Doonties native who spent a life on the high seas

DINGLE'S annual Maritime Heritage Weekend again proved to be a great success with a programme of events packed to the brim with lectures delivered by expert speakers on this year's theme, 'Spies, Admirals and Shipwrights'.

Past workers in Dingle's Boatyard enjoyed a special 'Gathering' on Saturday as an exhibition documenting the history of the boatyard was unveiled in the Dingle Marina Centre.

Meanwhile, across the road in Dingle Oceanworld, a number of lectures were hosted including 'BIM 50 and 56ft Fishing Boats' (by Pat Nolan), 'Walter Simon, World War II Spy in Dingle' (by Pat Nelligan), 'Admiral Moriarty of Ballyferriter' (by Dr Conor Brosnan), 'The Marine Service; Ireland's Wartime Navy' (by Daire Brunicardi) and 'The Irish Naval Service 2013 (delivered by the first Irish woman to command a war-ship, Lt Cmdr Marie Gleeson).

Another addition to proceedings was a special lecture researched and delivered by Féile Lios Póil Cathaoirleach Dick Johnson who told the story of Paddy Moriarty from Doonties, Lispole who enjoyed a decorated career in the British Naval Service in the early 1900s.

While much is known of the Antarctic adventures of Tom Crean who hailed from the neighbouring village of Annascaul, little was known of the career of Paddy Moriarty who was born in 1877.

Having survived 'Bliain an Gorta Beag', Paddy saw himself presented with "limited options". As Tom Crean did, he signed up for the British Navy in Cobh and was subsequently stationed for training in Davenport, earning 30 shillings per month. In 1897 he was dispatched to Hong Kong to help contain the 'Boxer Rebellion'. Upon his return he was stationed on-board the HMS Mars and so, as Dick Johnson quipped, "the Americans may have sent a man to the moon but in 1908 a West Kerry man was on Mars!"

Paddy progressed to the HMS Russell which was stationed in Malta, a very important tactical outpost for the British in controlling the Straits of Gibraltar. Sadly, Paddy became ill on-board (with a suspected case of Malaria) and was transferred to the naval hospital in Malta where he passed away on December 18 1909. He was buried in a military graveyard beside the hospital which is roughly six miles from Valetta.

Word was sent home to his people along with a photo of the headstone and since then many people from West Kerry – including Dick Johnson - have visited his grave.

This was just one of the many fascinated stories related during the Dingle Maritime Heritage Weekend which culminated with children's activities on Monday. Chairing the lectures was broadcaster and writer Ted Creedon who highlighted the role of local marine expert Kevin Flannery for his vision in creating such a wonderful weekend which has really made its mark on West Kerry calendar.