Nodlaig McCarthy goes to Waterford for 'This Day' and visits the Stella Maris seaman's club.

The Stella Maris Club in Waterford provides seamen with a place to go once they have docked in port offering many of the facilities available in most lounge bars. 

Waterford Port Chaplin Fr Francis Hopkins outlines some of the services on offer. 

When they come here, they'll always know they're welcome. The club is open to every seaman, it doesn't matter what colour he is, what nationality he is, what religion he belongs to.

All the services are offered free of charge and the only thing the seamen pay for is if they have a drink in the bar. 

The club is part of the special work's branch of the Vincent de Paul Society, who provided a grant of around £1,500 for renovation work to be carried out at the club. The final renovation costs were around £6,000.

This is just one of many Stella Maris clubs, a worldwide organisation under the patronage of the Apostleship of the Sea with clubs in every major port around the world. Every member of the Stella Maris clubs throughout the world is supplied with a badge with the international emblem of the Apostleship of the Sea Society. 

John Hearn, manager of the club, provides some figures on the numbers of seamen that have visited the club over the years. Between 1962 and 1968, approximately 70 seamen a year visited the club. The club was redecorated in 1968 and in 1969 the number of visiting seamen jumped to 830. The number of visitors has jumped substantially since then and in 1973 the number of seamen visiting the club was 3,270. The club is run with the help of many volunteers who help with the day to day running of the club and in raising funds. 

The seamen visit the club to avail of the facilities and to make telephone calls to the respective homelands. Dancing is the most popular activity in the club, according to Mr Hearn. 

Nollaig McCarthy chats to seaman Leonidas Karantonis who shares his experiences of life at sea on board the merchant ship Sister Clio. Leonidas is travelling with 32 crew members from Egypt, Yugoslavia, and Peru.  While in port, the crew work until 5.00 pm and then they are free to go ashore. While Leonidas says there are similar clubs in other ports, the people in Waterford are much friendlier. 

The Stella Maris is the best Stella Maris, the best club of all.

'This Day' broadcast on 31 March 1974. The presenter is Nodlaig McCarthy.