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‘People’s Opening’ Of Passage West Maritime Museum

Making History At ‘People’s Opening’ Of Passage West Maritime Museum

Writes Leo McMahon

History was made in glorious sunshine last Sunday with the ‘People’s Opening’ of Passage West Maritime Museum.

There was a large gathering outside the former Town Hall to witness the cutting of the tape by two of the innovators of the project, Jim Murphy and his daughter Angela.

Angela, on behalf of her father and the voluntary committee thanked everyone associated with the long sought after museum, including Cork County Council, sponsors and the local community.

Cllr Seamus McGrath, a native of Passage West, who was county mayor when the museum location was proposed, said: ‘This wouldn’t have happened without the community and hard work of the volunteers who got involved and of the course the people who gave their items for display. It’s a huge collective effort and it’s all about the town’s rich and extensive maritime history. Well done to everybody for putting their shoulder to the wheel and getting a spectacular result’.

Present also were Donnchadh O Laoghaire TD, Michael McGrath TD and Cllr Michael Frick Murphy along with Fr Con Cronin SPS CC.

The museum, on the site of the former Hennessy Brothers boatyard, Vocational School and Town Council chamber, was thronged on its first day with people who signed the visitors book and took the opportunity to become annual ‘Friends’ for just €10 (individual) or €20 family. Everyone who viewed the exhibits was very impressed.

There is so much to admire in Cork Harbour’s latest attraction covering the proud maritime history of ‘the original Port of Cork’ and ‘birthplace of Ireland’s steamship industry’ including boat building and skills, fishing, sailing, rowing, leisure craft and the fire brigade. The story is told in excellent panels and take time to study the amazing detail of superb model boats by Mike Loring. There’s also a video clip from the fifties in Scotland about the many skills of shipbuilding and many fascinating artefacts, documents and photographs.

It was a truly festive day in Passage West with wonderful entertainment in nearby Fr O’Flynn Park from the Thomas Kent Pipe Band, St. Mary’s Church Children’s Choir conducted by Mary Foley and Molgoggers Sea Shanty Singers from Cobh. Lovely refreshments were provided by members of the museum committee and in the library, which was specially opened for the occasion by Margaret O’Connor, were some of the wonderful entries in the primary schools’ poster competition.

In keeping with all matters nautical, Passage West Rowing Club hosted its regatta off Steampacket Quay and the Line while Deirdre Mason and Eithne Farr were on duty at the ‘No Incinerator in Ringaskiddy’ stand.

It was truly a day for remember in the proud maritime history of Passage West. Take time to savour this at a quieter time by visiting the museum, next door to the library, every Wednesday from 10.30am to 1pm and 2 to 5.30pm; Thursdays from 2 to 5.30pm and Sundays from 2 to 5pm.

Members of the voluntary museum committee include: Angela Murphy, chairperson; Michael O’Donovan, Jim Murphy, Shane Deane, Peter McMenamon, William (Walty) Murphy, Michael Canty, Andy Wood, Sile Hunt, Anita Howard, Eddie Lee, Claire Kenneally, Maria O’Donovan, Margaret O’Mahony, Robert Allison, Gavin Murphy, Gary McCarthy of Wisetek, Margaret O’Connor, Joe Healy, Brendan O’Connell, Alan Murphy, Barry O’Mahony, Don O’Sullivan, Maire Corr, Annette Foley, Cllr Michael Frick Murphy, Tom MacSweeney, Martin Collins, Patricia Lydon and Leo McMahon plus scheme worker Paul Lake. Volunteers, donations, suggestions and visiting groups always welcome. Enquiries to 087 9630462.

An official opening of the museum is due to take place later this month.

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