- The Crescent City
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- The sinking of Arandora Star
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- SS Lochgarry
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- MV Kerlogue, neutral Irish ship
- The Wreck of the Bolivar
- Where are the Barges now?
- Commemorative Brochure
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- Remember: Clonlara, convoy OG71
- Remember – Munster
- Remember: Irish Pine and 33 crew
- Irish Oak – torpedoed mid-Atlantic
- Remember – Kyleclare and 18 crew
- Remember – Luimneach
- Remember: ILV Isolda, 6 lost
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- City of Waterford, convoy OG74
- Remember: Steam Trawler Leukos
- Remember: Naomh Garbhan with 3
- Remember – SS Meath
- Remember: Kerry Head, 12 crew
- Innisfallen, mined, sunk, 4 crew lost
- Remember: St Fintan with 9 crew
- Remember: Cymric and 11 crew
- Ireland's WWII Sea Losses
- Fun Things to do
- History and Restoration of Church
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- Frank Forde
- Dr Edward Bourke
- Pat Sweeney
- Roy Stokes
- Cormac Lowth
- Book Reviews
President Michael D. Higgins officially re-opened the Old Mariners Church and Maritime Museum
Tuesday 5 June, 2012 11:30 a.m.
President Michael D. Higgins officially re-opened the Old Mariners Church and Maritime Museum, Dún Laoghaire
Remarks by President Michael D. Higgins at the re-opening of the National Maritime Museum, Old Mariners Church, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Tuesday, 5th June 2012
It is a great pleasure to be with you today for the re-opening of the National Maritime Museum. Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl d’Fhoras Mhuirí na hÉireann, do Bhreasal Ó Caollaí ach go háirithe, as an gcuireadh a fuair mé chun teacht anseo inniu. I am also delighted to accept the Maritime Institute of Ireland’s kind invitation to become its patron.
The Maritime Institute has a long and proud history of achievement. It was founded in 1941 at a difficult time when there had been a decade long decline in shipping and marine related activities around our coasts. Then Taoiseach Éamon De Valera and Minister Seán Lemass, taking the initiative on behalf of the Government of the day, requested Colonel Lawlor to set about the task of establishing an organisation with the clear mandate of creating a greater public awareness of our marine heritage. And so Foras Mhuirí na hÉireann (The Maritime Institute of Ireland) was established with its first President, Lord Glenavy, a member of the first Seanad Éireann.
In the 1950s, the leading members of the Institute, led by Dr. John de Courcy Ireland, began the important work of gathering old artefacts from ships, lighthouses, naval uniforms, boarding tickets and indeed anything which might record and promote our maritime history for future generations. To their great credit, they also began recording the social history of the Irish maritime communities. At first the findings and artefacts were stored in their own homes in the hope that one day a maritime museum might be opened.
Two decades later (in 1978), that dream was realised and the Maritime Institute succeeded in securing a suitable home for its museum, leasing this very church at a peppercorn rent of 1/- a year. From then the original museum remained open until about 6 years ago with volunteers, stalwarts like the late Robbie Brennan, General Manager, and also the late Dr. Philip Smyly, the long time and and well respected curator, operating it. It is heartening to see that many of those who helped these men are here today and are still involved in running the museum.
In recent years, a great working relationship has been forged between those with a great love for the sea and its heritage and local business and community leaders and I believe that it is this unity of purpose which has ensured that the museum has remained in Dún Laoghaire.
The success story continued and in more recent times the building’s freehold has been purchased from the Church of Ireland by a re-invigorated Institute. This is thanks to funds raised through local public subscription and fund raising which continued within the local community and among communities around our coasts allowing also the refurbishment of the building and development of the museum.
Those local efforts earned recognition and grants became available from Government to complete refurbishment. I understand that John Cahill from the Office of Public Works architectural Division provided invaluable assistance as did Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the Department of Social Protection’s FÁS Scheme.
It is important to acknowledge the sterling support received over many years from such notables as the Rev. Victor Stacey, (now Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral) while Minister at Christ Church & Mariners in Dún Laoghaire, the Rev. Gordon Linney, while Archdeacon of Dublin and Minister at St. Pauls, Glenageary, and the late Fr. Seán Cassidy of St. Michael’s Church.
