Saturday, October 22, 2011


With the death of CAPT. William Cummins one of the Waterford 'boys' who went to sea with Irish Shipping Ltd. (ISL) one is reminded that we are a passing generation.  Also we are a unique generation coming from a variety of schools across Ireland ranging from Clongowes to the Christian Brothers.  Not that it really mattered where ones parents sent us to get our education it was the same for all due to the Irish education system in which every student did the three national examinations of Primary, Intermediate, and Leaving Certificate.  Thus when competing for a place in University or employment all were equally qualified.  For those of us who chose to go to sea there was ISL and for the first time the Irish could sail under their Tricolour as all the ISL ships were registered in Irish ports.

When we sailed overseas many times Irish families would arrive to visit the ship never having seen a vessel flying the National Colours of Ireland on the stern.  Many of the Irish religious had their only contact with Ireland during a lifetime of overseas religious service - it seems impossible to imagine such a sacrifice today. Such a wonderful thing and a credit to the country - all to be thrown away by ISL bad management combined with a stupid and ignorant Irish government.

ISL trained four (4) or even six (6) in the SS Irish Cedar Deck Apprentices, a national treasure of well educated young men ready to serve the country in the Maritime Industry.  Instead of a selection being sent to University to complete degrees in Business Management, Transportation and Maritime Law nothing was done.  Once the Apprenticeship was completed ISL seemed to loose interest.  The result was ill chosen vessels, bad contracts and the collapse of ISL with unemployment and terrible hardship.  This was repeated again with coastal companies.  Instead of reorganizing companies and building on us the generation they had trained the Irish Merchant Service faded to nothing.  If a Merchant Service had been properly built what a complement to the Irish Nautical College, young Irish Merchant Service and Irish Naval Officers could not only educate together but go on to sail together.  The experience gained in ocean-going vessels could be applied to both services with the Irish Merchant Service Officers being also Irish Naval Service Reserve Officers, a highly motivated and professional maritime entity.

As does NAUTICAL LOG (CAPT. D. Peter Boucher), CAPT. John Molloy and others of our generation the recently deceased CAPT. William Cummins felt much the same and we quote him from past interviews:

"Capt. Cummins is thankful to him Eamon Rothwell, John de Courcy Ireland and Tom McSweeney (Seascapes RTE) for their great endeavours in the cause of Irish maritime affairs.  As an island maritime nation ---it is a shame to see so many, if not all Irish shipping companies sailing no more.-----they (ISL) had 21 ships many of them carrying four cadets but that type of four year training is lost forever and successive Irish governments have failed to halt the situation----- going now to foreign shipping companies to serve their apprenticeships."

At this present time the Celtic Tiger has long made its last growl and is silent.  It is time for the current Irish government to rebuild the Irish Merchant Service as they rebuild the nation.  It can and should have both a coastal fleet and an ocean-going fleet of vessels registered in Irish ports and flying the Tricolour.  It will well serve the country's needs and motivate Irish youth to again serve the Nation as our generation did.  Hopefully none of them will then have to go overseas to make a successful career at sea never to return to work again in Ireland  - NAUTICAL LOG speaks from first hand experience on that issue.  Of 60 years in the maritime industry only six (6) were under the Irish National Colours - 54 years in foreign service.

Good Watch
There remain some 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates ashore and off the coast of Somalia and in deplorable conditions.  We hope you will join us in working for their freedom.

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