Poetry with a seafaring flavour by Theo Dorgan, Paddy Bushe, Mick Delap and the late Richard Murphy will bring a distinctive nautical mood to an evening of absorbing interest at the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire next month in support of the Bantry Boats writes W M Nixon
The almost-legendary Bantry Boat is a 38ft 1790-built French Admiral’s longboat that miraculously survived after being left behind following the unsuccessful French attempt to invade Ireland through Bantry Bay in 1796. She was first put on public display in the nascent National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire in 1974.
The elegant longboat has long since been transferred to the Collins Barracks section of the National Museum, where she is conserved on display near the Asgard of Erskine Childers fame. The Dun Laoghaire museum has meanwhile achieved recognition and funding as Ireland’s National Maritime Museum, and it provides a focal point for historical and cultural events.
"The Bantry Boat is a 38ft 1790-built French longboat that miraculously survived after being left behind following the French attempt to invade Ireland"
Sailing poet Mick Delap reckons it is the ideal setting for a summer’s evening recital of poetry and music based on the thought from Caribbean poet Derek Walcott that The Sea is History, in that it keeps memories of our own and its own unique past. The programme will include recitals of new poems from Theo Dorgan, Paddy Bushe and Mick Delap himself, while other favourite Irish sea poems will be included. There will also be a tribute to the recently-deceased Richard Murphy whose poem the Last Galway Hooker - about his deeply personal involvement with the traditional sailing boats of the Connemara coast - is one of his best-known works.
The entire evening is being given an added sense of direction through being a fund-raiser for the modern replicas of the Bantry Boats, and their biennial Atlantic Challenge with its emphasis on international friendship and shared training in seamanlike competition.
The good work of the Bantry Boats – now found in many countries – is largely supported by voluntary effort, and any extra interest and funding are always very welcome. Thus a highlight of the programme will be a performance with words and music of Mick Delap’s work Bantry Bay, the story of the 1796 longboat.
The venue is the National Maritime Museum, Haigh Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, date Wednesday 6th June, doors open 7.30pm and show starts at 8.0pm. Tickets are €15 and bookings can be made at eventbrite.ie, with a contribution from the takings for the evening going to support today’s Irish successors of the Bantry Long Boat.