The Royal Irish Yacht Club was founded in Kingstown, Dun Laoghaire, in 1831, making it the oldest Club in the harbour. As regattas began to be held in 1828, the desire for a club became clear. The Club was inspired by the formidable Lord Anglesey, a commander of cavalry at the battle of Waterloo, and who also went on to be the Club's first Commodore. He spurred the development of the Club by bringing over his beautiful vessel, the Pearl. According to noted yachting correspondent, James Lyle, 'the return of the popular and much-loved Lord Anglesey stirred up the spirit of the yachtsman of the port.' A provisional committee, the first of what was to become a long running succession of exceptional committees within the Club, met soon after, and the RIYC was sanctioned.
The Club's emblem shows a harp with the figure of Nice, the Greek winged goddess of victory, surmounted by a crown. This emblem has remained unchanged since the foundation of the Club; a symbol of continuity and a deep rooted respect for the history and tradition of the Royal Irish Yacht Club.
Many prominent names feature among the past members of the Club. The first Duke of Wellington was elected in 1833, followed by other illustrious men including the eccentric Admiral Sir Charles Napier, Sir Dominic Corrigan the distinguished physician, Sir Thomas Lipton, novelist, George A. Birmingham, yachtsman and author, Conor O'Brien, and famous naval historian and author, Patrick O Brian.
The Club House we use today was designed by John Skipton Mulvany, described by the architectural historian A.R. Richardson as an 'architect of genius'. Few institutions surviving from the 1800's are older than the RIYC, and the Club existed on the periphery of history. The great political, economical and social changes within Ireland during the life of the Club had very little impact on its members. Politics was not discussed in the Club. The Club was, and has remained, a place to meet friends, enjoy cruising and racing, dining in beautiful surroundings, and play billiards. It is a place to relax and a home away from home.
The Royal Irish Yacht Club offers a relaxed, warm and welcoming atmosphere in one of the best situated and appointed clubhouses in these islands. Its prestige in yachting circles is high and its annual regatta remains one of the most attractive events in the sailing calendar. Since its inception in 1831, successive committees have maintained the liberal and open outlook of the Founding Fathers, which has enabled them to make the necessary changes to bring the Club into modern times while still maintaining the traditions that form such a large part of the ambience within the Club. The Club faces the future with a confidence born of its survival and renewal through many social and political upheavals, knowing that its passage through the future will be charted and navigated by skilled and trusted mariners.