Dr Fiona Grant from the Marine Institute will give a talk at the ‘Women and the Sea’ symposium on the topic “Putting Eyes in the Deep Ocean”. Fiona began her studies in geology before going on to specialise in marine geophysics and earth system dynamics. Her first job was as conservation coordinator for wild salmon and sea trout before taking responsibility for research infrastructures in the Marine Institute. Her talk will focus on some of the challenges in observing the deep ocean environment, how to harness ocean energy in Galway Bay and present some of the latest results from studies in the Atlantic Ocean.
The poet Mary O’Malley will join us at the ‘Women and the Sea’ symposium, where she will present a paper on the poetry and song of the sea, entitled ‘When the seas were lavish’, and she will also read from her work at the symposium dinner.
Mary has published seven collections of poetry to date, and is probably best known for her most recent collection, Valparaiso (Carcanet, 2012), which began on a voyage on the Irish marine research vessel, the Celtic Explorer, and resonates with the sound of the sea.
Dr Julie Maguire, one of the symposium co-organisers, and based at the Daithi O’Murchu Marine Research Station in County Cork, will talk to the ‘Women and the Sea’ symposium about working on a marine research station.
The Daithi O’Murchu Marine Research Station has been in operation since 1991 originally as part of the Aquaculture and Development Centre (ADC), University College Cork. However in late 2005 it was established as an independent centre.
“We have 11 marine biologists working at the station some from as far away as Kenya and Brazil. Research at the station has focussed on greener technologies for aquaculture, disease and fouling control, biofuel and plastic production (from algae), minimising waste in the aquaculture and fisheries production process, environmental monitoring and remote sensing. ”
Julie will present her account of life working on a marine research station on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula.
Women in the British Merchant Marine: Central Records and the CR10 card photos
David Snook will speak at the ‘Women and the Sea’ symposium about the history of women in the British Merchant Marine, and specifically what we can learn from CR10 card photos and central records.
David was born in Bristol and has lived in Rush, County Dublin since 1982. In 2003 he was awarded an M Litt at UCD for a thesis on Irish seamen in the British Merchant Marine 1870-1920.
In 2006-08 he continued his research at Southampton Archives. They hold 300,000 central record cards, including a passport style photograph, for the multinational workforce employed in the British Mercantile Marine in the period 1918-21. (CR10 cards) The system was designed to ensure that merchant seamen, who were exempt from conscription, were really going to sea. David and his family team ploughed through 150 boxes of records and extracted the details of 23,000 Irish born men which were then put on to a searchable online database www.irishmariners.ie
He followed this up by working with local coastal communities in mounting exhibitions for ‘their’ seamen. The feedback led to the development of some engaging narratives.
Women are found in other British merchant marine records, usually working as stewardesses, but this particular set was designed as ‘men only’ because of the conscription issue. The approach was largely successful but 60 women’s CR10 cards have now been located with this symposium in mind. Many of the 60 photographs are wonderful, with Tyneside and Grimsby well represented, and some preliminary narratives have been developed.
On 22nd July 2015 Vanessa Daws swam solo from the huts at Low Rock in Malahide to Lambay Island, the distance of 8K as the crow flies. This was the 2nd swim in a series of ongoing artworks, the “Lambay Swims” based around Lambay Island in Dublin Bay.
Vanessa is a visual artist and avid open water swimmer and is currently on the UCD Art in Science Residency where she hopes to investigate the aquatic environment and our terrestrial relationship with this fluid world.
Through chance meetings, the search for swimmers and the ultimate swim spot, stories appear that lead her projects. Encounter, invitation, journey, conversation, film, sound, drawing and publications are all elements that build up her art practice, a process she describes as “Psychoswimography”.
For the ‘Women and the Sea’ symposium Vanessa will talk about the “Lambay Swims” and her relationship with the Dublin sea swimming community and how the two are intertwined in her art practice and research.
“I have always swum, not competitively, or for particularly long distances; but when passing a body of water, be it pond, fountain, lake, river or sea, it’s hard for me not to resist the urge to take a swim.
Using swimming as a starting point my art practice investigates where this drive to swim, to immerse oneself in water comes from, is this urge spiritual, escapism or social? Is it the sheer thrill of the unknown; to feel the water on our skin, the cold on our head, adapt our breathing and to feel we exist? My work explores ways in which we accept as normal our pursuits and chosen rituals, and also how through acclimatisation and adaption we can surprise ourselves and go beyond our expectations.”
Susan Steele will speak at the ‘Women and the Sea’ symposium on Friday 25th September, under the title: ‘not just mermaids, the waves that women can create’.
“When we cry, our tears as they run down our faces are salty and the same composition as the sea. For most of us, there is an inexorable feeling of belonging when we are by the sea. Translating that passion and belonging into a career by the sea is a dream of more than mermaids. I will speak of my own journey found through passion for marine biology at the age of three, through roles working in universities, for BIM and currently as chair of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.”
Dr Lucy Collins, one of the co-organisers of the symposium, and lecturer in UCD School of English, Drama and Film, will speak at the symposium about representations of the basking shark in Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poem sequence, ‘The Sun-fish’.
The complex relationship between human aspiration and the ocean has long been reflected in literature, where the dynamics of space and time unique to marine life can be explored in thought-provoking ways. In Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poem sequence ‘The Sun-fish’, multiple perspectives on the life of the basking shark – on its place in history and imagination – reveal the complex relationship between human and animal, as well as between land and sea. In this work the basking shark is both present and absent; at times coming into view, at times obscured by the surface of the sea and by the oblique nature of the poem itself. Traversing the spaces of history and memory in the representation of the shark hunt, the poem considers the role of woman both as observer and as participant in this most masculine of pursuits. This paper will explore how female perspectives subtly shape the poem sequence, especially in its interweaving of personal and historical narratives.