Minister Simon Coveney TD launched the new Strategic Plan of Meitheal Mara, Cork Harbour’s community boatyard and maritime heritage organisation. The organisation’s plans for the future are ambitious and include the realisation of an expanded Meitheal Mara as part of an integrated maritime hub for Cork City.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Simon Coveney TD said, ‘This is an ambitious plan with many potential benefits, not just for Meitheal Mara, but also for Cork City and Cork Harbour. The proposed development will provide opportunities to grow and integrate the maritime recreation and tourism sector within Cork City, and extend and integrate maritime activities from the city throughout Cork Harbour ‘.
Founded in 1993, Meitheal Mara is a maritime heritage community for young people and adults. Over the last 20 years, the organisation has shared the organisation’s maritime culture ethos by bringing the pleasures of building and rowing currachs to a wide public. Since this time thousands of individuals have had the opportunity for personal growth and progression through these activities.
Over the years there has been a huge increase in interest in the marine environment and watersports activities throughout the city and county and amongst a diverse range of participants, boat lovers and tourists. Chair of Meitheal Mara, Martin Ryan said, ‘in response to these opportunities, our vision is to expand the organisation and provide additional supporting facilities for other maritime groups through the development of a maritime innovation hub on the banks of the River Lee. This hub will feature development, commercial as well as activity infrastructure, including training and education workshops, meeting rooms, exhibition spaces, boat building and repair, craft training, a clubhouse, changing rooms, and storage for boats as well as equipment’.
The launch was attended by over a hundred stakeholders, sponsors and partners of the organisation and plans were received with great interest and support. See photos below Gerard Photography
A unique new tidal guide assisting river users to circumnavigate the city’s waterways was launched yesterday at the River Lee Hotel. CORKUMNAVIGATION is a pocket-sized map published by Cork’s community boatyard, Meitheal Mara. The guide is aimed at helping locals and visitors alike discover the city from a new angle by kayak, canoe or rowing boat. See link below to purchase the guide.
According to Cathy Buchanan of Meitheal Mara, ''very few people know that you can actually row or paddle all around the city, and experience a very different and special side of Cork. As several of the bridges are particularly low and some weirs quite high, they can only be passed at certain tides. With the CORKUMNAVIGATION guide you can successfully navigate the city’s 29 bridges and eight weirs at various stages of the tide.''
Niamh Twomey, Cork City Council Heritage Officer, added ''The River Lee is one of the great unexploited spaces in Cork, offering a beautiful route around the historic city centre. This guide will give the growing number of river users the opportunity to experience the natural and built heritage of Cork from the River Lee. The guide also includes quirky historical facts contributed by the late Cían Ó Sé.''
Corkumnavigate Cork city's 29 bridges and eight weirs with this latest pocket guide.
Originating near Gougane Barra in the Shehy Mountains, the River Lee flows east towards Cork City where it splits into two channels, forming the city's central island. Medieval Cork was a network of small river channels, which over the centuries have been covered in to leave just the north and south channels open. The river derives its name from the Irish "Laoi", meaning torrent or flood.
CORKUMNAVIGATION is a Meitheal Mara project, sponsored by Cork City Council and the River Lee Hotel. Fieldwork for the project was conducted in 2010 by the Cork Centre for Architectural Education, UCC and CIT, and sponsored by the Heritage Council.
The CORKUMNAVIGATION guide is available from Meitheal Mara via Afloat's Marine Market. Click HERE.
#thisislandnation – We don't make enough use of the rivers which flow through our cities. These ribbons of life to our major urban centres pass through the heart of the cities where the pressure of traffic and pedestrians shows more interest in the speed with which they can be crossed, often seeming to regard them as unwelcome blocks which require bridges, rather than appreciate that underneath those bridges is a system of transport and leisure which is neglected and often used by citizens for dumping of their waste.
