On October 10th, 1991, the Belfast Telegraph and the News-Letter each carried a small notice about Alex Kane and his love of the Sherlock Holmes stories. He was a member of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London and he was hoping to make contact with other members who lived in Northern Ireland or, failing that, to meet other people who read and enjoyed Holmes.
From such a small acorn did The Crew of The S.S. May Day, AKA The Sherlock Holmes Society of Northern Ireland grow. We began with about twenty people expressing an interest in forming a local society and Alex and Oscar Ross met and organized the first sailing. The May Day subsequently set sail on Saturday evening 29th February 1992 on its voyages of exploration and discovery around the world that is Sherlock Holmes. Our name comes from the reference in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, the only one in the canon of sixty Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to mention the city where we are based. Oddly enough, we never ever considered what we would call ourselves had Belfast not been mentioned!
Our primary problem as a Holmesian group is that we are over here, a place that Holmes (as far as we know at present) never actually visited. We don’t have the luxury of being able to roam around London, get lost on Dartmoor, recreate railway journeys, choose between Oxford and Cambridge, locate the real 221b or identify places, mentioned in the assorted adventures. That said we have managed to occupy and entertain ourselves for over a decade.
Our meetings quickly became known as “sailings” and items of business on the agenda were described as “ports of call”. It is the custom of ‘The Crew’ (members are known as Crewmates) to “sail” at regular intervals between September and June. The study of The Canon is at the core of our activities, which among other things consist of quizzes and games, and watching films. Our annual schedule also includes ‘The Annual Dinner’ in December, followed by a ‘Celebration of Sherlock Holmes’ Birthday’ on 6 January. During the summer we always conclude ‘our’ year with ‘The Annual Outing.’ In recent times these have included day trips to “Holmesian London”. In special “sailings” over the years we have visited the theatre, held film evenings in real cinemas, and even appeared on television, radio and in print.
We publish a regular newsletter Mayday Mayday (which is also available on subscription to non-Crewmates) and intend to launch our own website in the near future. If you are interested in finding out more about The Crew of the S.S. May Day please contact Oscar Ross our Communications Officer. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the shipping office at 19 Ardcarn Way, Belfast, BT5 7RP, N.Ireland, U.K.
19 Ardcarn Way, Belfast, BT5 7RP, Northern Ireland