DERRY JOURNAL Editorial: A rising tide to lift all boats this week

The Foyle Maritime Festival doesn’t officially commence until tomorrow but, in truth, it’s been a case of Derry of the ‘hundred, thousand welcomes’ from the moment the first Clippers sailed up the Foyle and into port last week.

Due to the favourable weather conditions on the Atlantic crossing, the round-the-world race was way ahead of schedule and, in fact, the yachts had to take the scenic route around Rockall and St. Kilda in order to postpone their arrival into Derry by a few days!

For the past week, the quay and the city have been abuzz with strangers and locals alike enjoying the pre-festival atmosphere.

The Legenderry Street Food Festival along the quay at the weekend fairly whet the appetite for what promises to be special few days ahead. The five day festival, running from Wednesday to Sunday, will feature too many events, activities and amusements to be mentioned here: markets along the riverfront, the installation of an artificial beach and Big Wheel along the quay and a series of riverside concerts.

Derry man Gerard Doherty, with his daughters Kate and Jane and his wife Sharon as he received a rapturous welcome from family and friends when he arrived home on the Clipper Round The World Yacht Ha Long Bay, Vietnam at the Foyle Marina in Derry-Londonderry after completing the transatlantic leg between New York and his home city. Picture Martin McKeown. 13.07.22

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Local Clipper crew members in Derry after final ocean crossing

There will also be open tours of the Clipper fleet while several tall ships and heritage boats will also be showcased. A welcome educational focus at this year’s festival will be on the problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. After a weekend when much of Europe sweltered in record temperatures linked by climate scientists to fossil-fuel induced climate change, it is timely that the Foyle Maritime Festival will use local stories and folklore from Manannán mac Lir, to mermaids, to Dopey Dick, to warn of the destruction petrochemical products are wreaking in our seas.

It’s a festival that is bound to inform and entertain in equal measure and it is fitting that it is taking place in a city and region so renowed for its maritime heritage.

The Derry stopover is by all accounts the highlight of the entire Clipper race due to the legendary hospitality afforded by the city. And no wonder. Sure, when Derry is like this, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.