Saturday, June 4, 2022

From Youghal to Ring County Waterford, by Bike: : By Mike Hackett

(Mike Hackett on a visit to us in Kilminnion South) An Rinn, Dungarvan agus Garryvoe, Knockadoon were places where the Gaeilge was spoken in the 1950s. An Rinn is still flying the flag for the native language but as the old people in the Knockadoon area have left us the speaking of the Gaeilge has weakened there very much. Ardmore was another good location where the ‘Blas’ was heard. Alas! A good shake-up is needed there to restore that lovely village to a Breac-Gaeltacht area. Anyway to get on with today’s stories. Many years ago, as they say ‘Fado Fado’, a pal and I decided to cycle to An Rinn from Youghal to attend a ceili dance there. A few girls that we knew were staying at the Colaiste for the summer and we were invited by them to visit for a ceili. The pal had a ‘crush’ on one of the girls; Anne Lombard of Friar Street, and he felt that a cycle of eighteen miles would be worth her smiles. He talked me into making the trip with him. This pal, Tommy (R.I.P.), was the youngest of a family and his sisters had bought him a brand new bike for his sixteenth birthday. It was the best type available with dynamo lights, three speed gears and it was very colourful. Compare that with what yours truly had to cycle on for the eighteen miles of the hilly country roads of West-Waterford. It was an old bike that my father had bought from a cousin, Mary O’Sullivan, who was going to Australia. He paid her fifteen pounds for it and that was in 1958 when money was scarce. It was a girl’s bike, had no gears, no dynamo and was a plain black colour. It became a family bike for our house to be used by anybody who wanted it.
Nobody was offering to buy me a new bike so that was my only way of transport to An Rinn. Then on a nice summer evening, away the two of us went on our bikes over the bridge and into the ‘County’. We felt well able for the challenge and adventure that lay ahead. Daylight stayed with us on the way past Grange, Old Parish and down the hill into An Rinn. A very pleasant cycle saw us arrive at twilight. Then finding the place of the ceile was easy enough and we entered the crowded hall without anybody challenging us. There was no admission charge and maybe we were taken for students. Great! The girls approached us and warned us about talking Bearla. They said that we would be evicted if found to be speaking English. Our Gaeilge was not great and so we spent the night smiling and dancing like we were dumb. The ceili dancing we had some idea of, having attended the Sunday nights at the Town Hall occasionally. The names of the dances as announced in Gaeilge took us unawares though because back at home it was English names. The Siege of Ennis and Military Twostep were familiar to us but we had to wait for the dancers to form up before we recognised it and joined in. Falla Luimnai (Walls of Limerick) was the only name as Gaeilge that we knew. We managed to copy everybody else and no doubt we would have learned soon if given a few nights at it. Smiling, giggling and dancing gan aon caint (without any talk). About eleven o’clock it was over. Time to say ‘Slan’ to the cailini and to hit the road again. As we climbed back up the hill with our bikes towards Old Parish, it was a fine night and the moon was big in the sky. Life was good! Traffic was very sparse at midnight on those country roads and the pal on his new bike shone his bright light on the road ahead of us. It must have been well after midnight when we crossed back over the Blackwater from one county to the other heading for home.
(Mikes Dad pictured with Tommy Flavin.) Thinking back later about our journey, it never dawned on us about getting a puncture and apart from the chain on that old girl’s bike of mine coming off once on the way back, things went well. Tommy, who was a kind and generous guy, went to his reward recently R.I.P. Two of the teachers of the Gaeilge during those summers at An Rinn were Seamus McGovern of Castlemartyr and Diarmuid O’Drisceoil of Ballinlough Cork. Both were unknown to me at that time. As life evolved afterwards, a son of Seamus, Donal, married my sister-in-law Marcella and they live in Abbeyside. Diarmuid and his wife Josie turned out to be great friends of my mother-in-law Ina Murphy of Ballinlough. However, that information was to be realised by me later in life. Another memory comes to mind of a trip to a Gaeilge summer college in Garryvoe near Knockadoon. This outing was organised for a whole class by the C.B.S. school and was by private bus. That bus was owned and driven by Paddy Lawlor who had a garage in the Strand. The same vehicle was hired to drive the under-age teams to all the championship matches in East Cork. Later in life, when Paddy retired, he came to live in West Waterford at Moord, Monatrea. But to tell about the Garryvoe outing. A Brother Canden was in charge of the events of the day and he was strict on the use of the Gaeilge. We were treated very well with lots to eat for lunch and we played games afterwards on the sand. At one stage I made a remark to a guy beside me “Fuar mise nearly whole box of bruscai”. “I got nearly a whole box of biscuits”. This remark was heard by another guy (a sneak) who reported me for saying those four words in English and Br. Canden spoke of it in class the next day, without mentioning my name. As it happened I had won a home-made knitted pullover for coming second in a race on the strand and the Brother said that the boy who spoke English (me) should not have got a prize. What he didn’t know was that it was a badly knitted garment and my mother had to rip it all and knit it again. Brother Canden died a few years ago in Dublin but not before he returned to Youghal to take a last trip up the Blackwater for old time sake. He was in a wheel-chair then, suffering from some form of pains but still managed to make the trip. No doubt he was speaking as Gaeilge. R.I.P. Buiochas do mo chara Eddie Cantwell. Mike Hackett.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

