Ireland is not good at recognising and honouring the achievements of its mariners.
The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces made that point at the unveiling of the long-awaited memorial to Cork seafarer, Edward Bransfield, at Ballinacurra in East Cork on the edge of Cork Harbour on Saturday, January 25.
Several hundred people were present. “Beyond our wildest dreams,” said Chairman of the Memorial Committee, Jim Wilson, describing the attendance.
We have followed on Afloat. ie and reported how the Committee has campaigned for several years to erect the memorial to honour the memory of Bransfield, the Irish-born navigator and commander of the British Navy’s expedition, the first to see and chart the Antarctic mainland on January 30, 1820. “He made the first confirmed sighting and maps of the Antarctic mainland and arguably the continent 200 years ago,” said Wilson. Antarctica is the fifth largest Continent on Earth, covers the South Pole and is sheeted in ice. Bransfield had been ‘press-ganged’ – forced into the British Navy – as a youngster when he was forcefully taken from his father’s fishing boat in Cork Harbour.
The Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, stressed the importance of honouring Ireland’s seafarers for what they had achieved. He made the keynote speech in which he said that a Russian claim that it was they had first seen Antarctica could not be proven from the records of the time, which showed that it was Bransfield. He said that Bransfield’s expeditionary achievement was amazing, in a wooden sailing ship, by comparison about a twelfth in size of the present Naval Service vessels
The head of the Naval Service, Flag Officer and Commodore, Michael Malone, was also in attendance.
Mr.Wlson said their presence was an important recognition of Edward Bransfield.
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