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History of Bellacragher Boat Club

On completion of the training, five 14ft boats sailed 6 miles to Innisbiggle for the Island Festival. The sailing week has continued to the present and grown significantly. Last year approx 100 people took part and there was a fleet of 22 boats. The Club has had considerable success in obtaining training funding for commercial and leisure marine courses with Leader and MFG providing the funds. A grant from Shell in October 2007 allowed us to increase our sailing fleet and get instructor training for powerboats and diesel engine maintenance. Further grants from Shell, the Bellacorick fund and the mayo sports partnership in 2010 allowed us to improve our sailing fleet (bought two laser Picos) and strengthen our safety boats (new 14ft dory and 6m rib). In June 2011, more special needs training was supported by the Mayo Sports Partnership and MFG granted €30, 600 towards the purchase of four new Hobie Cat Tatoos.

In August 2008, the club was offered affiliation with The Irish Sailing Association, The ISA is responsible for most marine training in the country, their courses and certificates are recognized and approved by the Irish Government. Membership of The ISA was a major stepping-stone in the advancement of the club.

Sailing starts in April of each year and the Club have regular Sailing sessions. They are scheduled to suits tides so could be on a weekday evening or weekend. Boats used are 420’s 470’s, lasers, toppers and five Hobie cats with a fully equipped and qualified safety team supervising the sailing. Anyone that wishes to have a go is very welcome to come along, even if you just want to have a look. There is always a few on the shore, getting boats ready, repairing them or looking after the BBQ. The Sailing will follow the ISA syllabus and arrangements have been made for an ISA Examiner to visit the Summer Sailing camp to assess Sailors and test them for the various sailing levels.

The Sailing branch of the club is also home to the Sea Scouts of the 22nd Mayo Troup and have had some sailing with the Belmullet Sea Scouts. The club provides the scouts with all the waterborne experience they need. In addition to the dinghy Sailing, short cruises to Clare Island, Inish Turk and Inish Boffin take place during the summer where possible. The boats used are sailing cruisers and powerboats/sports cruisers. There are usually crew places available.

People are very welcome to join or visit one of the sessions. You may observe Navigation, ropework, capsize/survival techniques or first aid and find that it appeals to you!

Catherine Mack travel writer sails the bay

This is an article written by Travel Writer Catherine Mack about the Greenway and the Adventures that are to be found along with it. Catherine came for a sail late last October on a wet and windy day! This was her account of the trip. What will you think of yours?

“One of the most exciting expeditions of this stay was going on a catamaran trip out into Béal a’ Creachaire (Bay of the Plunderer), an 18kms long sea inlet running from Mulranny in the south to Innisbiggle in the North. We were in the safe hands of Seamus Butler, founder of the Bellacragher Bay Boat Club and a catamaran enthusiast who knows every bit of pirate and smuggling history of this Mayo hideaway, and who taught us to do that hanging over the edge thing while the vessel sped down the inlet on one side, giving us one final immersion in Mayo. Seamus’ exuberance and expertise for his Mayo home-land are not only infectious, as witnessed by the screams of joy which echoed around the surrounding mountains but is also truly representative of what this Community is about. Love, life and laughter.” Extract from the Green Parent Magazine April/May 2013 issue.

Read more about Catherine’s travel at or follow her on facebook (Ethical Traveller) or on Twitter @catherinemack.Catherine is a well know travel writer and the second one to travel Bellacragher Bay since William Maxwell in 1816. (You can read Maxwell’s account of his sail on the Bay in the history/stories section.)


Seamus Butler

Seamus Butler lives in Claggan, Ballycroy and has been sailing most of his life.

He is an experienced dinghy sailor, Yachtmaster, Sea Scout leader, and an Advanced Powerboat Instructor.

(First Aider)

Brian Masterson

Brian Masterson is from Owenduff, Tonragee and lives in Dublin. It was Brian’s idea to set up the club, there was a lot of sailing going on in 2003 and Brian felt it would be an idea to gather like-minded people together and have a sailing camp.

We did this in 2003 and we have gone with the flow since then. Brian takes time to look at our long term goals and how we may best appeal to minority groups within our society e.g. people with special needs.

(First Aider)

Francis Tully

Francis Tully, Claggan, Ballycroy. He owns and sails one of the GP 14’s (rarely, but he may improve this year).

Francis is the video and Computer whizzkid that makes the DVD’s and set up this website.

(First Aider)

Hugh Louge

Hugh Louge, from Cloughmore, Achill is an experienced dinghy and Yacht sailor with extensive offshore milage.

Hugh has also many years of experience teaching sailing and as a Sea Scout Leader. Hugh is the organizer behind the camping trips and the new system of sailing planned for 2010.

(First Aider)