This photo comes courtsey of Joanna Curran An Rinn. Note the Oyster beds out in Ring harbour

Since I commenced the Abbeyside reference archive Blog site, I've had many emails from people with Ring Connections.Each day I get some form of request for information or photos, or a family search. There are many postings to the Abbeyside Blog site that have Ring reference, some of them you will find on here, but if you visit the Abbeyside blog you will find quite A Few. www.abbeysidereferencearchive.blogspot.com . If you click on the photos, you will get a much larger and sharper image....happy surfing...AND! your comments are always welcome.

Friday, April 3, 2020


Saving the Oceans, one man’s commitment.

‘I want to give something back.’

By Eddie Cantwell





Text Box: Kieran Kelly is easily spotted with workers and team members on one of ‘RIOs’ wonderful workplaces





This is the extraordinary story of a Ring-man, who grew up with the salt in his bones. Generations of his family fished out of Ring and Helvick. People that know him will be familiar with his history. Me, I wrote an article about him some years back. This time, I probed a little deeper into his psyche

Kieran attended school in his native parish for a short time and then went on to the CBS in Dungarvan, and from there to the Technical School. Like many or indeed most natives of the Irish speaking community the sea was in his blood. He fished in Ireland for years before he left Helvick. I asked him if the collapse of the fishing industry in Ireland was the cause of his decision to leave Ireland.  ‘I skippered a family boat out of Helvick. The writing was on the wall regarding the fishing industry since the early eighties. The truth regarding the Irish fishing industry is, it completely collapsed in the late eighties. The continued pressure to maintain and catch the same amount of fish seemed to increase yearly, and fleet reduction only meant vessels were replaced with more powerful vessels. The inshore waters today are wiped out, ask the vast majority of Irish fishermen and they’ll agree with that assessment.’ Kieran emigrated to the United States of America in 2000, here  he worked the trawlers, and factory trawlers from the East and West coast of the USA.  His fishing ground extended as far as the Bering Sea. For several years this was his occupation, working the trawlers throughout central and South America. I pressed him to be more pacific?  ‘I first skippered trawlers out of Portland Maine, and Gloucester Massachusetts. My brother Liamog Kelly and I bought a 75’ boat in 2000 and operated it out of Gloucester Massachusetts. This was replaced with a 100’ vessel called ‘One Ocean 2’ the following year. We fished hagfish for the South Korean market. In 2004 my brother Liamog brought a boat from Helvick to Ensenada Mexico to enter into a fishery. We fished between Central America, New England and Alaska for the next few years. Then the accident happened! Here Kieran was brief regarding his accident, he simply informed me that

Text Box: ‘RIO’ shoes from recycle, with Helvick latitude and Longitude on the heel
Several major brain and spinal surgeries followed before he could return to the sea. Obviously I could not leave it at that, and I was hopeful that he would reveal more about his accident and indeed the surgeries following his accident, and so I posed a number of questions to him. He had told me that, ‘the thought of not being able to return to sea was the hardest thing to get my head around.’ During his recovery there was lots of rehab and trips between Ireland and the USA.’  ‘So?’ I asked him, ‘it seems you were thirteen years at sea when the accident happened. Do you want to say how the accident happened? I think you should …..





