Ever Present Danger. The smoke is acrid, thick and hot. It forms an oppressive layer above the lurid yellow helmets of the firefighting team. Heat radiates from the burning fire in the corner of the cabin in front of them. The noise of the water as it bounces of the deckhead and deck is deafening, the steel structure reverberates and the team leaders shouts out his commands through the life persevering facemask of his breathing apparatus. All commands have a purpose, each given with an intensity befitting the seriousness of the situation; while each response is repeated quickly and verbatim, once the command has been executed the team leader is informed immediately. There is no place for an individual here; only by working as a team will these five sailors fight their way through hatches and down ladders, deeper into the burning vessel they press on, negotiating the total darkness to find the seat of the fire. Their shipmates’ lives depend upon it.
Valletta.Sun burns down on city streets,bringing in the light, beauty,in the shadows, mystery,lost in ancient rows of homes and steps,cracked flagstones balanced one upon the other,or rooted into living rock,tight alleyways frame views of a wave tossed harbour,an artist might go blind from the wonders,or mad from the ceaseless wind.
I have seen the love,when Father makes himself into a bed,to raise the weary child from off the deck,cradling all the treasure of the world,within his arms, underneath thin blankets.
I have seen the love,of brother held fast to brother,sleeping, no support but each other,I had not the words to ask,did they even share a Mother?
Red, golden, green, the scales of Peters fish,stretched and nailed to the curve of the dome,held up by pious prayers, feverish pleas and hope of the wounded,the hospital arches of yellowed stone, barred with wrought iron,twisted and anchored deep into faith,by head and feet, anointed shells of men, bent battered forms.
The Tower of Il-Gardjola
We hear it all,the endless message,carved high into the battlements,conform and heed our call.
We see it all,the lidless eye is never sleeping,stays dry mid widows weeping,for the husbands who lay bleeding.
From Pontus to Sophia.
Currently, in the Central Southern Mediterranean LÉ Samuel Beckett is on patrol, with fifty-six Irish service personnel embarked. She is the physical embodiment of Ireland’s commitment to a Europe Union (EU) mission which is determined to break apart the callous criminal enterprises which have extracted huge profits from the misery and death of thousands of innocents.With both an EU and United Nations (UN) mandate, the roles begin played by the Irish Navy in EUNAVFOR Med ‘Operation Sophia’, are very different from those which were undertaken by the other Irish vessels who have deployed since 2015, when LÉ Eithne first went south to answer the call from our Italian partners as part of the EU response to what has been interchangeable referred to as, the ’Mediterranean’, ’migration’ or ’refugee crisis’.
If only the innocent could be kept afloat by faith,until the rescuers come walking on the waves,to carry the children to the cradle of their mother,not let them tumble in the surf,greeting the morning with their backs,silent and stiff, the red shirt on the tiny frame.
Mothers of Many Nations.
Mothers are mothers, white, brown, yellow, black.no divide amongst the races by colour, creed or social status,each mother cradles two generations inside her during gestation,endless cord to the dawn of time,when your mother's mother was also mine.
The abuse and danger a mother will endure,as she sets out unsure - to fleefetching up on a Libyan shore,with the precious child, her world.
There's a sheltered spot on the Starboard quarter,where I stand with no other,gazing out across the sea,I watch the melting colours of the sky,like a fire burning away the barrier,between this world and the next,I can't often be still of late,lingering in such beauty undeservedly,which stirred youth before life gave way to adult pursuits.
hat if all you had was gone?
What if all you had was a black bag and the clothes on your back?
What if all you loved went limp and slipped from your fingers into the deep blue?
Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, January 30th 1990.
The Aer Corps have a motto 'Go Mairidis Beo' its accepted translation is 'So others may live' which echos the US Air Force Pararescue motto. It stands as a statement of commitment from the people who will place the lives of others above their own.It also is very apt to apply it to Irish sailors, who in all weathers will put to sea in small RHIBs, against the fury of the ocean and into the face of the storm to save their fellow mariners who are in peril on the sea.On the night of the 30th of January 1990 the LÉ DEIRDRE was at anchor in Lawrence's Cove in the shelter of Bere Island from severe gale force winds. A terrible drama was unfolding close by, the Spanish fishing vessel, Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, (Our Lady of Gardtoza) had run aground on rocks near Roancarrigmore Light, North East of Bere Island in Bantry Bay. She was taking water and she had 16 souls onboard.LÉ DEIRDRE received the 'MAYDAY' at 2100hrs and as quickly as she could, the crew weighed anchor and headed out of shelter into the severe gale towards the distressed vessel.
The Middle Sea.
If you drew back the ocean waves,the graveyard of the middle sea would be seen,strewn with the bodies of the poor,from a hundred nations, they lie scattered by the thousands,on the seabed, blanketed in the forever dark.
The ocean has no memory or mercy,the sand will not a headstone make,there will be no names carved in Tripoli or Valetta for these nameless bones,locked or trapped inside decrepit hulks,they tried to cross the waters with pitiless men.