Last updated: February 23, 2014
6th December: Sail Training Ireland? There is a strong possibility that sail training may begin again in Ireland. Tom McSweeney, the long-standing advocate of the sea and our island nation status, was talking recently with Harry Hermon, the Chief Executive of the Irish Sailing Association, who suggested as much. The ISA are investigating the possibility and had set up a steering group which might eventually lead to a new organisation, Sail Training Ireland.
The Eagle is coming to Waterford. The Eagle is the largest Tall Ship sailing under the US flag and she is doing a tour of Europe in 2011, leaving her homeport of Connecticut for a whirl wind tour across the Atlantic visiting Waterford, Hamburg, London, Reykjavik, Halifax, Boston, New Bedford and finally New York in August. What a pity that she will not be in our noble city for the Tall Ships Race. See www.cga.edu/display.aspx?id=2558 for further details of this 3-masted barque.
15th October: The Report into the sinking of the Asgard II was published today by the Marine Casualty Investigations Board. The investigation was unable to establish the exact cause of the sinking of Ireland's sail training vessel off the French coast and why there was failure of one of the planks. However, the report concludes that the major plank failure on the starboard side was due to collision with an underwater object. See www.mcib.ie/reports/ for the full report (a 3.8Mb pdf). There are many interesting bits of information about the Asgard in the report.
8th October: Could Waterford lead a revival in a national sail training programme? Well, Tom McSweeney, the now retired presenter of the RTE radio programme Seascapes and their marine correspondent for many years, thinks so. In an article in Afloat, Ireland's leading sailing and boating magazine, he suggests that with Waterford hosting the Tall Ships in the City and given that the City Council has been encouraging young people to take part in sail training, that Waterford could be the base for a new national sail training system. See www.afloat.ie/island-nation-blog/item/14207-could-waterford-lead-a-tall-ships-revival?/ for the full article.
The inaugural Shanty Festival held in Rosses Point earlier in the summer raised several thousand euro for the RNLI. Well done lads.
William McLeverty Nobody was able to correctly identify the location of the tall ship shown here recently, we have decided to take everyone out of their misery. The tall ship is part of a plaque on the wall of Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford dedicated to the memory of William McCleverty, from County Antrim who had no other link to Waterford except that he died here in 1779. But what makes him famous and worthy of a plaque in this famous cathedral is that he was one of those who accompanied Anson in his memorable expedition round the world, in the middle of the 18th century. When Britain was at war with Spain in 1740, Commodore George Anson led a squadron of eight ships on a mission to disrupt or capture Spain's Pacific possessions. Returning to England in 1744 by way of China and thus completing a circumnavigation, the voyage was notable for the capture of a Spanish Galleon but also horrific losses to disease with only 188 of the original 1854 surviving. Wm McCleverty, who died in Waterford in 1779, was one of those 188. Anson himself is still well-remembered as the Father of the British Navy, owing to his successful efforts to remove many of the hardships of the sailor's life, and the many improvements that were introduced during his administration, for in later years he became First Lord of the Admiralty.By the way the cargo which Commodore Anson has brought home with him is as follows: 2,600,000 pieces of eight, 150,000 ounces of plate, 10 bars of gold, and a large quantity of gold and silver dust; in the whole to the amount of one and a quarter million pounds (equivalent to about 2 billion pounds sterling in today's money, not a bad days work !). The inscription on the plaque reads:
"This monument is erected to the memory of Wm McCleverty, Esqr of the County of Antrim He was one of those who accompanied Commodore [afterwards Lord] Anson in his memorable expedition round the world, where his naval abilities early recommended him to that Nobleman's friendship, under whose patronage he was raised to the rank of Post Captain in the Royal Navy in which character he added lustre to the British Flag and achieved eminent service to his King and Country In private life he was eminent for every virtue, firm to his work & steady to his trust, inflexible to ill and obstinately just After a life devoted to his country, he died in an honourable old age, lamented by a numerous & respectable acquaintance at Waterford, the 10th of December 1779 aged 63 years."
15th September: Seascapes is the name of a radio programme broadcast every Friday night at 10.30 pm on RTE Radio 1 and it discusses many issues related to maritime matters around Ireland. The last episode, Friday 10th September, dealt exclusively with shanty singing and who better to talk about shanty singing only Pat Sheridan (not our Pat Sheridan but Pat who sings with Warp 4, Garland etc.) Pat joined us in Waterford in May for our Seafaring Festival.