There are some moves to utilise them more efficiently. On the Liffey there is a sightseeing tourist vessel and Poolbeg maintains its sailing presence close to the shipping sector. In Cork a voluntary organisation, Meitheal Mara, has promoted boating on the many different strands into which the city forces the Lee to pass through. Cork's city-based shipping operations have been diminished by the port which wants to end them altogether and move commercial shipping to Ringaskiddy where its public presence will be more limited and removed from the public eye. Waterford has based a marina in the city centre, but shunted its shipping to Belview where it is practically unseen by the public, so that the contribution of shipping to the economy is not perceived as strongly as it should be. Galway is a restricted tidal port, but a new one is planned and close enough to be seen by citizens. Dublin maintains port operations close to the city.
Dublin Port docker from the North Lotts book
There was a time when the ports and the rivers throbbed with life. In Dublin Guinness barges traversed the Liffey and there were real characters on the docks in all of our cities. Life could be tough as a dock labourer, but there was a great pride in the communities which lived around the ports and recognised the importance of shipping.
The East Wall has always been a proud Dublin community with seafaring a vital part of its tradition. On my programme THIS ISLAND NATION I played a song from a CD which was presented to me. 'Songs from the North Lotts' by Paul O'Brien capture a time in East Wall which deserves to be remembered. The East Wall Residents' Association which has been in existence for some fifty years, "maintaining and promoting the rare and wonderful community that it is an always has been," led the production of the book of the songs, dedicated to the people of East Wall and North Wall.
The song I played was "Taking the Boat," about which Paul O'Brien wrote in a book accompanying his CDs in 2009: "When I was growing up Dublin people didn't emigrate, they 'took the boat'. Single or married, it didn't matter. I don't personally know of any Dublin family that has not been touched by emigration."
There was a great response to the song, which you can hear on the Afloat website by CLICKING HERE. It was so good that in the June edition of the monthly programme, I will be playing another ballad from the collection – "Me Handsome Stevedore."
Tune in to hear it – next Wednesday night, June 4 at 7.30 pm on Youghal Radio – Community Radio Youghal 104FM or on their website www.cry104fm.com or if you are in the Dublin area, tune in to NearFM 90.3 on Friday night, June 6 at 6 p.m. This is another station joining the "family of the sea."
There was an interesting comment on the May edition of the programme by Jim O'Donovan, Director of Environment and Recreation with Cork City Council, who compared the better environmental condition of the River Lee to the Liffey, particularly around Heuston Station, about which he was quite critical.
Click HERE to listen to him on the Afloat podcast of the programme.
MARINE COMMUNITY GROWING
Waiting for the tide at Youghal in County Cork
Community radio stations around the country are showing great interest in the marine sphere and counteracting neglect by national and local commercial radio. I met many of these voluntary broadcasters at the annual meeting of their national organisation, CRAOL, over the past weekend in Youghal. They have produced and broadcast programmes on a wide variety of marine topics. THIS ISLAND NATION, was amongst the winners in the annual CRAOL national awards, chosen by the broadcasters themselves. I am pleased that the description "this island nation" is heard being more widely used in general conversation, by the media, in politics and in business. Awareness of the marine sphere is growing.
WHELKS, BIRDS AND FISHING
I didn't know a lot about the Irish sea snail which is worth around €4m. a year in exports until I talked to Liam Kennedy from the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority who wants fishermen to protect them. I will be broadcasting that interview in the June edition of THIS ISLAND NATION radio next week, as well as an exclusive interview with the Head of the SFPA, Susan Steele. She tells me that she wants to see "a thriving fishing industry and thriving fishing communities," but warns that those who "lose the run of themselves" and engage in illegal fishing will be dealt with speedily and effectively because they damage the future of the fishing industry. I will also be talking to Birdwatch Ireland about the arrival, for the first time, of one of the world's rarest sea birds off the Irish coast.
This is the Bermuda Petrel, an endangered species, of which there are only 108 breeding pairs known to exist.
WOMAN WITH CONFIDENCE
"We've never sailed in Cork before, but we're quite confident anyway." That's the view of the top woman match racing sailor, 32-year-old Camilla Ulrikkeholm from Denmark, who will be at the home of sailing, the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven, for the ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championships will be staged there next week.
Camilla Ulrikkeholm from Denmark
The event will start on Tuesday and continue until Sunday, sailed in the ISA J80s fleet. "We've done a lot of research about the venue, we know the boat very well and we're definitely as tuned together as a crew should be. We'll just handle it the same way we usually do - arrive early to spend a day finding out all the practical details, then do some practising and get to know the boat and work our way into the regatta by using the first matches to learn about the local conditions."
