The Royal Cork Yacht Club is closely associated with the origins of the word Yacht.
The word yacht is often used to denote any recreational or luxurious boat, regardless of whether it has sails or not. The word “Yacht” comes from the old dutch “jaeght”, meaning to hunt or chase.
The Dutch word today is jacht which has been incorporated into other European languages including French and German jacht and Russian jakhta. This class of sailing boats became popular with the nobility of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century.
In 1660 King Charles II of England, who had spent many years in exile in Holland, regained his throne. While in Holland he had become a keen sailor.
The Dutch East India company presented him with the first royal yacht, Mary, which the King raced against similar boats purchased by relatives and courtiers on the Thames.
One of these courtiers was a certain Murrough O’Brien from Ireland, the 6th Lord Inchiquin (Murrough of the Burnings)
After O’Brien returend to Ireland and his native Cork, private sailing started to become popular – quite possibly because of his direct encouragement.
In any case, by 1720, interest in the sport had progressed so much that his great-grandson, the 26 year old William O’Brien, the 9th Lord Inchiquin, and five of his friends got together to formalise their activities and in so doing established “The Water Club of the Harbour of Cork”.
This club is known today as the Royal Cork Yacht Club and is the oldest yacht club in the world.