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Edward Conor Marshall O'Brien
(3 November 1880–18 April 1952) was an intellectual, Irish aristocrat, republican, nationalist, pioneer in modern maritime theory, owner and captain of one of the first boats to sail under the tri-colour of the Irish Free State
The Irish Free State was the state established as a Dominion on 6 December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed by the British government and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand...
, during his circumnavigation in the Saoirse
. Reputedly this was the first small boat to sail around Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...
. This is slightly unfair to Joshua Slocum
Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail single-handedly around the world. He was a Canadian born, naturalised American seaman and adventurer, and a noted writer. In 1900 he told the story of this in Sailing Alone Around the World...
, the Bostonian, who was the first single-handed yachtsman to successfully pass this way (in 1895) although in the end, extreme weather forced him to use some of the inshore routes between the channels and islands and it is believed he may not have actually passed outside the Horn proper. Given the scale of Slocum's achievement it might be considered unfair to deprive him of the honour! Although it was nearly 30 years later, a strict definition of "the first small boat to sail around outside Cape Horn" could indeed cover the 42-foot (13 m) yacht Saoirse, sailed by Conor O'Brien with three hands, who rounded it during a circumnavigation of the world between 1923 and 1925 It was the first boat flying the Irish tri-colour
The national flag of Ireland is a vertical tricolour of green , white, and orange. It is also known as the Irish tricolour. The flag proportion is 1:2...
to enter many of the world's ports and harbours). He was a ship builder/designer (notable boats include the Saoirse and AK Ilen
), gun runner for the IRB during the war of independence in Ireland, captain of a ship sailing in the merchant navy during WWII.