In May I came to the difficult decision to change my weekly martime blog to a monthly publication. Several people have asked me why and so I thought it best to set out my thoughts and reasons.
I first started blogging when in college as a mature student studying community education and development. Journaling was a personal development tool used on the course, allowing students to reflect and intertwine theories and concepts used, into the everyday language and practice of the student. It also provided a space where a tutor can see that assimilation. I tended to write copious notes, and delighted in rewriting these into what I hoped was a cohesive narrative.
When I commenced with the tour guiding of Russianside Tours I decided to continue the practice, seeing in it a valuable way to record the information, knowledge and skills I had gained over my years in the locality. It came as a complete surprise when I shared these on social media and got a positive reaction. Eventually this grew to include the wider community of the rivers and its villages. In embracing the wider communities, I moved to Waterford Harbour Tides & Tales. Late last year, with the support of Ronan Cleary of Eagle Dreams, I self funded a new website. Who was I to start researching and writing this I thought, yet who better? No one else seems minded to.
In those four years I have, along with those guest blogs, contributed 277 stories (so far) to showcase the areas rich maritime heritage traveling the lengths of the Suir and Barrow and as long as Kilmore on the Wexford shore and Bunmahon on the Waterford coast. Some stories had thousands of viewers, some hundreds, but I have enjoyed putting each and every one of them together.
The fulfilling part is knowing that many people enjoy the stories as much as I do, the feedback is gratifying and the offers of extra information and access to peoples private documents is, at times, humbling. This week alone I received emails from America, South Africa, Australia and the UK. Visited people in New Ross, Great Island, Dunmore and took trips to Lismore and Clonmel. The kindest offer this week was an opportunity to take a boat trip around the Amsterdam canal system whenever I get to visit.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of course is the friendships and the support along the way. All those who have liked, commented and shared a story are supporting me in a very real way. And then of course there are those who are regularly available with IT advice and information. Too many to mention personally, but I have to acknowledge people like Frank Murphy, Brendan Grogan, Andy Kelly, David O’Carroll, Maurice Power, Brian Boyce, Tomás Sullivan, Brian Cleare, Paul O’Farrell and John Flynn who go out of their way to help me source information at a personal cost to themselves in terms of their time. Then there’s my cousin Jim Doherty, who doesn’t let a week pass without a call and some advice or other on a particular story or lead.
If I had one reaction to readers who don’t know me personally, when meeting me for the first time, its surprise. In general they thought I must be retired to be putting so much obvious time and energy into the stories. (It’s why I started putting my photo on some of them in recent months – it wasn’t vanity!!) Truth is I work a three day week and although I had hoped I might develop an income from my obvious passion, the opposite has occurred…Its costing me actual money and hours per week. I know it’s a passion, and it’s worthwhile, and if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life and all those memes you see on facebook but…!
So over the last few months I’ve explored how I might retain what I love doing but pay the bills. Not just that but allow me to grow what I do. I have a few ideas, all of them based on the maritime heritage of my area, mostly from the perspective of enhancing not just my situation, but the situation of others in the harbour villages. My deep fear is that I will start down a path that will just cost me more, but if I don’t start down the path I’ll never know if I can make a real difference in terms of the harbours rich cultural heritage.
I’m also working on a chapter for a forthcoming history book for the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society, hope to contribute a chapter to this years Deice’s, am part of the editorial team supporting David Carroll on a history of the Dunmore East Lifeboat and am up to my oxters with the local development group in trying to enhance the local community, and an officer on the committee of the local boat owners assoc. in trying to provide pontoon access at Cheekpoint for river craft.
Stay tuned, my new blog format commences Friday 28th June…a story of a ship wreck in the harbour that made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Oh and my new book. I’m currently finalising the photographs, and trying to get some sponsorship to help with costs. Come hell or high water I’m launching September 2019.