Coastguard Cutter

The Coastguard Cutter 2.10

-> Tony on September 13 2015
P14. Bad Storm at Dublin. 1877.

One of the mud-boats lying in the river Liffey, having several men on board, broke from its moorings and was carried by the tide towards Clontarf. The boat rolled terribly in the sea and the lives of those on board seemed in imminent peril. Every instant the lubberly boat seemed about to capsize: it was impossible it could live in so heavy a sea. A large number of spectators assembled along the wall and viewed with the utmost alarm the position of the men, when a lifeboat with a number of Coastguards was observed giving chase labouring terribly in the trough of the sea. In the meanwhile matters were becoming even more critical. The barge was just approaching the railway bridge and would have been smashed against it, only the Coastguards, by strenuous efforts, fortunately succeeded in arresting its further progress.

Reference; The Irish Times 6 January 1877.

P176. Seizure of tobacco. 1843.

On the 10th. Instant, Mr.Morgan, Chief Boatman stationed at Queensborough discovered on board the brig ‘Stamper’, of Maryport, from St.John’s, New Brunswick, laden with timber, a quantity of smuggled timber. The captain denied all knowledge of the transaction. An apprentice named Anthony Kirwin said that four pounds of it belonged to him. He was committed by the magistrates until the decision of the board of commissioners is made known. The brig has been placed under detention. Mr.Morgan and his party deserve much credit for their conduct on this and similar occasions. (Drogheda Conservative)

Reference; The Cork Examiner 22 December 1843.

P260.’Clementia’ wreck. 1883.

Wexford Friday Evening. At an early hour this morning the Kilmore Coastguards discovered the signal of a ship in distress. The life-saving apparatus was at once got ready and conveyed to the scene of the casualty, which is about three miles from Kilmore pier. On the arrival of the Coastguards near the wreck it was found that the sea was breaking over the vessel and that the main and fore masts had fallen on the deck. In a short time, Mr.Phillips, Chief Officer of the crew of coastguards with an aptitude in working the apparatus which does them much credit, the crew, eleven in number, were safely landed, the ship by this time fast becoming a total wreck. It appears that this is the barque Clementia, of Cardiff.

Reference; The Irish Times 26 February 1883.


The Coastguards were involved in the distribution of aid around the Irish coast from 1831 until the end of the 19th.Century. In 1835 the coastguard distributed over £!,300 worth of potatoes along the Western sea-board, including 30 tons to Clifden, when Captain Dombrain, (later to become Sir James Dombrain) claimed that over 1,000 families were assisted in Connemara. This best known Inspector General of the Irish Coastguard was Sir James Dombrain, remembered mainly because of his independent action relating to the distribution to isolated distressed communities.

For most of the 19th.Century, the only access to communities along the West and and South coasts was by sea, the road system we have today was non-existant. The stations were located in isolated places on headlands or on bays and inlets, and the areas covered corresponded closely with those most at risk of famine in times of failure of crops or fisheries. They were ideally situated to serve as food depots and to report factually on local conditions to the authorities in Dublin which they did, for example during 1845 and 1846.

Reference: Galway Roots, Vol.5, 1998.

208E. Escape from Drowning

A boat with a cargo of sea-weed, coming from Greatman's Bay to this town, struck on Blackrock, about 11 o'clock last night and sunk immediately. The crew, John Joyce and another, tied two spars together upon which they drifted 3 or 4 miles down the Bay. At 4 o'clock this morning, Mr. Richard Hooper, Chief Officer of the Coastguards, Recorders Quay, who visiting his party heard the agonizing cries of human beings in distress. He at once launched his boat, and, proceeded in the direction of the shrieks, where he found the men quite exhausted, Joyce senseless, after being 6 hours in the water: he rescued them and paid them every attention. This is not the first time we have had to notice the humanity of this excellent Officer. (Galway Advertiser)

Reference; Evening Freeman Tuesday 18th.April 1843.

9a. Work Duties

In the early 1830’s smuggling was still a matter of concern to the Coastguard. The Chief Officer’s house was set apart from the rest and had to sacrifice its best room as watch house. All the arms were kept there together with the blue lights which the Coastguards used in colossal quantities, and the Ammunition.

All hands would be assembled shortly before sunset, and told off to their respective guards, each guard being a post on the shore or at a strategic point on the road. In order to prevent collusion with the smugglers, no man knew which guard he would have until he was told at the evening muster, and when the Chief Officer and Chief Boatman did their round of inspection in the early morning, they frequently changed the men about on the guards so that the smuggler who had reckoned on finding his friend in a certain spot was likely to be disappointed. The authorities saw no reason to trust the early Coastguards any further than they could see them, and so bad were the pay and conditions of service that it is not altogether surprising that the precautions were necessary.

If the men were wanted for any purpose, and secrecy was not necessary , blue lights burned from the watch house was the signal, each man burning one of his own in answer.

Reference: ‘His Majesty’s Coastguard’ by Frank Bowen.


L24. ‘Catherine Roberts’ 1893

On the 10th. February, 1893, the Downings Coastguards distinguished themselves by a gallant rescue of the men of the Welsh steamer ‘Catherine Roberts’ She had come from Workington with coal for Dunfanaghy, but was unable to cross the bar and anchored off the pier at Downings, then just built. A north-westerly gale caused her anchors to drag and she took the ground on sand a mile south, opposite the Rosapenna Hotel. In fact the newspapers reports call it “the new pine hotel” (the original building was based on a Scandinavian design and constructed of wood shipped from Stockholm) Chief Boatman Mr. Barrow and four of his men earned great praise from a watching throng for bearing down on the schooner in their little rowing boat and plucking off her three-strong crew. We must not forget good Mrs. Barrow, “who gave them a complete change of clothing and a hot breakfast, which they stood in great need of”

Reference: “Donegal Shipwrecks” by Ian Wilson.

Q72. Larne steamer

The Larne steamer ‘Martin’ was carried on to the rocks at Groomsport by an absolute hurricane on 28th.September 1856.She lay for five hours with the wind howling around her crew as they cling to the rigging. About 9.30 a.m. the ‘Martin’ capsized, tipping the five men into the surf. Of the anxious watchers on shore, quickest to react was Captain Studdert, a Donaghadee coastguard who, nothing daunted by the dreadful conditions, had a boat launched and personally dragged dazed survivors from the wreck.The skipper, Captain Thomas Shannon of Larne and a boy, Thomas Stuart of Belfast, drowned, but three men including the masters brother were rescued by the intrepid Studdert.

Reference: ‘Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast’ by Ian Wilson. p. 99

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