PREPARATIONS are currently underway to celebrate the life and times of one of Dingle's most engaging characters, Michael Long, at the inaugural Dingle Maritime Heritage Weekend which will take place from October 27 - 29.
Michael, or Mikey Long as he also known, was a publican in Dingle at the pub that is now John Benny's. His interest in the flora and fauna of the area and all things related to the sea led to the cataloguing of many specimens and saw him become an honorary member of the Institute of Biology of Ireland.
The focus of the weekend will be a series of talks and organiser Kevin Flannery will open proceedings on Saturday morning with an introductory talk on Michael Long. Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, will then officially open the weekend before delivering a lecture on 'Our Ocean Wealth'. A plaque in Michael's honour will also be unveiled by Dr Heffernan at John Benny's at 12.45pm.
The lecture series continues throughout the afternoon at various venues with talks on 'Pirates and Prostitutes' by Dr Connie Kelliher , 'A Famous Rescue on the Clifftops of Ballydavid' by local historian Pat Nelligan and 'Is there a future for fishing?' delivered by Lorcán Ó Cinnéide.
On Sunday Dr Conor Brosnan will introduce a film on Antarctic explorer and Annascaul native Tom Crean, which will be followed by a discussion led by local polar adventurer Mike O'Shea. Eddie Hutchinson will also give a naomhóg making demonstration in the afternoon while the Cliff & Coastal Rescue will put on a helicopter and equipment demonstration.
Speakers for the rest of the day include Dr Declan Quigley, who will speak about the biodiversity of marine fish in Irish waters and Dr Wesley Flannery who will speak about harvesting our ocean wealth and maritime spatial planning. Rounding off the day, Bernie Goggin will give a talk about Michael Long, flora and fauna.
The weekend's activities conclude on Monday with further talks delivered by Nick Massett of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, an introduction to the marine world for children by UCC's Grace Flannery and Kevin Flannery who will pose the question, 'who is fishing in Ireland?'
"This festival is long overdue; we are focusing on the local elements this year but hope to expand next year," Kevin said. "It will give people the chance to see what's happening marine-wise and give them a taste and a feel for it."
Entry to all events, which will take place at Mara Beo (Dingle Oceanworld), John Benny's and the Dingle Marina Centre, is free of charge. More information on the Dingle Maritime Heritage Weekend is available at 066-9152111.