The Coastguard Cutter Vol3 No8

August 2005
Vol. 3 - No.8.


Figurehead of 'Clara'
Maritime Museum Kilmore Quay.

Reward of Gallantry. September 1860.

Walter Dash.Esq. Commander H.M. Cutter ‘Racer’ lying at Kingstown has on the representation of Captain Boyd, H.M.S. ‘Ajax’ been presented by the Royal Humane Society with a Bronze Medal for having on the 11th.June last while cruising off the coast of Donegal, jumped overboard and saved the life of one of the Naval apprentices who had fallen from the topmast head into the sea. A very strong tide was running at the time, which rendered the gallant service the more dangerous. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have also appreciated this noble and generous conduct by presenting Commander DASH with a handsome gold watch with the following inscription:- “Presented by the Lords Comm. To Mr. Walter Dash, in approval of his prompt and gallant conduct on the 11th.June 1860.”

Smuggled Contraband December 1834.

We are concerned to state that 44 half-bales of contraband tobacco contraband have been found on board the ‘Thetis’ by Lt.Triphook and crew of the ‘Hamilton’, Revenue Cruiser, and Mr.Dexter,Chief Officer and men of the Coastguard at Beale. The greater part was secreted in the seamen’s berths, and five bales among the cargo (timber). The crew have been marched in custody from Tarbert to Tralee gaol, to abide the usual investigation. The vessel herself will, it is feared become a complete wreck, but the cargo is safe.

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Wit and Wisdom of Ireland

"You’re not as young as you used to be.
You’re not as old as you’re going to be.
So watch it! "


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Dear Friend,Welcome to the August edition of "The Coastguard Cutter".

Although the Coastguards were essentially a land based force their previous Naval service and yearly refresher exercises made them very proud of their  coast-patrol ships and cutters. These vessels also  kept them in touch with Headquarters in Dublin and also supplied them with with food and necessities at their lonely out-posts.



Darwin's 'Beagle'

Everyone has heard of the famous Charles Darwin and the voyage of the 'Beagle'. The 235-ton H.M.S.'Beagle' was launched in 1820 and carried 10 guns. She was commissioned in 1826 for a new surveying programme with voyages to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Under the command of Captain Robert Fitzroy, the 'Beagle' circumnavigated the earth between 1831 and 1836. On board was Charles Darwin who, then only a young man, joined the crew as a naturalist. But it was while on board the 'Beagle' that Darwin began to form his theory of evolution which later led to the publication of his renowned work "Origin of the Species" The ships captain, Robert Fitzroy, was an expert meteorologist who later established the Meteorological Office, laying the foundations of the weather-forecasting service so valuable to seafarers of today. Both men went on to achieve fame but the 'Beagle' vanished into obscurity.

Having circumnavigated the world twice she was laid up, in 1840, at Woolwich and five years later assigned by the Admiralty to the Coast Guard service for anti-smuggling duties. It was a role that would occupy her for the next 25 years. Throughout much of the 19th.century, smuggling was endemic among the sea-faring communities of the south-east coast of England. The Preventive service was obliged to employ Revenue Cruisers and coastguard watch vessels in considerable numbers to combat well organised bands of smugglers bringing in such goods as brandy, lace and tobacco.. After the 'Beagle' became a watch-vessel there is little record of her, By 1870 the activities of smugglers were in decline and the number of watch-vessels were decreased. She was broken up in 1870 and just disappeared into oblivion. Efforts are being made to locate any parts of the vessel that may have survived. One of her anchors has just been located.

Revenue Cruisers – Kingstown Harbour. August 1845.

The fleet of Revenue Cruisers which have been in Kingstown Harbour for some days for the purpose of inspection, sailed yesterday morning about 12 o’clock to test their relative sailing qualities. The Commodore, Sir James Dombrain, hoisted his flag on board the ‘Swift’, Capt. Bateson. He was accompanied by Capt. Neames, Assistant Inspector General. On embarking the signal was passed for the boats for the various cutters to come for their orders, which were given in writing .It formed a lovely picture to see the boats crews all pulling with might and main to see who would reach the Commodores ship first. After the lapse of quarter of an hour all were despatched nd the signal passed to take in boats. A gun was shortly after fired as a signal for sailing, and the first division of small cutters got under weigh in the following order.:-

Eliza, Neptune, Viper, Liverpool, Albatross, Bat.

In half an hour a second gun signalled the second division to weigh anchor, and the following sailed out :-

Hamilton, Racer, Amphitrite, Badger, Chance,.

In a quarter of an hour afterwards the largest class of vessels took their departure from the harbour :-

Royal George, Wellington, Wickham, Prince of Wales, Prince Albert,.

The course laid out was around the Lambay outside and return by the inner channel, and then round the Kish Light to their moorings in Kingstown Harbour. Every liberty was given to carry on; most of them set their square sails going out, and some fine seamanship was exhibited from the generous rivalry which exists among this admirable fleet to see who would be the victor. The day was very wet and disagreeable and prevented thousands from going to Kingstown to witness this exhilarating exhibition. As the fleet crossed the mouth of the harbour, to round the Kish, the sun shone out resplendently, and the view of the snow white sails of the lively craft bending under a smart breeze was most enlivening.

At half past 6 p.m. just as the Liverpool Mail steamer was going out the Royal George sailed into harbour the victor, followed in about 3 minutes by the Prince Albert, and in about the same distance of time by the Prince of Wales and the Wellington: the Wickham was not in sight or any of the smaller craft.The Swift took no part in the trial but kept in the offing to watch the manoeuvres, and came into harbour but a few minutes before the Royal George.

The cutters are expected to sail this day for a three days cruise to further test their respective merits.

Of the two new cutters, the Badger and Amphitrite, the former so far displayed the best sailing qualities.

Piracy on the Western Coast July 1847

On Saturday 4th.inst. the schooners ‘Olive Branch’ and ‘Sarah’ were plundered off Eagle Island, on the Erris coast, of 5 tons of Indian meal each; and on the 5th.inst., the schooner ‘Ranger’ on her way to Westport was attacked in Blacksod, and 170 barrels of meal taken off. The pirates were in such a hurry quitting the vessel, that they left one of their party after them. He has been handed over to the police there. On the 7th.inst. the ‘Emily Maria’, of Skerries, a smack laden with Indian corn was attacked near Inniskea, but the Captain having applied to the Commander of the ‘Emerald’ Cutter, now stationed at Broadhaven, for the Marines which were on board, the savages made so desperate an attack that the Marines gallantly defended the property under their care, and shot 4 of the plunderers dead, and wounded several others. It is to be hoped that plunder is at length put a stop to on the Erris coast. ( Mayo Constitution )

References :
  1. Saunders News-Letter Friday 1st.August 1845.
  2. Morning News Tuesday 4th.September 1860.
  3. Dublin Evening Post 17th. July 1847.
  4. Saunders News-Letter Tuesday 9th.December 1834. 

© 2001-2005 [coastguards of yesteryear]

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