Young people in Cork will be given greater opportunities to experience life at sea, thanks to new Government funding, said Foreign Affairs Minister and Cork South Central TD Simon Coveney.

“Funding of €85,000 has been announced for Sail Training Ireland (STIRL), a charity that funds the development and education of young people by providing them with access to training programmes on board tall ships and other vessels.

“The idea is to provide places to deserving trainees, particularly young people who are disadvantaged, people with disabilities and those who may not have had the opportunity to avail of such an experience due to their circumstances. The programme teaches several key skills such as self-confidence, leadership, team building, resilience, motivation and an understanding of diversity.

“Overall, there were 341 trainees across the island of Ireland last year, 28 of which were in Cork.

With this new State investment I am hopeful that yet more young people in Cork will benefit from sail training this year. Organisations that refer young people for these programmes include the HSE, Garda Diversion Projects, Tulsa, the Irish Wheelchair Association and the Irish Refugee Council.”

“This financial support by the Government will ensure that many other young people in Cork learn what it is like to go out at sea and all of the benefits that experience brings.

“Many of the young people selected for these programmes have experienced significant difficulties and hardships in their lives.

“Some are from disadvantaged backgrounds; others have learned to live with a disability.

“As a Government, we have a responsibility to look after everyone in society and ensure that opportunities such as these are afforded to as many young people as possible. This funding for sail training plays a part in achieving that goal.”


  • Sail Training Ireland is a registered charity (CHY 20067) based in Dublin and was established in 2011 by three people previously involved with the Asgard II
  • The objective of Sail training is youth development rather than just teaching people to sail. This is an important distinction.
  • In 2018, Sail Training Ireland placed 341 young people on sail training vessels, over 90% of whom were from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Sail Training Ireland does not own or operate a vessel. Instead it charters vessels as required.
  • This is a different model to the state’s previous sail training vessel – the Asgard which sank off the coast of France in 2008.
  • Trainees are selected by nominating organisations, examples of which are the HSE, Garda Diversion Projects, Tulsa, Irish Wheelchair Association and the Irish Refugee Council to name a few.
  • A total of 37 nominating organisations provided trainees for placement in 2018.
  • Skills such as communication, leadership, confidence and teamwork are all developed when on board a sail training vessel.
  • Sail Training Ireland also facilitates young people with a disability to avail of the sail training experience. Indeed in 2018, over 25% of those placed on voyages were young people with a disability.
  • In terms of gender balance, of the 341 trainees in 2018, 185 were male with 156 female. Trainees have also come from over 25 counties in Ireland which includes 5 in Northern Ireland.
  • The level of funding being provided by central Government in 2019 and 2020 has the potential to deliver an additional 50 places for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in each of those years.