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.
- Upto 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