The Wreck of the Gainsborough 1838

The Wreck of the Gainsborough 1838

In the Cove, Malahide outside the Band Room stands a granite neoceltic cross on a concrete plinth. The cross commemorates the drowning of three seamen who were lost (names not recorded) from the Brig or two masted square rigged sailing vessel, the Gainsborough, which was wrecked here in 1838, at Gay Brook Cove, Malahide. It was later thought prudent not to inscribe the memorial as it was hinted that the unlucky Gainsborough was running contraband

Folk memory relates that as the three drowned seamen were Russians and their names as written in the Russian text and with its hieroglyphic symbols could not be accurately translated into English.


A brig was the smallest of the two-masted, square rigged sailing vessels and a type which was at its peak in the first quarter of the 19th Century. The type was the workhorse of the sea as common then as the Ford on the roads of today. The specifications of the brig, Gainsborough would be as follows:

She was registered at 142 tons. Tonnage had nothing to do with weight. It was a measurement of volume in the vessel's hull, calculated at a rate of one ton to 100 cubic feet. The actual weight of the Gainsborough - her timbers - is less than 100 modern tons. Dimension - length 75'6" - breadth 21'5" - depth hold 11'5"


Extract Committee Minutes - 9th January 1839

"Read letter from Captain Sparshott of 13th December and Captain Ross Inspecting Commander of the Swords District, Ireland, stating the wreck of the Brig Gainsborough on 29th November at Malahide near Dublin when the Master, two seamen and one boy were saved (three men lost) with very great difficulty by Captain Ross, Inspecting Commander, Mr. Jones, Chief Officer, five coastguards and W. Beggs, Master of a small collier, who went off in the 6 oared galley and after making three attempts to reach the wreck, at which the boat filled every time, were compelled to desist and wait a more favourable opportunity, the weather having moderated a little they again launched the boat and succeeded in taking the survivors from the rigging and landed them. Captain Ross and W. Jones received personal injuries and the whole of the boat's crew are stated to have acted in the best possible manner.

Ordered - that the gold medal be presented to Captain Ross and the silver medal to Mr. Jones and Mr. Begg and that an award be made of £2 each to Mr. Jones and Mr. Begg and £1 each to the five coastguard men. The draft for £9 to be sent to Captain Sparshott".

Extract from Malahide Historical Society ‘Newsletter’ No. 50.

1 Comment · 15334 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on April 29 2007


#1 | POYNT on 30/03/2009 20:11:28
In 1834 the Brig Gainsborough of Ipswich was owned by Bayley and Co; Ipswich, her master was listed as D.Jeffries. Her tonnage was given as 139 tons. She was lenghtened in 1832. POYNT

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