The Coastguard Cutter Vol6 No10

The Coastguard Cutter
October 08 Edition
Vol 6 No. 010.

"The Lady Margaret"




Hello Friend,

An oft asked question to the site is the one " What did the Coastguards do." We are well informed of their assistance at shipwrecks, but looking after fishery matters was an important one of their duties.



“As an example of what the Irish coastguard had to put up with, a case occurred some 18 years ago off Tory Island which may be quoted. A Fleetwood trawler arrived with 12 ton of coal on deck and five cases of whisky. The crew gave a dance in the fishing hall and distributed the fuel and liquor, but the trouble arose on account of the pier being on the West end of the island, where there was a strong admixture of Spanish blood. The inhabitants of the Eastern end were always bitter enemies of their neighbours; besides which they had no time to get any of the whisky and coal which would help them through the winter..

Having made the inhabitants of the West end quite satisfactorily intoxicated the trawler backed out and immediately dragged her nets over the turbot breeding ground , doing infinite damage.No Coastguard being available, one of the fishermen from the Eastern end of the island put out in his boat, and, getting as near to the trawler as he could, sang out her name with the traditional formula “I arrest you in the Kings name”

The trawler immediately opened fire on his boat with rifles, forcing him to return to the shore when he reported to the nearest Coastguard station. The divisional Officer investigated the matter and immediately informed all fishing ports and demanded information to be sent as soon as the trawler put in. It ended in the captain and crew being summoned at Carrigart Police Station, Co.Donegal. The charge of firing at the boat was dropped by orders from Dublin, and it ended by the captain being fined £100 for trawling in a prohibited area and £20 for fishing without lights. In addition he had to pay for 22 witnesses at two guineas apiece and £7 Court fees.

As he left the court the skipper remarked “I don’t mind paying up £175. I sold my catch at Fleetwood for £495”.

But two months later he was caught in Galway Bay and had a very expensive set of nets confiscated, which was of some slight comfort to the Coastguards”.

Ref: "His Majesty’s Coastguard" by Frank Bowen.

Trawler wrecked at Balbriggan. Exciting Rescues. 1911.    

Balbriggan Banks 1914On Sunday morning about 1 o’clock the trawler Rosebud, of Balbriggan, was caught in a heavy swell when leaving the harbour, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks near the Coastguard station. A week or two ago the boat had been sold to a Mr. Peter Murphy, a ship’s carpenter, of Ringsend, who has been repairing her for the past few days. On Saturday night, being anxious to return home with the boat, Murphy put to sea with his son and another Ringsend man named John Redmond as his crew. The boat was light, and carried practically no ballast, and she had hardly left the harbour mouth when she was caught in the heavy swell which was running at the time, and became unmanageable. Slowly she was carried towards the rocks which skirt the shore north of the harbour, and it was soon seen by the Coastguard on watch that she was in grave danger.

The life-saving apparatus gun was fired, and the volunteer crew which has recently been formed in the town hurried down to the shore. Meanwhile the Coastguards had been busy, and were waiting on the shore with the rocket apparatus. It was soon seen that nothing could save the boat, and she shortly afterwards struck the rocks, and was carried back by the sea into the surf again. Murphy and his son jumped for the rocks as she struck, and were helped ashore by the Coastguards and others around, while Redmond, who stayed on the boatt, was seen to be clinging to the mast. Above the roar of the sea could be heard Redmond’s cries for help.

A rocket was fired across the boat, but Redmond did not let go the mast to fix the line, and it was seen that a desperate effort must be made to save his life. Coastguard Murphy volunteered to swim out to the boat with a lifeline. Putting on a life-belt he made a gallant attempt. Swimming and scrambling across the rocks, buffeted by the waves, he at last reached the boat, but Redmond did not leave the mast. The Coastguard could be seen clinging to the side of the boat, over which the waves were now breaking continuously, and expostulating  with Redmond. Exhausted, Murphy at last let go, and was hauled back to the group on shore. Coastguard Stanford now volunteered to go out to the vessel, and after an exciting time reached her. He was able to get aboard, and fixed the life-line round Redmond, who still refused to leave the mast. With difficulty Stanford was got ashore, leaving the line affixed to Redmond.

The vessel could not survive much longer, and, after a short while, the bottom was battered out of her, and she was slowly going to pieces. Redmond now either let go of his hold of the mast, or was washed overboard, and willing hands hauled on the life-line to get him ashore. For a time it was thought that he was lost, astwice he was caught by the waves and drawn under the boat, but at last he was assisted on shore, and conveyed to the Coastguard Station. Later in the day nothing was left of the boat but driftwood on the rocks, and only those who had been present could realize the exciting scenes which had taken place during the night.