1sr September: The Jubilee Sailing Trust is a registered charity that provides sailing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. The Trust owns and operates two Tall Ships, the Lord Nelson and the Tenacious. The Lord Nelson was in Waterford today and what a lovely ship she is. She was launched in 1986 and to date over 11,000 trainess have sailed with the ship and experienced the joy, pleasure and even the hardships of crewing on a Tall Ship across the oceans of the world. Around 40 trainees can be accommodated on any one voyage and the ship is purposefully adapted to cater for people of all physical and sensory abilities (lifts between decks, wide aisles, signs in Braille, a speaking compass etc). Worth a look at before she sails on her next voyage (from Glasgow to Cardiff from the 19th September for a week of hard sailing on the Irish Sea).
31st August: The SS Avoca was built by William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton in Scotland in 1891 for British India Associated Steamers Ltd of Glasgow. She was a steam ship built in steel and driven by a quadruple expansion engine. She changed hands a number of times and with the change in ownership came various name changes (San Fernando, Atlanta, Avoca Uranium); she was purchased in 1916 by the Cunard line and named Feltria. However, while on route to Avonmouth from New York with general cargo and Government supplies, the 5254-ton Feltria was torpedoed off the Waterford coast by a German submarine (UC48) on the 5th May 1917. All 45 lives on board were lost, including that of the Captain W. G Price. Her anchor is now shorebound and lies proud on the quayside at Dungarvan, near the Sailing Club, while the wreck itself is 20 kilometres southeast of Helvick Head.
30 August: A copper navigation light is bolted to the wall of the Sailing Club premises, on the quayside at Dungarvan. These lights were originally placed at Wyse's Point, Ballinacourty by the Waterford Steamship Company, as a guide for shipping trying to navigate the narrow channel in Dungarvan Bay on their way to the Town Quay in Dungarvan. They were put in place on the 10th February 1876 and the oil lamps had to be lit manually every night to fulfil their function. Later they were electrified and displayed an occulting light every 5 seconds. The lights were taken out of service in 1999 when the channel was marked by lighted buoys. The lamps were manufactured by F. Barrett & Co, Engineers, Dublin.
25 August: One of the crew, with nothing else to do, while wandering around Waterford City this morning spotted the Tall Ship depicted in photograph below and is offering a prize to anyone who can say where the image was taken. Now there's a challenge. The same crew member, a blow-in as he says himself, has been wandering around the City for nigh on 30 years now, and was delighted to see something that he had never seen before! See above under William McLaverty
The Lady Belle was steam powered from a coal burner and propelled by a single shaft screw. Built in Paisley, Scotland by J. Fullerton & Co. in 1900, her overall length was 140 feet with a beam of 24 feet, a load draft of 14 feet and she was around 330 tons. First registered in Caernarvon in Wales, The Lady Belle originally had three masts but at some stage the mizzen was removed. She was purchased by the Moloney Steamship Company of Dungarvan on 6th January 1925 for £4,000 and was used to carry cargo between Ireland and several ports in England and Wales. It remained in the British registry until the 26th May 1933 when she was registered in Waterford with signal letters E.I.G.C. Most of her voyages were uneventful (though she did hit another ship on one voyage) but on the 26th March 1941 she was attacked from the air by the Luftwaffe as she made her way under Captain Tom O'Donohue to Cardiff to collect a cargo of coal for Dungarvan. Although badly damaged she made it to Milford Haven, under her own power, and was sold soon after to Sheehan & Sullivan of Cork. She had a crew of around 10 who were partial to singing a shanty or two and the following was regularly sung:
The Lady Belle is a hell of a swell
When she's full of corn
'Tis only when she rounds Cunnigar Point
Tis then she blows her horn
A pub in Dungarvan is now called "The Lady Belle" in memory of this ship, that was well known and liked around Dungarvan in her hayday.
