A new radio documentary explores how Andrew Weatherall adopted ‘Fail We May, Sail We Must’ as his personal mantra

A radio documentary exploring how a chance meeting between Andrew Weatherall and a County Cork fisherman led to the legendary producer adopting ‘Fail We May, Sail We Must’ as his personal mantra, is now available for listening via streaming platforms.

Produced by Paul McDermott, the documentary, which was broadcast on UCC 98.3FM on 17 February, explores the chance encounter in 2008 between Weatherall and Gerard Sheehy, and how the phrase in question – which Weatherall tattooed on his arms – has become in turn an inspiration for thousands of others.

You can listen to it here:

But how did the documentary come together? On the first anniversary of Weatherall’s death, in 2021, an effort by DJ and broadcaster Cian Ó Cíobháin to try to track down the anonymous fisherman credited with the inspiration for the phrase led to a community of music fans, West Cork inhabitants, the Irish fishing community and local and national media getting behind the search.

Eventually Sheehy, the captain of a trawler from Baltimore in Co. Cork, came forward – a discovery that made headlines both nationally and internationally.

Featuring recollections from people who worked with Weatherall in Ireland over the years, the documentary also details how the phrase has encouraged others creatively and philosophically and has seeped into popular culture – inspiring everything from tattoos, art prints, t-shirts, graffiti to memes and murals.

It features contributions from Gerard Sheehy (fisherman); Cian Ó Cíobháin (DJ and Broadcaster); Greg Dowling (DJ and producer); Stevie G (DJ and Broadcaster); Joe Kelly (music promoter); Tristan Orpen Lynch (manager of 90s Irish dance act Bumble); Jack Collins (designer of a Fail We May print); Janet Keating (who was inspired to get a Fail We May tattoo), and many others.

Produced by Paul McDermott for Learn and Sing Productions. Sound Supervision by Kieran Hurley for UCC98.3FM. Further information can be found at paulmcdermott.ie.

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