Croí na Farraige - Heart of the Sea - is the title of a new community project in Inishowen, which captures the connection between the local people and the sea around their peninsula in north Donegal.

The sea has carved the way of life in Inishowen for generations and now the Inishowen Community Media Network, Guth an Phobail, has begun to document the area's rich maritime heritage so the stories are preserved for future generations.

It is an ongoing, online documentary project on the fishing industry and way of life told through the stories of local people who made their living from the sea. 

These stories might otherwise be lost, says Martha McCulloch of Guth an Phobail, but now all the recorded material is being archived.

It will be free for the public or schools and libraries to use for research or promotional purposes.

"This important project tells the story of where we came from," Ms McCulloch said.

"The waters surrounding Inishowen are so much part of who we are. They've shaped and provided for us for generations."

The series of videos focus on the challenges that have faced, and continue to face, fishing communities like Greencastle.

They tell individual stories of life at sea, be it on a fishing vessel or a merchant ship, and the development of onshore businesses like that of the Kearney family from Carndonagh, a business that is now exporting oysters as far afield as China.

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The story of the fishermen's co-ops in Greencastle chart the changes the industry has faced, particularly in the last 50 years or so in terms of mounting regulations, technology and other trends. 

For some, the challenges made them rethink what they were doing and move into other jobs onshore, others stuck with the job that was in their blood.

Andrew Ward, who is originally from County Wicklow, had his own boat in Greencastle until 1998 but realised that with the way fish stocks were going and the investment needed in a suitable boat, his best choice was to change career.

Issues such as complex and changing legislation and quota restrictions have challenged fishermen constantly and the industry now is very different to what it once was.

But it is a very resilient industry, according to the Managing Director of the Foyle Fishermens Co-Op John D O'Kane.

"It has faced huge challenges and faces those challenges head-on. It will do the same with the latest massive challenge it's facing - Brexit," he said.

Fisherman Cyril Harkin speaks of the days when he started in the industry and men worked with the aim of one day owning their own boat, it was all around family, he says but it is no longer a family thing.

Back in the 70s and 80s, there were about 30 trawlers working out of Greencastle, he says, but now there are far fewer and it is very hard to own your own boat. It is a young man's job now, he says, and it is a difficult job to come into from the outside - "it's not like any other job". 

The physical toughness of a life at sea is mentioned by others too, with some speculating that the unsocial hours, spending a week or more at sea, is contributing to fewer young people in the business and the difficulty of recruiting Irish crew members. 

The worst tragedy to hit the fishing community of Greencastle is recalled by retired fisherman Jim Cavanagh. The Carrickatine, with six local men on board, was lost in 1995.

"There was never any sight of it from that day to this," Mr Cavanagh said.

The men who were lost on the Carrickatine were aged from just 16 to 38: the skipper, Jeremy McKinney (27), his brother Conal (29), John Kelly (38), his son Stephen (16), Terry Doherty (21) and Bernard Gormley (18). 

The Croí na Farraige videos can be seen on a special You Tube channel but what is there is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Jim Doherty of Crana Communications, which researched and recorded the stories.

There is a lot more content to be added to the archive, there are many more stories to be told and hopefully they will be heard, he said.