THE Pat Lawless Sail and Oar Festival took place in the city last weekend, with the sailor’s boat taking to the river for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The first festival held in memory of the Limerick man who made headlines in 1996 when he completed a solo circumnavigation of the world at the age of 70 was hailed as a “resounding success” by organisers.
Sailing vessels of various descriptions took part in the event, the high point of which was a flotilla, led by Lawless’ - who passed away in 2010 - own The Loon, the Seadog style boat that he sailed around the world and also including members of the Foynes Yacht Club.
It was the first time the 30-foot vessel had been sailed into the heart of Limerick skippered by the sailor’s son Pat Jnr.
“I would like to thank all the people that made the festival the great day it was,” he said.
“The Foynes Yacht Club boats looked brilliant, sailing between the bridges, with the two Sea Scouts, Gaff rigged boats, that made a great effort sailing down from Lough Derg, where my father sailed with his children and friends and they sailed back up after the festival.
“They looked fantastic and sailed well,” he added.
The festival broke up action into sail and oar events on either side of the Shannon Bridge.
Rowing races and gandelow races took place, while there were also 16 kayaks on the river and the Limerick Masters Swimming Club also took part, with up to 40 swimmers racing in the Shannon.
“The Lawless Family, loved and were proud of my father, but it was brilliant for my mother, and all of us that the day was so well supported, by so many lovely people,” said Pat.
The festival was organised and funded by the Mid West Regional Authority through its participation in a European programme to develop and promote the waters ports sector in region and was the brainchild of adopted Limerick man Kieran Ryan, from Tipperary.