That's confidence !
SHIPPING RECOVERY UNLIKELY
The Chief Executive of A.P.Moeller-Maersk Company has indicated that there will not be a sustainable recovery in the shipping industry in the short term. Nils Andersen is quoted as saying that "there is lingering overcapacity" which may remain until 2017. The Irish Maritime Development Organisation in its Weekly Market Review says that "the idle containership fleet" has gone below two per cent of the overall fleet for the first time since last September, but the global tanker market is experiencing low rates with the crude sector suffering particularly and providing only very low earnings for owners. The European Short Sea Bulk market is also experiencing a downward trend which has been developing since April.
BALTIMORE MARITIME COURSES
Baltimore Maritime Centre was formed in December 2013 by a nucleus of members of Les Glénans, following the closure of the Glenans sail training base in the village. It has acquired six of that organisation's keel boats and will start sailing courses this Summer in conjunction with Heir Island Sailing Schull and Baltimore Yacht Charters.
Twitter: @TomMacSweeney and @Afloatmagazine
#historicboats – Boat-building organisations from France, Spain and Belgium and boating enthusiasts from across Ireland will attend an EU backed workshop conference as part of a three day visit to Cork Harbour next week.
The host organisation Meitheal Mara, based at Crosses Green in the heart of Cork City, is a community boatyard that, through its training programmes, utilises traditional boatbuilding, wood working and rowing skills to promote participant's social and personal development.
The EU Boat project is a three year learning partnership connecting Meitheal Mara with similar organisations from across Europe to share good practice, discuss challenges and devise solutions.
In addition to connecting community boat-builders, the project will also provide an opportunity for public representatives to come together to discuss their strategies for developing recreational water activities, preserving maritime heritage and promoting harbours and waterways for tourism. This week will see representatives from Cork City Council, Port of Cork and Failte Ireland come together with their European counterparts who are also travelling to Cork for the event.
The European visitors will also get the chance to try their hand at rowing a traditional Irish currach on the river Lee, visit the Port of Cork and tour the bonded warehouses on Custom House Quay.
Ocean to City, Cork Harbour's annual maritime festival, takes place this year from 3-12 June.
The yearly celebration of Cork’s maritime history and its unique harbour begins on Friday 3 June when members of the public can voyage through the city by kayak, enjoy the thrill of a sea safari trip around Cork Harbour or follow TG4’s Padraig Ó Duinnín as he presents a historical walking tour and talk on rowing in Cork.
The highlight of the festival, An Rás Mór, takes place on Saturday 4 June and will see boats of all sizes row 15 nautical miles from Crosshaven via Cork Harbour, Monkstown and Blackrock before finishing at the boardwalk in Lapps Quay in Cork.
Around 400 Irish and International rowers will compete in a diverse range of vessels including dragon boats, kayaks, currachs, Celtic long boats, Cornish pilot gigs and Irish coastal rowing boats.
Sunday 5 June will see a special 10km kayak race through the city centre. The Irish Naval Service flagship LE Orla will also offer free public tours, while Meitheal Mara will host a guided voyage around the island of Cork by a variety of small craft.
To mark the Cork Harbour School and Heritage Trails Weekend from from 9-11 June, a series of events highlighting the attractions of Cork Harbour, both water and land based, will take place.
Activities include a summer school on the theme of 'recreation in a working port', which will be held in the Port of Cork on Friday 10 June and opened by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney.
For more details visit www.oceantocity.com.
Topics will be on classic and traditional boat repair, restoration and build boatbuilding and lofting to varnish and tarring. The exhibition will feature slideshows and a boat display of a folk boat, Crosshaven clinker rowing punt, thullier sailing clinker punt, Valentia carvel seine boat follower, Rinn Rua, pram dinghies, currachs and canoes.
Also on hand will be Siubhán McCarthy who will be talking about the 'Ocean to City' race and what's happening in Cork harbour. For information contact Meitheal Mara Tel: (021) 4316813 or [email protected]