Coastguard Cutter

The Coastguard Cutter 2.7

-> Tony on March 23 2015
The Coastguard Cutter 2.7
March / April 2015. Issue 7.

Q178. Smugglers Benefit Night. 1844.
Dun Laoghaire.
Just above the final angle of the East Pier of Dun Laoghaire Harbour was the place where, in British days, the guardship for the then “Royal Harbour” used to ride at anchor. The guardship system seems to have been a hangover from the days of sail, when warships were anchored to guard harbours they “ they grounded on their beef bones.” Here in Dun Laoghaire, the guardship about 1844 was H.M.S. Ajax, Captain Boyd, who was afterwards drowned here while trying to save shipwrecked sailors ( “Know your Dublin,” 21-6-68).
In 1844, the gallant captain announced, that to exercise his crew, a night attack on the “Ajax” would be carried out, by the ship’s boats, and on the appropriate evening, half Dun Laoghaire, and doubtles a fair crowd from Dublin, assembled on the nearby pier to watch the fight.
The boats came up, under muffled oars, but were spotted. The “Ajax” beat to quarters, “All hands repel boarders!” was the word, and amid a satisfying reek of powder, blue flares galore, and the crash of blank cartridge, the attackers were repulsed, to the cheers of the citizens ashore, enjoying all the thrills of naval warfare, with none of the risks. At that very same moment, on the far end of the West Pier, muffled oars were also in business smuggling in brandy and tobacco, happy in the knowledge that the police were fully occupied controlling the crowds on the East Pier.
Reference: “Know your Dublin” by J.B.Malone.

190E. The Late Gale --Shipping Disasters. 1852
A correspondent at Clogher Head writes as follows:-
At about 6 o'clock this morning a frightful storm set in here, the wind blowing in from the south-east. All the boats and vessels belonging to the harbour were out at the time but fortunately got in without sustaining any injury. They were out fishing for herrings, there being several thousand pounds worth taken here in the last fortnight. I am sorry to say, however, that at 10 o'clock a vessel, the Fidelity, laden with coals for Dublin was driven on the rocks near the harbour.The Coastguard Officer went out in a boat with his men, at the risk of their lives, and succeeded in bringing the crew of 8 men safely to land. By this time Thomas Newcomen, Esq. the Landlord here , arrived with a number of men to render assistance in saving the vessel or cargo, but nothing could be done, from the great violence of the storm, except to get out the men's clothing, some boxes, and meat, which was done with much difficulty and risk of life. The vessel is still on the rocks, and if the wind does not abate I fear she will not last very long.
October 27th.
At 6 o'clock this morning Mr Adderley Bernard (Coastguard Officer) and Thomas Newcomen,Esq. with a number of men, were busy securing all the vessels in the harbour, but last night a fishing smack from Port-a-Ferry got loose from her moorings, and was smashed to pieces. The wind is still blowing very hard from the north, but all has been made safe in the Harbour. The Fidelity is still on the rocks, but should the wind go down, some of the coal may be got out if she keeps together for this tide. There are very little hopes, however, entertained for her.
Reference; Daily Express Friday 29th.October 1852 p.4.

In spite of Napoleons comments to their honesty there were a number of cases in which they fell very short of these ideals. There were reported instances of smugglers taking a fee to effect the escape of a French prisoner-of-war and then , when they had reached the coast, handing him over to the authorities and claiming a reward. One smuggler, entrusted with a cargo of English guineas to take to France, reported that he had been chased by a Revenue cruiser and had been forced to jettison the bags of guineas into the sea. The owner was suspicious and employed divers to go down to the area where the guineas had been jettisoned. They found the bags on the sea-bed but when they were brought up and opened they contained only pebbles. As it was an illegal operation in the first place the owner was powerless to take any further action except to warn other against the smuggler.This apparently did not worry him unduly for he had suddenly come into money with which he bought property and became a respectable land-owner and lord of the manor. Of his sons, one became a magistrate and another a parson.

Reference: "Coastguard" by William Webb.

LX184. ‘Richard Pope’ 1826.
The barque ‘Richard Pope’ was ashore and in distress at Newcastle in Dundrum Bay 6 March 1826. the vessel was among the breakers. Fishermen launched a boat from Newcastle but they drifted back to the shore and beached after a struggle. A sturdy yawl was put on a cart and launched from a proper spot manned by six from Coastguard station and Captain John Row Morris RN. She got alongside but none of the shipwrecked men could board the yawl. A boat from the ‘Richard Pope’ was launched but overturned and four of five aboard were lost. Then Lt.Usher of the Coastguard launched his boat and brought the Captain and four crew ashore. The next day the shore boat brought the remaining crew ashore. In all five were lost and 11 saved.
Reference; “shipwrecks of the Irish Ccoast” Vol.3 by Edmond J.Rourke.

The celebrated Mrs. Fry who has so laudably exerted herself to improve the morals of our sailors, has extended her philanthropy to the men employed in the Coastguard. Each station in the three Kingdoms has been furnished at her own expense, with a library for the use of the crew of the station, consisting of from 50 to 60 volumes of cheap works, mostly of a moral and religious tendency, but likewise including some well condensed accounts of foreign countries, voyages, travels etc. (On the 3 February Elizabeth Fry wrote to the Times to point out that the libraries were not provided at her expense, but by the Government, her friends and the public.
Reference: The Times London 1st. February 1836,

F44. O.P.W. Extras.
Works Specifications at Donaghadee Coastguard Station, Co.Antrim. 15th.July 1864.
To hang bells in Officers house as follows:- One from Hall door, with strong brass pull; one each from the parlours, one brass pull from each, to be hung with strong copper wire, not concealed to ring in back passage.