‘It was in the summer of 2013 I went to look over things in the engine room of my boat in the Pacific north-west coast of the United States. I slipped on some hydraulic oil, breaking bones in my back and the back of my Scull. I had just got the vessel ashore to Astoria Oregon at the time. The vessel was a 35 meter freezer trawler that I owned. I went to hospital and rested up thinking the problem might magically disappear. I left hospital and returned to the sea.’ ‘And?’  ‘A few weeks later the health problems intensified. In late October I put the boat into the shipyard for a refit. A few weeks or a month later I went for a medical examination and they found a lump on the back of my brain.’ This then was the worst news that Kieran could have ever have received. After Christmas he entered Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Here he went through several procedures and screenings. The result of this was that, ‘the surgeon gave me mixed messages but basically saying, I had a cyst on the back of my brain that was caused by hitting my head when I fell.’ This little bit of information was followed by, ‘it needs to be removed or it could kill you!’   This then was the shocking news that he was faced with, but, it left him with no options and a few weeks later he had that surgery. It did not end there; he went on to have further surgery on his lower spine. And some discs were removed in his lower back. The surgery performed was certainly not successful. Kieran told me that, ‘both surgeries made the problem much worse and the same doctor called me back to schedule further surgery, and fused my lower spine. A week later I travelled back to Ireland in server pain and finding it nearly impossible to walk.’  Kieran continued on medication, but head pain and back pain at this stage was out of control and left him completely traumatised. He had to return to the USA where further brain surgery awaited him at mount Sinai Hospital NYC; this was scheduled to ease the pain in his head. My reason for dragging him through this part of his painful past is not to dramatise the seriousness of what he went through, I am basically opening these old wounds to reveal what brought him to where he is today and the wonderful ground breaking work that he is presently  engaged in. Regarding this latest surgery, he says, ‘this ended being a disaster, the doctor discharged me within 24 hours.’



‘RIO’ the making of bamboo straws and the final product

 Kieran now found himself in a wheelchair at JFK airport; such was his trauma that he was even uncertain of where he was going. But, he somehow got on a flight back to Ireland, ending up in Shannon airport. Later that day, the man that had made a new life for himself in America was rushed to Cork University Hospital where it was discovered that Cerebrospinal fluid was leaking from his head! This was not the end of his problems. Two days on a trolley in Cork University Hospital, daily spinal taps trying to ease the pressure on his brain a constant pumping of antibiotics into him in an effort to kill the infection he had picked up during surgery. Problems began to intensify; he began to have brain seizures and multiple other problems. Regarding this episode in his medical history, Kieran informed me that the ‘Doctors in CUH were absolutely fantastic and second to none. They carried out further surgery running a shunt from my head to my stomach to drain fluid from my brain to ease the pressure. Six weeks later I got out of CUH and flew back to Erie Pennsylvania to try and fix my back. The pain at this stage was unbearable and pain medication was doing absolutely nothing. My surgeon in UPMC Hamot Pennsylvania was outstanding and removed the shunt in my brain and removed all the hardware in my spine. He refused my spine and did a wonderful job. Life seemed to be moving in the right direction.’ So was this the end of Kieran’s problems? Far from it, death for him loomed around the corner! 





 Speaking about the dilemma he was faced with, there is an element of no nonsense about his words. And, I am sincerely grateful to him for being as revealing as he has been about his medical history. It also goes to show how much trauma a body can take and continue to survive. Here is what he says in simple words. ‘A few weeks later I was diagnosed with melanoma I had it in multiple parts of my body. It’s amazing the difference between doctors some with empathy and great with words, others extremely blunt, I guess this one was fairly blunt and informed me to go home and sort my finances out. But six months later, Kieran got a clean bill of health later. He attributes his recovery to a course of alternative medicines. He then looked  forward to be back to the ocean.’

This about ends the story of Kieran’s medical history , but I had one more question to ask him in relation to same…How did you pay for all of this ?’  ‘My medical insurance in the USA covered all the medical treatment I had including the treatment in Ireland.’ Now that we are familiar with his medical past, we can clearly see why, as he himself says , ‘I wanted to give something back to the oceans.’ The sea was like a magnet to him, it was what he dreamed of during his long period of recovery, his numerous return visits to the hospital bed…lying there…thinking…would he ever again feel the ocean beneath his feet? It was his life, his love, inherent in his bones like many fishermen in Ring down through the centuries. Kieran told me, ‘I returned to my love, the ocean.’ But now Kieran Kelly viewed the Ocean from a different perspective. His period of surgery and recovery, though wonderful left him with bitter thoughts, and bitter feelings about ‘plastic’ and the catastrophic effect on marine life. He told me, ‘One thing that seemed to have gotten a lot worse in a few years was the ocean plastic problem. We began to see more and more fish with digestive tracts completely blocked with plastic. Back in 2000; it was a rare enough sight, but in 2018 it had escalated to an extraordinary extent. ‘I needed to give something back to the Ocean.’  He told me.





