Reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editor of An Cosantóir, this is my article which featured in Special Commemorative Edition on the occasion of the Naval Service 75th Anniversary. They were the ships onboard which a generation of sailors came of age, and they lead the way for others to follow. Built in... Continue Reading →
Reproduced here with the kind permission of the Editor of An Cosantóir, this is my article which featured in Special Commemorative Edition on the occasion of the Naval Service 75th Anniversary. The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Naval Service is a milestone in the long and rich history of service. No celebration could... Continue Reading →
Alone. In that empty lifejacket,adrift upon the sea,was lost child or brother,borne away so far,to die alone,reduced to a statistic, Meaningless data thrown up,racing endless streams of television,infographic footnotes risk all,carrying dreams,daring tomorrows,out on the waves, Driven by the eternal motion,as the grains all settle back,washing final footprints from the sand,no mother’s tears will wet... Continue Reading →
The Master's Dog Guilty looks from left to right, glancing over sunken shoulders, ensuring fitting purity for the words, filthy black bastard, it rolls out of yellowed mouth, hits the deck like a seagulls shit, always seeking their approval, like a dog aching for the Master's hand, such a common thing, delivered with the snigger... Continue Reading →
Nomad. Dancing in the shade of a warship, miles from anywhere, a weary little nomad, alighting to take refuge on the dark grey timber, worn out and staggering, Rest, be at peace, staring fascinated, remembering in the haze of this beautiful dusk, past summers spent at home, Lying in the rough grass, lost in the... Continue Reading →
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.
A Changed World.
In 1919, the war to end all wars was over. The 19th of January saw the start of peace negotiations in Paris, which would culminate in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June. This momentous year saw the drafting of the covenant of the League of Nations, the surrender and scuttling of the German high seas fleet in Scapa Flow. It also on the 21st of January saw the first Dáil sit in the Mansion House in Dublin, where they declared Irish Independence in fulfilment of the goals of the grand heroic failure of the 1916 Easter Rising. Also on that fateful day in Soloheadbeg, volunteers of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade under the command of Seán Treacy and Dan Breen, ambushed and shot two constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The first two dead men of an estimated 1,400 deaths between 1919 and 1921. While most of the fighting occurred on land across Ireland, the sea had a major role to play in both the Rising and the War of Independence.
Lonely Edge of Europe.
Ireland holds a geostrategic maritime position on the lonely edge of Europe, facing out into the North Atlantic where the European and North American sea lanes veritably bustle with all manner of shipping. At the turn of the century, Ireland's seas and maritime domain where under the firm control of the British Empire and the might of the Royal Navy. The ports and deep sheltered harbours of Cork, Berehaven and Lough Swilly, protected by massive forts and coastal artillery batteries, had played their part in centuries of British domination of the high seas and from these ports where shipped troops to fight in Britain's many wars. Many a period of rebelliousness across Ireland was subdued by forces shipped from these Naval installations, helping to underpin the British presence in Ireland as the dark clouds of war gathered on the European horizon. Those clouds burst in August 1914.
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’.