Special mention must be made of Messrs.  Graham, Harper and Tuite, three members of the life-saving apparatus crew, who responded at once to the gun call, and rendered valuable assistance, and also of the Coastguards, who were in charge of Chief Officer Taylor.

Ref: The Irish Times 17 October 1911.

Bunbeg Station. 1922.

Armed Republican volunteers have occupied the British wireless station at Bunbeg at the western Donegal coast. They told the British Naval Coast Guards they would have to vacate the place as it was required by the Irish Republican Army. They provided the Coast Guards with a conveyance to take them to the railway station and the coast guards proceeded to Londonderry.

Ref: The New York Times 22 April 1922.


Traditional calling when a sailor sights land.
A prize was a ship that was captured. The word is derived from the latin pretium, meaning prize, value, reward, wages.

 Revenue Fleet NewsRevenue Fleet News
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.
Ref: Saunders News-Letter Tuesday 9th.December 1834.


UK CG NewsCoastguard News from England

Discovery of an Illicit Still at Brighton. 1845.

On Wednesday an elderly man, named George Bignall, was examined before Major Willard, the sitting magistrate of the day, on a charge of being concerned in illicit distillation. The charge was preferred by Lieutenant Pratt, of the Coastguard, and Mr. Newton, the supervisor of excise. According to the evidence, Lieutenant Pratt and several of the coast guardsmen proceeded on Tuesday to a house in Gorringe’s-court, North-lane, where they found a still of about 40 gallons at work, the prisoner attending it. A bucket was placed beneath the worm to receive the droppongs of the still, which on being tasted proved to be a weak kind of spirit.

A nine-gallon cask stood near, containing four or five gallons of the same kind of liquid. On the premises were found four large casks, one sunk in the ground, and all full of wash, some in a state of fermentation, the quantity being nearly 300 gallons. The liquid found in the bucket and small cask was handed over to the supervisor, who on testing it, found it to be a spirir, 70.6 under proof, which was called in the technical language of the Excise, “low wines” It was explained to be the first product of the distillation, and which was liable to duty, but not chargeable till the completion of the distillation. The windows of the house were boarded up, and a screen was placed inside the door, so that nothing was visible outside. The statement of the prisoner was, that the liquid was only used in the process of “bone bleaching”; and attempt was made to show this in defence. Major Willard considered the case to be proved. The prisoner was fined a penalty of £30 on any person found in a private or untered room, manufacturing articles liable to excise duty; and not being able to pay, was committed to the House of Correction to hard labour for three months.

Ref: The Times London  21 November 1845.

The Lighthouse Focus -Lighthouse Focus [Vol 4]


Shipwreck of a Belfast Vessel and Loss of Life on Board.

The following letter has been forwarded to the Collector and Comptroller of Customs, Derry.

Innisbofin Coastguard Station.  11th.January 1842.   2 o'clock pm.

Gentlemen, I have this moment, received a letter, from the Lighthouse-keeper of Tory Island Light-house which states " That some time in the night of Friday last, 7th.inst. a schooner, called the 'Montagnaise' of Belfast, Major Wilson, master, loaded with barley, hides and tallow, was wrecked on the south-west part of that island, and melancholy to state, all hands drowned"

Tory Lighthouse



She lies bottom up, and a great deal of the cargo has been secured by the islanders, and part has been given up to the lighthouse-keeper. There has not been any communication with Tory island for some time past. The sea was so much agitated, and so heavy a surf on the coast that the man who brought out this letter was obliged to land in a curragh, or skin boat. I shall go into the island the very moment it can be done with any degree of safety.



I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant.    J.M'Gladery  Lt. RN.

Ref: Evening Freeman  Thursday 20th.January 1842


LIGHT-HOUSE.   Melancholy Occurrence. 1838.

On the 11th.inst. the body of a man was washed ashore at the Island of Omey, theSlyne Head property of Walter Bodkin Esq. when on close inspection it was ascertained to be that of  Mr. Rivett, the head Light-house keeper at Slyne Head, on the west coast of Ireland, adjoining Galway Bay. It appears that Mr. Rivett was fishing when he was struck by a wave which washed him off the rock, and all human efforts proved unavailing to save him: he was much respected on the Island and has left a widow and young family to deplore his loss. His remains were interred by Messrs. Reilly and King, Assistant Light-house keepers, under the superintendence of the Rev. Mr. Foster, Rector of the Parish of Omey.

 Ref: Saunders News-Letter Thursday 23rd.August 1838.



 Coming in November Edition.

Coastguard Rescues.






With more and more people enjoying the beach and sea, the RNLI has never been busier - rescuing an average of 22 people every day. It now costs over £330,000 a day to run this essential service - to train their volunteers and maintain their craft and equipment. So however you choose to support them, every penny really counts.

To donate to the RNLI, simply call 0800 543210 or visit
(for Republic of Ireland call (01) 800 789 589 or visit



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