22 July: Cleggan, a small village on the windswept west coast of Ireland, is a long way from Waterford, and its way up in the northwest of Connemara, but it is a great place to spend a few days in a riveting coastal setting. They have an annual family-oriented Festival of the Sea, which is well worth attending if you are in the area. It takes place this year from the 24th July-8th August. No shanties, mind you....maybe next year!! See www.festivalofthesea.net
21 July: The Wigham Buoy: The Moresby was an iron-built vessel of around 1155 tons. She was 223.5 feet long, 36 feet wide with a 21 foot hold. She was bound for South America with a cargo of 1778 tons of coal from Cardiff but she was battered by strong winds and when she appeared off Ballynacourty Point, Dungarvan, county Waterford on the 23rd December 1895 her sails were in tatters and she was obviously in distress. The Ballynacourty lifeboat went two her assistance, as did another boat from Dungarvan. However, the captain refused to abandon ship and the two boats returned to base, leaving the stricken Moresby anchored to the west of Ballynacourty. However the winds strengthened and by late evening storm force winds lashed the Moresby. She lost one of her anchors and the captain realised that the single remaining anchor would not hold the ship and he knew all was lost. The following morning a volunteer crew went to Ballynacourty, comandeered the lifeboat and rushed to the Moresby. However many of the crew of the Moresby had jumped ship in a vain attempt to swim to shore. The lifeboat rescued seven of the 25 crew but two of these perished too when the lifeboat reached the shore. In total 20 crew members form the Moresby and one member of the lifeboat crew perished in the disaster. The wreck of the Moresby lay broadside on the Whitehouse Bank in Dungarvan Bay and became a hazard to shipping. To highlight the position of the wreck, and allow for safe passage, the Wigham Buoy was purchased (at a cost of £200). It was moored close to the wreck and became an invaluable navigation aid for mariners until the wreck was totally removed. The Wigham Buoy was then removed in 1906. The Buoy is now positioned prominently in the Harbour at Dungarvan (near Euro Spar and opposite the Tennis Club).
16 July: The Galway Hookerwas always the workboat of the west of Ireland, particularly around Connemara and the Aran Islands where it carried turf mostly in the nineteenth century, between Connemara where there was an abundance of bogs which yielded a more or less endless supply of turf, and the three Aran Islands (Inis Moir, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr) where they had no turf at all, and nothing in fact to keep winter fires burning. The Galway hookers also carried seaweed and other cargo between west of Ireland villages and they were even known to transport poitin, the illicit Irish brew, which warmed the hearts of many's a man (and woman too) during long winter evenings. The Galway Hookers weighed from 11 to 16 tons, were up to 44 feet long and they were renowned for their weatherly qualities. Most were open boats though some of the bigger ones were half-decked with varying degrees of 'tumblehome' on their black hulls. They were usually crewed by two men and working conditions were harsh indeed. By 1970, however, only two were left but a revival began soon after and several are now back in service, though they rarely carry turf or cargo now (except for ceremonial purposes). The interest now is in racing and there are several regattas around Galway each year; the biggest one is in Kinvarra in August. Roundstone also has an annual regatta; one was held there last weekend on the 10th July and the boats sail from there again on the 17th July for another regatta nearby. There appears to have been a rich tradition of song and poetry associated with the hookers, though the songs might have been in the Irish tradition of sean-nos singing, which is very unlike the shanties of the big sailing ships that plied the Atlantic around the same time. See www.galwayhookerassociation.ie for further details.
15 July: Captain Martin Rayner, working from the Irish Coast Guard base at Waterford Airport, attended an incident around 10 nautical miles east of the airport on the 11th July, where casualties were in the sea. Having rescued the party, one of the injured people were transferred to Waterford Regional Hospital for treatment. In doing so, Captain Rayner clocked up his 500th rescue mission, and became one of the few people from the Search and Rescue fraternity to have contributed this level of service to the communities they serve. He has 8,400 flying hours under his belt, most of which (7,200 hours) has been in the red Sikorsky helicopter that is so familiar to us here in Waterford. Aren't we fortunate to have such dedicated professionals among us with the skill and experience to cope with all sorts of conditions on rescue missions. We salute you Martin and we'll sing a song for you sometime!
14 July: The Belem, a three masted barque, is in Dublin this week as part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Alliance Francasie in Ireland. She left Roscoff in Brittany last Friday 11th July and sailed up the Liffey yesterday (13th July). There are 13 Irish apprentices on board (of a total complement of 48). She was built near Nantes and her maiden voyage was in 1896. Fifty eight metres long, with a draught of 3.6 metres she weighs around 530 tons and in total she sports 22 sails when under full sail. A real beauty, she can take up to 20 minutes to completely go about at sea. She plied the Atlantic for many years carying cargo and she had a lucky escape in 1902 when, unable to dock at Martinique because another boat had taken her berth, she avoided the eruption of a nearby volcano, which destroyed all the ships in the harbour and killed 30,000 people in 90 seconds. She was safely anchored further out in the Bay. Woulnd't it be lovely to see her in Waterford for the Tall Ships Race next year.
