Meitheal Mara, Community Boatyard Cork, are regular hosts during Heritage Week – but this year was indeed the first time that we organised our events online.

This pandemic has changed how we all connect and engage with the community, and the possibilities of online platforms such as Zoom have opened up a new world for us as event organisers. Having re-imagined and adapted Cork Harbour Festival and Ocean to City – An Rás Mór for a virtual setting earlier during the lockdown period, we quickly learnt that meaningful engagement and participation now goes beyond in-person, physical events.

And as much as we miss those moments where we can show people the ropes aboard our Fionnbarra Longboat, or take them out for a spin in one of our traditional currachs – these online events have brought along unexpected benefits and silver linings – especially for those who would not otherwise be able to join us. Delivering our events online has allowed people living remotely or afar; single parents without much support; and people with disabilities or mental health issues to join our events and if they so wish, remain anonymous

Meitheal Mara presented two online events during this year’s Heritage Week: the first a talk with local geographer Cllr. Kieran McCarthy, dealing with the development of Cork city through the ages and its interaction with the River Lee. The second talk was given by avid sailor and paddler Jack O’Keeffe, who spoke on the many byways, or heritage water trails, of Cork Harbour. Together, these events attracted well over a hundred participants, joining us from Cork, across Ireland, the European continent, the USA and beyond. An added benefit is that these events can now be accessed online and serve as a resource on our website:

Of course, we all miss connecting with the community in person and without all the restrictions in place. However, simultaneously we are grateful for the opportunities that technology has offered, and ways for us to reimagine what we do during these COVID times.

Thanks for everyone who joined us.