Sail Training Ireland is the National Sail Training Organisation and a Charity with youth development at its core.

We have recently published our annual report for 2015.

Our Vision: To Change Lives by Creating Access to Sail Training Voyages for Young People from all Backgrounds and Abilities on the Island of Ireland.

  • To promote the development and education of young people through the Sail Training experience.
  • To make Sail Training widely available to people of all backgrounds and abilities, with an emphasis on 15 – 30 year old’s from the island of Ireland.
  • To support Sail Training vessels registered in Ireland by recruiting and funding trainees.
  • In the absence of Irish vessels, to seek international vessels of good standing to cater for trainees from Ireland.
  • To develop a community of Sail Training participants and supporters.
  • For our programmes to act as a stepping stone into employment, particularly in the maritime industry.
  • To preserve and protect the maritime heritage of Ireland.

Our Ethos: Our emphasis is on character development through the medium of the sea and sailing.

We Believe:
  • Sail Training is a unique and effective platform for youth development.
  • Overcoming the challenges of life at sea enhances young people’s belief in their own potential.
  • The development of respect, understanding, work ethic and co-operation in young people as a result of Sail Training provides tangible benefits to communities and society.

  • Organisation:
    Former members of the Board of Cóiste an Asgard formed Sail Training Ireland (Sail Training Ireland for Youth Development Ltd) in 2011, with support from the Irish Sailing Association. Their goal was to keep the spirit of Sail Training alive in Ireland in the absence of a national organisation or vessel, following the sinking of Asgard II. Our founding Chairperson, Kalanne O’Leary, is Ireland’s representative on the 29-member International Sail Training Council. This internationally recognised and respected organisation has endorsed the foundation of our charity, Sail Training Ireland. Kalanne is now also a member of the board of Trustees of Sail Training International. Sean Flood, Ireland’s former representative on the International Council remains actively involved as International Ambassador of Goodwill. We are honoured to have as a Director, Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) of the Irish Defence Forces. ISA CEO Harry Hermon also attends our board meetings as an advisor.

    Sail Training Ireland received Charitable Status in 2012. Since our foundation, our work has resulted in facilitating the placement of approximately 400 Irish people, mostly aged 16-30, on sail training voyages. Our core goal is to create opportunities for young Irish men and women to experience a voyage on a sail-training vessel. In the absence of a National Vessel we have been placing trainees on Tall Ships from all over the Europe as well as on Ireland’s only non-naval Sail Training Vessel “The Spirit of Oysterhaven”.

    We achieve this by:
    • Raising bursaries to sponsor trainees on voyages.
    • Raising EU funding to co-ordinate entire voyages, which involves coordinating a ship and recruiting the full crew of trainees from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    • A result of this work is that we are able to attract more ships to visit Ireland. For example in May 2014, seven ships will sail from Belfast Maritime Festival to Dublin Port River Festival, three of which will be filled with 108 trainees sponsored through Sail Training Ireland by EU Commission “Youth in Action” funds. Sail Training Ireland is very much in favour of the establishment of a new national vessel. However, we are also very much in favour of the establishment of a number of smaller, regional vessels, such as our member, The Spirit of Oysterhaven in Cork, a 70 foot Schooner, licensed to carry 12 trainees in Irish Coastal Waters. The Naval Service Vessel “LE Creidne” is also a member. Sail Training International prefers that National Sail Training Organisations would not directly operate vessels, but rather would act as an umbrella or co-ordinating organisation for various Sail Training activities within their country and Sail Training Ireland operates in this manner. We hope to work towards the establishment of not one, but a number of independent Sail Training vessels and programmes in Ireland. We currently support Spirit of Oysterhaven by placing Trainees on board and will similarly support any future vessel members that are established in Ireland, including a National Vessel, if and when it is established. The UK currently has 32 Vessel operators running Sail Training Programmes.

