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


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

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.

Liam’s Tales: A Trip Up The Mountain

6:05pm Got up here on what was beautiful evening after fab day bit of cool breeze but at same time twas pleasant evening up here.

June 23rd Saint John’s Eve people long ago would climb up here on that evening as sun was setting and kneel besides cross and say their prayers often heard my Father on about this twas still big thing when he was young God bless ‘em all now.

There is Holy Well at foot hill about 150 yards down and tradition back then you said decade Rosary as you climbed from Well to Cross and repeated this till all 5 decades said hill very steep here but they had path made winding sideways from all use still parts this visible to this day.

Years ago circle stones here around cross many them have fallen down but amazing thing cross has never moved Saint Ciaran’s Mother supposed be buried here not sure but think he was around at time Saint Patrick that’s going back long way.

6:21pm Have moved west further on hill get better view sunset its been long time since up here better make most of it God only knows when we here again

That’s Dunlough Bay in distance where sun disappears being when day here is done.

6:26pm such a beautiful clear sky would give us hope that another fine day on way in morning well suppose time will tell but it looks that way from here right now.

Have to say view from here on an evening like this makes all climbing worthwhile it’s just shame tidal stream not in full twud only add picture anyway we get that another time.

6:38pm Last peep of sun up here this evening as another day ends it’s been great day here and we now looks forwards to what next day brings us.

Bang in centre of Dunlough Bay sun sets this time years besides Stone Circle what wonderful view no doubt its great place be buried if only access was easier.

7:05pm As we make our way back via Ardsolough this view of Crookhaven with Fastnet Rock Light Beam getting stronger by minute as night air falls over place real chill about place as we move along.

Nearly 1am on what’s fine clear starry night outside not puff wind but cold air temp only 1c reckon they be lots frost before morning hope not.

That’s all so its bye for now and goodnite from here

Liam’s Tales: The Big Freezey

Bitter cold outside with stiff breeze from East temp -3c its so cold was going fry rashers but the gas pipe after freezing now that is cold… Hope everyone heeds warnings and stay off roads from 4pm onwards as this time Storm Emma is due its dangerous storm so heed warnings and stay safe above all don’t risk life some innocent person if you get in trouble

Woke this morning at 7:10am had peep out window did not see much snow on Letter Hill so did not get out see sunrise stayed where we were suppose its safest place be in weather like this…

On our way east Goleen this evening around 6pm temp only -1c twas not much higher any part day while out for walk in beach lots frozen snow about place….

6:35pm Snowing well here for past 45 minutes or so few snow showers early morning but twas good for rest day…

Denny’s Pub looking well in snow love yellow colour really stands out in this kind weather and moon shines brightly also….

It’s amazing this picture taken without flash on even though it was snowing well you cannot see it but snowing well it was trust me…

This view with flash on this shows perfectly what conditions were like pure winter and Storm Emma arrives about 4pm tomorrow up from Bay Biscay well somewhere around there anyway let’s hope she don’t stay long with us…

This place where we shop everyday sure you be surprised when you enter how much stuff inside as all shelves stocked neat and tidy and its open all hours that’s beauty of having place like this..

Night air begins fall over place and as you can see most people at home little traffic on road sure with temp at -2.5c its at home we all should be

Roads around here in perfect condition all day around Goleen but very bad from Skibbereen east sure Goleen – Cork bus which leav’es at 7:50am could only get as far as Clonakilty he had return back Goleen got back around just after 12pm he said things real bad from Clon onwards… Fair play to driver for making effort to travel he could do no more and all CIE Bus routes cancelled till Friday at least…

Often calls in here great place pass some spare time lots interesting things see and lots good reading about local history also here you can rent room for Wi-Fi its handy for doing important stuff while on holidays…

Temp when taking these pictures were only -2.5c it did not feel that cold but at same time when we going home at 6::45pm the snow had frozen on windscreen had put on heater before we could travel…

7:05pm Nearly home and lucky get there as road by Jimmy Downey’s getting dangerous car was slipping bit going uphill no doubt but if this continues till morning things be real bad…

That’s it another day ends and happy we are get inside besides fire put car into shed for night in case we wake early for view sunrise this way no delay as car be frost free well that’s plan anyway..

9:45pm Stopped snowing at moment but yard outside looks real pretty with moonshine on all snow about place its nearly bright as day anyway enough that so its bye for now and goodnite from here

Being At The Centre Of Europe

Opening address at Your Future Your Europe Conference

Local youth activist Mair Kelly was invited to attend the Cork Citizen’s Dialogue on the Future of Europe at Cork County Hall on Thursday. Mair is well known locally as a community volunteer working with Comhairle na nÓg and the YMCA and a number of other voluntary organisations outside our area she is also a past winner of the West Cork Garda Youth Award.

The Dialogue brought citizens from all walks of life around the table to discuss how Europe should approach issues as broad as training for jobs of the future to rural development and examining how the EU needs to evolve to bring all its citizens together. Mair is in her last year at Schull Community College and as the youngest there was able to bring her unique perspective both as a representative of the future of Europe as well as a member of our local rural community.

Minister Helen McEntee T.D & Mair

For one so young Mair has built up tremendous experience as she has travelled as an Irish delegate to the European Parliament in Strasbourg as well as to a number of conferences in Cork and Dublin as well as Dáil Éireann.

Mair & Noelle O Connell

As expected the evening at Cork County Hall was lively with debate from all sides giving everyone the chance to express their opinions and concerns during the workshops. Mair was delighted to have the opportunity to raise various issues concerning education and the environment, both areas that she is very involved with and had her chance to meet with the Minister of State for European Affairs, Ms Helen McEntee T.D. and Noelle O Connell the Executive Director of European Movement Ireland. She was quick to note that it was good to see strong women at the forefront of European development, who knows one day she might be joining them!

Local Hero

Our own local hero Tommy Jermyn was at the awards last night organised by The Southern Star and The Celtic Ross Hotel, were set up to honour those people in West Cork who go above and beyond the call of duty to help and improve the lives of others.Tommy received the February award and it is worth another mention as Tommy is a fantastic community man who gives so much of his time to Goleen and the surrounding communities. He co-ordinates Meals on Wheels, delivers gas and supplies to the elderly during the winter and drives the community bus. Tommy is also very involved with the Mizen Community Safety Project. This group is very active in the areas of farm safety and crime prevention, and has provided iPads and the relevant training for older members of the community, providing these people with a valuable link to family members who have moved away from the area or indeed the country.

I am not sure how he managed to get to the event as he was back with the community bus at the Community Centre at 9pm to take the kids from the Table Tennis Club back to Schull and Ballydehob!

Well deserved!