Maritime Monday for March 18th, 2013: Catholics Need Not Apply

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March 17, 2013

MM rover 2

“The Irish Rover” is an Irish folk song about a magnificent, though improbable, sailing ship that reaches an unfortunate end. +

link to video

VIDEO: The Pogues with The Dubliners

On the fourth of July, eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the sweet cove of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the grand city hall in New York
‘Twas a wonderful craft, she was rigged fore-and-aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her.
She’d got several blasts, she’d twenty-seven masts
And we called her the Irish Rover.

We had one million bales of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stones
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,
We had four million barrels of bones.
We had five million hogs, we had six million dogs,
Seven million barrels of porter.
We had eight million bails of old nanny goats’ tails,
In the hold of the Irish Rover…

keep reading

A recording of the Irish Rover by The Dubliners and The Pogues reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart and number one in the Irish Singles Chart in 1987.


The House flag of Irish Shipping Ltd, Dublin

A white rectangular flag with a red St Patrick’s saltire. The arms of the four Irish provinces Leinster, Connacht, Ulster and Munster, are placed in the quarters.

imageIrish Shipping Limited was an Irish state-owned deepsea shipping company formed during World War II for the purpose of supplying the country’s import needs, namely food.

In the post-war years the company continued to operate as a commercial strategic reserve until 1984 when, as a result of taking on a series of expensive long-term time charters, it was forced into liquidation.

Ships of all forms in any condition were scarce during the early years of the war. The company management took control of whatever tonnage, in whatever condition, they could lay their hands on. Its first ship, the Irish Poplar, (formerly the Greek-flagged Vassilios Destouniswhich) had been abandoned in Avilés, Spain following an attack by a German aircraft in the Bay of Biscay.

Crew and Ships
on Irish Ships and Shipping

abv rt: oil painting by Kenneth King
see also: Kenneth King; Irish historical maritime painter


Irish Poplar-01.jpg has numerous views of many vessels in the ISL fleet:
click here for ship names starting with I, and scroll down to Irish…


The Daunt Rescue by BF Gribble
(full size)

imageA postage stamp was issued in 1974 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. This depiction of the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Lightship by the Ballycotton lifeboat RNLB Mary Stanford (ON733) was chosen as the image.

On 7 February 1936, the crew of the Mary Stanford performed what many regard as the most famous sea rescue: that of the Daunt Lightship Comet.

read the story of the harrowing 63 hour rescue


The Daunt Lightship Comet survived; was sold, and went on to become
Radio Scotland, a pirate radio station.


more about Radio Scotland 242


The Big Three:
White Star Liners under construction at Harland and Wolff in Belfast


Harland and Wolff
“Shipbuilders to the World”

Harland & Wolff was formed in 1861 by Edward James Harland and Gustav Wilhelm Wolff.

Sir Edward James Harland (abv left; 1831–1895) was a British shipbuilder and politician born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. In 1846, at the age of 15, he took an apprenticeship at the engineering works of locomotive manufacturer Robert Stephenson and Company in Newcastle upon Tyne.

image_thumb19_thumbDuring the apprenticeship, Harland met Gustav Christian Schwabe, a partner in John Bibby & Sons, a Liverpool-based shipping company. Schwabe arranged for Harland to be employed at the shipbuilders J. and G. Thomson, marine engineers in Glasgow.

Afterward, he was employed at jobs in Glasgow and again in Newcastle, before moving to Belfast in 1854 to manage Robert Hickson’s shipyard at Queen’s Island. Four years later he bought the yard and renamed the business Edward James Harland and Company. Outside of his primary business, Harland also served as a Belfast harbour commissioner. +

Gustav Wolff (abv right) (1834–1913) came from a German Jewish family in Hamburg. When Edward Harland bought the shipyard for $5,000 from Hickson and Co in 1860-61 with funds from G.C. Schwabe, a Jewish Liverpool investor, Schwabe sent his nephew Gustave Wolff to Belfast to oversee the investment and the company assumed the name Harland and Wolff in 1862. +

Together, they made a success of the business through several innovations, notably replacing the wooden upper decks with iron ones which increased the strength of the ships; and giving the hulls a flatter bottom and squarer cross section, which increased their capacity.

