In the late 1700's there were lots of revolutions. In France, America and Ireland the peasants were trying to get rid of the kings and queens because they were very selfish and greedy. In France the queen told the poor people to "eat cake". Some rich people in America sent all their money back to England by boat to keep it safe. In 1765 a cargo of 250 sacks of Spanish gold dollars, ingots and gold dust was waiting in Tenerife to be transported to England by boat.
This gold was loaded onto a sailing ship called the "Earl of Sandwich" commanded by Captain John Cochrane. It had a crew of six. The mate George Pinchent, sailors Peter McKinley, Richard St. Quentin and Andreas Zekerman, George Gidley the cook and Benjamin Gillespie the cabin boy. The gold was stored in the captain's cabin for safekeeping. Two passengers also joined the ship for the journey to England, Captain Glass and his wife.
The voyage from Tenerife to England was long and stormy. In was late November when the ship called at Cork harbour for food and repairs. Three days later the "Earl of Sandwich" left Cork but more storms near the coast of England blew the ship back towards Ireland and the Waterford coast.
Here the crew decided to put their deadly plan into action. As Captain Cochrane was standing alone on deck, two of the crew, Peter McKinley and George Gidley hit him over the head with a metal bar and threw him overboard. The mate, George Pinchent heard the commotion. He was ambushed by two other crewmembers in the same way and thrown overboard. The passenger, Captain Glass grabbed a pistol but he was soon overpowered by the crew and dumped overboard too. His wife was also thrown overboard. The mutiny was now complete, the four crewmembers were in control of the ship.
The crew hoisted the ship's boat over the side and loaded the 250 sacks of gold into it. Next they opened the ship's ballast doors and allowed the ship to fill with water. As the ship began to sink the four crewmembers jumped into the rowboat and watched as the ship capsized. The cabin boy Benjamin Gillespie was left onboard. He climbed the masts and cried out for help as the crew rowed away. The crew were sure the ship would sink and never be heard of again.
The crew rowed the ship's boat towards shore. During the night they passed Dunmore East and the Hook lighthouse. They landed at a small sandy cove where they decided to bury most of the gold for safekeeping. 249 sacks were quickly buried in the sand. The crew opened one of the sacks and shared it between themselves for pocket money.
They returned to their rowboat and continued rowing up-river. They rowed very quietly passed the guards at Duncannon Fort. Finally they came to Fisherman's Quay near New Ross where they spent the night at an inn. The innkeeper was both surprised and delighted to be paid in Spanish gold dollars. Sometime during the night one of the crew was robbed of his gold.
They travelled to New Ross next day where they also stayed at an inn. Here they bought six horses and hired two guides to take them to Dublin. They planned to travel from Dublin back to England and collect the buried treasure sometime later.
Meanwhile the cabin boy, poor Benjamin Gillespie clung to the sinking ship. But the ship didn't sink, it was blown towards shore. It eventually washed up on Sheep's Island near Tramore. Benjamin was rescued by some local farmers and soon told his amazing story to the police. The search began for the four mutineers.
The police soon heard of four men spending Spanish gold at Fisherman's Quay and New Ross. The two guides told of taking four men to Dublin where they left them at an inn.
The "Black Bull Inn" was soon raided by police. They arrested the four sailors and charged them with mutiny. The judge ordered that they be executed. They were hung at St. Stephen's Green and later displayed at the entrance to Dublin port to warn other sailors against mutiny.
Police and soldiers from Duncannon fort searched Dollar Bay. Most of gold was never found and still lies buried under the sand to be found by some very lucky person.
Our class visited Dollar Bay. We wanted to search for the treasure.
First of all we drew a grid on the sand. It measured 12m X 8m. It was divided in twenty-four boxes each measuring 4m sq. We all lined up around the grid and chose a square. They were our "claims". Everybody had brought spades or shovels to dig with. It was very exciting. We all started to dig. It took for ever but finally Conor stuck something. It was a golden coloured box. When he pulled it from the sand we were able to read the inscription.
P. Mc Kinley
R. St. Quentin
We opened the box and inside were golden coins. We couldn't believe our luck. When we examined the coins they turned out to be chocolate. Conor was asked if he got a fright when he discovered the coins but he said it wasn't half as bad as the fright he got when they turned out to be chocolate".
Ms. McSweeney's 4th Class,
St. Mary's National School,