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Meet a Flying Angel: Dermot Desmond & The Mission to Seafarers

2nd December 2015
Dermot Desmond – the only Ships’ Visitor which the Mission to Seafarers has in Ireland

I meet a lot of people as a maritime journalist, people who do and have done amazing things in the maritime sector, but meeting Ireland’s only ‘Flying Angel’ was particularly interesting.

A nice chap whom I realised that I had met in another life previously and so it proved. That was before he was reincarnated into a new purpose in a different lifestyle, but still associated with the sea. He moved from the RNLI to become the only man in Ireland doing a job which provides a unique workforce with essential social contact.

Dermot Desmond hails from County Wicklow and is the only Ships’ Visitor which the Mission to Seafarers has in Ireland. The organisation is also known throughout the world by its probably more colloquial and well-known name in the seafaring community, as ‘The Flying Angels.’


Dermot Desmond

They provide a base in 260 ports around the world and support services to 1.5 million seafarers.

“Piracy, shipwreck, abandonment and separation from loved ones are just a few of the problems merchant seafarers face around the world,” these days Dermot told me.



The Mission to Seafarers, founded in 1856, is entirely funded by donations and I met Dermot when he was presented with a cheque for €1,000 by the International Association for Safety and Survival Training which is the expert body representing major safety training providers around the world. That was at their annual conference held in the National Martitime College at Ringaskiddy in Cork Harbour,

Dermot is the Mission’s only Ships’ Visitor in Ireland and he is looking forward to new facilities being provided for their centre in Dublin Port in the next few months. He works closely with other organisations giving support to seafarers on ships visiting Dublin.

“Flying Angel centres provide a ‘home away from home’ for seafarers where they can enjoy time away from their ship and use internet and phone facilities to get in touch with loved ones after months away.”

He is hoping for an extension of their services if more volunteers can be obtained. “I am the only one in the Republic at present, so my work is largely centred on Dublin. It would be great to have more volunteers and be able to extend our work,”

As well as lay people like himself the Mission also has a network of Chaplains around the world.

I also talk on the programme to top chef Martin Shanahan of Kinsale about the attitudes Irish people have towards eating and cooking fish and get details about the new National Strategy for Angling to support a leisure sector which is worth over €800m. and supports more than 11,000 jobs,

Published in Island Nation Team

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