Colmcille with Breton Curraghs, Douarnenez, July 2000
“Sur l’ocean il n’y a pas de frontiere, pas de barriere. La mer, c’est ce que nous avons tous en commun: Protestants, Catholiques, incroyants. Ce que nous avons de meilleur a partager.”
(Ouest-France, French newspaper, 12 July, 2000.)
“On the ocean there is no border, no barrier. The sea is what we all have in common: Protestants, Catholics, those of no faith. It is something we can all share.”
In 2003, CCMHG embarked on a project to circumnavigate the island of Ireland in company with the Basque maritime group, Asociacion Albaola. The aims and objectives of the project, and the various groups involved are set out below.
The aim of “Navigating Peace” is to link a variety of communities in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland thus developing an important and under utilised community relations resource in terms of a shared maritime heritage. Like all the projects undertaken by the Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group, “Navigating Peace” will propagate the twin ideas of peace and reconciliation.
- To undertake an expedition around Ireland in the curragh ‘Colmcille’ linking a variety of communities in each jurisdiction.
- To provide personal development opportunities for a cross community crew of at least 45 men and women during the voyage.
- To “Market” Northern Ireland as a place of world-renowned business and commerce by promoting project sponsors through multi-media.
- To produce materials and undertake a series of educational and interpretative activities on return from the voyage.
- To link the expedition with the Armada project being run jointly between the Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group and the Grange Armada Group in Sligo.
- To undertake the project with best practice and safety for all participants.
- To produce and distribute literature promoting a major North Coast Maritime Heritage Festival on a cross border basis for 2006 (aiming to have at least 1000 traditional boats from Europe and potentially the US and Canada)
- To develop a shared maritime heritage resource which can be used to build new cross community and cross border relationships.
Groups Involved in this and other projects:
Northern Ireland; Causeway Coast Maritime Heritage Group
Causeway Coast Kayak Association
Republic of Ireland:
Sligo Drontheim Group
Grange and Armada Development Association (Sligo)
Letterkenny Canoe Club
All Ireland: Meitheal Mara (traditional boat group Co Cork)
Irish Sea Kayaking Association
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group
Old Gaffers Association
Traditional Yawl and Drontheim Group (also in Scotland)
Britain Scottish Sea Kayaking Association
Jersey Canoe Club
Marizion Gig Racing Association (Cornwall)
Welsh Curragh Association
Brittany: Aux Marches du Cranou
Spain: Asociacion Albaola de Pasai-Donibane
Federacion Galega pola Cultura Maritima
The Colmcllle and the Amerikataktik set out from Portrush, and sailed west, rounding Malin Head on the first day, and reaching Tory Island on the second. Progress down the west coast of Ireland was tough, with much adverse weather, but also included wonderful experiences, including meals of fresh seafood on unpopulated islands, traditional music sessions in isolated coastal pubs, and being followed by a pod of dolphins off Connemara.
The group received great receptions at towns on the south coast, and recruited some fresh crew members along the way. The voyage north proved very different, with the wind disappearing and being replaced by scorching sunshine. The crews had to proceed under power of oars, with some assistance from the Colmcille’s small outboard, from Arklow all the way back to Portrush.
After rounding Fair Head in thick fog, The two craft finally re-entered Portrush harbour, 42 days after leaving, to a great reception from the assembled crowds, and the intermeshing rhythms of the Basque Txalabarta percussion instrument played by visiting group Jo Ta Kun, the Highland bagpipes played by CCMHG member John Hamilton, and the Northern Irish kettle-drum played by Willie Drennan, in an emotional atmosphere which those who took part will never forget.
An illustrated diary of the voyage can be viewed at www.colmcille.homestead.com
The contacts made and renewed on this voyage have played an important part in the organisation of the European Celtic Festival of the Sea 2006.