#VerolmeWeekend – To mark the finale of Cork Dockyard Workers Gathering Weekend, the last Mayor of Cobh Town Council, John Mulvihill Jnr, attended yesterday a plaque unveiling dedicated to shipyard workers to include Verolme Cork Dockyard in Rushbrooke, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Among the large crowd of former VCD employees, family and friends, was John Brennan who was master of ceremonies at Cork Dockyard, (formely VCD) which is a ship-repair only facility that is part of the Doyle Shipping Group.
Conor Doyle of the Doyle Group spoke of the wonderful history of shipbuilding in Cork Harbour and he said the group remained committed to the dockyard which has the 'potential' for further development should the demands from the offshore energy industry require.
During the proceedings, poetry and song celebrated the lives and workers of shipbuilding yards throughout Cork Harbour in a history that stretches beyond VCD's formation in 1959 but back to 1860.
An anchor was restored recently for the memorial occasion and where a bottle of champagne was smashed against it by Delia Webster of Cobh Tourism.
The Port of Cork, Cork Dockyard, Cobh Tourism and Irish Rail organised the commemorative weekend which involved a shipping lecture programme held in the Commodore Hotel, tours of L.E. Aoife alongside Cobh's waterfront. A mass in St. Colman's Cathedral was held and where a baptismal font was restored by former VCD staff.
Also part of the weekend was a photographic exhibition of ships built at VCD which remains open to the public in the Cobh Heritage Centre until 15 September.
The commemorative plaque was unveiled by Henk Ven der Puil, son of the late Gerard Van Der Puil, Managing Director of VCD. Father Michael Leamey performed a blessing of the plaque..
At its prime VCD employed more than 1,200 people working in ship-building, ship-repair, offshore platform modules and many other engineering enterprises.
During its quarter century existence, VCD built a total of 33 vessels, mostly for Irish concerns, among them Irish Shipping Ltd (ISL), B+I Line (including the last 'Leinster' as previously posted), Arklow Shipping and overseas clients and notably the bulker Irena Dan.
Naval ship LE Niamh in dry dock. Photo: Jehan Ashmore
L.E. Eithne (P31) was commissioned as the last vessel out of five built for the Naval Service and indeed she is also the last ever ship to be launched from the Rushbrooke shipyard in 1984.
Following the plaque unveiling, nostalgic tours of the dockyard took place which included access to the large series of building halls, the ship launch slipways and dry-dock / graving dock, where the Naval Service OPV L.E. Niamh (P52) was undergoing an overhaul.
The building halls. Photo: Jehan Ashmore
The remaining cranes. Photo: Jehan Ashmore