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The Wild Deer

The Wild Deer

The Wild Deer left Glasgow for Otago in New Zealand on the 10th. January 1883 with 209 emigrants, 900 tons of general cargo and a crew of 40. On the evening of the 11th. the sea began to rise as near gale force winds blew up. A quiver running through the ship indicated that the Wild Deer had touched on a reef. It was the Cannon Rock and everyone on board must have known that they were at the mercy of wind and sea.

Rough SeasShortly before midnight the Wild Deer crashed on to the North Rock; her mainmast toppled almost at once. Distress rockets, flaring across the black sky, were answered by the Cloughy coastguards , who, under the command of Mr. Gammon, the station officer, arrived alongside at 3 a.m. after a strenuous row. There was little the coastguards could do beyond promising to muster boats for a rescue operation. At first light an armada of small boats from Cloughy, and the neighbouring coast gathered around the stranded ship, and the rescue of the hapless emigrants began. It was an extremely slow and difficult job, for owing to the swell and the height of the Wild Deer above the sea, no rope ladders could be used, and each individual had to submit to being tied to a rope, hoisted over the side, then lowered 20 feet into a waiting boat. Unmarried women were given precedence in this hazardous situation, which took many hours to complete, with more than one unfortunate receiving a ducking in the icy water. At last however all 209 emigrants were landed safely. Hot meals were willingly provided by the local people. Rev. E.W.Whitely opened the little Presbyterian church and let the crew and passengers sleep that night in the pews. Next day they went to Belfast and later back to Glasgow. Meanwhile, the Wild Deer was grinding and straining on the North Rock, until, on the 17th.January, she broke her back. (1)

The Italian barque Teresinsa of Naples on the 13th.January 1895, still had her Mersey pilot on board when she was caught by a blizzard off the Skerries and blown Northwards, taking water, until she was swept on to the rocks near Quintin Castle. Savaged by the gale, she split in two within minutes of stranding. As the conditions rendered it impossible to launch Cloghy lifeboat, the full responsibility for a rescue bid fell to the local coastguards, and eight men including Captain Mortala and the pilot were brought ashore safely, but three others perished.(1)


The schooner confidence of Swansea was stranded at Youghal on 24th.December 1878. She was bound for New Ross with coal but her compass was faulty. She mistook Youghal for Waterford. The crew were all rescued by coastguard rocket line. (2)


The schooner Orleans was wrecked at Youghal on the 13th.February 1881. She was en route from Sydney to Cork. Three of the crew were taken off by the coastguards rocket apparatus. Youghal lifeboat went out and saved the rest of the crew. (2)

  1. ‘Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast’ by Ian Wilson
  2. ‘Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast’ by Edward J.Bourke

Wreck of an Emigrant Ship. 'Wild Deer', Clougher, Co. Down. Saturday. 1883.

A telegram has this morning been received stating that the ‘Wild Deer’ from Glasgow to New Zealand, with 200 passengers, got ashore on the North Rock, Portaferry at 11 o’clock last night and will become a total wreck. She was owned by the Albion Shipping company, Glasgow.

From later accounts of the wreck it appears that the vessel left the Clyde at 8 o’clock on Friday morning, having 209 passengers and 41 of a crew, with general cargo for Otaga, New Zealand. A heavy sea was running in the Channel and moderate wind prevailed until darkness set in, when half a gale blew. In the dense darkness the vessel lost her course, and afterwards missed stays and drifted before the wind. About 11 o’clock she grazed a dangerous reef but sustained no injury. Half an hour afterwards she struck with great force the North Rock about three miles from the mainland. The passengers who had retired for the night were awakened by the shock, and a terrible panic ensued, a general rush being made for the hatchways.

The officers with difficulty persuaded them to remain below, assuring them there was no immediate danger, and it is fortunate that they did since the main-mast fell shortly afterwards and could have inflicted great injuries on a crowded deck. In answer to a signal from the vessel the Coastguards vessel put out but was stoved in, and obliged to return.. At 3 o’clock they started again and after four hours hard rowing reached the steamer.

Meanwhile fishing boats had come to the rescue in large numbers. The passengers were lowered by ropes and all safely conveyed to the village of Clougher. As there are only about 20 houses it was found impossible to accommodate all, and the Presbyterian Minister threw open his Church where the wanderers spent the rest of the night. The passengers arrived in Belfast this evening and, their wants provided for they will be taken to Greenock and reshipped. It is expected the vessel will become a total wreck.

Reference; Dundalk Democrat 20th.January 1883.

1 Comment · 7771 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on April 28 2007


#1 | SAMUEL McCORMICK on 09/01/2010 14:03:17
THE FIGUREHEAD OFF THE WILD DEER /AND STILL SHE STANDS PROUD. A clipping from the Belfast News letter friday May 21 1965 page 3. Many years ago she held her head high.. The story goes that the ship was wrecked off the Co Down coast and this was the only thing recovered ,Mrs Anderson is seen cleaning the figurehead saying ''We wouldn't part with her for any money....and we've been offered lots'' The origanal still is in ''Ballyhalbert''..One was sold by Sotherbys London claiming to be off the Wild deer for some where between £3000..£4000 to an American buyer..The figurehead represents the goddess Diana the huntress was carved by Kay&Reid at its warehouse in128 St Vincent street Glasgow

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