Climate change pushes ‘pirates’ onto land

Iúr Cinn Fleadh has lost the use of Newry’s tall ship Leader – after the north’s driest July in more than 20 years followed by an unusually dry August.

The lack of rain means the Newry Canal doesn’t have enough water to carry the 1892-built heritage tall ship. As a result, some Fleadh activities have had to be moved to other venues around the city – but this does not affect the Trad Cruise sailings, as the Brienne needs less depth of water.


Events affected include Friday’s The Pirates of the Carnbane arts and crafts workshop, run by Sticky Fingers, which will now be held at The Imaginarium Arts & Story Centre in Upper Edward Street. Sticky Fingers’ Captain’s Crafty Table on Monday is going to be at The Quays Shopping Centre.

Saturday’s Irish structured conversation event Faoi Lán Seoil – Under Full Sail – is being moved to Gaeláras Mhic Ardghail on Chapel Street. Cú Chulainn and Cairde’s rap concert later that same day will happen at a location nearby.

Newry Canal is not alone in being impacted by the dry weather. Waterways are shrinking across Europe.


The 130-year-old Leader arrived at Newry’s stunning Albert Basin in April, where it is now home to a maritime community heritage project. The Brixham trawler was formerly a survivor of the fleets of sailing fishing boats that once fished in the Irish Sea. It’s the first Newry-owned tall ship in more than 100 years.

Northern Ireland Sailing Charity, Silvery Light Sailing, received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £244,975 for the acquisition of the tall ship to host community sailing programmes and further expand their traditional boat-building skills workshops.

Clive Price