-Schools Regatta” sailed in Ireland, the brainchild of Riocard O’Tiarnaigh, was sailed at Sutton Dinghy Club on Saturday April 12th 1975. While teaching at Belvedere College Dublin, Riocard devised and organised this competition. Today sailing is included on many school’s sport curricula, but back in 1975 this certainly was not the case.
As an educator and sailor, Riocard, who would later become Commodore of Sutton Dinghy Club and Hon. Secretary of the Irish Sailing Association, was acutely aware of the developmental benefits of maritime activities and sailing in particular for youths, many of whom might not have an opportunity to experience water sports.
With the main organiser a Belvedere teacher, it was no surprise that the College entered a team. Indeed the youthful enthusiasm of a number of Belvedere students and Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club members Conor Nolan, Aidan Keating and Dermot Murray played a big part in encouraging other schools to take part. Belvedere College have been ever present since that first event in 1975.
It was a wonderfully unique occasion, with supporters from all the competing schools, out in their colours, cheering on their schools team. Mount Temple Comprehensive School’s team ran out inaugural winners of Sutton Dingy Clubs “National Inter-Schools Regatta”, taking the prize against sailors representing Santa Sabina, Sutton; Catholic University Schools, Dublin; St Fintan’s High School, Sutton; St Paul’s, Raheny; and of course Belvedere College, Great Denmark St.
However, joy turned to tragedy only a week later. One of the borrowed Belvedere boats had suffered some damage and during the following week the three friends Conor, Aidan and Dermot came out to Sutton to assess the damage and returned on the following Saturday to meet Riocard to affect the repairs. They left Sutton mid-afternoon in cheerful, carefree high spirits typical of their age. They were heading into Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club to finish varnishing their GP14’s, for the start of the season’s racing. It was a gloriously sunny spring day as they strolled to Sutton Cross, laughing and chatting, to catch the bus. At 20.30hrs Riocard recived a call from Aidan Keating to tell him that Conor had fallen and tragically died.
Over the years the racing format has changed a number of times with a Mixed Fleet racing on Portmouth Yardstick for both an Individual and Team Trophy and also an Optimist Fleet for younger sailors also with Individual and Team Trophies.
To mark the memory of the events originator, the Riocard O’Tiarnaigh Trophy is presented each year by the O’Tiarnaigh family to the leading Sutton Dinghy Club helm in the event. While many of the local schools in the Fingal area participate, the event has always attracted schools from across the country.
The ‘Conor Nolan Memorial Trophy’ is presented annually to the winning Team by Conor Nolans parents Patsy and Paddy. Sutton Dinghy Club acknowledges the continued support of Conor’s parents and family. It is a most fitting memorial to a very fine young man, whose contribution helped establish one of Sutton Dinghy Club’s and Irish Sailings most coveted and prestigious annual sailing competitions.