Part of ‘RIO’s’ extraordinary Bamboo industry



By this time he was in the Gulf of Mexico, where he purchased a ‘fairly new boat’ in the Bahamas and brought it to Alabama to rebuild it. He named the boat after his late son, ‘BOY WAYNE.’  Kieran takes up the story.  ‘At the same time I began to take a more serious look at the shocking state of our oceans. What really blew me away was the sheer amount of plastics that was now showing up in our oceans. One of the big problems was lack of recycling plants globally, and much poorer regions in the world accepting our plastic waste. Back in 2000 we were used to seeing the odd fish with plastic in its digestive track, in 2010 that had gone from one or two fish a week to dozens. Last year after a lot of soul searching I decided I could no longer be involved in an industry that’s no longer sustainable in most regions around the world. Our oceans have been destroyed and the ‘feel good stories’ that are out there to hide our destructive practices, this I could on longer be part of. The ocean has been good to me and provided a great salary to me for many years. All my family and most of my friends have harvested seafood from our oceans. 

But now it’s time to give back and try protecting what’s left. All the Cod that used to come into Mine Head for hundreds of years are gone, wiped out by people like me. The black sole and plaice are gone that’s a fact. The race to the bottom is nearly over and now our fishing fleet is mopping up the few scraps that are left. I’m saying this with a heavy heart I was part of that destruction. 



Kieran Kelly

But how to do this? That was the problem which faced Kieran Kelly. But he was determined; his disgust with the plastic problem drove him forward. Soon an informal meeting with some friends which included, a Untied States Coast Guard, and a few more friends that worked for the US State Department, led to further meetings. These were men like Kieran with a clear vision, men who were determined to do something about the issue of plastic and its effect on marine life.  And in 2018 after a number of meetings, the group formed a company and named it ‘RIO,’ ‘Restoring Integrity to the Oceans.’ What an apt name! Initially they began looking at Pollution problems in North America, and shortly after they headed to India and set up an ocean clean up division of ‘RIO.’ We should remember that this was done in a relatively short period of time, also keep in mind that I am taking short cuts here because there is enough material for a book! This group began by researching and examining various technologies with a view to recycling plastic which they planned to collect from the ocean. Not only that, but other forms of trash that also added to ocean pollution. Today the company known as, ‘RIO’ is made up of the following, Kieran Kelly: Chief Executive officer. Kim Ching, Chief operating officer, Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University. Joseph Sweeny Chief Financial officer is a graduate of the Pittsburgh Police Academy and a former Bomb Squad Commander, River Rescue Boat Operator and SWAT operator:  Scott Hermanson Chief commercial officer is an experienced sales & marketing executive with extensive global experience leading key commercial programs and initiatives. Scott has a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Economics from San Diego State University and a Master of International Business Administration from the University of San Diego. Hector Avella is in charge of Maritime operations, a safety & security consultant with extensive operational domestic & international experience. He brings more than 21 years' of leadership & proven job performance in the U.S. Coast Guard:  Paul Garcia is a Business and Program Management consultant supporting Defence and Commercial sectors. He has managed all aspects of multi-million-dollar projects for clients with unique challenges focusing on first-to-market commercial and military products. Ms. Shruti Ankat holds a Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in the field of Food Nutrition and Dietetics from Symbiosis International University and S.N.D.T University respectively: Iwona Skrzeszewska is an accomplished scientist in the field of Marine Biology and Environmental Science. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Oceanography and a Master’s degree in Marine Geology from University of Gdańsk. There is much more in those people’s profile, and I will give a link to the site at the end of this short profile.
In 2019 they opened a Pyrolysis plant converting plastic into sulphur free fuel, this helped pay for the ocean clean-up project. In the end of 2019 they opened a second plant and expanded work into Indonesia. Today ‘RIO’ is carrying out work in several Asian countries. ‘RIO’ opened another division in Columbia only last month. ‘RIO’ has a policy of a circular economy hiring local fishermen to collect ocean plastics. They also engage with local College student groups to help with events onshore.




Speaking on the phone in Indonesia with Kieran, you cannot be but impressed by his hunger and passion. Modest, he certainly is but his commitment to ‘RIO’ and the force that drives him is clearly evident in conversation with him. ‘Hang on!’ I exclaimed when he mentioned Bamboo farming! I then discovered one amazing project that ‘RIO’ was developing, that of growing bamboo. Kieran informed me that one of the biggest problems they see on beaches around the world is the sheer amount of plastic straws that are washed up on the beaches. With a view to tackling this problem, in December of 2019 ‘RIO’ hired a local group to grow bamboo and ‘RIO’ recently shipped its first bamboo straws to the USA. Kieran enthusiastically told me that, ‘hopefully this will help replace plastic straws in the USA and other regions around the world. Bamboo is perfect to replace many paper and plastic products. It’s 100% sustainable and Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on the planet, with some species able to reach full maturity in just 90 days and most taking just a couple of yearsOne species of bamboo can actually grow a massive 35 inches per day or 1.5 inches per hour.’  Here Kieran was unstoppable; ‘we cut down 40,000 trees a day for toilet paper and paper towels. ‘RIO’ starting looking into ways to help stop this and find an alternative source for the paper. 




