Denis Barrett, Meitheal Mara, Rachel Lucey and William Cooper, Cork Life Centre, Cathy Buchanan, Meitheal Mara, and Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr John Sheehan at the presentation of the 2021 Gradam Meitheal Mara award at the Meitheal Mara community boatyard. Photo: Michael O’Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

Swell deserved!

Cork Life Centre has been honoured with a Gradam Meitheal Mara award in recognition for its devotion to helping young people engage with Ireland’s proud maritime culture.

Gradam Meitheal Mara is an award that is presented to individuals or organisations that have made a significant contribution to maritime culture or heritage over an extended period of time.

Not only has Cork Life Centre delivered second level education to the young people of Cork for over twenty years, it has also endeavoured to broaden their educational spectrum allowing them to explore their own strengths and interests while always encouraging new experiences.

Previous recipients of the award include Paddy Barry for his numerous ocean-going sailing expeditions, and Tom MacSweeney for his lifelong dedication to maritime journalism.

In honouring Cork Life Centre, Meitheal Mara acknowledged the incredible work the centre has done in making rowing, sailing, boat building and seamanship accessible to its students.

Clare Hayden, manager of Meitheal Mara’s Bádóireacht youth programme said it was a privilege to work with Cork Life Centre over the past seven years and to watch the young people step outside their comfort zone and explore their own capabilities.

“In that time, I have seen many of their young people progress from being absolute beginners in boats to a point where they are accomplished mariners. To see them blossom in confidence and composure as they gain boating skills has been extremely impressive,” she said.

Don O’Leary, Director of Cork Life Centre, added: “It is a beautiful honour for all at Cork Life Centre to receive Gradam Meitheal Mara. As with any honour that might be bestowed on our Centre, this award belongs to our extraordinary young people.”

In addition to Cork Life Centre’s name being added to the list of previous recipients on the Gradam plaque, the centre was also presented with a beautiful handcrafted sculptural piece from the Meitheal Mara workshop.

Created by workshop manager Séamus O’Brien the award features a currach carved in pear wood with base and detail in teak and tigerwood. In presenting the award, Chairperson of Meitheal Mara Denis Barrett said Cork Life Centre is an inspiration to “all who are committed to equality of opportunity”.

He added: “We are delighted to present the Gradam Meitheal Mara to the Life Centre Team, to recognise their long-term and ongoing committed work to bring young people in a shared mission to benefit in their personal, team and community development through activities on the water, through working in teams, gaining traditional boat building skills and through sharing experiences of our city’s maritime culture.”