Michael Kingston: 40th Anniversary of the Whiddy Island Disaster

Dear friends from near and far, from days of old, and of recent times.

I write as the 40th Anniversary of the Whiddy Island (M V Betelgeuse) Disaster approaches on 08th January 2019 in Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland. My father died in the Disaster.

Christmas is a hard time for seafarers and our rescue services that protect them, and their families. I ask that you please take 5 minutes to read this message.

The Betelgeuse Disaster is the leading example of the failure to implement regulation as it was the Cornerstone of the IMO – SOLAS1974 –  that was lying on Government shelves so it is hugely important as the Disaster is a stark reminder of what happens if we do not act. It is also one of the saddest stories of a tragedy at this time of the year, and in any event, where so many people died far from home.

At this exact time 40 years ago the crew of the MV Betelgeuse were on their way, in tough conditions, from the Arabian Gulf with a large cargo of crude oil. Unfortunately, despite bravely battling the elements, upon arrival in Bantry Bay everything went wrong – on the ship, and at the Whiddy Island Oil  Terminal and the entire crew of 42 French nationals, 7 local Irish nationals, and an English surveyor, who had only just boarded the vessel, tragically died. Sadly too a Dutch diver lost his life in the Removal of Wreck Operation, performed by Smit Tak, the most complex at that time in history. 51 people in total perished. All safety systems failed.

If you have time look at this video. (it is only 25minutes) from last year on Ireland’s National broadcasting network RTE.

However, despite this tragedy, much good has come out of the terrible disaster and the regulation to prevent explosions that had been agreed years earlier (SOLAS 1974) was implemented throughout the world. And further work has taken place which is explained in my below email, and attached letter to the Confederation of European Shipmasters Associations, who are attending, as are the International Chamber of Shipping, Ireland’s Maritime Institutions, Ireland’s Rescue Services including Irish Coastguard and several RNLI Station Representatives, RNLI HQ, and many others, including Company, NGO, and  State representatives from across the world. The families take great solace in these positive developments in best practice and regulatory implementation, and in highlighting the importance of these issues and of our rescue services on 08th January, in a positive celebration of these brave people who sacrificed so much which influenced safety for thousands of others. A talk given recently in Vladivostok is attached which explains some of the recent regulatory developments.

The message from this Commemoration is simple:

use best practice, implement regulation, to protect our seafarers and protect our environment so as not to have our precious emergency services unnecessarily called out.

As you know, in varying ways, we have worked closely together over the past number of years, be it in the sporting arena helping our youth, in the arena of friendship helping with British- Irish relations to underpin a sacrosanct friendship between close neighbours, and working together with friends further afield across the world, in the business world helping to promote better standards to protect and promote our industries, and in the international regulatory world. At all times our work in these areas has been built on the keystone of local and world society – having faith in the humanity of those around us. We have as a result of that approach achieved a lot together that we can be proud of.

I write to you today to ask of you this: to try and make an effort to come to Bantry on 08th January for 1100 Mass and/ or make a donation to one of the charities listed below – just a small one to help our cherished seafarers and our cherished rescue services, the Angels on the Horizon in our time of need.

One of our family members during our life will in some shape manner of form have to rely on our rescue services, and we all rely on our seafarers who are out there as we enjoy our Christmas period. Although my father died our rescue services did the best they could in atrocious circumstances, and my family & I will be eternally grateful for those efforts, including helping to find my father’s body 8 months after the Disaster so we had a grave to visit.

Friends of Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry Hospital and its staff had a huge burden to deal with on the night of the Disaster and afterwards as the bodies that were recovered were taken there. The hospital relies on voluntary donations to support its wonderful services to the community. As we enjoy Christmas I do not have to explain to you how hard our hospital staff are working.

Bank:  Allied Irish Banks plc, Bantry, Co. Cork. 

Name:  The Friends Of Bantry General Hospital Ltd. 

IBAN:  IE49 AIBK 9360 1404 5000 53

BIC:    AIBKIE2D

The RNLI, the Angels on the Horizon, then and now. Here is the link.

The international Seafarer Organisations that do so much good.

Mission to Seafarers

Seafarers UK

Apostleship of the Sea.