 According to data from the Global Forest Resource Assessment roughly 80,000 to 160,000 trees are cut down each day around the world with a significant percentage being used in the paper industry. ‘RIO’ is now planning in expanding the bamboo farms throughout Asia and South America. ‘RIO’ is also now making bamboo toilet paper and paper towels. As well as making shoes from plastic, retrieved ghost nets and rubber pulled from our oceans. Each item sold helps save our ocean, by supporting the ocean clean-up project.  We’re working tirelessly trying to save what’s left.’ In all these areas around the world Kieran goes directly to the fishermen and ask them for help. He tells me, ‘I can relate with them, I’m one of them. They tell the same stories that I tell, the stories about all the marine life they used to have and how it’s changing. Indonesia and parts of India are unique; some of the regions have very primitive ways of fishing. That’s a good thing, no massive factory trawlers fishing in these waters. If we are to survive as an island nation with an inshore fishery things simply need to change. 


The word ‘sustainability’ is used a lot within the fishing industry and it just rolls off peoples tongues. Unfortunately, it’s completely misused.  ‘RIO’ pays for its ocean clean-up projects by recycling plastic and other trash that we recover. All plastics can be recycled in some form or another. Bamboo paper can replace all paper coming from Trees. Bamboo straws can replace all plastic or paper straws. Recycling and reusing is the only way forward. We need to save our planet we really can’t continue on this destructive path we’re on. From the gulf of Jarkarta to the Gulf of Mexico to Dungarvan Harbour it’s the same body of water. We only have one ocean let’s try and save it!’ he says with some passion before we finished our phone call! Another very interesting thing that Kieran told me about the shoes that they make



. On the heel of the shoes is the latitude and longitude, which gives the buyer the exact location on the planet from where the plastic came from which in the shoes, and interestingly, on the heel of the photos features is the latitude and longitude of Helvick. There is so much more that can be written about ‘RIO’ their website hardly touches on the amount of work that they do. The photos reveal some of that. But have a look at their web page. https://www.oceansintegrity.com

© Eddie Cantwell, 2020.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Sunday, September 15, 2019

These two wonderful pictures comes by way of Seán Ó Riagáin in the USA.
1946 National Girls School Ring.
Front Row, left to right; Maureen Lenane, Margaret Curran,Rita Whelan,Mairead Harty,Maura Whelan,Patsy White, Noreen (Nonie) White
Back Row, left to right; Catherine Walsh,Nancy O'Regan,Mona Walsh, Maria Vaughan,Maureen White and Maureen Walsh.

.

1946 National School Ring, Boys.
Back row left to right; Batty Breathnach,Paddy Attridge,Criostoir Ó Cionnbholaidh, joe Breathnach,Thomas  Ó Cadhla, & Paddy joe Curran.
Middle row left to right; Denis Whelan, Seán Ó Herta, Liam Ó Riagáin, Batty Morrissey, Eddie Curran, Jimmy Breathnach, John Whelan.
Front row left to right/ Seán Ó Cadhla,Seán Vaughan, Seamus  McGrath, Tomás  de Faoitle, Eamonn meehan

Monday, March 4, 2019

This photo was  donated by Nicholas Graves from Ring. From left to right, Jack Curran, Billy Walsh and the young fella is Seán Boyle, the man in the hat is unidentified....

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Old Parish team

Since I commenced the Abbeyside reference archive Blog site, I've had many emails from people with Ring Connections.Each day I get some form of request for information or photos, or a family search. There are many postings to the Abbeyside Blog site that have Ring reference, some of them you will find on here, but if you visit the Abbeyside blog you will find quite A Few. www.abbeysidereferencearchive.blogspot.com . If you click on the photos, you will get a much larger and sharper image....happy surfing...AND! your comments are always welcome.


 This is an Old Parish team, courtesy of 'Staggs' Hourigan Abbeyside. His father is in the photo. Click on the image

From Youghal to Ring County Waterford, by Bike: : By Mike Hackett

(Mike Hackett on a visit to us in Kilminnion South) An Rinn, Dungarvan agus Garryvoe, Knockadoon were places where the Gaeilge was spok...