#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