13 July: The website www.dunmore-east.net has many interesting songs, stories and articles about the Dunmore East area in County Waterford and the surrounding coasts. An example is the article written by Nicola Byrne and taken from the Scotsman newspaper in 2003, which gives fascinating details of the wreck of the Great Lewis, Oliver Cromwell's flagship: during a mission to recapture Duncannon fort in Waterford Harbour from Royalist forces in 1645, the Great Lewis, was sunk when a battery of guns from the Royalist-controlled fort turned on the attacking fleet. The Great Lewis, caught by adverse tides and winds, floundered and sank after her masts were ripped apart by cannon fire. She now lies just eight metres below the surface of the water in the main shipping lane of Waterford Harbour, one of the busiest in Ireland. The other ships in the fleet, the Mayflower, Elizabeth and Magdalen escaped. The location of the wreck of the Great Lewis is now known precisely following dredging in the area in 1999. So far divers have found decking and timber lined with leather, a feature of the period, and canons; they also expect to find the personal booty of the ship's skipper, Captain Beale. The wreck of the Great Lewis is one of many along the County Waterford coastline and the shore around Hook Head in particular has so many that the area is known as the 'graveyard of a thousand ships'.
4 July: Dunmore East, Co Waterford and Roundstone, Co Galway may be 320 kilometres apart (Roundstone is on the west coast in Connemara) but they share a common influence and that is the impact of the renowned Civil Engineer, Alexander Nimmo, the remarkable Scotsman, who left such a legacy in Ireland. He designed the pier at Dunmore East and at Roundstone, where he erected a storehouse and workshop, which then encouraged others to build there and so the very beautiful village of Roundstone was created. A lovely place indeed.
Tuesday the 22nd June 2010 was a momentous day for Waterford City with the opening of the new Waterford Crystal Centre and manufacturing facility on the Mall. A new beginning awaits the City with the resumption of crystal manufacture and sale right in the heart of the City. This impressive building is in an area which is currently being developed by Waterford City Council (who also facilitated and helped to finance the new Crystal centre) as a Viking Triangle, which will transform the City as a tourist destination. The new Waterford Crystal facility was officially opened by the Mayor Cllr John Halligan this morning who emphasised the importance of the new facility for the people of Waterford and the potential it has for promoting and enhancing the City and what it has to offer. There are some exceptional pieces on display in the new Centre. The Tall Ship may never sail but it would be a welcome addition to any shantymans baggage. Likewise the bodhran, a traditional Irish instrument which looks so well, even though it may never be played. Other pieces too are beautiful to look at and admire and will be cherished no doubt by those that purchase them. Today too a cruise ship, the Island Sky, anchored off Dunmore East and many of its guests undoubtedly travelled to the new Crystal Centre to see what was on offer. A fantastic place indeed and well worth a visit. It will also be a fine venue to sing in or even outside and will be a major attraction when the Tall Ships visit in 2011.
9 June: The Ocean Youth Trust owns and operates a 70 foot ketch, the Lord Rank, and offers young people, up to 18 at a time, the opportunity of crewing on a Tall Ship at sea. What a pity then that she ran aground last night (8th June 2010) on Carrickmannon Rock, just off Kinbane Head 10 nautical miles west of Ballycastle on the Antrim coast. After running aground the vessel was knocked around by the swell, but none of the six crew was injured and all were safely transferred to the Portrush Lifeboat. An operation is now under way to recover the vessel from the rocks. The yacht had taken part in the Belfast Maritime Festival last weekend.
7 June: An exciting New Festival: will take place in Rosses Point, Sligo in August this year from the 13th to the 15th. Titled Songs of the Sea Festival 2010, there will be shanties, sea songs, music and poetry and it will all be in aid of the RNLI. It is being organised by Willie Murphy and Paul (they call themselves Ashore for a Loaf). They arrived in Waterford for our own Festival and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They even sang too at the Festival Club on Saturday night and gave a good account of themselves. Willie tells us that it will be a small village affair so it should be great craic involving local people and visitors to this charming coastal area.
