On a maritime theme it was sad to read that Waterways Ireland, an Irish government quango set up to manage and oversee the development of Ireland’s inland canals and waterways (a joint cross border initiative), is to dry dock and then to “cut up” i.e. to destroy the former Aran ferry M.V. ‘Naomh Eanna’. This was indeed a sad piece of news to hear. We are acutely aware that to buy, then bring back to Galway, and to restore such an historic vessel would probably cost a fortune. Nevertheless, it was sad to hear this news believing that Waterways Ireland hadn’t, as far as I am aware, informed itself if any organisation, individual or business, whether in Dublin or Galway, might be interested in taking on and promoting her restoration?
The MV ‘Naomh Eanna’ plied her regular passage in Galway Bay to and from Aran for over 30 years, when she succeeded to the route previously run by the more famous S.S ‘Dun Aengus’.
I have to admit a family interest here, in that a grand uncle of my wife, Capt Senen Meskill, took command of the ‘Dun Aengus’ in 1918 and held that position until 1935, when increased pilotageresponsibilities in Galway Bay had him bring to safe anchorage many of the most famous liners then afloat, piloting them in on the ‘Cathair Na Gaillimhe’ .
It is indeed sad to see yet another piece of Galway’s historic maritime heritage being destroyed in such a casual manner. Especially when you hear that this is being done with the consent of an agency of government. As Mr Sam Field Corbett said “the ships needless destruction is surely industrial and cultural vandalism.” Mr Field Corbett’s company ‘Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Company’ was itself responsible for the restoration of the MV Cill Airne, the former tender for passenger liners that is now a floating restaurant on the Liffey, without use of any public funds.
Given that the previous property developer owners of the vessel, now moored in the Grand Canal Basin, are in financial trouble, one must ask why was no effort made by Waterways Ireland to find, or to involve people with a professional interest in the restoration of such vessels to take her on, vessels that could easily enjoy a bright new future with a different purpose? Galway previously lost the MV ‘GalwayBay’ the former Southampton liner tender ‘TTS Calshot’ where she is now restored to her former glory, as a tug, servicing many of the famous liners.
I suppose there is no hope that, when Galway City Council eventually takes an interest in the future management of Galway Port, as is proposed by the Minister of Transport, whether with a new commercial pier or without, that an effort might still be made to recover the ‘Naomh Eanna’ to Galway, and to see her brought into a new use as the ‘centre piece’ of a long awaited City of Galway Maritime Museum!
In point of fact, Galway City Council’s Heritage Plan 2006-2011 contains the objective of “Promoting the knowledge of Galway’s water-based heritage whether maritime or inland. The preservation of its physical remains as well as the provision of educational information on this significant aspect of our heritage.”
It is to be hoped that sense will prevail, and, that the Naomh Eanna can be restored, and find a new home in Galway.