#islandnation – This week...Steamship history from a small town in Cork Harbour...Coastal areas deserve State support for development projects to create jobs...Ice on the river...Grant Dalton blows his cool on America's Cup hypocrisy... Indian sharks have gone missing and more...
Passage West is a town with a great maritime tradition on the edge of Cork Harbour, so what could be more natural than revival of its fortunes coming from the River Lee which caresses its shoreline on the way to the sea? The town has suffered quite a bit from the economic downturn and areas of it look decayed these days, but there is no decay in the memory of the connection of this town with maritime history. It would be fitting were it to become one of the main locations for this year's Gathering events when the 175th anniversary of the first steamship crossing of the Atlantic is commemorated because it was from this town that the crossing started when the ship, Sirius, was commanded by a local mariner.
These days there is still a shipping berth operated in the town off which sailing vessels once transferred cargoes into lighters to carry the loads upriver to Cork City. Much of the maritime hardware, the dockyard and other ancillary facilities have disappeared into the shrouds of time.
Occasionally the town is confused with Passage East on the River Suir in Waterford. Once Passage West had a small ferry operation serving the workforce across the river at what was then the big NET Marino Point State fertiliser factory. Perhaps appropriately, at the steps where that ferry landed onto Railway Quay and where once a railway operated, the Passage to Monkstown River Users' Association has proposed using a block and chain mooring system to locate a pontoon and access gangway 20 metres out from the shore that would be usable at all stages of the tide without requiring dredging. The Associations is an example of an active, local community wanting to use the maritime history and resources of an area to provide economic development in these difficult times. There are several such-minded communities around the coast. What they need is more State and local authority backing and practical financial support. Investment in maritime projects will be a key to the future.
Sirius commemorative site in Cork
"With the development of Spike Island and Fort Camden and more realisation of the value of Cork Harbour's amenities, there is still not enough access to the river. What we want to do is change that, without costing a great lot of money," they told me. As part of this they will hold a week-long Maritime Festival starting on May 17 to mark the 175th anniversary of the of the Sirius voyage from Passage West to New York in 1838, the first ship to cross the Atlantic under steam power. She was commanded by Lieut.Richard Roberts a native of Passage West. It will be a fitting part of this year's national 'Gathering' Project and include a maritime exhibition, water-based activities, rowing and yacht races, safety and rescue demonstrations, a historical exhibition about the Cork/Blackrock to Passage West Railway and onshore events.
Passage West Town Councillor Angela Murphy, a member of the Organising Committee, says they are seeking exhibits – historical documents, photographs, craftsmen's tools, items associated with the railway, ship building/repair memorabilia, ship models for the exhibition "all of which will be safely returned."
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YOU WON'T FACE THIS IN IRELAND!
Walking along the riverside in Fredrikstad, a port city about two hours south of Oslo in Norway at the weekend, not far from Swedish waters, I enjoyed the sunshine and heard locals say that Spring was coming and soon the covers would be taken off the boats moored along the river and leisure sailing would begin again.
Ice on the tide
Norwegian riverside sailing history
Winter river moorings in Fredrikstad
A boardwalk leading onto a paved area, with seating, restaurants and bars, even a theatre and a free cross-river ferry to the older, historic fort area of the city which once protected the waterway, all underline how Norwegians value their maritime resources. While moored, covered leisure craft are not used in winter, there is still essential river commercial traffic, while all around the Norwegian coastline boats are a more essential part of transport than cars. From across the river at Fredrikstad I could hear the sound of work emanating from boatyards and reminded myself than once I got home it would be time to begin my own plan for getting the boat ready! Along the riverside historic vessels mingled with the modern. A lovely place to walk, to muse, to enjoy. What a pity we do not have similar city-based attractions in this country.
One aspect of maritime life in Norway that is not likely to be experienced here is the sight of ice floating down the river! Even as Spring approaches - and they do have clear weather seasons in Norway – upriver areas were still frozen over.
The Coastal & Marine Research Centre at University College Cork is looking for four experienced biologists to work on a marine mammal monitoring programme on the west coast of Ireland - a project leader, senior field assistant and two field assistants
Under a development plan for the CORRIB gas field off western Ireland, Enterprise Energy Ireland Ltd. commissioned the Coastal & Marine Research Centre at UCC to conduct an independent cetacean monitoring programme on the northwest coast in 2001 - 02. Following preliminary field surveys the study was expanded to include other marine mammal species recorded in the area. Research was undertaken in Broadhaven Bay County Mayo and adjoining coastal waters. The programme of marine mammal monitoring was continued in 2005 and has been on-going since 2008 during the CORRIB development's marine phases. Research is being extended until at least May 2014. The marine mammal monitoring programme is grant-aided by Shell E&P Ireland through RSK Environment Ltd.
INDIAN SHARKS GONE MISSING!
The Indian Ocean Humane Society International claimed this week that the shark population in the ocean has been decimated by unchecked trading in shark fins. Together with other conservation groups it is urging the Indian government to take action to protect the endangered sharks and rays when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meets in Thailand next month. India should have an important role in global shark management and conservation because it is regarded as second in the world in catching sharks according to conservationists.
GRANT DALTON BLOWS HIS COOL
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton seems to have blown his cool a bit over the America's Cup World Series regattas which are sailed in the AC45 catamarans. The Series has been regarded as a bit of a sideshow to the main event in San Francisco later this year which will be sailed in the larger, super-powered AC72 cats. Rivals Oracle and Artemis have been accused by Grant of "hypocrisy" because they have named under-strength teams for next month's World Series regatta in Naples, the last event of the Series before the 'real one' starts in July. An interesting use of the word "hypocrisy" by Grant, considering that late last year Emirates Team New Zealand for the Americas Cup was reported as having planned to boycott two world series events scheduled for New York next June. Dalton was reported then to be describing the 'AC World Series' as a distraction from the real AC72 sailing programme and, as a result, that he would send a youth team to New York to compete under the Team New Zealand banner. The New York regattas have since been cancelled, but Dalton was criticised by the event organisers for lack of support! The 'World Series' was considered vital to building the profile of the America's Cup itself leading up to San Francisco. Nice little controversy to excite attention!
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