6th May: European Maritime Day 2010: May 20th is European Maritime Day, whose purpose is to promote sustainable growth, employment and innovation of maritime sectors and coastal regions. Maritime Day is is celebrated across Europe with each region organising their own events in parallel with the main conference to be held this year in Gijón, Spain. Here in Waterford a conference on Sustainable Estuarial Regions: Development of the Waterford Estuary will take place in the Ramada Viking Hotel, on Thursday 20th May, from 9 am to 4.30 pm. There is no conference fee, just register by ringing 0526126200 or email email@example.com.
4th May: Rower Sean McGowan, from the Shannon Rowing Club in Limerick, made it safely to Antigua on Sunday 2nd May after an epic 118-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean in his only companion for the trip, the little boat Tess. He survived being lashed by storms and mountaineous seas and being flung from Tess twice as well as broken oar mechanisms and sore hands. Looking forward to a big steak on arrival, he reckons it'll take quite a few of them to put back on the 28 kg he lost duiring the journey. We salute you Sean, the first Irish-based rower to complete the hazardous feat.
3rd April: Potatoes: When Biddy and Catherine Keogh boarded the sailing ship The Dunbrody on the Quay at New Ross on the 18th March 1849 en route to New York, for their £7 fare they were guaranteed 3.5 lbs of biscuits, 3.5 pounds in all of flour, oatmeal or rice or a proportionate quantity of potatoes (5 lb of potatoes being computed as equal to 1 lb of the other articles). This was their weekly allowance, which was to be issued not less than twice a week. They were provided with fires and suitable hearths for cooking but they had to provide their own bedding and utensils for eating and drinking. Their steerage ticket also provided for 10 cubic feet for luggage for each statute adult. The Contract Ticket was issued by William Graves & Son.
2nd April: Tall Ships of the Land?: Wind is what carried ships across the oceans in the great days of sail before steam and eventually oil replaced it as the energy source. Isn't it strange now that oil is depleting and becoming costly that wind is now back in fashion for generating energy, on land at least. All over Europe massive wind farms are generating electricity for local communities. In Ireland, as usual, we are catching up, but only slowly. There are just two large wind towers in Waterford, near Portlaw, which intercepts southwesterlies as they race across the county. Anyone coming in by ferry to Rosslare in County Wexford should keep a look out for the wind farm on the way in, or if coming across the Irish Sea into Dublin, there is a massive offshore wind far.
26th March: Dublin Port: just this week launched two new tug boats. The interesting thing about the two tug boats is the names they will be known by: "Shackleton" and "Beaufort", in memory of Ernest Shackleton, the fearless explorer who was born in Athy, County Kildare and Francis Beaufort, who developed a system for measuring wind speed, a modified version of which is still in use today throughout the world. For the record, the vessels are 24 metres long and are 50% more powerful than the two boats they are replacing, which were known as "Cluain Tarbh" and "Deilginis".
20th March: Atlantic Rowers: The mighty Atlantic has seen many boats cross its stormy waters over the years as people seek out new horizons and develop trade between communities on either side of this vast ocean. However, the amazing people who row across the Atlantic must surely be the bravest people on earth to undertake such a hazardous journey in what can often be unbelievable conditions. Dr Nanad Belic, a retired cardiologist, attempted the feat in September 2001, but he got caught by a big Atlantic storm and was lost at sea. His boat, The Lun, washed up on Kilkee beach, Co Clare in November 2001. A memorial, unveiled in March 2003, stands proudly on the clifftop overlooking Kilkee beach in honour of all those brave men rowed the Atlantic and never made it: David Johnstone and John Hoare (1966), Kenneth Kerr (1980), Andrew Wilson (1980), Eugene Smurgis (1993), Peter Bird (1996) and Nanad Balic (2001).
17th March: St. Patrick's Day Parade in Waterford: For the first time ever, shanties were sung at the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade held today in Waterford City and there was none better than Hooks and Crookes to perform at this spectacular national cultural event. To the tune of Rollickin Randy, Santiano, South Australia and many others we marched down the Quay in all our finery, entertaining the people as we went. Joe Teasdale generously provided us with an able companion from where we were able to advertise the forthcoming Seafaring Festival of Music and Song. Not a bad day at all, and well worth the effort. Congrats to all concerned. For further details and photos see: www.hooksandcrookes.com/gal2010.html
16th March: Sikorski: There is much dismay and anger among the maritime community over the possible loss of the full time sea rescue capability in the southeast region. The intention is to downgrade the Service, which uses Sikorski helicopters based at Waterford, to a daylight only service when the contract is renewed by the Irish Government. A potential saving of one million euro is forecast, from an overall spend of 50 million euro, which seems a paltry amount, given the potential impact of the downgrading of this vital service.