We know that the story of Irish Maritime is also very much entwined with our language and culture. Today, many of our fishermen are from the Gaeltacht communities of Waterford, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Donegal and some of the islands off our coastline. Irish is their day to day language, and it is to your credit that you have made this a bi-lingual, indeed a multi-lingual, museum. Molaim sibh as an gcur chuige seo.
The new National Maritime Museum will contain displays of artefacts from ships and lighthouses which tell stories of times long gone and the social histories involved. It is encouraging to know that the amount of artefacts collected to-date is much greater than can be displayed at any one time and as such rotation of artefacts and story lines will be an attractive feature of the museum. The greatest artefact of all, however, must be the building itself – this Old Mariners Church – built especially in 1837 for sailors of the Royal Navy and for people using the harbour. This is one of the few large mariner church buildings in the world today. Even the prison-boxes for holding ships’ prisoners during religious service are intact within the building. The building work for this church, and the land upon which it was built, I’m told, was made possible by an act of the British Parliament during a time when famines were widespread in Ireland and employment was very scarce.
Ní amháin go bhfuil déantáin mheicniúla sa mhúsaem ach tuigim go bhfuil rannóg d’fiadhúlra na mara anseo le taispeántas iasc, éan agus ainmhithe bheaga a bhfuil cónaí orthu ar chósta na hÉireann. Níl aon dabht agam ach go n-éireoidh go geal leis an músaem agus go mbeidh suim ag daoine óga ach go háirithe sna háiseanna anseo.
In addition to the mechanical artefacts in the museum, I understand that there is a new marine wildlife section here with displays of fish, birds and small animals that live around our coasts. I’m sure that this will be a great success and an immediate hit with younger visitors in particular.
The museum will also include a Maritime Art Gallery. The late Dr. Philip Smyly built up what is probably Ireland’s largest collection of marine paintings and objects of art and these will now be displayed by rotation in the gallery.
Pride of place in the museum’s restaurant is the Roche painting of the train pulling into Carlisle Pier in early 1950s Ireland, bringing emigrants to the Bád Bán or the mailboat in the harbour.
Stories of successful Irish naval men will be told – such as that of Mayo man Admiral William Brown who founded the Argentine Navy and is still today a national hero in Argentina; the story of Commodore John Barry from Wexford, the first chief of the US Navy, and indeed the story of County Clare man, John Holland, who invented the submarine.
I wish you well with the many interesting events that you have planned including a 6 week exhibition starting next month on the marine findings of the French research ship Tara. Indeed, the ship is due to visit here to mark the opening of this exhibition. I am delighted to hear that in the latter part of 2013, there will be a 4 month exhibition marking the centenary of the 1913 Lock-out.
And where more fitting a location for the museum than Moran Park, named in honour of Patrick Moran, a Roscommon man and a patriot. One of the leaders of the workers locked out in 1913, he participated in the 1916 Rising and was then interned in Frongoch, Wales. When he returned, he came to Dún Laoghaire where he acted for Michael Collins and travelled regularly on the mail-boat to and from Holyhead. At the time of his execution, he was national president of his trade union, now known as MANDATE.
I’m delighted to hear that the institute has many plans for further development of the Old Mariners Church. These plans include The Dublin Bay Viewing Tower within the existing spire, the re-opening shortly of the Maritime Library, workshops for the restoration of artefacts in the basement of the building and in the longer term, a full restaurant in the grounds overlooking the sea.
The development of the National Maritime Museum, and the Cultural Moran Park Quarter in which it is situated, will be the source of much enjoyment, vibrancy and cultural stimulation in the years ahead.
It is therefore my great pleasure to declare our National Maritime Museum open.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.
Speech delivered by Peadar Ward, President of the Maritime Institute of Ireland.
A Uachtaran, Caithaoirleach, Minister, Your Excellencies, Rev Fathers, Fellow Members of the Institute, Distinguished Guests
It is a privilege to have the President, Michael D Higgins here with us today. Mind you he is not only a guest; the President is the Institute’s Patron. We are honoured to have such a distinguished Patron, one who has shown much interest in our heritage and indeed maritime matters. The President’s visit will be marked by the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and the planting of an oak tree in the grounds.