You will have your own organisations of choice close to you too. If you can make a donation please use reference ‘Betelgeuse’ and also let me know if you so wish so I can relay it to the families.

Thank you and hopefully  you can come to Bantry on 08th January for Mass at 1100 to acknowledge the lives that were lost and the importance of best practice and regulatory implementation, and to show  respect for our seafarers and rescue services. An important safety award is being presented to a National Maritime College of Ireland Cadet.

If your organisation would like to have a Wreath placed at the Monument please let me know.

I have included my family’s Christmas card for this year remembering those who died, which shows the backdrop of Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay. Terrible tragedy should not happen amidst such beauty, or anywhere else, and it is within our control to make sure it does not. We have worked very hard to try and achieve that goal in recent years.

I am happy for you to circulate this email with my contact details within your organisations and further afield (including at this time to family members and friends) to relay these important messages as a reminder and education of how important it is to act in time and respect our rescue services and seafarers.

As I say below the world can be a wonderful place all around us- if that is what we want it to be, if we turn negativity into positivity,  learning from the lessons of history.

As the great Irish politician, Edmund Burke, famously said Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them”

Best wishes and have a wonderful and safe Christmas and New Year

Together we will always make a difference.

Ní neart go cur le chéile

Michael Kingston

Meanwhile in The Community Garden……

Something is buzzing down at the Goleen Community Garden and it is not
only the bees. For those of you who haven’t heard, a small plot of land at the community centre is gradually being turned into a new and exciting project
promoting our local environment. The garden received a start up award from Grow It Yourself (GIY) & Energia in January and ever so slowly the garden has begun to take shape. Our 8 local districts were represented at a tree planting ceremony, the display of sunflowers that have bloomed most of the summer were planted by the kids at the Easter Egg Hunt and there are over 40 pots sitting on the fence provided by local businesses, members of our local community as well as pots commemorating the memory of those who have passed, all reminding us of what a supportive community we have around Goleen.
It is almost impossible for me to mention all the support and help that our community are giving to this project and there is always a danger that
someone will be left out but I do have to acknowledge the likes of Diarmuid at Goleen Development who recently delivered a huge pile of top soil, Ritchie at West Cork Engineering who is helping with various projects, coffee grounds from  Sarah Jane at the cafe, our local woodwork wizard Andrew Jepson and of course our own local Community Council. Bob and his tractor, Mary and her donkeys who provided, well you can guess what they provided!
We have had so much advice and encouragement and it is all so welcome. There have been visits by all ages from the play group playing nature Bingo to members of the social centre curious to see where some of their veg comes from.
We recently were asked if the RTE TV Program Grow, Cook, Eat could come
and visit us as they would like to feature the garden in one of their shows
and this has brought even more energy to the garden and a push to get
some of the ongoing projects completed. We are in the process of building
some raised beds for members to grow veg next spring and Claire ran one of her table quizzes that is enabling us to get the specialised recycled plastic wood needed. We have room for 6 beds and have raised enough for 4, the word got out and Mark at Barleycove Hotel and Michael our local TD gave us the rest of what was needed to order all 6. Filming takes place on October 3rd so we will have to get our skates on
We have native trees from Matt at Goleen Harbour, heathers from Noah at Deelish’s to be planted, a couple of raspberries from Neelog to be picked, oh sorry I might have eaten them already, plants from Kor the Coastguard Gardener, Adam and Kloe from 2 Green Shoots are helping with selecting suitable native species, we have horticultural expert Michael from West Cork Campus and oh so much more.
This is truly a wonderful community with so much talent and ability. Mary the new National School Principal is rallying her troops with Judi Ann and her clutch at the playgroup, ideas from Foroige, rumours that those maidens of mayhem might be a yarn bombing again, keep an eye out you just don’t know what’s happening down in the garden or check out our Facebook Page if the weather is bad.
Sod It Blog
I write a personal blog about my life and garden and I recently posted one about the garden and a fellow garden blogger Judy from the US (New England Garden And Thread) just got in touch and made a donation towards a bench for our garden, hands across the ocean it is an amazing world we live in these days!
I know we have probably left some out but it really is difficult to keep on top of it all thank you Goleen. One final mention to one of our regular members and our resident bee lady Mairead, thank you so much for all your help digging lazy beds, picking rocks and your company and laughter in the garden and we wish you every future happiness in your upcoming marriage.
We also have an audia blog along with some photos from the garden on Youtube you can have a listen in to what’s going on in the garden HERE
If you would like to get involved or have any ideas please get in touch either through the FB page or give me a call 0831372013, the garden gate is always open.
Owen Kelly

