The Coastguard has its 'Troubles'

Torr Head was evacuated on 23rd September and on 6th November the caretaker found the Coastguard building engulfed in flames. It was gutted, but the War Signal Station was not destroyed. The rebels were beaten off when they attacked the Wireless Telegraphy Station at corkbeg. The station was defended by the crew of four and a detachment of ten Cameron Highlanders. The defenders fired ninety rounds and estimated that the attackers fired two thousand rounds, but there were no casualties reported on either side.

The rebels also had a set-back after burning down the Bally-glass Coastguard Station two days after it had been evacuated. A strong police patrol was on the way to the station at the time and ran into the raiders. Four arrests were made including two notorious leaders of Sinn Fein.

Teelin 'guarded' Coastguard Station was attacked on I2th June 1921 and a coastguard was killed. The Sinn Feiners took up position on high ground overlooking the Station and concentrated fire on the windows of the building. The Coastguard returned the fire but because of the weather conditions - it was 3.20 a.m. when the action started - they were unable accurately to sight the enemy. About fifty men were in the attacking party which remained outside the bounds of the station and kept up sniping fire for over an hour. One of the shots killed Coastguard William Kennington. After leaving the Coastguard Station the raiders went to Carrick, about three miles away, and commandeered the only two cars in the place. Local rumour had it that there were five casualties to the raiders.

A week later the 'war' hotted up and on Saturday 18th June the Coastguard Stations were burned at Malahide, Portrayed, Rush, Lough Shinney, Rogertown and Skerries.

Three days later a conference of all Coastguard Divisional Officers in the Kingstown area was held in the office of the Captain of the Division. It was unanimously agreed that until arrangements could be completed for the evacuation of wives and families it was inadvisable to concentrate or make any show of defending certain stations as it was considered that any such movement would be a signal for the destruction of all undefended stations, and that the plight of the wives and families left without any men to help them would be worse than it was already.

The Divisional Officers of Donaghadee and Newcastle stated that the population round their Coastguard Stations were loyal, and that the stations ran practically no danger of being attacked, as this could only come from a flying column which would have to retreat through hostile country and run great danger of being cut off.

It was considered that the wives and families should be evacuated as soon as possible from all stations in Dundalk, Malahide, Kingstown, Wicklow and Wexford Divisions as, following the burning of the Stations in Malahide Division, similar action might be expected at any time in the other South-East divisions. The conference was told that six families from the burned stations had left for England and the families of twenty-three coastguards had temporary shelter in the homes of neighbouring gentry. Their removal to furnished quarters in England was urgent as most of their worldly possessions had been burnt.

Arrangements were in fact made with the Union Jack Club in Waterloo Road, London to accommodate several destitute families. The attacks on the Coastguard Stations continued until the 'troubles' ended with the setting up of the Irish Free State, and the last Coastguard Station was closed in 1922.

Source; Shipminder. The Story of Her Majesty’s Coastguard By Bernard Scarlett

9 Comments · 17508 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on September 29 2007


#1 | Cakeij on 12/10/2007 19:41:31
A thought provoking article especially for those who are finding it frustrating to track their coastguard ancestors in Ireland during this period. Are the coastguard records also kept in the national archives in Dublin? Perhaps i will be able to find out more about the burning of the station at Kinsale when I return there on 8 Nov
#2 | Tony on 27/10/2007 23:42:21
The National Archives in Dublin do not have any Coastguard service records as they belonged to the Admiralty and the Royal Navy Coastguards left Southern Ireland in 1922. There are a small number of Station Lease books and Contract plans for station buildings Also some letters regarding famine conditions in Ireland in 1846.
Tony daly
#3 | Donal on 24/11/2007 21:44:06
Tony, Do the references in the article on Coast Guard and the Famine, such as RLFC 3/1/93, refer to the National archive and do you by any chance, have reference numbers for the station lease books, etc
#4 | Tony on 25/11/2007 16:09:43
The RLFC 3/1/93 items from the Relief Famine Committe set up during the 1846/7 famine.As part of their paperwork the Coastguard station Officer passed on a lot of information about fishing and harvest conditions in their neighbourhood. These letters showed the difference in severity among various area.
At the National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin Among the O.P.W. (Office of Public Works) in the 4.4.2 OPW 4 are some volumes relating to Coastguard station leases.
The first OPW 4/6/4 contains abstracts of leases and other arrangements by which coastguard stations were held. It is the sole survivor of a set of four volumes and contains the index for all four.
OPW 4/6/12 is a property register of coast guard buildings in Ireland . Details include the name of property (held for one year or more), county, division and district, date of lease, terms, lessor, amount of rent and when payable.
#5 | Donal on 25/11/2007 18:20:37
Thanks Tony,
Are the RLFC items stored in the National Archive, also?
#6 | Tony on 25/11/2007 23:29:18
Hi Donal,
Yes, the Relief Committee Letters are also at National Archives.
I have synopsis of about 100 letters, if you are looking for a particular Coastguard Officer or station.
#7 | Donal on 26/11/2007 22:44:52
Thats very generous, Tony.
My interest is in trying to get some idea of sources for the history of the CG stations around here, (Miltown Malbay) I thought there was just Freagh and Seafield/ Mutton Island but I see Spanish point and Miltown Malbay itself mentioned also in some of the ADM documents. Having references is a big help because I can investigate further on my next visit to Dublin.
#8 | Tim on 16/09/2020 12:56:09
Hi folks, new here, wondering if any one may know where i can find copies of lease/freehold deeds from late 1800's early 1900's between Irish landlords and HM Coastguard, Irish side of the records were destroyed in a fire so need the British side please. Any guidance gratefully received.
Thank you
#9 | Sailorboy2255 on 06/02/2022 17:53:16
Hi Folks. I am new to this forum but am very interested in the subject. My father served in the RN for 16 years from 1910 - 26. He was posted to Corkbeg W/T station in 1920 with his wife and son. They were in the coastguard station when it was attacked in 1921. He and his family were eventually evacuated from Ireland in 1922. I am trying to find out more about his life in Ireland and would love to come over and see what remains of where he lived and worked. Does any of the coastguard station exist now? Was this the same building as the Wireless Station? John

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