The next best thing to diving is talking diving. However, a better thing than talking diving is a diving talk. You get it? Diving talks tend not to happen in Northern Ireland at all, but thanks to the inspiration loving entity Stephen McMullan, diving presentations are becoming increasingly popular in the South of Ireland with the inception of 'The Two Principles' talks. I only managed to attend one, from the legendary Barry McGill, which was brilliant. I vowed not miss another if possible.
That specific series of presentations concluded, and again Ireland was devoid of diving chat; until Stephen announced Liam Allen would be presenting the USS Atlanta dive he spearheaded. I was thrilled. Not only was it a deep wreck expedition presentation, but a GUE related talk as well, and from an Irish man. Awesome.
Needless to say I picked up two tickets immediately, informed Wifebuddy we'd be attending, and she would be driving as I would be drinking beer. A mere €10 covered both tickets, and all proceeds were going to charity. Win, win for everyone!
Thursday evening came, Kerri and I jumped into the Ford Boring and drove the 100+ miles over the now defunct border to Dun Laoghaire. It's pronounced 'Done Leary' by the way, as opposed to 'Don Log-hair'. Just to clarify, I have no Irish vocabulary what so ever. 2 hours later we were parked up and made our way to the very posh Royal Marine Hotel. The nice girl in reception was able to tell us where the talk was being held, and we were an hour early. An hour early was fabulous news as I could enjoy beer in the posh bar; which I did ... Carslberg, no less. The night was off to a great start.
I spied a few diver faces around the bar, along with Linda, our chum from TekCamp 2011. Two pints later we were seated in a splendid conference room, and the talk commenced.
Stephen introduced the evening, by introducing Mike Griffiths, who introduced Liam Allen. Liam explained he would only chat for 40 mins or so, then we could go grab another pint and return for the documentary video. As well as being an established diver, Liam is an excellent speaker. I found him very engaging. It was a cracking topic and, being a GUE fan boy, I was totally stoked at hearing about the project.
I don't want to spoil the talk, but he basically described how himself and five other GUE top men successfully dived and documented the USS Atlanta. The USS Atlanta is a light battlecruiser that was sunk during the pacific battle of Guadalcanal after being severely damaged by both enemy and friendly fire. She lies at a respectful depth of 130m in the South Pacific near one of the Solomon Islands.
Liam chatted about the history involved, the ship, his team, logistics and the plan. Amazingly the guys were hitting bottom times of 35 minutes towards the end of the expedition. As promised, less than hour later I managed to acquire another pint and prepared to watch the documentary; "Return to the USS Atlanta: Defender of Guadalcanal"
The documentary was phenomenal. The actual documentary part was brilliant, but the underwater footage was breathtaking - pure HD quality, AND it was only the second time the film had been aired in Europe. The video was a splendid backdrop to Liam's talk, and added a wonderful visual element to the very informative presentation. Some heart wrenching footage of survivors from the wreck was a tough watch, many an eye in the room was welled up, but it was a great addition nonetheless.
All too quickly it was all over. With a lengthy drive ahead, Kerri and I thanked Stephen, introduced ourselves to Liam, thanked him also for a great evening, said 'hello from Rich Walker,' and sloped off to the Ford Boring. Meeting Liam was very cool, and he reciprocated it was nice to meet the 'entire' Northern Ireland GUE diving force.
I strongly recommend that all divers attend Liam's USS Atlanta talk if you get a chance; it's fab!
Watch the trailer here.