The Lady Nelson

By James Robinson M.Phil. On 14th October 1809, The Lady Nelson, Captain Bernard Wade, was shipwrecked on a voyage from Oporto to Liverpool, off the Skelligs, Co. Kerry. The 200 tonne vessel contained a cargo of wine and fruit. 25 souls perished in the disaster. The Freeman’s Journal of 25th October 1809 reported the tragedy thus:   The Freeman’s Journal of 25 October 1809   A further report in the same newspaper of the following day gave additional details of

SS Lochgarry

The first time I dived the wreck of the SS Lochgarry it was a hot day in June and I was sweating in my dry suit as I waited for the skipper to give us the signal to roll in. There were six of us were diving the wreck. I was last in when we finally got the signal to go. You could still feel the run of the tide as I swam to the shot. By the time I

Lost to Time and Tide

There were no constructed harbours in this part of Dublin Bay before the early 1800’s. Boats, small ones that is, landed on shale and sandy ground in front of where the wonderful little harbour of Sandycove is now situated. Similarly at Bullock, there was no constructed harbour but there had always been a natural rock harbour which serviced a fishery. Under the castle on the west side there was a quay wall, constructed in the 16th century or earlier. Opposite,

Italian Salvage Ships at the Galley Head

On 19 May 1922, the ageing P&O liner, Egypt, departed from Tilbury, bound for Marseille and Bombay, having on board 294 crew and forty-four passengers. In addition to her general cargo, the liner shipped in its strong-room a consignment of gold and silver to the value of £1,054,000. This staggering fortune consisted mainly of gold ingots, several dozen cases of gold sovereigns and a large quantity of silver ingots. The following evening saw the twenty-five-year-old liner travelling at reduced speed

Man-of-war Head, Dublin

By Cormac F. Lowth. Man Of War in North County Dublin could be better described as a hamlet rather than a village.  It consists today of a crossroads with a few houses and a pub, appropriately named the Man Of War Inn. The ruined remains of an earlier, and much larger inn, can be seen just up the road from the present establishment.  The older building was a well-known coaching Inn on what was once one of the main roads

The wanderer at Kingstown and John Masefield

THE WANDERER AT KINGSTOWN By Cormac F. Lowth     The great manmade harbour of Dun Laoghaire, formerly Kingstown, was conceived and built as a harbour of refuge for sailing ships in distress in Dublin Bay and although it fulfilled this function reasonably well for many decades after completion, it quickly became a harbour of general commerce, particularly for small sailing colliers, many of which indeed did not reach safety but came to grief as they narrowly missed the mouth

Moyalla Salvage

The salvage of the valuable cargo of the Moyalla is the tale of triumph of a skilled first time salvor over the might of a large professional salvage company. It is a remarkable story of early scuba diving in Ireland and typical of salvage undertaken in the 1950s.   The Moyalla was built in 1927 at Caledon shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Dundee.  She was bound for Galway from Liverpool with a cargo of 36 tons of copper pipes for IMI

The East India Company at Dundaniel

In attempting to give an account of the East India Company at Dundaniel and especially their iron works, it has been necessary, in the absence of information, to study other Irish and English iron smelters for the same period and then try to reconstruct what must have taken place at Dundaniel. As the 300 settlers who came to Dundaniel were all English it would be reasonable to assume that they adopted the techniques of their own country when setting up

Irish Naval Service – growing to maturity

The main function of the Irish Naval Service is still prevention of illegal fishing in Irish territorial waters, but other important work includes rescue, and prevention of illegal activities such as drug and gun running. Over many years they have shown the flag overseas. The Service started with three ex naval corvettes bought from Britain. These stayed in use until they were disposed of between 1968 and 1970, when they were replaced by three former coastal minesweepers, which had better

Irish Naval Service – The Birth

From 1924 to 1938 there was little official interest in maritime affairs in this country. The ports were controlled by Britain, and the only vessel representing the Irish Free State was the Muirchú. She was operated by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, but was not very effective in her duties to protect our fisheries from illegal fishing as she was unarmed. In 1936 permission was granted by the British government to equip the Muirchú with a gun. There is

Mariners’ Church – History

The Mariners’ Church – History The Reverend Canon Victor G. Stacey The building of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 1820’s and the opening of the Dublin/Kingston Railway in 1834 gave rise to a large increase in population, turning a sleepy fishing village into a large residential area. Within the next twenty years some seven Anglican churches had been built where previously there had only been one – namely Monkstown Parish Church. One of the first of the new churches was the

