The history of Winefreda of Greenisland better known as Winny:


Towards the end of the 19th Centenary: Commissioned as one of two boats by the British Admiralty. Built in Haulboine boatyard Spike Island, Co Cork, Eire.


Construction: 32ft of copper riveted double diagonal teak on Oak. 9.6ft beam. 4.6ft draft. In those days the Admiralty, as king of the services , and defender of Empire, used only best ship writes and best materials even when building small craft. The seasoned teak would probably have been sourced in Burma, the oak in Ireland.


It is surmised that Winy was one of the last sailing boats used to carry munitions from gun powder factory in Cork to service the fleet and the guns on spike Island.


It is also surmised that sometime towards the end of the century she was mothballed when steam became reliable and her function was replace by steam ships.


During the first decade and a half in the 20th century: Sold by the admiralty. Her history becomes uncertain. At one time she was used by an Army officer called James as a pleasure craft. At another time she was owned by sympathisers of the nascent movement of Irish independence. Family history say that prior to the 1916 rebellion she was used to assist the gun-running operation organised by Erskin-Childers and Sir Roger Casement. The story as told says that she was used to spy out the land and make sure the coast was clear to land arms shipments. It is said that she was either owned or chartered for this purpose by Sir Roger.


1917 Horace Villiers-Stuart buys the boat from a family or IRA sympathisers who live in Dungarvan. for £200. He renamed the craft ‘ Winifred’ her after his favourite sister.


1917-1918 Winifred was used by as a costal patrol boat during the remaining months of the First World War.

Michael, Horace’s son, spends his summer holidays in the seaside village of Helvic, and spends all his time in and around fishing boats and fisherman.


1920 Winny becomes a Lobster boat. On the 31st January Winifred is registered as a Fishing boat No. 49 Registered tonnage 11.39. Horace incorporated Winny into a small commercial fishing fleet based in Helvik harbour, Co Waterford. She joins a Brixham trawler and another fishing boat . Whinnies’ hull is tarred black. She supports a gaff rig, a pair of sweeps and is known for her speed and seaworthiness. Michael apprentices himself to Jimmy Grieves, and spends his summer holidays lobster fishing on Winny. He learns his sea craft and consolidates a passion for the sea. The lobsters caught in the creels pulled and emptied during the morning. By the late afternoon they are bought to Dungarvan, put on a train to Rosslare, shipped to Fishgard in Wales loaded on the London Night sleeper. By 6am the next day they are on sale in Billingsgate market.


1924 7.Febuary : Winifred is deregistered as a fishing boat. Winny is refitted as a rough and ready yacht with enlarged coach roof and bunks. Horace uses her for shopping expeditions, taking his family to church and taking refuge from the stresses and strains of land life.


1929: The English Irish economic war and mutual embargo on each other goods destroyed the fishing trade. Horace’s fishing fleet was disbanded or destroyed.


1933 Winny moves to Chanel: Horace, in order to maintain trade in nicotine, his other business venture, moves with his wife to the Jersey. They keep Winny near their house in St Hellier bay Jersey. Winny day sails local waters.


1936: Winny moves to Belfast Lough. Horace and Mary settle in Whithouse near Belfast to establish a larger factory to extract nicotine from tobacco. My father sails Winny from Helvic to Belfast. He was in a whisker of loosing his life during this voyage. An incompetent crew member misunderstood and order and when Michael was hoisting the mainsail The boom flew out over the water and flung him into the sea. Winny swept past in the gloom of the evening and a rising wind, he just managed to grab the dingy which was trailing behind the Winny and haul himself back on board.


Winny’s rig was converted from gaff to Bermudan. Winny puts down a new mooring off Whitehouse in Belfast Lough. She explores the costal waters of Antrim and Down.


1948 : Horace makes money out of Nicotine. Winny is redecked and coach roofed in Smiths boat yard on Strangford Lough


1948: Michael, now married to Jane, buys a house on the shores of Belfast Lough. It has a good slip, and a satisfactory anchorage. Winny takes up he new moorings off Greenisland near Carrickfergus.


1950 Horace dies, and Michael inherits Winny.


1952: Michael takes Jane and his two daughters on a sailing holiday. They set off in high winds, and are reported missing by Michael’s worried sister Barbara. Sea rescue search to no effect. Papers announcing the news of the missing family. Winny and crew are in fact safely tucked up in an anchorage in the Clyde Estuary.


In the 50’s various family sailing holidays.


1963: Serious rot is found in Winny’s stern post. It looks as if Winny’s long life is coming to an end. Winny is saved by the chief of police in Dunganon Micky Magill, spies a old trunk submerged oak in one of the lakes of that area. He mobilises some of the police force in the area to extract the oak from the lake and transports it up to Erskine’s ship yard in Whitehouse. It is precisely the right shape for Winny. Michael takes this as a good omen. He is making good money out of the nicotine business. He hence commissions a major refit of the Winny using the excellent shipwright skills of local man, Davey Aitkin. No expenses are spared. Winny is stripped down to bear hull. The stern post and stem are renewed. The deck layout is changed. A centre cockpit with permanent dog house which now sits over the engine, giving a stern after cabin a main saloon and focastle. Her hulls is sheaved in cascover. Ferro bronze bolts attach the keel, and internal ballast is jettisoned in favour of a cast lead keel.


1965: Winny is launched rigged and ready for sea with her new layout.


1966: Summer holiday excursion to the Isle of Mull.


1967: Winny cruses to Bergan Norway. Wallace Clark joins us for the North Sea part of the journey.


1968: Winny set sail on an ambitious voyage to bring my Mother Jane from North Ireland to Palermo Sicily.

Travels via Cornwall, Boudreaux, Canal du Midi Corsica Sicilly Malta. Winters in Malta.


1969: Winny sails to Greek Ionian Islands


1970: Winny sails to Yugoslavia


1971. Winny sails to Turkey and winters in Piraeus Greece


1972-74 Winny sails the Greek islands and the Turkish coasts


1974 : Winny returns to Ireland via Corinth Canal, Sardinia, Balearic Islands, Morocco, Gibraltar Azors, Ireland and the Islands of the West Coast to Carrick Fergus


1976 :Winny sails to Norway and back


1978: Winny takes the Oxford Sports Club to a Cocktail party on Rockall!


1980: Winny sails to Finland to visit the 4 mated baque Pommen (which Michael sailed to Australia and back in 1929) via Caledonian Canal, Norway, Sweden,


1983-1999: Winny is used to sail crews of people with learning disabilities in the waters between Co Antrim and Argyle including the islands of the inner Hebrides.


1999-2005: Winny is used to sail musicians to make music celebrating the Onenss of God the oneness of humanity.,