Irish Navy's newest ship drops anchor at IncheonAll Irish ships are named after a fair lass. The L.E. Niamh, which left Incheon Port on Thursday for Tokyo, is no different.
The Niamh got its name from an ancient Irish myth. The story goes that Oisin, the son of a legendary Irish warrior, Fionn MacCumhal, fell in love with Niamh, a beautiful maiden who rode a snow-white steed. Joining Niamh on her horse, they rode over the sea to her father's Land of Youth. But Oisin soon longed to see his native land again. Niamh lent him her mount with a warning not to set foot on land. Oisin rode the horse across the sea to his home, where he found that decades had passed in his absence. He leaned over to help some strangers move a rock, but his saddle came loose and he fell to the ground. He turned into an old man, told his story, then died.
The legend may be sad, but the latest journey of the L.E. Niamh has been a success. On Feb. 11, the ship set sail for Asia as a goodwill gesture. Its journey to Asia marks the first time an Irish Navy ship has been to Asian waters. By the time it returns to Ireland, the 50-member crew will have spent 99 days at sea.
The JoongAng Ilbo English Edition spoke with one of the officers on board, Lieutenant Owen Mullowney, about the journey.
IHT-JAI: What have been the highlights of your stay in Korea?
Mullowney: A pre-World Cup soccer match against the Korean Navy at a park right by the sea. (The Korean Navy won 4-2.)
Our crew, along with the Irish Embassy here, also hosted events promoting Irish education and receptions for the business and not-for-profit sectors. I've met Nationally Assembly members, the mayor of Incheon, kindergarten students and handicapped people from projects run by Columban fathers and sisters in Gwangju and Mokpo. About 120 people attended each of our on-board dinners, with Irish food prepared by one of our three chefs.
IHT-JAI: What is the ship's itinerary?
Mullowney: Before Incheon, we went to Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The destination after Tokyo is Penang. The L.E. Niamh, incidentally, is the newest ship in the Irish Navy.
IHT-JAI: What has the journey been like so far?
Mullowney: The ship's top speed is 23 knots, or 27 miles per hour. You can spend days on the ocean without seeing much. In Singapore, there were a lot of fishing fleets. Afterward, there were few sightings of other ships on the Indian Ocean, but plenty of flying fish. The fish leap out of the water, fly 100 meters and sometimes land on board.
IHT-JAI: Do you ever get seasick?
Mullowney: I was sick for the first three years after I joined the navy at 17.
by Joe Yong-hee