Vasa – 50 years on

THE VASA, FIFTY YEARS ON Illustrated Lecture, (abridged) given to the Maritime Institute of Ireland, by Cormac F. Lowth, in the Stella Maris Club,Thursday, October 20th 2011. 2011 is the fiftieth anniversary of the successful raising of the almost intact early seventeenth- century Swedish warship Vasa from the mud at the bottom of Stockholm Harbour. It represents one of the greatest maritime archaeological recoveries ever carried out. After the salvage of the ship in 1961, it was conserved and restored

James Doyle’s Tayleur Medal

This rare Tayleur medal was awarded to James Doyle for his part in the Enota rescue on 4 November 1869 in Kingstown Harbour.  He was one of three man from the coastguard guardship based at Kingstown to receive the award. Several boats from the Royal George went to the assistance of an upset boat.  The awards from the Tayleur fund were to John Hill Carpenter, £3 and a silver medal, James Doyle blacksmith £2 and a silver medal, William Biss

Dublin Shipyards

Irish Shipbuilding Miscellaneous Dublin yards While the main shipbuilding in Dublin Involved the Liffey yard,  later Vickers, and Ross & Walpole several early years have disappeared without trace. Viking shipbuilding During construction work a Viking shipbuilding area was discovered on Dublin quays near the civic offices at Wood Quay.  The site is marked by a bronze representation of a Viking ship.  There is speculation based on ring analysis and carbon dating that one of the Roskilde (Denmark) boats was built

The Flanders Flotilla

The Flanders Flotilla and U-Boat Alley The repeated claims that America declared against Germany during WW1 because her citizens and ships had been attacked by German U-boats is not accurate. Though the U-boats were restrained as a result of American diplomatic protests, America did not enter the war at that time and when they did, it was for different reasons. This has not been the first nor the last time that war was pursued for reasons that were not stated.

M.V. Kilkenny by Austin Gill

An account of the events of the night of 21st November 1991 Austin Gill, A.B., M.V. Kilkenny.   The events of that night are still very vivid in my mind after more than 20 years although I often forget things that happened last week. To start my account I will give you a little background about myself. I first went to sea in September 1979 with B&I line and ironically my first ship was M.V. Kilkenny. Other ships I served

John Richardson Wigham

John Richardson Wigham(15 January 1829 – 16 November 1906) was a lighthouse engineer.  He was a great inventor and successful businessman.  He was born in Scotland into a Quaker family.  (Take care not to confuse John Richardson Wigham with his cousin John Wigham Richardson, the shipbuilder, whose company eventually merged into Swan Hunter.) John Richardson Wigham‟s sister married Joshua Edmundson. Edmundson & Company had a brass foundry in Capel Street, Dublin.  They had supplied metal fittings for furniture. They worked in iron and brass.

Simon Bolivar

DUNLEARY AND SIMON BOLIVAR In Ireland in1819, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, there was an abundance of trained soldiers, who had seen action on the battlefields of Europe, who had been demobbed and had come home to a country facing into a post-war period of economic depression.  An opportunity arose for many of these ex-soldiers to exploit their military skills on another foreign battlefield.  Simon Bolivar, known as ‘The Liberator’, was conducting a war in Venezuela against the

John Delap

Irish Seamen John Delap Apparently born in Kerry most of what we know about Delap comes from Royal Navy and Russian navy records. In September 1714, Delap came to the notice of Peter the Great when he was aboard Peter the Great’s flagship Ekaterina. He volunteered to land Peter in a severe gale off Bjorko island when the Emperor was required ashore. December 1713 Admiral Ivan Senyavin (? – 1726) took Delapp it to the Russian service. This was probably

The Boyd Disaster

  THE BOYD DISASTER. by Cormac F. Lowth   And such the trust that still were mine, Though stormy winds swept o’er the brine, Or through the tempest’s fiery breath, Raise me from sleep to wreck and death. Emma Hart Willard,   Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep.   February 1861 will be remembered not only for the loss of a great many ships around Dublin Bay but also for the death of a heroic man, who, with