Today is a significant milestone for the Maritime Institute and the National Maritime Museum; having been closed for over 6 years we are now open to the public again. The state funding which has restored the fabric of the building, along with the voluntary effort of our members, is a testimony to what a voluntary organisation can achieve with support from the state. This collaboration between state agencies and voluntary groups is central to the preservation of our heritage.
The collection of artefacts preserved here in our museum is a small segment of our Irish heritage and an important part of our maritime heritage. (Incidentally on display is only a small portion of our collection of artefacts.) Were it not for the vision of the founders of this Institute in 1941 we as a nation would be deprived of an important part of our heritage. Our goal is to act as custodians of Ireland’s maritime heritage; educate our young citizens on the wealth of history, science and technical achievements associated with our maritime past. The Institute will preserve and convey them for the generations to come.
The reopening of the museum today could not have come about without Government funding and the direction and advice from the Office of Public Works. To get to where we are today we had three phases of construction and I would like to acknowledge the contractors; John Sisk and Son, Doyle Building Contractors and Midland Construction along with our architects James Slattery and Felim Dunne. The building is truly magnificent and in itself an important exhibit.
Mind you to start on this road we are indebted to The Church of Ireland and The Church Representative Body who initially leased these premises to us and subsequently facilitated our purchase of the property.
While the major construction work was carried out by contractors we could never have opened without the Community Employment Scheme under the auspices of the Department of Social Protection. Our staff on the Scheme includes skilled craftsmen, administrators, and fundraisers. The finished product you see here today is largely as a result of their efforts. We are indebted to them for their work.
We have had success in accessing state funding over the years and apart from the funds to restore the building we are fortunate to have the ongoing support of many state bodies such as the Departments of Transport, Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Commissioners of Irish Lights and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Co Co. As regards the County Council we look forward to the completion of the new Library and Cultural Centre on our door step. We see this as part of the evolution of a new Maritime Quarter for the town. The list of our other supporters and sponsors are too numerous to mention; suffice it to say that we have been very fortunate to have a fantastic cadre of a dedicated supporters.
In addition to our permanent exhibits, which we plan to change in a timely fashion, we will also be hosting temporary exhibitions in the Lawlor Room and on the gallery. Next month we will have a French exhibition on the occasion of the visit by the French research vessel Tara and a Scouting Ireland Exhibition commemorating 100 years of Sea Scouting. Art exhibitions on the gallery are also planned. Incidentally the gallery will in due course house our very fine collection of maritime publications. Some of our publications date back as far as 1750. We owe a debt of gratitude to BIM who have been kind enough to store our book collection until we are ready to reopen our research library.
I should also mention our lecture programme which is an important aspect of the Institute’s work. Lectures are held monthly in Stella Maris in the city centre and we will also be holding lectures here at the museum. On that same theme we have plans for a Maritime Summer School here in Dun Laoghaire in 2013. This will follow on from the very successful Maritime Summer School held in 1998
As I pointed out earlier we are a voluntary, not for profit organisation and we depend on the income from admission charges and various fund raising activities to meet our operational costs. Generally speaking museums are not sustainable on admission charges alone. So for us the challenge starts here. However we are determined to make this venture a success.
This success will depend on support from the County Council, the continuation of our Community Employment Scheme and the dedication of our volunteers. In recognition of the voluntary effort of our members I think it is only appropriate to mention the late John de Courcy Ireland (who was indeed well known to President Higgins), Desmond Brannigan; one of our longest serving members and a past President of the Institute. Des Brannigan was instrumental in getting us the first tranche of State funding. I should also mention my predecessor as President; Eoghan Ganly who would in fact be standing here today, in my place, if circumstances had permitted and we had opened at an earlier date. The Institute badly needs more John de Courcy Irelands, Des Brannigans and Eoghan Ganlys. Membership of the Institute is open to everyone over 18 years of age, and I think that will make just about everyone here eligible. We need to expand our membership in order to promote the Institutes various activities and operate the Museum.
Please take this as an open invitation to join. Thank You