Devoted as this site is to the memory of Her late Majesty Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, we are always gratified to find evidence of Loyalty to Crown and Empire. Along the Shannon, we are never surprised to find such evidence around Lough Derg (at least in North Tipperary), but we had not realised how well-affected the good people of Lough Ree were towards Royalty, even after the foundation of the Irish Free State and its succession by the state of Ireland.
On 28 October 1947 the Lough Ree Yacht Club wrote to Her Majesty’s Under Secretary of State at the Home Office in London SW1:
I have been looking over some old papers belonging to this Club.
There was some discussion among members about trying to get it raised to the status of “Royal”.
I should be greatly obliged if you would let me know what would have to be undertaken and what cost would be involved. Also would a club in this country be eligible.
This Club which was founded prior to 1836 is the second oldest in Ireland.
A Home Office Minute of 6 November 1947 said:
The whole of Lough Ree is in Eire and it would seem desirable in the first place to refer the letter to the Commonwealth Relations Office on the question of procedure.
In this country freshwater Yacht Clubs are not now granted the title Royal.
Send a copy semi-officially to the Commonwealth Relations Office for observations regarding procedure.
That was done on 13 November 1947. The covering letter said (amongst other things):
There has been no grant of the Royal Title to a fresh water sailing club in England since 1887 when the practice relating to the grant of the Title Royal was not stabilised.
I wonder whether you could let us have particulars about this club; its membership, reputation, and the number of yachts it owns with their tonnage. We should also welcome any suggestions relating to procedure on the assumption that the application will be pursued.
The Commonwealth Relations Office replied to the Home Office on 6 December 1947 with these (amongst other) paragraphs:
I enclose a copy of a note, prepared in July last year, on the general principles covering the grant of the title “Royal” in the various Commonwealth countries.
You will no doubt appreciate that in the case of Eire, difficulty would arise in the application of these principles. It would appear, however, from paragraph III of the enclosed note that consideration would only be given to applications from institutions similar to the Club in question if exceptional circumstances exist.
We feel that in this particular case no indication should be given in any reply which you may make to the Club of the likelihood or otherwise of any application meeting with success, and that they should only be informed that, being in Eire, the matter should be raised through the appropriate authorities in Eire.
On 17 December 1947 the Home Office wrote to the Club saying:
With reference to your letter of the 28th October last regarding the procedure and the cost involved in making an application for the grant of the title Royal to the Lough Ree Yacht Club, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that as the Club is in Eire, the matter should be raised through the appropriate authorities in Eire.
Ireland at the time had a Fianna Fáil government, led by
George de Valero Éamon de Valera, who was not known for being well-affected towards Crown and Empire.
On 29 April 1948 the Club responded to the Home Office:
Referring to your letter of 17th December 1947.
We have been in communication with the Irish Government + I enclose their reply, from which I understand that they will not interfere either for or against. I sent their letter to the UK Representative + enclose his letter also.
As the Irish Government has not refused permission for the Club to be raised to the status of Royal would His Majesty therefore be gracious enough to confer on the Club the Title of Royal.
On 10 May 1948 the Home Office replied:
With reference to your letter of the 29th April as to the application for the grant of the title Royal to the Lough Ree Yacht Club, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that as the Club is situated in Eire, the Secretary of State for the Home Department has no jurisdiction in the matter, and can add nothing to the letter addressed to you on the 21st April, by the United Kingdom representative to Eire.
The enclosures to your letter are returned herewith.
The return of the enclosures has deprived us of the opportunity to see exactly what the Irish government and the UK representative said to the Club.
By then, the Irish general election of 4 February 1948 had returned the First Inter-Party government, led by John A Costello and with Seán MacBride, leader of Clann na Poblachta, as Minister for External Affairs. The Republic of Ireland Act was signed into law on 21 December 1948, depriving the King of Ireland of his last functions in the former Free State — and depriving the Lough Ree Yacht Club of its last chance to acquire the Title Royal.
It would be interesting to know what Seán MacBride, who had been boating on Lough Ree since the 1930s, thought of the Club’s application.
The story is not included in the brief history on the Club’s website or in the more extensive history included in the booklet produced for the LRYC/Waterways Ireland Classic Boats Regatta in 2007, but I have not seen Lough Ree Yacht Club: a memoir, published in 1970.