    We are very fortunate in being sponsored by Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company who are very supportive of our work and we are working in partnership with them to establish a regular programme for young people from the City of Dublin. Arklow Shipping was also a very generous contributor to the organisation at its founding in 2011. It is important to note that without the support of Arklow Shipping, Dublin City Council and Dublin Port Company, Sail Training Ireland would not have been able to continue our work in placing trainees on tall ships.

    History of Sail Training in Ireland

    The gaff rigged Ketch “Asgard” was designed and built by Colin Archer of Larvik in 1905 and was the wedding present of Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton Osgood of Boston U.S.A., to their daughter Mary on her marriage to Erskine Childers, father of the late President Childers. The name “Asgard” is an old Norse word meaning “Home of the Gods”.

    In July, 1914 “Asgard” with Erskine and Mary Childers and four others on board, sailed to the North Sea to collect a cargo of guns which had been bought in Hamburg for the Irish Volunteers. After a difficult voyage the cargo was landed at Howth on 26 July 1914. “Asgard” was sold by Mrs. Childers in 1926 and passed through several hands before being purchased by the Irish Government in 1961 because of her historical associations.

    In 1968 the Government formed the committee known as Coiste an Asgard and placed “Asgard” under their guidance and control to be used as a sail training vessel for the young people of Ireland. Sail training cruises were carried out on “Asgard” each year from 1969 to 1974. “Asgard” was transferred to Kilmainham Jail Historical Museum in 1979 for exhibition to the public. It is now set to be exhibited after complete refit at a permanent exhibition in the National Museum.


    The lovely brigantine, which was designed specially for sail training purposes by the late Jack Tyrrell was built in Arklow, Co. Wicklow and commissioned there on 7th March, 1981. After many years of service she unforuunately sank 20 miles off the coast of France in the Bay of Biscay on the 11 September 2008.

    The ship was lost at 8.25am local time (7.25am Irish time) 20 nautical miles from the French coast, southwest of Belle-Île-en-Mer. Asgard II had earlier been abandoned after taking on water.

    Within 20 minutes from the initial alarm, they had moved the life-rafts away from the Asgard II, which had water up to its deck at that stage. The crew and trainees were rescued by a French coastguard vessel. They were taken to a hotel on the nearby island of Belle-Île-en-Mer. All were safe and sound.

    Sail Training Ireland

    There remains fond affections in Ireland towards the vessel and the many memories created on her voyages. It is upon this spirit of adventure that “Sail Training Ireland” was formed after the disbandment of Coiste an Asgard due to the loss of the ship and funding streams.

    Sail Training Ireland (“Sail Training Ireland for Youth Development Ltd”) was formed as a not-for profit company in February 2011 by some of the previous board members of Coiste inlcuding the Irish Representative on the Sail Training International Council – Kalanne O’Leary and the STI International Embassador of Goodwill – Sean Flood. Support was offered by Dublin Port and Arklow Shipping and by the Irish Sailing Association (ISA).

    In April 2011 Michael Byrne was hired as part time manager and by October that year, the company was sub-contracted by “Dublin Tall Ships 2012 Limited” to administer Trainee Recruitment for “The Tall Ships Races 2012 – Dublin” festival.

    By June 2012 S.T.IRL. held its first AGM and reported the following main points of development:

    • Approximately 100 trainees will be fully or part funded on voyages during the Tall Ships Races 2012 or the subsequent Irish Sea Regatta through a number of funding streams including: Dublin Tall Ships Funding, STI Bursaries, Oman Bursaries, Youth in Action funding achieved by S.T.IRL. under the EU Commissions Youth Programme and Leargas.
    • Up to 120 trainee places are being made available by the Jubilee Sailing Trust on the Vessel Tenacious on three Irish Sea Voyages in October 2012
    • A new membership structure with three categories: Vessel operators, Associate Organisations and Individuals
    • A strategic plan
    • Vision: To provide access to the Tall Ship Sail Training Experience for Ireland
    • Key Projects:
    • To Secure Operational Funds
    • To grow S.T.IRL. to an effective presence in all counties of Ireland
    • To achieve 1000 placements of trainees per annum by the end of this strategic period