The harbour at Courtown had little activity at the beginning of the second half of the 20th century. Transport of goods at sea, to and from Courtown, had ended and the harbour became increasingly clogged up by sediment. This, and the perennial growth of sand deposits at the harbour mouth, minimised the entry of ships. Before 1981, only a small number of local fishing boats and a few small sailing boats were in the harbour. However, there was an increasing wish to improve the harbour and to develop more activities in it.
In 1981, the Courtown Harbour Development and Boating Association was founded. One of its first activities, in collaboration with Wexford County Council, was the dredging of the harbour with the intention of deepening it. At the same time, heavy chains for better moorings were put in. As a result the number of boats and the size of the boats moored in the harbour increased.
In the summer of 1983 the Development and Boating Association sponsored a week of varied events. One of these was a sailing race. It was initiated by Mick Wafer, the Chairman of the Association, who asked for assistance from two of those with sailing boats in the harbour - Brendan Hensey and David O'Hagan. The details of the race was left in their hands. These were simple - handicaps were based on the smaller boats starting first and the others following after five minutes. Two home made marker buoys were placed - one about half-a-mile out from the harbour and the other off the beach at Ardamine. Mick Wafer started the race.
Twelve small craft participated in the race and the skippers were: Tony Bushnell, Travers Cole, Jack Conroy, Brendan Hensey, Jim O'Connor, David O'Hagan, Fred Olhausen, Harry Quigley, Jim Reynolds, Paddy Ryan, Noel Schorman and Tony Sutton.
This race was held on Saturday, 9th July 1983. It was designed as a "Once Off" event but the participants were so taken by it that they asked for more. Similar races then took place each Saturday until the end of August. The weather was good and the racing was relished by all, except perhaps the final Saturday when a cruise to Cahore was substituted for the usual race. The cruise was aborted midway because of a spectacular thunderstorm accompanied by a deluge.
There was a general consensus among those who had raced that there should be a repeat the following year and maybe a permanent organisation to arrange sailing should be set up. That August a meeting was held in the Bayview Hotel which was attended by seventeen of those who had participated in the races. A committee was then elected to prepare a constitution for a Sailing Club. The members of this committee were: Brendan Hensey (Chairman), Tony Sutton (Secretary), David O'Hagan, Harry Quigley, Jim Reynolds and Noel Schorman.
The committee's work was completed in early October and a meeting was called for Sunday, 30th October 1983 in the Bayview Hotel for all those who had raced during the recent months or who had moorings in the harbour in 1983. At that meeting a resolution was passed to set up a Club with the name Courtown Sailing Club. The rules were examined and adopted and the officers and other committee members were elected. Courtown Sailing Club was born that day and the first committee members were: Brendan Hensey (Commodore), Tony Sutton (Hon. Secretary), David O'Hagan (Hon. Treasurer), Travers Cole, Jim O'Connor, Harry Quigley and Noel Schorman.
During the winter and spring months, the committee fleshed out the decisions taken at the October meeting, to be ready for the Sailing Club's first official season in 1984. The cruiser races were arranged for Saturdays from June to August. Dinghy racing was also envisaged. Membership fees were fixed at £15 family membership, £10 single membership and £5 junior membership. These decisions were endorsed at an Extraordinary Meeting held on 22nd April 1984 in the Bayview Hotel.
Today, the total number of boats in the harbour is approx. 40 while our membership has increased from 25 members to approx. 230 members! The cruiser season has been extended from the end of April to the end of September with racing every Saturday and also on Thursday nights from May to August.
Difficulties with the harbour continue with regular dredging a necessity. We fight a constant battle to keep the mouth of the harbour open due to the sand bar, the cost of which is equally shared between ourselves and the local fishermen, with whom we have a very good working relationship.
Due to the massive increase in housing in Courtown, the harbour has more than ever become a most important recreational feature in this growing community.
Courtown is in a strategic position in relation to visiting cruisers from the UK and at times has received some French boats. Even though we are only a very small harbour, we have never found it necessary to turn away visiting boats, unless we had problems at the mouth of the harbour.
Boat ParkIn 1999 we leased a plot of land on the south beach from Wexford County Council to enable us to build a boat park. We saw this as a necessary feature for any future development of our club activities. In 2011 we managed to secure a ten year lease on the property which had previously been renewed on a yearly basis.
We cleared the area of rubble and scrub and levelled it; hard core was applied and finished off with very fine stone chipping. On the perimeter of the site we erected an 8ft security fence embedded in concrete plinths, with gates leading to the beach and sea for our dinghies, and also gates to the north of the site to allow our cruisers in for winter storage.
The total cost of this entire project was £15,000 and W.O.R.D. was so impressed with the development that they gave us a grant totalling 50% of our total outlay.
Dinghy racing has grown very popular since the club formed and the season runs from May to September. The "serious" racing takes place on Sunday mornings, Fun Sailing on Wednesday evenings and adults sailing on Friday evenings. Due to the interest in dinghies the club introduced training for its younger members. This has proven to be extremely popular but unfotunately due to our limited facilities we are unable to cater for everyone. This training needs a tremendous input from a number of our members and runs over 8 weeks.