The Irish Naval vessel, the LE Aoife, was officially decomissioned in Waterford on Saturday 31st January 2015 by Paul Kehoe TD, The Minister of State at the Department of Defence, in the presence of local dignitaries, Navy personnel, the Army Band and local people. She was a warhorse of the seas around Ireland, where she served with some distinction for 35 years, although she didn't look a day of it as she was in tip-top condition for the occasion.
A brisk norwesterly blew down the Suir as she fulfilled her last official engagement in the service of the State.
"She was a ship of the line, with a mighty fine crew"
As we were way back in Autumn 2004 at the start of our first Voyage.
What a 10 years on the road
Michael Hearne is fondly remembered by all who knew him and he was a valued member of Hooks & Crookes for an all too brief voyage before his untimely death. But he is not forgotten, and his family and friends gather every year for a St Stephen's Day swim in his memory at the main strand in Dunmore East. All proceeds are donated to the Solas Centre in Waterford City, who offer a safe place for cancer patients and their families.
Luckily the rain stopped to allow the swimmers some respite from the dull and damp conditions.
We also remember fondly our good friend Runé from Riggerloftets, who passed away during 2014. Runé and his wife Torill very kindly accomodated Pat and Timmy when we last visited Tonnsberg in Norway and indeed they hosted a wonderful BBQ for us all during our stay there. Our thoughts are with Torill and her family at this sad time, their first Christmas without him.
Winterval is the annual Christmas Festival in Waterford City that enlives the dark winter days and enriches the many locals and visitors that descend on the City between the end of November and the 23rd December. There are events and activities to suit everyone but it's the children that really enjoy it all, and by association then their parents. There are horse drawn carriages, trains, helter skelters, ice skating and carousels along with stalls selling all sorts of wares. There is also the singing Christmas Tree (but alas no shanties were sung from it this year!) and Saturday the 13th December saw the 21st Lions Club Christmas Concert in the Cathedral: a wonderful occasion.
A Happy Christmas to all and particularly to all our shanty friends across Ireland, Europe and indeed the world.
Nollaig shona dhíbh go léir!
19 August: Rotterdam is a passenger cruise ship and she has a capacity for 1404 passengers. She was off Dunmore East yesterday and it was great to see people coming and going from the ship to the harbour and heading off to various destinations.
She took off then for Dublin. Interestingly too, Hooks and Crookes will be in Rotterdam in early September performing at an international Shanty Festival. We look forward to that.
However, there are two more cruise liners in Dunmore East today: The Thomson Spirit (1000 passangers) and the Crystal Symphony (940 passengers). So busy down in Dunmore East this week. They should stay around for the Bluegrass Festival there this coming weekend. A great weekend is in store!
11 July 2014: It was great to see a cruise ship down in Dunmore East today and a good day it was too. There were a lot of people about doing all the various activities associated with Dunmore East on a summer's day (even an esteemed member of Hooks and Crookes was spotted with his grandson). The cruise liner outside added to the pleasant ambience of this beautiful coastal village. It is an unusual cruise boat too in that it has sails!.
16 May: The cruise liners are arriving! The Hamburg was here Friday 16th May and she is of a size that she was able to come all the way upriver and berth at the old Bell Wharf. Nice to see a big boat along the quays again.
There's a bit of a difference between this beauty and the Old Lady herself, the Portláirge shown below. Aye indeed
The famous Waterford steam-boat dredger, ‘Portlairge’, was built in Dublin and was launched in 1907. For the next 75 years she dredged the mud banks along the Waterford Quays, to keep them open for boats of all descriptions that berthed there to load and unload cargoes. According to Colm Long, in his much acclaimed book, Random Waterford History, she was 140 feet long and could carry 500 tons of material. She was the last working steam ship in this country and was powered by coal and steam throughout her life; she was one of the last remaining such vessels in the world. She was a regular feature around the City and up and down the Suir. Dredged material was released at the mouth of Waterford Harbour and local lore has it that, when the tide turned, the mud was often back on the riverbank along the Quay before she was. She broke down in December 1982, not long after the photograph shown here was taken. Rather than repair her, she was sold for scrap but the deal fell through because of local opposition. She remained berthed and inactive for five more years at Scotch Quay before being sold, again for scrap, and her last journey downriver was on the 26th August 1987.
Her final resting place is at Saltmills, in Bannow Bay in county Wexford, where she was vandalised and she now lies broken and forlorn, and is only a shadow of her former self.
12th February 2014: A big storm battered the country on Wednesday, causing untold damage all across the country, uprooting trees, cutting electricity supplies, blowing off roof, tiles, and a lot more besides. Hopefully this will see the last of the bad winter weather and we can look forward to more favourable times ahead.
5th February 2014: The country has received a terrible battering these last few days, what with gale and even storm force winds, heavy rain, low pressure and very high tides all combining to devastate local communities. Waterford was badly hit with coastal areas suffering the worst of the severe flooding. Parts of Waterford City too were badly flooded and the land is now so saturated that any more rainfall and storms (which are predicted for the coming weekend) may cause many rivers to overflow their banks, leading to further hardship for people, their houses, farmland and businesses.
The Suir overflowed its high banks in places these last couple of days, and the photo shows the flooded low-lying fields above Mount Congreve, land that only very rarely floods.
The installation of flood barriers in Waterford City spared areas that were previously devastated by such adverse weather conditions; unfortunately the works aren't quite finished, hence the severe flooding in Poleberry beside the St Johns River, which isn't fully protected yet.
7th Jan 2014: The country has been ravaged by storms, high tides, low pressure systems rolling in from the Atlantic, heavy rains and powerful seas over the last few weeks, and this lethal combination of factors has led to terrible damage along the coastline and much hardship for coastal communities, especially along the south and west coast of Ireland. There has been widespread flooding and damage to infrastructure and property. Waterford too has been badly hit and especially Tramore, which seems to have suffered greatly. As the weather begins to calm down a bit, the damage is there now for all to see. High seas pounded the seawalls and defensive embankments all along the Tramore seafront leading to much scouring of the 'soft' areas and considerable damage to the 'hard' structures (for example, a massive hole was gouged in the road at the western end of the Prom). Hard times indeed.