07 August 2017

Ireland must continue ‘critical role’
in nuclear disarmament

Musician Junshi Morakami plays the Irish harp during the commemoration for the victims of the Hiroshima atomic bomb in Merrion Square Park, Dublin (Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times)

Patrick Comerford

My message as President of Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Irish CND) was read out at the Hiroshima Day commemoration in Merrion Square, Dublin, yesterday [6 August 2017]. The message is quoted in this five-column report on the commemoration in ‘The Irish Times’ [p 4] today [7 August 2017]:

Ireland must continue ‘critical role’
in nuclear disarmament

Hiroshima bombing victims remembered in Dublin
more than seven decades after attack

Sorcha Pollak

A daughter of survivors of the Hiroshima attack has called for the Irish State to continue its “critical role” in advocating for nuclear disarmament and achieving a world free from nuclear weapons.
Speaking in front of a cherry blossom tree in Merrion Square that was planted in 1984 [rected 1980] in memory of the victims of the bombing, Midori Yamamitsu highlighted Ireland’s “critical role” in disarmament and non-proliferation.

Ms Yamamitsu, the deputy head of Mission with the Japanese Embassy, also praised former Irish foreign minister Frank Aiken who first made the case for a nuclear non-proliferation treaty more than 50 years ago.

Ms Yamamitsu described how moved she felt following former minister for foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan’s trip to Japan earlier this year when he visited the site of the bombing in her home city of Hiroshima.

“I firmly believe that with the effort of the international community, including Japan and Ireland, and the good will of people like you who are here today, we will one day finally achieve our aim of eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world,” she told the small crowd gathered on Sunday afternoon.

The annual Dublin ceremony is held in memory of the estimated 140,000 people who lost their lives as a result of the blast on August 6th, 1945. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki and 80,000 people were killed.

Reading a speech from Rev Patrick Comerford, president of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who was unable to make Sunday’s ceremony, Dr David Hutchinson Edgar warned of the increased danger of a nuclear war.
“The frightening pace of change in the United States, dictated by late-night and early-morning tweets in the White House, not only means that the political climate in Washington is deeply disturbing, but it means the future of the world and the future of everyone is perilous,” he wrote.

“The fingers on the phone that send out those tweets late at night and early in the morning, are the same fingers that could press the nuclear button at any time of day or night.”

Sunday’s short ceremony in Merrion Square was brought to a close with music as Councillor Larry O’Toole, representing the Lord Mayor of Dublin, placed a wreath of chrysanthemums by the small memorial at the foot of the cherry tree.

Chrysanthemums, he told attendees, were the first flowers to bloom in the destroyed area of Hiroshima after the bombing.

Crossing the River Maigue
at Ferrybank, near Clarina

The River Maigue at Ferrybridge, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland, and although the weather has not brought out the best of summer sunshine, two of us visited the banks of the River Maigue at Ferrybridge, near Clarina, Co Limerick, on Saturday afternoon [5 August 2017].

The River Maigue (An Mháigh, the ‘river of the plain’) rises near the Milford in north Co Cork, and is 38.75 miles long. It is joined by the small River Glen and the larger River Loobagh in south Co Limerick; it then flows north through Bruree, is joined by the River Morning Star; and it flows on through Croom and Adare before entering the Shannon Estuary on its southern shore just north of Ferrybridge, between Kildimo and Clarina, downstream from Limerick City.

Although some work was carried out as early as 1720 to improve the river, it never seems to have been a very important navigation, and never had any locks.

The Directors-General of Inland Navigation did some work from 1815 on, installing an opening bridge on the coast road, the present N69, at Ferrybridge.

In 1837 the Shannon Commissioners recommended that only minor works were needed as only turf boats used the river and there was a good road from Adare to Limerick.

After the formation of the Irish Free State, the new state reviewed its inland waterways in 1923 and concluded that the opening bridge-arch over the River Maigue could be replaced by a fixed arch. It had not been opened for many years, and most boats were too wide for that arch and had to use the fixed arch.

As far upstream as Adare, the Maigue is heavily embanked, with occasional sluices along the way. The confluence with the Shannon is said to be tricky to navigate, with shifting sand banks.

The River Maigue Rowing Club, which was formed recently, is based at Ferrybridge, Clarina. It aims to provide a club where members can row in Gandelows on the River Maigue. Generations of local people have been involved in this activity and the club particularly encourages young members who can also learn the skills of rowing a Gandelow and carry on this tradition.

There are two pubs at Ferrybank. The car park at the rear of De Bucket on the west side of the bridge and the river opens onto the riverbank.

But on Saturday afternoon, two of us stopped for and lingered at Curran’s, which was established in 1783, and with its thatched roof is located on a pretty turn on the river on the east bank of the Maigue.

Curran’s with its thatched roof, on the banks of the River Maigue at Ferrybridge, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)