Hutchison’s Gold Medal

Artifacts of the Maritime museum  Captain Hutchison’s Gold RNLI medal Captain William Hutchison (1793-1881), from County Kildare, first harbour master of Kingstown, who also acted as coxswain of the lifeboat. On 14 August 1829 the brig Iron Duke was driven ashore in an easterly gale at Sandycove.  The Sandycove lifeboat with Hutchison three coastguards and nine others saved all eleven from the wreck. Hutchison survived the wreck of the Sandycove lifeboat at Sandycove on 28-12-1821. Four of the crew were

Irish Poplar

ABANDONED SHIP GAVE BIRTH TO IRISH SHIPPING’S WARTIME FLEET This article was first published in the Sunday Express on 19 February 1967.  It was reprinted in the Winter 2004 edition of Iris na Mara On the broad chest of the Atlantic the tramp steamer was at first only a speck to the German bomber crew. The crew of the Greek vessel Vassilios Destounis were not expecting danger from the sky. As they went about the daily routine they glanced occasionally

M.V. Plassy

The Last Voyage of theM.V. Plassy by Michael Kirwan Originally published in the Winter 2010 edition of the Limerick Journal The 8th March, 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the grounding of the M.V. Plassy on the Finnis Rock, Inisheer Island, County Galway. The ship is shown on the opening credits of the well-known TV comedy series “Fr Ted”. Limerick Steamship Company Limited The Plassy was owned by the Limerick Steamship Company Limited, which dates back to 1893. In the

Shore Rescue

By far the largest number of shipwrecks occur when ships come into unplanned contact with the shore. In less enlightened days the local population took these events to be an unexpected bonus and opportunity for acquiring wealth. Slaughter of ships crew and passengers was common. The wrecking of the Spanish Armada around the shores of Ireland was a good example, of those who made it safely ashore, very few survived.   Attitudes had improved by the 1800’s. However those ashore

DunLaoghaire Harbour

In November 1807 two ships, the Rochdale and Prince of Wales set sail from Pigeonhouse harbour in Dublin, bound for England. They were carrying newly recruited militia for the Napoleonic War, and their families. But bad fortune struck and an easterly gale forced the two ships onto rocks between Blackrock and Seapoint. They were wrecked and nearly 400 people drowned.   As a result of this disaster, pressure was put on  to go ahead with the building of a new

The Dublin Port Diving Bell

The Dublin Port Diving Bell by Cormac F. Lowth This article was first published in The International Journal of Diving History, Volume 3, Number 1, July 2010   In  the  nineteenth  century,  several  factors  combined,  which  both  facilitated  and  necessitated  the expansion of the Port of Dublin. The seaward approaches to Dublin Port have always been hazardous to shipping. There are several offshore impediments to safe navigation that include the Kish Bank and Burford Bank, upon which hundreds of ships


Engineering – The age of Steam. Since early times ships were driven by oars and sail. The crews of these ships consisted of ordinary seamen who did the work and officers who controlled the ship and decided where it should go. Then in the 1700’s with the discovery of how to use steam, everything changed. James Watt a Scottish engineer was born in 1736. He established Scotland as the source of a new breed of ships crew, marine engineers. To

Morven Disaster

Morven Disaster. December, 1906. The Morven was bound from Portland, Oregon to Liverpool with a cargo of about three thousand tons of grain for the Messrs Bannatyne. The place where the wreck occurred is a little promontory locally known as “Horse Island”. The Morven was a splendid four masted ship of 2000 tons built about ten years ago and commanded by Captain Reese, a Welshman.  There was on board – the Captain’s wife and a crew of twenty four comprising


Felim Dunne – Has been selected by the Maritime Institute of Ireland to Project Manage the reopening of the National Maritime Museum which is housed in Mariners’ church. Felim Dunne graduated from UCD School of Architecture in 1983 and worked in the London offices of Sir James Stirling from 1984 to 1989. At that time, Stirling Wilford was a very busy practice. Stirling was the first of the new breed of ‘star architects’ with prestigious projects across the globe. These

Kenneth King Paintings

Irish Shipping commissioned Kenneth King, the noted marine artist to paint pictures of their fleet.  After the demise of Irish Shipping these were auctioned by the liquidator.  The Maritime Institute of Ireland acquired some at the auction.  Later the institute commissioned Kenneth to paint pictures of other Irish ships which were lost during World War Two.  A selection of these paintings can be seen on St Columbia’s Chapel, a side-chapel in Mariners’ Church.  For further information on a ship, clip