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  Retirement Celebration, Michael John & Sheila Cadogan, Cape Clear Island from Co Op and Island Library.

Sunday 8 May 2011 was one of those special days on Cape Clear Island, the celebration of the recent retirement of Micheál ( Michael John) and Sheila Ó Ceadagáin. After many year of the trials and triumphs of Island life the day and the event lived up to expectations in all regards. The event was due to start at 3pm but in Father Quellys absence, Mass was also scheduled for the same time by Fr Cottor Parish Priest. Enter Micheál Cottrell and his fast rib, a late morning dash to Cape was planned for an earlier Mass and all was solved until the weather deteriorated, the winds blew and the rib was cancelled. Enter our good neighbour Nic Slocum, and the trusty Voyager and Fr Cotter was duly delivered in good health if not a little green and Mass was said and the day’s events were back on course. It was a poor day for traveling to the Cape and all those who made the trip from Baltimore, Sherkin and further afield are therefore greatly appreciated. They also include many present and former colleagues of Micheál from the ESB and from past projects and both former and current T.D.s Paddy Sheehan and Maureen O’Sullivan. As usual the food prepared by An Siopa Beag was splendid and the various speeches were unusually good, at least for those with a good understanding of Irish. There is always room to learn and both Micheál himself and Skipper, Ted Ó Drisceoil gave interesting and at times very entertaining accounts of days gone by. Sheila, had little to say but said it very well indeed and clearly, being a great librarian and thoroughly enjoying ones work go hand in hand. Sheila drew special joy from her contact with the Island children and hopes that they will continue to read and will find hers an open and welcoming door in the future. Michael John has throughout his adult life worked unceasingly for the Community of Cape Clear Island. Given that only in the last 10 years was he finally employed as Co Op Manager, ‘career’ is not accurate, for most of that time and especially during his long years as a very active Cathaoirleach he carried the responsibilities without any fringe benefits whatsoever. Someone recalled that there were many days he came home from fishing, west of the Fastnet to attend to community affairs and the long and productive hours lost when there was still money to be made in fishing were his alone to bear while the benefits accrued to the entire island community. Of course many others willingly gave of their time and services, Students from both Maynooth and Church of Ireland who worked together to provide the first water scheme on the Island back in the 70’s, Workers from ESB and Velrome Dockyear who volunteered to wire the Island houses and the ‘Campaí Oibre’ who for many years voluntarily operated and Irish College and Restaurant on the Island and bequeathed to the Community the splendid building knows as ‘Eirí na Gréine’. Micheál is also especially proud of some later projects such as the Island Helipad where the entire works were carried out from start to finish by Islanders. He also mentioned the countless many small jobs, that go unnoticed, the unceasing teamwork that has continued over many long years, the backroom team held together through good and bad times by the very special glue, that is himself. His successor Mairtín Méalóid put it very succinctly when he said that Micheál was “stuama, misniúil agus macanta” ( Courageous, wise and honest) Micheál has already achieved some very significant awards including the prestigious Cooperative Award for Community Endeavour and various awards from Údaras na Gaeltachta and was especially pleased by a poetic tribute, as Gaeilge, to both Sheila and himself by good friend Brendán Mac Gearailt, Board member of Údarás na Gaeltachta. This was read by another good friend of Oileán Chléire, former Manager Fergal Mac Amhlaoibh. Fergal continues to maintain an interest in Island affairs and only recently collaborated on the superb production of Chuck Kruger’s, latest book, Cape Clear Island, a Visual Tour, printed locally by Inspire Print and Design of Skibbereen. As the afternoon wore on the special qualities of the Island came into play, local musicians Fiachra, Kevin and Danny, later joined by Mairtín and gifted singer Rhiannan and others brought music and song, the sun finally broke out, as it usually does on days like this and the Island children happily romped through the harbour as both young and old enjoyed the day in their own way. All too soon six o’clock came and many had to leave on the special late sailing of the Dún an Óir II and those lucky enough to stay behind settled into a mellow early evening night out. It was a well deserved ‘go raibh maith agaibh’ to Micheál and Sheila and all present wished them both long and happy times together on Oileán Chléire and that Micheál will finally get to spend long hours at sea in his fine vessel, Gaisceannán. Séamus Ó Drisceoil, Oileán Chléire.

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