It is with great sadness we recently heard of the death of past member Joe Kilkenny following an illness. Joe was a former IDRA 14 sailor who owned and competed in IDRA14/63 “Skol” from 1959 to 1976.

Ian Sargent – memories of Joe

Joe was a stalwart of Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club in the 1950’s and 1960’s before moving to Sutton Dinghy Club and Howth Yacht Club. His original sailing career had begun in Sutton Creek where he sailed in Kilbarrack Sailing Club in a Snipe Class boat called “Skol”. He was invincible in that boat, as she was of plywood construction and the rest were built of solid planks.

Joe Kilkenny rigging IDRA14 in SuttonHe was a very active sailor in the IDRA Class from 1952 when he purchased 14/63 “Mungo” from legendary Cork sailor Conor Doyle. She arrived from Cork on the back of a truck. Joe renamed her “Skol” and sailed her up to the mid 1970’s. He had very fixed ideas of how to paint his boat. When he had painted & varnished the hull he would then give it a light sanding and coated the lot with a final coat of varnish. Thereafter he never painted the bottom – just touched up scratches and re-varnished!!

Joe was an architect and worked with TG Cullen & Co. In the late sixties the CY&BC Committee were considering modernizing the interior design of the Club. At that stage the current snooker room was the location of the Club bar. During one of the regular drinking sessions Joe got hold a cigarette packet and sketched out a new design for the premises. Whilst copious amounts of drink had been consumed those present agreed that his design was a good idea. He later drew out more appropriate drawings and these were accepted and the Bar/ Lounge layout as we now know it was opened in 1968. On moving to Greys Lane in Howth, Joe sailed his IDRA 14 in Sutton Dinghy Club for a number of years before becoming a prominent cruising sailor in Howth Yacht Club and was also a reserve skipper of the Irish Sail training ship “Asgard”. Joe was also an assessor for yacht master examinations.

He married Antoinette Lawlor in later life. Her dad Colonel Lawlor had been a prominent member of CY&BC in the pre-war years, and was the Commander of the Maritime Inscription (Irish Naval Reserve) when it was set up in the wartime “Emergency”. Many of the members of CY&BC were amongst the first intake of volunteers. The Maritime Inscription was later renamed the “Slua Muiri”.

Joe had been in ill health for some years, but always took a keen interest in the IDRA 14 Class and in particular the building of the new 14/166 in Clontarf . He attended the IDRA Class 70th anniversary celebrations last September where we made a presentation to him.

Irish Sailing will be at a loss with his passing.

Dermot Bremner – memories of Joe

I first met Joe sometime in the early 60’s. He was one of my Uncle John’s best friends and his girlfriend (much later his wife) Antoinette was close to my aunt Barbara. Joe and I became friendly, so when I moved to Ireland in the early 1970’s I often called into the offices of his architectural practice in Suffolk Street. I was reorganizing the Bus Services in Galway and he was building the new hospital. The stories of what John and Joe got up to in the 60’s were legend, one family story is the plugging in of the iron instead of the kettle and keeping the resultant burn mark hidden from my Grandmother, another involved eating a Christmas cake which according to my aunt was for show only!

When I got involved in the IDRA 14’s, he was the class measurer. We got him to do a simplified set of drawings with the basic measurements, this became the bible, three pages of A4 and you had it all. He produced another sheet of paper this time about the same as a chart it covered the Irish Sea or the bit we raced on in ISORA and on this sheet was all the necessary tidal info you needed and directions in co signs, before computer navigation this was the nearest thing to a computerized course setter. Joe told me of one night he saw some guys in Howth Yacht Club (the old one) pouring over this chart and as he approached they quickly rolled it up, he was amused, but pleased that people considered important enough to steal and hide! On the night he passed away, I opened up a chest I had not seen for 25 years among various charts in a yellow fertilizer bag was my copy of Joe’s chart!! Strange.

Joe was one of my examiners for my yacht Master and he failed me on Morse!! The other examiners chided him for it, but he stood firm “if he doesn’t get up to speed he doesn’t pass”. At the same time he and I went down to Baltimore to measure the new wooden built 14’s by ANCO Bord Iascaigh Mhara. (BIM 3 & 4 the third didn’t measure). We went down on the 07:20 from Heuston (first class) and then on Joe’s 250cc Bantam motor bike continued down to Baltimore. Measured, had lunch and were on the 17:30 back up that evening. There is a house about 20 minutes outside Heuston on the west side, I pointed it out and said I always liked it. He said ‘Yes, its one of my favourites as well’. It was the second house he had designed! He took that bike to Iceland and rode all over the island in the late 70’s.

Oddly enough Joe and I never sailed together: we built boats together, measured them, talked about them and drank about them, but never actually sailed together. He spent years on Asgard and did training on Royalist for Asgard II, he never boasted about his achievements just quietly went and achieved. He was an accomplished offshore navigator as well as a fine innovative architect. Joe was one of two of John’s friends I learnt important lessons of sailing and life from, Bill Pigot was the other. Sadly all three have passed on now, but I am sure they are all together now having a ghost of a time at the pearly bar.