A Visit from the Neighbours

On last Wednesday evening outside Norma’s Corner House Bar in Goleen the Irish Tricolour and the US Star Spangled Banner hung side by side as inside a  warm welcome was being made for a Delegation from the Government of Maine led by Commissioner for Economics Ms Denise Garland.

Earlier a very important agreement had been signed between Co Cork and the State of Maine at County Hall. Here in Goleen two communities met to celebrate the ancient bond between neighbours an ocean apart. We proudly call ourselves the last Parish before America and on this evening two neighbours Goleen and Maine came together with the hospitality we in West Cork are so proud of.

There is a closeness brought about through our collective histories and Michael Kingston Director of the Irish Cultural Centre in London and Special Advisor on Shipping, a son of this Parish and force behind this coming together  addressed a full house of smiling faces behind the bar of his Aunt’s Pub. There were eloquent stories told from both sides of the water of emigration and the past, ambitions for the future and hopes of closer ties between us all, songs were sung, poems read, toasts held and friends made long into the evening. It was a truly very special night and so generously hosted.

The Goleen Festival Presents Catherine Cunningham

The Goleen Summer Festival is delighted to announce that Singer/Songwriter and Story Teller Catherine Cunningham will open this year’s festival with a special concert at the Barleycove Hotel on Thursday 9th August at 8.30pm. Catherine is originally from Athea in West Limerick, she developed her sound while travelling in North America and finally returned to Ireland and discovered the delights of West Cork where she is now based.

She has been described as being as unpredictable as the roads she has travelled, her songs twist and unravel through the most unexpected of landscapes, to paint pictures and stories full of longing, humour and power. Mischievious and highly irreverent, her performances are intimate affairs, where the audience is regaled with songs and stories of the road.

Catherine will be performing material from her new show and 4th album “Bothering the Dead.”

Tickets will be available on the door or pre-booked from your local Community Councillor (€12)

Mizen AFC Reach Finals

Mizen AFC 3 Bunratty United 2 (Aet)

Gerald O’Callaghan and Darren O’Donovan were the hero’s last Sunday week, firing Mizen to an extra time victory over local rivals Bunratty in the semi final of the Parkway Cup. As always, Pat Moynihan had the pitch at the Goleen Community Centre looking better then Croke Park. David Farrell, David O’Leary, Sean Sheehan and Peter Sheehan excelled in midfield.

Ronan Kennedy’s safe hands at the high ball and the defensive quartet of Paudie Reidy, James Scully, Daniel O’Callaghan and Andy McCarthy denied Bunratty’s impressive forward line to very few clear cut chances but despite this, twice Mizen found themselves behind, but Darren equalized on both occasions after being assisted by Gerald and Captain Patrick Scully! And, roles reversed, in the second half of extra time, Darren assisted Gerald and deservedly sent Mizen through.

Thanks to all our sponsors, especially The Lobster Pot Bar who sponsored the fixture.

Mizen Reach Soccer Semi Finals

Semi Final vs Bunratty United on Sunday May 27th in Goleen at 2pm.

Mizen AFC who defeated Dunmanway Town to advance to the semi-final of the Parkway Hotel/Maybury Coaches Cup

Dunmanway Town ‘A’   0   Mizen AFC  1

Ger O’Callaghan had a few near misses before he hit the target but when he did, the only goal of the game in the 62ndminute, not alone produced a knockout blow but also a surprise result.  In this Parkway Hotel/Maybury Coaches Cup quarterfinal the First Division side showed scant respect for their Premier opponents who may have played some excellent football but for all that might well have suffered an even bigger defeat. With sheer persistence allied to no little skill Mizen once again raised their game when the occasion demanded but wasting a few clear cut scoring opportunities they had to wait for a while before delivering the mortal blow.