LX155. Fatal Accident. 1823.
On the 18th.ult. a Connemara boat, returning from this town (Galway) after landing a cargo of kelp, struck a rock off Bunowen bay, and immediately went to pieces, by which accident four out of six persons who were on board perished. This unfortunate occurrence is attributed to the mismanagement of the boatman. We are informed from a letter received from a Roman catholic Clergyman, that but for the humane exertions of Lieutenant Sterne of the Water-guards, the two survivors would have met a similar fate. It is melancholy to add that the owner of the boat, who was one of the sufferers has left a wife and seven children to deplore his loss.(Connaught Journal)
Reference; Freemans Journal; 6 November 1823.

L53. The Lost Coastguards in Sligo Bay 1869.
On the 28th last November, three Coastguards stationed at Rosses Point, Co.Sligo – James Vickers, Chief Boatman, James Lyons and Dennis Sullivan, Petty Officers, left their homes to draw in their fishing lines. They intended to return to have the morning meal with their families. They never returned again. Whether they overturned the boat or struck upon a rock, or grounded on Cranburn Bank,, or were swept by some sudden wave of the sea, can never be known on earth. Only one body was recovered ; the other two were sucked in and buried by the quicksands. When they set out a fog rose between them and the shore. When it rose there was no sight of boat or men.
These men leave three widows with 18 children living. In a little time the number of orphans will be twenty. The men were brave, efficient, well conducted. Two of them wore medals for service in war. They were esteemed as valuable servants. They were loving husbands, and had all the seaman’s fondness for children. It is impossible to describe the affliction which has darkened the future of these families through this sudden bereavement.
AS the men perished not in the performance of official duty, their widows and orphan children can expect no pension or aid from the Admiralty. The widows cannot look to help from their children, as only one of them is at an age to earn his own bread. When the sea covered the three fathers, it covered, too, all the means and all the hopes of the three families they left behind. A disaster such as this was certain to excite sympathy. A local subscription was at once proposed and generous aid was given. The amount of the donations is most creditable. Etc.
Reference; Irish Times January 1 1869.

P178. Fortunate Rescue of a boy from Drowning. 1843.
On the 3rd. inst. about nightfall, a fine boy, about 7 years of age, of the name of Cullum, the son of a carpenter, fell by some accident over the quay, near the Custom-house, Youghal. Two younger companions of his ran into the Custom-house quite frightened, and muttering something about a person drowning in the water, upon which, Mr.Coghlan, Chief Officer of the Coastguards, Ardmore, who happened to be present, rushed out, threw off his coat, and leaped into the water over the quay, where he fortunately succeeded in grasping the boy as he was sinking to the bottom. The boy remained unconscious for about half an hour, but gradually recovered. Too much praise cannot be bestowed on the courage and self possession of the gentleman who saved him, and happened to be a nephew of the celebrated Capt. Coghlan, C.B. R.N.
Reference; The Cork Examiner 9 January 1843.

H123. Seizure of a Suspicious Craft. August 1868.
A suspicious vessel called the ‘Sylvia’ was seized on the 11th.inst by the coastguards in Achill Sound, where she anchored the previous and at once excited the suspicions of the Commanding Officer at Keel Coastguard station, who boarded her and placed men in charge of the vessel, which was, it appears, formerly a Revenue Cruiser and recently sold out of the service. What it was excited the suspicions of the Officer has not been ascertained, but certain it is that the vessel has been detained awaiting instructions from higher authority. She is laden with salt and cleared from the port of Liverpool a few days since for Dublin for which port her cargo purported to be consigned according to her papers. The great wonder is what brought her to the coast of Mayo if Dublin were her destination.
Reference; Wexford Independent 26th.August 1868.

L21. Duties of Coastguards.
The relationship between the local islanders and the British imperial government was often strained, and this tension regularly played out in the maritime landscape. By implementing Britain’s maritime policies, the coastguardsmen often came into direct conflict with local interests. The salvage of wrecked ships, long considered by the islanders an important source of commodities and the only source of timber for house construction, was clearly illegal by British law, and one of the primary purposes of the Coastguard was to protect the King’s right to material salvaged from wrecks. This could lead to violence; in one incident the murder of a Coastguardsman by an unknown islander was thought to have resulted from a dispute over salvage rights. In another instance, the Coastguard confiscated thirteen fishing curraghs, along with the nets, equipment, and catch of fish, on the grounds that the boats were not numbered or registered with the British government. As this occurred in 1847, at the height of the Famine, it may have doomed twenty-six families to starvation. The Coastguard, made up of Royal Navy men usually of the Anglican faith, often lent assistance to the evangelical Protestant mission established on the island at Dugort, which may have been another source of conflict within the mostly Catholic population.
Internet Mayo

G143. Supposed Wreck off Wicklow.
Prompt Action by the local Coastguards. At 5.30 last (Friday) evening the Coastguards at Wicklow Station, observed two rockets, fired from the sea in the vicinity of the Horse-Shoe buoy, south of the Head. Immediately afterwards the Codling Bank Lightship, showed signals, and the Chief Officer Mr.Mehigan promptly summoned the lifesaving apparatus brigade by firing four rockets. On assembley the brigade ran with the apparatus almost to Wicklow Head, when two horses were attached and proceeded south of the Silver Sands. Here, signals were shown by the Coastguards for an hour, but no trace of any vessel could be discovered and the brigade then returned to the station. It is surmised that a steamboat must have got on the Horse-shoe Bank, but subsequently floated on the flood tide and went north. Although their help was fortunately requisitioned, the Coastguards and the men of the brigade deserve special praise for their smart turn-out.
Reference;Wicklow News Letter Saturday 22nd.January 1898.

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