Great seafarers remembered
Published 24/06/2016 | 00:00
seafarers medals were presented to the families of seven sailors at the annual Seafarers Mass which took place at Bride Street Church on Sunday, including to the families of two of Ireland's best known chief engineers.
Those accepting the medals were Angie Fox, on behalf of her father James McEvoy, Billy Morris, on behalf of his father Thomas Morris, Dermot Campbell, on behalf of himself, Terry Kelly on behalf of his great uncle William Kehoe, Eric Giggins on behalf of his father Eric Giggins, Betty Really on behalf of her father Roy Giggins and Larry Duggan, described locally as the great old warrior of Wexford seamanship, on behalf of himself.
Following the Mass, the medal recipients and civic leaders went in procession to Crescent Quay where wreaths were laid.
The children of two of Ireland's best known chief engineers met for the first time at the Mass.
British-born chief engineer Eric Giggins who was involved in the Kerlogue rescue on March 29, 1943, was remembered as was his brother Roy, who worked on the Menapia as well as several high-profile ships in Cork who were involved in a number of rescues.
The men who left their families in the UK to come to Ireland completely lost contact with their past.
Eric who went on to work in Guinness after the Kerlogue rescued 168 Germans from the Bay of Biscay and never returned to Wexford where he had lived for a number of years, while his brother Roy moved to Cork.
Both men suffered with alcoholism and depression. Neither their colleagues neighbours or friends knew they had families and children and this week they were described as 'two of the best chief engineers in Ireland with 5-star engine rooms you could eat of the floor in'. They trained several young men on the boats but never spoke of their past.
Eric's granddaughter Alison has spent six years trying to trace her grandfather and discovered a relative in Australia online called Robert and Merle Giggins who finally cracked the story open when they traced Roy's family in the UK.
Roy's daughters Betty, 80 and Marie, 77, from the UK, last saw their father when they were teenagers and had no idea where he ended up, they believed both their father and uncle were in Rotterdam.
Ahead of Sunday's Mass, Betty travelled to Ireland to visit her father's grave for the first time in Cork.
'I've spent my whole life wondering what happened to him' she said. 'He was the kindest man you could ever meet but my mother couldn't hold him in the UK. She loved him dearly'.
Betty had no idea her uncle Eric had a family in Ireland and will meet her some of her cousins Peggy Ramotar, Mary O'Reilly and Eric Giggins from Ardee for the first time.
Betty was presented with her father Roy's medal on Sunday along with her newly-found first cousin Eric Giggins junior who lives in Bunclody.