The goal when it came was simply executed in a move where a throw in from Drinagh Rangers import Andy McCarthy was flicked on by Patrick Scully to where Ger O’Callaghan lurked and this time the finish was clinical.  They had to rebuff periods of prolonged pressure from the losers thereafter but all the while showed that they had the ability to create an opening just as they did in the very early stages of an excellent contest. Ger O’Callaghan was again the player involved as he ghosted in from the left flank only to be denied by agile Town ‘keeper David Mawe.  The play anywhere losers’ veteran was once more to display his versatility in a position that’s inbred in his DNA and one save in the closing half produced one of the highlights of the game.

Long before that we had seen most of the play flow in the direction of the Mizen goal but surprisingly capable ‘keeper Ronan Kennedy hadn’t a whole lot to do.  In fact his first real save of note came in the opening attack of the resumption when a Jamie Carroll free-kick tested him, (a little).  Try as they might Town failed to adorn excellent approach play with a goal earlier on when aided by the cold breeze.  The Mizen defence was resolute with Daniel O’Callaghan making sure they kept their ‘shape’ while James Scully was the first to pass his defenders test with an early goal saving tackle.  One by one the rest all did their bit while together they formed an impenetrable bond to keep their citadel from being breached. During a protracted period of Town pressure Barry O’Donovan headed over while the losers’ also served up a plethora of corners and Stephen Collins almost got in on the end of a splendid Tim Healy delivery.

All that and more when David Farrell was at his best for the besieged winners who had the combative David O’Leary, Andy McCarthy and Patrick Scully also to the fore.  Neither were the Sheehan’s, Peter, on the left wing and Sean on the right flank shirking their responsibilities during this time of need.  Paudie Scully was solid rather than spectacular as he played his role in a team effort that was praiseworthy. Town’s attempt to stay in the reckoning was just as laudable with Pa McCarthy partnering Stephen O’Donovan in the spine of a defence where John Healy mixed up his codes at one stage. Nearing the end of the half a Mizen break, from a Ronan Kennedy clearance sent Ger O’Callaghan clear only for the striker’s lobbed effort to carry just over. In the final piece of the opening half action a strong Tim Healy surge had Daniel O’Callaghan on his toes to keep it scoreless at the break.

The third quarter was possibly Mizens’ best as they strode forward confidently in pursuit of a goal.  This almost came early on when a powerful Patrick Scully surge ended with a delivery that Seán Sheehan very nearly connected withat the far post.  Then a Town defensive mix-up allowed the winners through for a goal only for it to be disallowed for offside while a John Healy intervention was followed by a fantastic David Mawe save that denied Ger O’Callaghan an almost certain goal.  As events transpired these were but stays of execution given that the Mizen winner arrived soon after.  When it did it was enthusiastically greeted by the underdogsbut time was still on the loser’s side in their efforts to get an equaliser.  Try as they did Town failed to get on terms and in fact Mizen was the team who continued to threaten on the break.  Ten minutes from the end Peter Sheehan did have to clear a Town corner off the line at one end while Seán Sheehan fired over at the other.  That and lots more as the contest drew to a close with a reshuffled losers giving it everything in a bid to force extra time, but it was not to be.

Dunmanway Town; D Mawe, R Coakley, J Healy, S O’Donovan, P McCarthy, T Healy, J Carroll, C O’Donovan, C Daly, S Collins, B O’Donovan.  Sub D Ring.

Mizen AFC; R Kennedy, J Scully, D O’Callaghan, P Downey, D Farrell, S Sheehan, P Scully, A McCarthy, D O’Leary, P Sheehan, G O’Callaghan.

Subs Andrew O’Connor, John Supple, Brian Clarke, Chris Kennedy.

Referee; A McDermott, WCL.

Free Seeds and Rock Painting

The Goleen Easter Egg Hunt was held at the Community Centre on Saturday and it gave us the first real opportunity to show people the new Community Garden. To be honest there is not a lot to see at the moment, the weather has not been really suitable for gardening, cold and wet mostly, but we were lucky to have a lovely sunny day.

