Maritime Festival in doubt as Somali pirates booked in error

A demand for $80 million was accompanied by this picture of Somali pirates

Irish Maritime Festival organisers were frantically back paddling this morning as it emerged that numerous invitations were sent out by mistake to Somali pirates. Initially put down as a clerical error, an internal investigation has uncovered a conspiracy to scuttle the town’s nascent nautical extravaganza. Faa Side reporter Jeff Kapuscinski assesses the damage.

The blame game – samba sabotage or jobsbridge incompetence?

As panic spills over Drogheda like a shook Coke, perhaps it is too easy to cast aspersions on the former Drogheda Samba Festival organizer who inveigled her way onto the Irish Maritime Festival board. But Ockam’s Razor seldom lies and with funding for the Samba Festival slashed since the inauguration of the Maritime Festival, recent events have come as no surprise to TFS. Those who have been wronged know how hot blooded revenge is seldom subtle and all too fleeting. Much better to bide one’s time. Softly, softly catchee monkey.

Rank and file samba lovers haven’t forgotten how they were cast aside like an aged whore ridden to breaking point by a Louth County Council too easily seduced by the lure of the  nubile and well heeled yacht brigade. Eager to rub sweater draped shoulders with a better class of folk, they joined forces with Drogheda Port Company to create a festival that would assist in the misguided gentrification of a town built on exporting violence and linen. They may have the collective spend of a recently robbed tramp, indeed the €5 entry fee was probably put in place to keep the dregs away. But the samba community has a long memory and it is well documented that drummers are not stable people.

The pirates that should have been hired
The pirates hired for last year’s festival were due to be booked again this year.

The second line of enquiry focuses on disgruntled jobsbridge intern Fidelma Ní Cheallaigh, who was told in the lead up to the festival that her internship was to be upgraded to indentured servitude. Ms. Ní Cheallaigh, who once had dreams of a decent life where she could buy nice things, is said to have snapped and sent out invitations to international pirates as payback. A spokesperson for Drogheda Port Company who did not want to be named while the investigations are ongoing tried to get to the bottom of things.

“Last years mock battle between two pirate ships delighted the children so we thought we’d expand on it this year. We delegated the simple task of booking the pirates to our jobsbridge intern Fidelma. It remains to be seen whether she just didn’t understand that we wanted actors playing pirates, not actual pirates. Jobsbridge is a great scheme but when they cock up like this it does make you wonder whether emigration would’ve been the better option.

“As for the samba mole, well if it turns out to be her handy work she’ll be walking the plank, literally.”


From what we know of pirates and previous Viking raids, there will most likely be some skirmishes and panic spreading from coastal towns as they approach. United Nations Rapporteur on Piracy Trent Holbrooke spoke on LMFM about the gravity of the situation.

“Piracy is not all rascally rogues talking to their parrots saying ‘Agrr shiver me timbers me hearties. I sold me peg leg to a rotten knave for a piece of eight I did, agrr.’ These guys are highly sophisticated and are backed by western financiers who take upwards of 60% of any ransom fees. And they are ruthless. My advice to the Drogheda Maritime Festival would be to postpone the event and heavily mine the Boyne estuary.”

Somali pirates unload 410 tonnes of fertiliser from the beached MV Irish Trader at Baltray in 1974.
Somali pirates unload 410 tonnes of fertiliser from the beached MV Irish Trader at Baltray in 1974.

Pirate past

Drogheda was first acquainted with pirates in a 1764 attack which saw the inhabitants of John Street kidnapped and sold into slavery in Barbados. Most welcomed the move, preferring to take their chances on the sun drenched sugar plantations of the Caribbean than eek out a life of peasant drudgery and early death in Drogheda. In 1974 the MV Irish Trader was boarded by Somali pirates who relieved 410 tonnes of fertiliser from the Bristol bound vessel after running the boat aground on Baltray beach. They later sold the fertiliser to the IRA, who used it to boost the agricultural output of the fields of south Armagh.

Frightened residents have called on Drogheda Borough Council to request assistance from the Irish Defence Forces. However, with the navy fully occupied rescuing African migrants in the Mediterranean, the British Navy may need to be called in to assist. This could result in an embarrassing situation for Drogheda’s three Sinn Féin councillors, who could yet find themselves backing calls for British military intervention in Irish waters.

Potential positives

But despite the impending peril, there have been calls to expose cosseted local kids to the realities of an unequal world. Boomerang Café manager Gill Faulkner favours a different approach.

“We should take this opportunity to showcase  the reality of piracy to our younger children. The only piracy they know about is the internet kind or the ones from those shite Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They need to be shown that pirates are actually sneaky arrogant cut-throat bastards with no moral compass. Meathmen on boats, essentially.”

It is an approach regularly taken by The Military Museum in Collon. Last year they hosted a bloody pitched battle between exiled Chechen rebels and retired members of the Russian Special Forces which taught 2nd class students from St. Brigid’s that far from being a laughing matter, war is a horrifying and degrading experience. The students took a lot from the day, with the (optional) interactive summary executions of the losing side really bringing home the futility and pointless waste of life that armed conflict brings about. Following on from the success of that day, the museum will be facilitating a summer exchange programme with a group of high achieving Congolese child soldiers from Joseph Kony’s army.

Festival organisers will make an executive decision in the coming days. TFS reporters will be on hand to give a minute by minute account should the pirate threat materialise.