The yacht previously owned by the late Taoiseach Charles J Haughey has been lifted into dry dock in Co Clare to begin refurbishment.

The 16m steel yacht ‘Celtic Mist’ was donated to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group by the Haughey family in recognition of the work of the IWDG over the last 20 years.

It was Mr Haughey who had Ireland declared a whale and dolphin sanctuary in June 1991.

The IWDG intends to use the vessel for research and to train members in how to survey and record whales and dolphins, including using acoustic survey techniques.

Some items believed to belong to the late Taoiseach remain on board including his hat, a number of bottles of wine and a bottle of whiskey specially labelled for the yacht.

The total cost of the refurbishment will be in excess of €60,000, with an annual upkeep cost of €20,000.

While the IWDG is hoping for some grant assistance, it is also seeking other financial assistance to complete and maintain the project.

It is hoped that the vessel will be back at sea in late spring next year.