hidden europe 8

That half a rood of sand

by Nicky Gardner


The delineation of international borders within shared waters is never easy. In Lough Foyle, where Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both have territorial interests, the two parties have left the border undefined. hidden europe reader Bill McStay explains why.

with material by Bill McStay

Our title is inspired by the work of the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh who did so much to explore and celebrate rural Ireland. His 1938 poem ‘Epic’ neatly juxtaposes a parochial Irish dispute over land ownership with a Europe on the brink of war. Squabbles over farm boundaries, isolated islets and maritime borders are common throughout Europe. We look at an example from the northern Adriatic where two nations are at loggerheads. The main text is by hidden europe, and after that, guest contributor Bill McStay explores a very Irish solution to a similar problem.

Bill McStay is a retired teacher who regularly contributes to local magazines and newspapers in Ireland. He lives in Ardglass in Co. Down.

The continuing spat between Slovenia and Croatia over the exact line of a short maritime border shows just how fraught the defining of international frontiers can be. The issue turns on their shared border in Piran Bay. For some Croatians, the very fact that the bay is named after the nearby Slovenian town of Piran is itself an affront. Over the last few years, a number of alternative names have begun to pop up on maps published in Croatia. Savudrijska vala (Savudrija Bay) was popular for a while in the villages on the south (ie. Croatian) side of the bay that extends up a headland at Savudrija. Elsewhere, the name Dragonjski zaljev (Dragonja Bay) has gained a certain currency; the name is derived from the principal river that feeds the bay. With both governments now under pressure from the European Union to come to an agreement as part of the package to progress Croatia's application for EU membership, both Slovene and Croatian cartographers are being very cautious these days - both on the matter of names and on exactly where to draw that disputed boundary.

But there is an example elsewhere in Europe that could be a model for resolving the dispute between bickering neighbours in Piran Bay.

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