We put a couple of tables down at the bottom of the garden near the fence and I got some pots, compost and various bulbs and sunflower seeds for some of the Egg Hunters to have a go at planting. We now have 40 pots with bulbs planted which I hope will give a bit of colour to the garden in the summer. The kids and some parents put their names on the pots so they will be able to see their contribution and hopefully feel like part of the garden. We also have a load of sunflowers planted, as a kid I loved these bright sunny flowers towering over head and turning to face the sun. One French lady told me that they are called Tournesols (Sun turned) in France, how very appropriate.

On the other table we set up some painting gear, brushes, paints, water etc and invited our visitors to paint some rocks. The table got messier and messier as the day wore on but we do have a lovely new colourful rock garden.

I was delighted we had so many volunteers to help out including teenagers who were great in encouraging the planting and painting.

A rare quiet moment as the Egg Hunter watched a movie

We put up a few of the new “Adopt a Pots,” and they provided some colour sat on the fence. We have 42 pots adopted so far and it is very encouraging and a bit overwhelming to see so much support from local businesses, shops, pubs, restaurants as well as local individuals, summer residents and even those now living abroad and reconnecting all helping and sharing with us in this new project.

The Celtic spiral design I cut into the turf attracted a lot of interest and the kids loved running round it. Seeing the kids interact with the design make me think we need a few more ideas in the garden to get kids to explore, a textured path might be an idea. We will also need to leave a space for the kids to roll down the hill which seemed a very popular activity with the younger ones.

The garden is a very new project but I was so delighted to see it being used and the sounds of laughter were very rewarding, seating is also going to be an important challenge so parents can sit and chat while the kids explore.

Bulb planting, fun for all the family

I haven’t managed to get the potatoes into the vegetable part of the garden yet as there have been a few frosts at night but I will take the plunge this week as the potatoes are well chitted at this point and really need to get under ground.

So thank you to all those who helped with the sowing and painting and to all the families that used the garden, I am feeling very confident that we will continue to Grow The Community together.

Liam’s Tales: A Fine Spring Evening on Barleycove

7:10pm View around Barleycove this evening after doing walk through the dunes met few rabbits about the place not many just a few…

Forecast says rain on way and looking at this you would have to say that they are spot on with prediction let’s hope it moves swiftly past us…

Must say this was yet another beautiful day be out and about not hint shower anytime at all roads very busy good see so many around enjoying fine weather…

7:16pm Here we are looking out over bay towards Mizen Head and sea so calm looking don’t think they be much bad weather ahead…

Love view you get from here as you look down on beach and when furze bushes blossom later in year then that make for real nice picture…

Great see Munster beat Toulon reach semi – final of European Cup listened on radio here by beach great game and good commentator sure twas like watching on TV listening to him…

7:24pm Looking at sun right there you would have to say it’s very sunken and sad looking sure sign that rain not far away…

7:37pm You really begin feel night chill in air this time evening sure not long more now and another day ends and good day it was no matter what you were doing..

Fine moonlit night outside but real cold nip in air temp only 2.5c with breeze from an Easterly direction would think they be frost later if things stay like this… Off now watch Match of Day on BBC so that’s all its bye for now and goodnite from here

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Liam & Us All

Hiya 2all my friends… I would like wish you all very Happy St Patricks Day, it’s nearly 2am, fine calm clear starry night outside temp at 7c.

I got my weekly Irelands Own magazine, it’s a great read, lots nice stories, some true and others like fiction in way. Good see Kitty The Hare back, she always has a funny story, not forgetting Miss Flanagan best detective around, she always get problems sorted and lots St Patrick memories and Cassidy Says looking back on his memories, always interesting is he and whole lot other stuff also like I say tis great read week not same without it.

Really looking forward to having a few ice creams in morning as you can break your Lent on this special day, might have bit Chocolate and few bags crisp, also doing great so far never any day had a big urge to break our Lenten fast.

Good to see that our Cafe in Goleen has re-opened again for season and we wish Sara – Jane and Colin well, it’s a great addition to have something like this when people visit the place.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

Looking forward to Rugby and seeing us beat England at home to win Grand Slam, last time we done this was in 1948 so it’s about time we won again, that’s to beat England in last game series to win outright and I hope Nemo win All Ireland Club Football Final also, then that would make it perfect day but anyway whatever happens we looking forwards to them anyway.

That’s all again wish you all very happy St Patricks day and hope you have great weekend