Our class studied shipwrecks on the south and east coasts of Ireland. We looked at 34 shipwrecks in total, from Kenmare Bay to Lambay Island.
The earliest shipwreck we researched was the "Laurell" that went aground during a storm in Kenmare Bay in 1693.
The final wreck was the "Gladonia". It grounded in similar circumstances in Tramore Bay in 1989.
3,042 people lost their lives in all the shipwrecks we studied.
In the 1700's storms were the main cause of shipwrecks. The ships often had to sail out of difficulty and this was sometimes impossible as they couldn't sail straight into the wind.
In the 1800's the main cause of wrecks was grounding in bad weather.
In the 1900's bombing during the two World Wars and grounding in bad weather were the main causes of shipwrecks.
We found the most dangerous bay on the coast to be Tramore Bay. In each century there were several shipwrecks here. As a result of the wreck of the "Seahorse" in 1816 when 338 people lost their lives, the Waterford Ballast Board erected pillars as navigation markers on the headlands on either side of the bay. Two pillars were erected on Brownstown Head and three pillars were erected on Newtown Head. Mariners know that "between two and three no port there be".
The area around the Saltee Islands was also very dangerous. Many vessels like the "Water Witch" of 1833 sunk when they struck one of the many rocks in the area.
The "Pomona" was one of the ships that stuck the Blackwater bank off the east coast of Co. Wexford. The "Pomona" was an emigrant ship and 388 people lost their lives when it stuck the Blackwater sand bank, shortly after the Irish Potato Famine in 1859.The "Pomona" was on its way to New York from Liverpool. We saw its figurehead in the museum in Enniscorthy. Another passenger ship the "Vigilant" and also the "Mobile" stuck the banks around the same time. The Blackwater sand bank was a big danger to navigation in the 17&1800's.
The crew of the Earl of Sandwich mutinied and made off with 250 sacks of gold, which they buried in the sand at Dollar Bay.
The "Helga" became famous when she was used to bomb several buildings in Dublin during the 1916 Rising. Afterwards she sank a German submarine in the Irish Sea. The "Helga" sank near the Coningbeg rocks in 1947 without loss of life. We found some artefacts from her at the museum.
The biggest lost of life was the Lusitania which was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1915. It lies twelve miles south of the old head of Kinsale. The Lusitania looked like the Titanic.
One of the saddest occurrences was the story of the "York". In 1758 seven slaves being transported to St. Helena lost their lives when the "York" sunk in a storm. The "York" belonged to the East India Company, which became rich and famous by bringing spices to Europe from the East.
We took a lot of time researching the boats. Each student wrote a report about two ships. We marked where they sank on a sea chart and then put all our work on display in school.
It was good fun doing the research on the computers and we also liked visiting the "Dunbrody" and "Tenacious". We really enjoyed doing the project.
Mr. Kehoe's Sixth Class Students,
St. Mary's National School,