David Mullen asks for permission to come aboard the island that’s home to the Irish naval service.

Even Haulbowline’s name seems to allude to its seafaring heritage, though it doesn’t derive from the phrase to ‘haul on the bowline’, but rather from the Old Norse ál-boling or ‘eel dwelling’.

Located in Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world (after Port Jackson on which Sydney, Australia sits, in case you were wondering), the island has long been of strategic importance.

Following the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 in which Spanish troops had landed elsewhere in County Cork, Lord Mountjoy, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, decided, in 1602, to fortify Haulbowline to defend the harbour from attack. It soon became an important base for the British Army.

In 1720, the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork was established in Haulbowline by local luminaries enthused by the newly-fashionable pursuit of recreational sailing. In 2020, the Royal Cork Yacht Club, as it is now known, celebrated its tri-centenary, making it the oldest yacht club in the world.

Though it later moved to Cobh and Crosshaven, membership in the nineteenth century was in great demand among the great and good, and one individual to be admitted in 1858 was Prince Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own