15th March: Cork: Reports today suggest that a new boat is being prepared to participate in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and that she will rejoin the fleet from Panama onwards. And why wouldn't an Irish boat be involved since the Race is stopping in Kinsale (Cork, a great maritime venue with impressive sailing facilities, lively pubs and great places to eat in July 2010 for what should be a fantastic eight day festival. Hooks and Crookes might even be there. Aye! That would be nice!
16th March: Confirmed: a replacement yacht, to be renamed Cork has been chartered, and will be taken over by the original crew that are now scattered among the other boats in the Race, in May in time for race 9 to Jamaica. Originally built in 1991, the new Cork has circumnavigated the globe twice and she just needs some additional equipment before joining the Race. [16th March]
12th March: The Fastnet Rock is Ireland's most southwesterly point and lies 6.5 kilometres southwest of Cape Clear Island, which itself is 13 km from the mainland. Building began on the columnar lighthouse on the Rock was in 1899 (earlier constructions on the rock were swept away during storms) and it was completed and ready for use in 1904. The total height of the masonry is 44.6 metres and the lantern, 5.18 metres in diameter at the inner surface of the glass revolves evenly on a bed of mercury. For the record, there are a total of 89 courses in the lighthouse, consisting of 2074 stones weighing around 4300 tons. The granite stones used in the lighthouse were sourced from John Freeman & Sons of Penryn, Cornwall, and were transpoted to the site by the SS Ierne, which was specially built for carrying the massive stones. It was no mean feat either transferring the heavy stones to the emerging lighthouse. The rock itself is used as the mid point of one of the world's most demanding and best known yachting races, the Fastnet Race, and is always remembered for the 1979 race in which 15 sailors died in atrocious conditions during a severe and largely unpredicted storm. Two of the crew of Hooks and Crookes were there recently, in balmy conditions, and it is hard to imagine the fury of the sea in August 1979, compared to the calm conditions that prevailed on the more recent visit.
12th March: Jimmy Quilty: Eighty nine years ago this month, the The SS Esperanza was due to arrive in Waterford with a cargo of timber from Norfolk Virginia. However she never arrived as she disappeared as she passed through the "Bermuda Triangle". In fact she was one of 12 ships which were lost from Oct 1920 to Feb 1921. What makes this particular ship of relevance is that one of the crew lost with the disappearance of the Esperanza was a Waterford sailor by the name of Jimmy Quilty. Jimmy was the grandfather of Pat Sheridan, the bursar of Hooks and Crookes.
25th February: John P. Holland was born on February 24th 1841, in Liscannor, Co. Clare in Ireland. A man of many talents, he is credited with inventing submarines. His first submarine was brought down to the Passaic River in New Jersey, USA, and launched before a big audience. But someone had forgotten to insert the two screw plugs and the sub began to sink underneath the water. The following day, however, Holland made several successful dives. Another sub he designed, built at Delamater Iron Works, New York, was launched in May 1881. Holland's No. 6 was his most successful craft and it took its first dive on St. Patrick's day, 1898, in New York Harbour and was acclaimed a success. After some alterations and a final test in March 1900 the U.S. Government bought the Holland No. 6 in April 1900 and was commissioned on October 1900, the first submarine of the American Navy. John Philip Holland died on August 12, 1914 and is buried in Totowa, New Jersey, less than one mile from where he launched his first submarine. He is commemorated in Liscannor where a plaque was erected in 1964 and a street was renamed Holland Street in his honour. Of interest too is the song, John Philip Holland, written by Breandán Higgins of Lahinch Co Clare, the last line of which is: raise your glass in the air to the man from Clare who invented the submarine. The song was ably sung by the late and much revered Micho Russell from Doolin, who often sang and played the tin whistle in Gussy O'Connors and Tony McGanns, both great pubs in Doolin renowned for traditional music. Also of interest is that Dick Miles sings this song on one of his CDs, which we might be lucky to hear as he will be participating in the Waterford Seafaring Festival of Music and song in May this year. On a related matter, we recently had an email from Chris Roche who does illustrated talks on maritime themes and he told us that his great uncle died in an experimental submarine in June 1905 and that the men who died when another A-class sub (the A5) exploded are buried in Cork.
