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Resident 'Insulted' By View of Baltimore in Lockdown

8th April 2020
Baltimore in West Cork pictured on a normal sunny evening in summer time Baltimore in West Cork pictured on a normal sunny evening in summer time

Baltimore Resident Donna McCarthy was angered by Afloat's article West Cork Sailing Dreamtime – Some Day, Summer will Come Again

Dear Editor,

This is my first time writing to you, though I enjoy reading the articles in Afloat on a regular basis. When I received the regular update by email this morning, I opened it with interest as usual. My interest quickly turned to surprise and then anger when I read the “Coastal Notes” by WM Nixon.

As a Baltimore resident, I am highly insulted at the inaccurate condescension that was published in the aforementioned article. While we are a coastal village that enjoys the maritime recreational activities written about in your magazine and welcome our seasonal visitors with gusto each year, we are not all dependent on the sailors that visit during the summer months to entertain us and keep us occupied.

I feel it was highly inappropriate that during a national and global health crisis, Mr Nixon felt he should belittle the excellent efforts the residents of our community are making to stem the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19. People’s lives are at risk and he writes, and you publish, in a national magazine that the Baltimore residents have nothing else to do but watch dogs defecate. I am confused as to why Mr Nixon feels the need to write an article about the fact that Baltimore residents are complying with Government Guidelines by staying at home, as are one-third of the global population at this time. Also, why is it that a journalist that writes about maritime matters feels he is suitably qualified to write a sociological study of a village, during a time he hasn’t even visited it himself (note this is an assumption that he is abiding by the rules and not travelling more than 2 km from his home).

I appreciate under the current circumstances of physical distancing it may be difficult for Mr Nixon to undertake the fact-checking that is required of journalists in this country, however, I would like to remind him, through you, of his obligation under the Code of Conduct adopted by the NUJ that “A journalist shall strive to ensure that the information he/she disseminates is fair and accurate, avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as established fact and falsification by distortion, selection or misrepresentation”. (This is assuming he has agreed to conduct his journalism in accordance with this code.)

To assist with offering a “fair and accurate” reflection of the activities of the residents in our village, I have set out a number of other activities that are currently taking place here:

  1. I am a solicitor working for a global financial services company and completed substantial multi-jurisdictional agreements while working from home in the centre of Baltimore village;
  2. My husband is a network design engineer for a UK telecoms company ensuring networks, including those required for the essential services, are continuing seamlessly;
  3. Parents are home-schooling their children while working full time remotely;
  4. Restaurants have adapted processes and are offering take away menus and delivery services, even where it was not provided for previously;
  5. Local crafts people are continuing to develop local art and crafts that will be sold online, and in physical shops when they re-open;
  6. The local grocery shop is remaining open and ensuring the village has sufficient food, fuel, and other household supplies;
  7. People are taking regular exercise within the permitted 2km area from their homes. This includes running, walking, swimming, cycling;
  8. Neighbours are delivering meals and grocery shopping to neighbours in need.

I could continue the list, but as I only have my short lunch break to write this email as I am extremely busy at work, I believe I have made my point on this matter. Suffice to say, daily activities of the people of Baltimore pretty much mirror those in other villages, towns and cities of this country, except for maybe we continue life with a better sea view than most.

On a final note, while I am not an animal expert but am the proud owner of a fourteen-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, I would just like to highlight that I am not aware of anything unique about the bowel movements of our canine pets in this village, and if Mr Nixon’s contacts in the village have the time to make online wagers on the matter I would suggest they find a new hobby to make better use of their betting skills.

As a responsible editor of a well-respected magazine, I would hope you are now considering retracting the published article, offering an apology or at a minimum requesting the author to correct the inaccuracies. If you would like to include my concerns and this email to you in the publication, in particular, to be able to give a balanced and true reflection of the facts, I give you my permission to do so.

Yours etc

Donna McCarthy
Baltimore Resident

Editor's note: WM Nixon made no reference to defecating dogs in his original article. However, we regret the offence caused to readers in Baltimore by the piece, which was intended to be a light-hearted reminiscence about Baltimore, a town described by the writer in his earlier, linked article as a "sailing paradise". Clearly, it touched a raw nerve in these difficult times and we apologise to all who felt offended by it.

Published in Coastal Notes
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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