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Meitheal Mara - Cork's 'Radical' Boatyard

18th November 2022
Jasper Winn working on a skin boat
Jasper Winn working on a skin boat

Cork’s community boatyard, Meitheal Mara, has appointed writer, sailor and adventurer, Jasper Winn, as its “writer-in-motion”. His task is to write a book about its history since foundation in 1993, analysing what it has achieved and looking to its future.

Jasper Winn, from West Cork, has journeyed with nomadic Berbers, canoed along the Danube, crossed countries on horseback, broadcast travel and history programmes and written ‘slow travel guides’ for Lonely Planet. He has explored the history of Britain’s canals and circumnavigated Ireland in a kayak, about which he wrote the book, ‘Paddle’.

“It is a very brave project because they have not given me a specific brief. They said, come and see what we do. Join in, see where it takes us,” he says. “The exciting thing is that it will take the organisation into the next stage, adding to what it has done already and the way it has provided training, qualification, entry into the maritime sphere. It is difficult to get young people involved in the maritime sector, Meitheal Mara has done this.”

A Meitheal Mara Boat near Cork City Hall on the River LeeA Meitheal Mara Boat near Cork City Hall on the River Lee

In many years of reporting the work of Meitheal Mara, I have never heard it described as a “radical organisation,” which is how he sees it.

“It is radical. It has managed to hold onto its aims. It hasn’t got corporated. It hasn’t become a corporate entity, hasn’t turned to profits or focused on just one aim. It tolerates and enjoys its diversity and that is a wonderful thing, which I am going to write about. This will be an immersive book,” he said.

Jasper Winn is my Podcast guest this week.

What, exactly, is an “immersive book?” I asked him.

Podcast below.

Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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