21st February: The SS Ary built in Holland in 1904, had a gross tonnage of 642 and the triple expansion engines generated 97 horsepower. She left Port Talbot in Wales on Saturday 8th February 1947 with 15 crew and 600 tons of coal for Waterford City but she never arrived. On Wednesday 12th February, a ship's lifeboat came ashore at Ballymacart on the west Waterford coastline with one 19-year-old sailor on board suffering from severe exposure. He said that when her cargo shifted the Ary listed to port and all efforts to right her failed so the crew took to the two lifeboats before she sank. One lifeboat with six men disappeared and eight of the nine crew in the other lifeboat perished while she drifted in rough weather (the winter of 1947 was particularly harsh and cold). The surviving crew member, afraid, as he was, of the dead, pushed the 8 bodies overboard before she struck land at Ballymacart. Twelve bodies eventually washed ashore between Ardmore and Youghal; the other two crew were never seen again. The bodies were interred in the Sailor's Grave in St Declan's Cemetery in Ardmore, where a headstone was erected in memory of the gallant crew. Last week was the 63rd anniversary of the loss of the crew and a local group erected an information panel outlining the events surrounding the loss of the SS Ary, which also lists the name and origin of the crew.
16th February: Hooks and Crookes jumped the gun and photographed the promotional banner for the Tall Ships Race in Waterford before it was fully erected. The finished version looks much better. The completion of the promotional banner coincided with the launch of the Tall Ships 2011 website, which took place on the 15th February 2010. Attended by all the local dignitaries, media and interested members of the public, it was a great opportunity to see and hear what is in store for the City in 2011. The Mayor, Cllr John Halligan was emphatic in stating that Waterford has turned the corner and the immediate future is very bright indeed with several initiatives about to come to fruition which will result in the regeneration of the City after the hard winter and the bleak economic climate. He looked forward with great anticipation to the Tall Ships Race in 2011 which will not only have economic benefits but also gives everyone something to look forward to and prepare for. For up to date information on events as they unfold, have a look at the very attractive website promoting the Race and events in Waterford: www.waterfordtallshipsrace.ie
14th February: Tall Ships Sign A rather forlorn looking lassie has adorned the face of Halls building on the far side of the River on the Quay of Waterford for the last number of months. I suppose she did take the bad look off that that derelict building and it was a nice piece of art, which the City is always keen to promote. Anyway she disappeared last week sometime and was replaced by a very colourful and attractive new wall mural informing all and sundry of the Tall Ships Race that will be visiting our City in 2011. Two young children are deep in conversation and the smiling face of the girl is very welcoming. So if you didn't know already of this impending event, you now know and you certainly will know if you walk down along the river walk and look across to the far side of the river as you near the GPO. Aye
7th February: The MV Diplomat: Isn't is great to see a big boat back on the Waterford quays, even if it is only a boat waiting to be redeployed somewhere else. The Diplomat is one of the Celtic Link fleet which formerly carried passengers and freight to France from Rosslare, but was recently replaced and is now redundant. She can carry 112 passengers and has 1320 lane meters for freight and passengers vehicles. She is currently manned by a crew of 12 as she waits for new owners and new waters to sail over. And she is a big boat too, and looks it, especially when there is a high tide on the Suir and she sits high and mighty on the old Bell Lines wharf on the far side of the river.
6th February: The Curacao: An idea was hatched in 1824 to develop Valentia Harbour (in Kerry, southwest Ireland) as a transatlantic steamer port, and two steam boats were even bought for the purpose. The smaller of the two, the Calpe, was timber built in Dover and weighed 440 tons. However, the whole scheme collapsed and the Calpe was sold to the Dutch Government in 1826, at a considerable loss. She was renamed the Curacao and was the first steam boat in the Royal Netherlands Navy. She then had the distinction of being the first steam boat to sail across the Atlantic from Holland to Surinam, in South America, in April 1827. Other steamers have also claimed a first crossing of the Atlantic: for example, the Savannah crossed the Atlantic in 1821, but did so largely under sail. The Curacao was broken up in 1850.
