Islay’s Festival of the Sea

The 2013 diaries are filling up fast with events for 2013 and the following message has just arrived from Islay:-

Dear St Ayles communities in and around Argyll,

I am emailing to invite all of you to Islay for a St Ayles regatta during our annual Festival of the Sea which will be taking place on the 2ndand 3rd of August 2013. The event aims to celebrate the rich seafaring heritage of Islay and showcase the seafood, talent and sportsmanship the island has to offer. It is a fairly new Festival (this will be the third year) but coastal rowing has been an important part of the event from the very beginning as the first Festival of the Sea accompanied the Colmcille Rowing challenge between Moville, Co. Donegal and Islay (This is bi-annual and will be taking place on the same weekend). It is an important aim of the Festival to re-establish historical links the island had with Ireland but we are also keen to forge new connections with other communities close by.

The Islay Rowing Club originally started with two fibreglass skiffs based on a traditional design of a skiff from Moville and these are still used for many of our regular races in the summer. However, more recently Jack Glover introduced the St Ayles movement to Islay and the club now have two beautiful St Ayles skiffs based in Portnahaven. In addition, the Festival last year invited renowned Irish boatbuilder Donal MacPolan over to build a Currach during the festival using local hazel and some synthetic seal skin so that has been a proud new addition  as well.

Coastal rowing is really taking off on the island and we are keen to make the rowing activities a focal point of the events schedule for the Festival this year and we’d be thrilled if you could join us for it. Bringing boats over would be optional but obviously the more the merrier. We have invited Galgael Trust over to run events and they are happy to bring their St Ayles skiff over with them so we will have three to start with. We can’t offer accommodation as such unless you were booked in quite early but there is plenty of space to camp, shower and laundry near the pontoons and we can see about making arrangements for transport to the youth hostel.

There will also be plenty of other entertainment with ceilidhs on Friday and Saturday night, a food fair, sailing, Coasteering, kayaking, tug o’war, talks and exhibits, crabbing, beach golf and a range of others (we are just trying to confirm the programme at present).

To follow on from the Currach build last year the Coracle society are joining us and will offer the opportunity to build your own Coracle over the weekend. We’d have to fit in the timing but it could be a good opportunity for each of the teams involved to build one for their club and they could be raced at the regatta too if people were willing.

Please let me know if you think this is something your teams would be interested and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more information.

We have a basic website at and there are lots of pics of last years event on our facebook page

2 thoughts on “Islay’s Festival of the Sea

  • March 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Great that there is an Argyll/ Islay circuit getting going. I hope the Argyll groups are all able to go. Sounds like it will be a ball. You going to have a skiff on the water when I am up at Seil for the Easter Holidays?

  • March 5, 2013 at 7:33 am

    We’ll try! You could be here for the launching – can you PM me your dates?

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