Last autumn this publisher was lucky enough to receive a significant investment from Dun Aengus Invest Ltd, a vehicle of Irish entrepreneur Enda O'Coineen. This very welcome vote of confidence was swiftly followed by further positive news. The Restaurants Association of Ireland appointed us their Official Publication; a very busy & productive period ensued.
For those of our readers not certain if they’ve heard of O'Coineen, the following may nevertheless ring a bell. As the first Irishman to participate in the celebrated Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race, he made headlines in January of 2017 when he lost his mast in a storm 200 miles off the coast of New Zealand.
He made it to land. However his race ended there.
The French Souffle du Nord team (themselves an equally mad/inspirational bunch) suffered the same fate in the same storm. Ever the Irishman, O’Coineen swiftly befriended them. It was not long before a deal had been struck that would see their boat repaired, with O’Coineen committing to sail the Le Souffle du Nord Kilcullen Team Ireland boat home.
This he duly embarked on, setting sail from New Zealand in late January of this year. For those interested, O’Coineen has kept up an extremely engaging blog and his progress can be tracked at www.teamireland.ie.
So why is this relevant? Well, it looks like O’Coineen may just make it home. Having battled Cape Horn (think 98ft waves and the risk of ice) along with vicious seasickness (what a waste of precious food); nearly coming a cropper on offshore oil rigs off Argentina, but keeping his cool to take a call from President Higgins; surviving a sustained assault by flying fish and the repeated fouling of rudder, keel and hydro by floating seaweed in the doldrums… he may now very well make it home, as planned, in time for Easter… if the freeze-dried food hasn’t run out.
If you think you might enjoy watching the final leg, check out the ‘Tracker’ on www.teamireland.ie.
In fact, in all likelihood, O’Coineen may make it back to Les Sables d’Olonne on Easter Sunday itself.
So, why is he doing this?
For the thrill? The challenge? Maybe in part. But on closer inspection it becomes clear that this self-taught sailor has a much wider ambition.
O’Coineen was lucky enough to sail on Asgard I. Having been ‘a difficult child’ (his words, not mine), I think it is fair to say that O’Coineen found the experience transformative.
But since Asgard II was lost (as well as her NI counterpart), no child from the island of Ireland has been able to benefit from sailing with an indigenous youth development maritime organisation.
Today O’Coineen is spearheading an attempt to change that for future generations. The Atlantic Youth Trust (www.atlanticyouthtrust.org) has a Vision to be the best youth development maritime organisation in the world.
Suddenly everything becomes clear. In part O’Coineen may be doing this to see if he can actually make it. But one suspects that his true ambition is to raise the profile of the Atlantic Youth Trust. To the point where today’s children get the opportunities that he did.
With O’Coineen’s strong background in hospitality, we’d be delighted to hear from any/all Food for Thought readers interested in further information about the Atlantic Youth Trust and the opportunities available for those eager to ‘get onboard!’
Postscript: As the writer finishes this piece he gets a call from the man himself; all is well & O’Coineen does indeed hope to come in on the tide on Easter Sunday morning. Giving him a synopsis of this piece there’s suddenly a, ‘Stop! I have to go…“. Hope to see you Sunday Enda.