Sunday 31 Jan: The Backstrand at Tramore is a large expanse of mudflat, and an important wintering area for birds. However, it's ornithological importance now wouldn't have been a consideration in the 1800s, when suggestions were made that it should be reclaimed. Tramore has always been famous for horse racing, which was initially held on the beach in the late 1700s/early 1800s. Part of the Backstrand was reclaimed between 1855 and 1880 by constructing a long embankment and infilling the enclosed area, which was then used for horseracing. However a big storm damaged the embankment in April 1911 but engineers working on Redmond Bridge across the Suir in Waterford City were engaged to repair it, allowing racing to take place in August 1911. However another storm in December 1911 created an even bigger breach and the area was abandoned to the sea, a little over 99 year ago (on this day?). It is known as the Malcolmson embankment after the merchant and shipbuilding family who constructed it.
Tuesday 26 Jan: Giants of the Sea: There were continuing reports of whale activity off Hook Head (Wexford) and Dunmore East (Waterford) over last weekend and members of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, chartered a boat out of Duncannon to see for themselves what whales species were present. Over the following three days, 4 cetacean species were recorded, fin and humpback whale, harbour porpoises and common dolphins. Various data were collected, including tissue samples from the humpback, affectionately nick-named Hook. Photographs of Hook proved that it was a new individual for Irish waters, not previously seen off our coasts. To top off an exciting weekend for the whale watchers, Hook breached no less than 11 times and some spectacular photos were obtained. It is though the whales were feeding on spawning herring off the Hook and Dunmore, which is a traditional breeding area for this species.
Monday 25 Jan: Waterford City has suffered much damage over the years when the mighty River Suir and its tributary the St. John's River burst their banks during high tides and storm conditions. However, a serious attempt is now being made to address this ongoing issue and five million euro of a total projected spend of fifty million euro has already been spent on the construction of flood walls and embankments. When the scheme is finished, around 10 kilometres of flood walls and embankments will be in place on the south side of the Suir from Adelphi Quay to Grattan Quay and from Adelphi Quay to the Courthouse along the John's River. The flood 'walls' are toughened glass sheets (1.1 metres high) which keep out the Suir but yet maintain views of our beloved Suir (except when condensation forms on them, usually in winter). Eventually, embankments will extend the glass barriers on both sides of the river Suir and to the Tramore Road on the John's River. Other elements of the scheme include new walkways, movable barriers (at Superquin) and raising of the Tramore road at Superquin.
Thursday 14 Jan: The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. The crew of the only Irish competitor in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, The Cork, were evacuated after striking a rock, in 20-knot winds, in the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on the 14th January 2010. All the crew of eight Irish, five Britons, two Australians and one Chinese were safely evacuated from the yacht but the boat sustained hull damage and the toe rail was under water. Ten yachts are taking part in the 68-foot ocean racing yachts competition. The further involvement of The Cork in the in the 10-month-long 35,000 mile around the world race, which began in Hull in September, is now in doubt. The Race is also scheduled to visit Kinsale in early July. The Cork would be a major attraction there and it'll be a pity if her race is over.
Tuesday 19 Jan: The Cork: her race is over. It was confirmed today that the boat isn't seaworthy. Efforts may be made now to see if an alternative boat can be found to allow the crew to continue competing in the Race.
The Shoals of Herring, written by Ewen McColl, is a lovely sea song that most folk or shanty groups sing. It has the following verse:
O we left the home grounds in the month of June
and to canny Shiels we soon were bearing
With a hundred CRAN of the silver darlings
that we'd taken from the shoals of herring
6th January: The word CRAN, from the Gaelic crann, originated in Scotland as a heaped measure of herring. A standard but bottomless 30 gallon herring barrel was filled to overflowing with fresh herring, and then the barrel was lifted off. Because the fish were heaped, the resulting pile contained more than 30 gallons of herring, anywhere between 34-35 wine gallons. In 1832 it was legally redefined as 45 wine gallons, changed again in 1852 from wine gallons to 37.5 imperial gallons and in 1908 it was made a legal measure in England and Wales as well as Scotland and then used widely as the standard measure of herring. A cran could contain from 700 to 2500 fish depending on their size and weigh around 178 kg or 28 stone. So now!
3rd Jan: 2010:Year of the Seafarer Don't forget that 2010 has been nominated as Year of the Seafarer by the International Maritime Organisation. See www.mgn.com/news/dailystorydetails.cfm?storyid=10557 or www.imo.org/newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1773&doc_id=11506