Multimedia documenting of the struggle against the Solitaire

Solitaire on the horizon in Broadhaven bayAs we wind down after the struggle against Shell's pipeline ship the Solitaire I'm using this blog post to bring together the bits of audio and video I recorded during that struggle and which have already been published as comments to articles on  In the next days I'm also going to trawl through my old web site and transfer over reports I wrote on the Shell to Sea struggle from a couple of years back to this site which will give a pretty complete archive of what I've produced. Shell got the pipeline into the bay but the next cycle of struggle will be the toughest for them as they try and run it through Rossport itself to link up to the refinery.

We expect a break of a few months at least before that cycle starts, apart from anything else Shell have yet to obtain planning permission for that section of pipeline and although it is a foregone conclusions that any refusal will be overturned jumping through the hoops may still take some time.  Those in the know reckon construction in the winter months on the Rossport bog will be next to impossible, it rains heavily almost every day of the winter months and the bog becomes so soft that machinery will sink deep into it if not out of sight.  Rossport itself is at the end of a narrow road so the first construction will almost certainly be to widen that road, this probably will start relatively soon and will be less vunerable to the weather.

Shell won the battle but in doing so they have awoken a much higher level of opposition then we have seen since the jailing of the Rossport 5 back in 2005.  The various organising lists are alive with traffic as people follow up on plans from the National meeting I reported on and new S2S groups are in formation.  I'm working on the draft of what the Dublin group is calling the 'big leaflet', a detailed explanation of the issues that will be distributed by S2S campaigners to at least 120,000 houses nationally.  That is maybe 12-15% of all dwellings in the south.

The first audio I'm archiving here was a recording done by mobile phone with Fin at the Rossport Solidarity Camp when the Solitaire arrived.

This is an 8 minute audio interview with Fin who arrived at the camp today about getting there, what is going on, the events of this morning, the level of policing and what is to come.

The second is one I edited but was recorded by Dermo. Again its with Fin who is reporting live by mobile from a lock on that was blocking a Shell convoy from getting essential equipment into the Glengad compound.

This is a 10 minute interview with Fin conducted as a lock on was in progress on the road blocking a Shell convoy. Towards the end the news comes through of the car being driven through the gates of the compound. It was windy and rainy so there is a bit of noise in the recording now and then.

The last audio is again by mobile phone but this time with StJohn who was part of the support team for the Kayak group that had travelled up to the Shell supply depot at Killybegs and boarded one of the ships that was suppling the Solitaire.  I was chatting with someone last night and he told me that after leaving Killybegs they stopped at a pub a few miles away for a pint.  One of them was tired and decided he'd get some sleep in the van but was surprized on leaving the pub to find a police helicopter hoovering overhead.

Live interview with support activist for ship occupation in Killybegs

The person I was talking to last night had left the camp yesterday to hitch to Ballina and co-incidentally a number of others happened to leave around the same time.  The guards obviously upset at being caught on the hop with the Killybegs occupation had noticed this and drawn the wrong conclusion so had thrown up a road block near Ballina that cause significant and pointless traffic disruption.  A lot of the people I'm meeting these days are either going to or coming from the camp, and all with their own strange stories to tell about events in the locality, the court prosecutions etc.  Much of the more amusing stuff is not for repeating unforunately, at least not yet.

A technical note for those curious about my methods for recording the interviews.  This is in fact a very simply process.  I use the free Skype software to make a call from my laptop to the mobile involved.  This is pretty cheap, around 10c a minute.  Once I connect and am about to start the interview I activate Wiretap Studio a $69 Mac OSX program that can record any sound going through the computer, in this case both the input and output of the Skype conversation.  Once finished I drag the file it creates onto the desktop and start up Garageband which is the free audio editing software you get with Mac OSX.  I used to use the opensource multi-platform Audacity for the editing but with Garageband apple have done their usual job of creating an entry level consumer program that is very fast and easy to use.  In Garageband I clip the file down, remove any long silences or garbled parts and then add an intro and ending to the audio.  I then save it as a mp3 and upload the file to  This is often the frustrating part of the process as my home broadband is pretty useless.  On at least one occasion I've ended up hoping on my bike and cycling to a friend nearby who has a better connection as I wanted to get something up fast.

The final bit of work I'm archiving here is a segment of video I shot on the morning of Satruday 4th July.  I basically grabbed Stjohn from his breakfast at the camp, got him out on the cliffs and swept the camera around the bay as he narrated what the purpose of the various boats were that we were looking at.  It was far too windy and we found on playback that the audio was useless so we went to the boat tent and re-recorded the audio onto my Olympus DS-40 as he watched the video playback on the camera.  The Camera BTW is a 2 year old 8mp Cannon Sureshot digital stills camera, the video it shoots is low res but fine for youtube.


A guide to the various boats and ships to be found in Broadhaven bay during the 2009 visit of the Shell pipelaying ship the Solitaire. The experimental gas pipeline it is laying is opposed by the local population and over 40 people were arrested in the period of its visit for protesting against the pipeline on the land and the water. Direct link for rating, adding comments etc

The technique with the video is even simplier.  The video is shot using the video setting on the stills camera.  Connecting the camera to iPhoto downloads the video.  I then use the free OSX program iMovie which automatically 'sees' any video in iPhoto and simply drag the clips I want onto the editing board.  Sound files can be dragged on top of these and credits / subtitles added by clicking on buttons.  Once its ready there is an export to youtube option in the menu's that automatically deals with the compression and resizing required.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


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