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  • Southside

A tribute to ‘Mr Holyhead’

Thursday, 12th July, 2018 6:00pm
A tribute to ‘Mr Holyhead’

‘Mr Holyhead’, John Cave.

A tribute to ‘Mr Holyhead’

‘Mr Holyhead’, John Cave.

Breasal Ó Caollaí

“MR HOLYHEAD who developed links with Ireland” is how John Cave was described at his recent funeral in Wales.

While John knew Irish ports quite well from his young days working on ships, it was not until later years that he got to really know the Irish through joint community involvements. 

His activities promoting his native Holyhead brought him regularly to Ireland and especially Dún Laoghaire, Greenore, and Greystones, where he helped develop links with Ireland's National Maritime Museum, Gaelscoilanna, and the business community. 

John Cave was no ordinary Welshman. He was the founder of the Holyhead Maritime Museum which is now a major tourism attraction in North Wales and was later awarded an MBE for his efforts. Among the recommendations made for him to receive the award were glowing submissions from community leaders in Dún Laoghaire including some local Irish Republicans.

At the time only some Republicans -the “officials”- believed in building links with all other communities living on these islands.

More recently, in the years leading up to the 1916 centenary year, John was instrumental in making the arrangements, along with his close friend, the late Major Stephen Hunt, Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Rtd) in organising a major trip from the Dún Laoghaire community to Frongoch, North Wales, to mark the centenary of the internment there of the Irish Volunteers following the Rising.

Neither of them saw any conflict between their own personal backgrounds and assisting groups from Ireland paying homage to their revolutionary ancestors.

John Cave's ability to connect with young people was demonstrated when in the early days of the Holyhead Maritime Museum some of its windows were broken, apparently by local children.

His reaction was to visit local schools and explain to the pupils that the museum was theirs, their history and their heritage. It worked. The museum was never vandalised again.

In addition to his hands across the Irish Sea maritime involvements, he was also involved in a legion of other bodies. He was the Holyhead agent for the Seamen’s Benevolent Fund, and was involved in remembrance for the Mail Boat Leinster, the Tara, the Anglia, the Scotia, the Connemara and the H15 submarine. He was a founder member of the Holyhead Dún Laoghaire Link Association, Governor of the Park School (which lost staff and pupils aboard the Mail Boat Leinster in 1918), and Governor of the Kingsland School also in Holyhead.  He was also a onetime crew member of the Holyhead Life Boat.

By the time of his death he had been made Life President of the Holyhead Maritime Museum.

His funeral in late June proved to be one of the biggest in Holyhead in living memory with the eulogy read by his friend and former ship mate, Albert Owen MP.

RIP John Cave.

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