The Coastguard Cutter Vol3 No10

Oct 2005
Vol. 3 - No.10.


Laytown Postcard

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This old postcard shows the old Coastguard station on the left and the newer one built in 1899 on the right. The cut-stone facades were giving way to the new use of brickwork. This newer station was burnt down to the ground in the 1920's.
Courtesy of J. Carroll.


During the storm which continued with such unabated violence, along the west coast of Erris the Revenue Cruizer, ‘Hawk’, anchored for shelter in Broadhaven, riding heavy with two anchors ahead the 21st.ult. While two of the Coastguard men were on the lookout at Ballyglass station, the sky was suddenly overcast with a dense black cloud and immediately after was rent asunder by vivid lightning. It first descended on the copper spindle at the top mast-head, which was instantly melted, and quite shivered the top mast, played along the iron hoops, round the main-mast head, which it has injured; then descending right down the main hatchway, striking the chain cable, and exploded between decks, among the crew. The report was equal to that of a small cannon, and the particles of the fire-ball scattered all round, filling the men’s berths and the whole of the vessel below with a thick vapour of sulphurous matter. The fire passed between a man and a boy who were standing at the moment in the main hatchway; the boy crying from terror, ran forward: and the man felt a great shock and was stunned for a time, but soon recovered. Another man lying carelessly across a hammock, near the hatchway, jumped up and thought his neck handkerchief was on fire, and so close did the electric fluid pass to him that it disabled his right arm, which prevented him from untying his neck-cloth; but he also recovered.

It is remarkable that at the same time, as near as possible, the ‘Neptune’ a small cruiser attached to the Belmullet district, lying at anchor in Elly Bay, was near being struck, the electric fluid having burst so close, followed by the thunderbolt, that it made the vessel reel, and several of the crew were stunned. (Mayo Constitution)

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Wit and Wisdom of Ireland

"May you live forever
And may the last words you hear be mine!"



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

Reality of Coastguard Life.

In late Victorian times many people thought that Coastguard duty was an easy chore for sailors based on land. Although the reduction of taxes on spirits and tobacco in the 1850's had reduced smuggling to a large degree, the Coastguards still had onerous duties around the coasts. Many in the service had very active careers behind them before taking up Coastguard posts.


Coastguards Attacked. July 1834.

Desperate Conflict between the Coast Guard and a party of Smugglers.

Lieutenant Edwin RN Chief Officer of the Coast Guards at Cove and Captain Hagan RN, Inspecting Commander in this district acting upon information took different routes on Saturday, when the former and his party, consisting of four men fell in with the hooker ‘Morning Star’ at the place above named about 11 a.m. and on the quay at which she was lying, found a cart loaded with tobacco, in the act of being driven off; they seized both the hooker (on board of which were 40 of 50 bales) and the horse and cart with the driver. The tide being out they could not go down that branch of the river, and were obliged to remain where they were until 1 or 2 o’clock, when a large party came down upon them, and, after repeated entreaties that they would desist, and only when Lieut. Edwin was knocked down with stones, and beaten severely, as well as one of his crew, that in defence of their own lives they were obliged to fire, when one of the opposite party fell, having received a ball through his body. This unfortunate poor man, was captain and part owner of the hooker and his name was Geary. The affray continued after this – every man of the Coastguard being wounded and bruised with stones – the Officer and one of the men dangerously – until the opposite party discovered that it was one of their own that was shot, when they drew off and left the hooker and cart in possession of the Coastguards. A reinforcement, with Captain Hagan and a party from the ‘Shamrock’ and ‘Hornet’ Revenue Cruisers, arrived in the morning. The old Coastguard man was taken to Mr. Smith Barry’s new lodge, where he received the kindest attention, both from the inclination of the lodge-keeper and his wife, and by the orders of the munificent proprietor. The Officer and his four men have been brought to Cove, and are now under Dr. Cronin. I fear the old man, Creech, is in a very dangerous state as is Mr. Edwin. (Cove Correspondent of the Cork Chronicle) (1)


We are happy to announce that Lieut. Edwin R.N. is quickly recovering from the many wounds received in the late affair with the smugglers at Cove, and we hope shortly to have an opportunity of congratulating him on the promotion he has so well deserved by his bravery. (2nd.September 1834.)

We have much satisfaction in stating that four of the smugglers who were so gallantly encountered at Slattery Bridge by Lieut. Edwin have been apprehended and are now in custody.

Smugglers Convicted. September 1834

On Friday last, John Ronayne, Edward Finn and Thomas Geary were brought two Magistrates, Thomas George French and Henry Hewitt O'Brien, Esquires, at the County Court House and convicted on their own confession in having been concerned in the recent smuggling transaction at Slatty Bridge. Ronayne was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment and hard labour on the treadmill, as being a principal, and the other two to 6 months each.

There is no doubt but Ronayne and Finn were at the attack upon Lt. Edwin and his crew when Maurice Geary, the other smuggler was shot. The principals in this nefarious transaction, it is to be hoped, will see that the widow does not want, as they have been the means of depriving her of her protector, and that the 3 families of those who have been sent to hard labour, shall not suffer during their confinement. This is the first conviction under the 4 Wm.1V. Chap. 13. And we hope will have a salutary influence in checking a system which operates so injuriously on the interests of the fair dealer. (CORK HERALD). (3)

New Commander at Wicklow Coastguard Station 1903.

Concerning the new Commander of the Wicklow Coastguards a Dublin contemporary says: Commander Murray T. Parks R.N. who has just been appointed to the command of Wicklow Coastguard Station entered the Navy in January 1876 and rose to his present rank in June 1896. Commander Parks has a very varied service afloat and ashore. He was sub Lt. of H.M.S. Invincible during the Egyptian War, 1882 (medal and bronze star) was Lt. of H.M.S. Phoebe when Sir F.G.D. Bedford sent an expedition against Chief Nanna up Benin River and was present at the capture of the Chief’s stronghold: September 1894 mentioned in dispatches (medal with clasps): served in Admiral Rawson’s expedition against M’Buruk, a rebel arab chief, including the storming of his stronghold (mentioned in dispatches and “M’weli” on medal.

For his service in saving the steamer “Winnie” at Kildini, 1894, while commanding H.M.S. Blanche, he was presented by Lloyds with a cheque for £500 and a gold watch. Through his efforts the steamer was safely got off a rock on which she was stranded and towed to a place of safety. (4)

Loss of lives ‘Dash’  Wreck on the Connemara Coast, Loss of Lives and Extraordinary Preservation of the Cargo. 1833.

The following appears in the Connaught Journal:- The vessel mentioned in your last publication as having been lost on this coast was the ‘Dash’ of Weymouth bound from Sligo to London, with a cargo of butter. Eight persons perished on board, only three of whose bodies have as yet been found. The captain providentially escaped – the whole cargo consisting of about 3,000 firkins of butter, has been saved, through the laudable exertions of the Rev. Mr. Griffin, Parish Priest of Ballmakill, who was at his post by daylight in the morning and totally prevented any plunder by the peasantry until the police arrived at 11 o’clock a.m. (6)

References :
  1. Morning Register Wednesday 16th.July. 1834.
  2. Saunders News-Letter Tuesday 16th.September 1834.
  3. Dublin Evening Mail Friday 26th.September 1834.
  4. Wicklow People 7th.March 1903.
  5. Morning Register Thursday 6th.February 1840
  6. Morning Register; Monday 16th.December

© 2001-2005 [coastguards of yesteryear]

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