Gazette reporter Sarah Howells joined the pilot boat on the River Torridge to wave LÉ James Joyce on her way to Ireland this morning (Thursday).

LÉ James Joyce set sail from Appledore at the rise of the sun this morning (Thursday) on her way to Ireland.

The Irish Naval Vessel, assembled at Appledore Shipyard, glided smoothly from the River Torridge at 6.15am.

Gazette reporter Sarah Howells joined the pilot boat at the crack of dawn to watch the event.

She said: "We headed out to the Bideford Bar, LÉ James Joyce swiftly catching us up, where she pulled up alongside us, close enough to touch.

It was only then, as the captain emerged on the deck and smiled down at us, I realised just how magnificent - and huge! - she was."

Pick up a copy of next week's Gazette for more photos, and watch the video of LÉ James Joyce setting sail above.