Broken oar, broken dreams? Not for our '87 Seine crew.


Liam Lynch - The Islandman

A lot of tide has ebbed and flowed in the Portmagee Channel, situated between mainland Portmagee and the southern side of Valentia Island, since the Portmagee Regatta took place in its waters in 1987.

Thirty-two years on, and the seine boat race of that regatta was recalled with much joy, celebration, nostalgia, reminiscence and talk of times past at a very memorable occasion, complemented by a video of the occasion in the Ring Lyne Bar and Restaurant of Chapeltown on Friday, May 31.

Five boats participated, representing Valentia, Cahersiveen, Cnuicín, Rinn Rua-Ballinskelligs and Over-the-Water. Valentia won the race in dramatic circumstances and the reason for such a reunion was that it was one of the last all-Valentia crews to win or take part in a seine boat race.

The race commenced from the Valentia Bridge, with the boats not having travelled too far beyond the starting shot when a foul occurred between Valentia and Cnuicín to give us the most dramatic subsequent event of the race.

The foul resulted in a broken oar dowel of the third oar rowed by Patrick Morley and Nealie Lyne, rendering their oar idle. What followed was a sight to behold for patrons and tourists alike of the Ring Lyne as they watched the video in fascination.

Valentia, now with one oar rendered useless, naturally fell behind. However, Patrick Morley gallantly held the idle oar over his shoulders as his comrade on the oar, Nealie Lyne, frantically tried to remove the stub of the broken dowel and replace it anew as the boat stayed in the race.

Fascinating viewing.

Finally, though a fair amount of time was lost, he succeeded, and the crew once more commenced with six oars to a big cheer in the Ring Lyne.

But the determined islanders had a lot of water to make up and were up against it.

Gradually, ever so gradually, they pulled their way back into contention. And approaching the first buoy were in the thick of it with the leading boats.

The islanders were now going very well and actually rounded the first buoy in the lead, closely pursued by the Liberator, Cahersiveen.

The race for home westwards towards the Valentia Bridge was on, and it looked for a while as if the Liberator would overtake Valentia once more.

However, with the animated Valentia Cox, Paddy Jack O'Sullivan, sensing victory, standing in the stern and urging his men on, clad in a white shirt with two outstretched arms and clenched fists, the islanders pulled away.

The video commentator Christy Riordan of Cahersiveen uttered: "'They are approaching the crowd on the Valentia Bridge, which they so often crossed, leading by six, seven lengths, maybe more.''

Valentia safely rounded the buoy westwards beyond the bridge and faced the short return distance back to the bridge to take the final shot of victory and be greeted by a dam-burst of delirious cheering and joy from the many islanders looking down from the Bridge.

It was a wonderful moment in time to savour for the crew, and Paddy Jack's finest hour as a Valentia seine boat cox in front of their own people.

A herculean struggle for second place ensued with John 'Cap' and Cnuicín really pressing up on Mike Murt and the Liberator, but the Cahersiveen crew held on by half a length to finish second.

Time, of course, keeps on changing, and nothing stands still. The coxes of that far off year, Mike 'Murt' O'Connell (The Liberator), John 'Cap' Murphy (Cnuicín), Paddy Jack O'Sullivan (Valentia) and Jack Davy O'Connell (Rinn Rua-Ballinskelligs) have all passed to their eternal reward.

The only surviving cox is Johnny Keating of the Over-The-Water boat. Portmagee regatta committee members interviewed afterwards in the video - John Morley, Deo O'Connell, Johnny Moriarty and John Devane - have also passed on. God rest them all.

After the showing of the video in the Ring Lyne, Mícheál Lyne made a special presentation to Patrick Morley in view of his unique oar-lofting endeavours in the race.

It was great to see Patrick, who is well on the way to recovery from serious illness, attending on the night.

The festivities continued, and in celebration of that event of all those years ago, Mícheál Lyne rendered two recitations; Seanie Murphy gave two songs; Eileen Mort O'Sullivan sang, GG O'Sullivan also. Dermot Walsh lifted the roof with bagpipe tunes.

It all made for fascinating viewing for English and German tourists present, who were busy with their camera-phones and delighted in an affair of such native flavour.

The Valentia crew of 1987 was: Paddy Jack O'Sullivan (RIP), John O'Sullivan, Seamus Lynch (Stroke); Kevin Curran, Seamus O'Connor (Fifth Oar); Seanie Murphy, Mícheal Lyne (Fourth Oar); Patrick Morley, Nealie Lyne (Third Oar); Dermot Walsh, Patrick Lyne (Second oar); GG O'Sullivan, Gerard Burns (Bow Oar).

Footnote: GG O'Sullivan is the only current away-based crew member, being domiciled in Dublin since the '70s.

All the rest currently reside in Valentia.

John O'Sullivan, head of the stroke oar, was the youngest crew member, with Mícheál Lyne being the most senior.

Many remarked on the amount of people present that day on the Valentia Bridge.

God be with the days.


Rina Janssen

On Sunday, May 26, the death occurred of Rina Janssen of Ballingeary, County Cork, who passed away unexpectedly while out walking with friends in the neighbourhood of her village. Rina was the eldest of her Dutch family of seven.

She will be missed by her five brothers, Theo, Wim, Harrie, Bert and Jos; sister, Anke; Hugh; Bria; Sora; Felix; Kumud; extended family; relatives; neighbours; and many friends. She also resided in Valentia. Solas na bhFlaitheas di.

Leo Murphy

On Thursday, May 30, Leo Murphy of Portmagee -who resided in Corobeg, Valentia in latter years - passed away peacefully in the presence of his family.

Leo, who was 66, battled illness very bravely and resiliently for many years to live a life as normal as possible. He was a decent man and a good and obliging friend - even while not in great health - to his neighbours and those he encountered in everyday life. He was also very much a man for banter and general craic on the social scene. He worked as a farmer and fisherman and also spent time in England and Dublin.

A true born-and-bred son of 'The Ferry' who passed away too young, Leo was laid to rest in the graveyard of Portmagee village after Requiem Mass in nearby St Patrick's Church.

Mass was celebrated by FrPatsy Lynch. He will be very sadly missed. Sincere condolences are extended to his wife, Nora; children, Michael, Leona, Karen and Stephen; brothers, Denis, Patie James and Vincent; sisters, Bridgie, Mary Margaret and Noreen; sisters-in-law; brother-in-law; cousins; nieces; nephews; neighbours; and friends.Solás sioraí dó.

Maureen O'Sullivan

On Saturday, June 5, the death occurred of Maureen O'Sullivan (née Clifford) of Clahane, Cahersiven, who was predeceased by her husband, Owen. Sincere sympathy to her son, Johnny, and his wife, Noreen; her daughters - Mary and partner Kevin, and Christine and husband Jim - sisters, Teresa and Bridie; grandchildren, Rebecca, Seán, Stacey, Cathal, Niall, Amy, Caroline and Brian; nieces; nephews; relatives; neighbours; and friends.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire uirthi.