Belfast’s shipbuilding industry expanded rapidly in the late 19th century. As the size and numbers of new ships increased, Harland & Wolff continuously expanded and improved their Queen’s Island yard.

In 1854, the Harland & Wollff shipyard covered an area of only 1.5 acres and employed 100 men. By 1897, the yards occupied over 80 acres and employed 10,000 men. +

abv rt: shipbuilders of Belfast & Glasgow – advert, 1926

list of ships built


Starboard bow profile immediately prior to launch, with slung cables and anchors
Name: Oceanic Type: Passenger Ship. Tonnage: 17274
14 January 1899


Draughting Office Harland & Wolff, Belfast by Karl Beutel
The long plans and sections were drawn on linen rather than paper at this time; slide rules and tables the only means of calculation. – Full resolution ‎(4,104 × 2,776 pixels)

In pictures: Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices
on BBC Northern Ireland


Knocking off in early 1911, Titanic in the background +


October 20, 1910 Olympic is launched
at Harland & Wolff in Belfast, Ireland. Titanic can be seen still in the gantry.
8 pages of photos at MaritimeQuest


H&W photographed from the pod by NickyBe
Best of Harland & Wolff on flickriver

imageThe cranes in the shipyard of Harland & Wolff were constructed by the German engineering firm Krupp, with the first, named Goliath, being completed in 1969 and the second, Samson, slightly further inland in 1974. Goliath stands 96 metres (315 ft) tall. Samson is taller at 106 metres (348 ft).

Each crane has a span of 140 metres (459 ft) and can lift loads of up to 840 tonnes to a height of 70 metres (230 ft), making a combined lifting capacity of over 1,600 tonnes, one of the largest in the world.  The dry dock at the base of the cranes is the largest in the world measuring 556m x 93m. +

The Belfast skyline landmarks and now largely redundant cranes were slated for demolition, but given a reprieve in 2003 when they were designated Historic Monuments.

They are situated adjacent to the Titanic Quarter development and museum site on Queen’s Island,  will continue to be used on ship repair projects and on any shipbuilding activities in the future. In October 2007, Goliath re-entered service after five years idle.

abv rt: Picture via
by way of The Past in the Present: Titanic Quarter’s Journey

image_thumb[20]_thumbThe job of producing BBC programmes can bring many unforseen privileges and one of these is the opportunity to gain access to places that the general public will never be. In the mid 90’s, BBC producer Bob Crookes got the chance to test his head for heights while viewing Harland & Wolff’s shipyard from a completely different angle, when he ventured to the top of Goliath.



Aerial photo of Harland & Wolff in Belfast
more photos on MaritimeQuest


Arial photo of Harland & Wolff shipyard, Belfast, June 1975 +
– (1024 x 801) –

Harland and Wolff commissioned photographer Robert John Welch (1859-1936)
to take photographs of the Belfast shipyards at the time of the building of Titanic
see them on the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum website

Anti-Catholicism and the Titanic:

Did the anti-Catholic sentiment of Titanic’s workforce help doom the unsinkable ship?

Divine intervention has long been a blamed by some for playing a role in the sinking of the Titanic during its maiden voyage in 1912.

imageThe East Belfast shipyard at Harland and Wolff was notorious for not hiring Catholics.

In the 1900’s the workforce was entirely Protestant and virulently anti-Catholic.

“At Harland and Wolff it was not unknown for workers to paint on the sides of ships under construction the words ‘NO POPE’ in letters ten feet high or more,” writes naval historian David Allen Butler.

“Very active in Ulster politics at this time was one William James Pirrie, who became the Chairman of Harland and Wolff in 1895. He instituted an unwritten but strictly enforced policy that the firm would never knowingly employ a Roman Catholic.”

Any Catholics who were hired were subject to blatant discrimination. Some had hammers dropped on them from above and the atmosphere against Catholics was described as “poisonous”.

There were widespread stories that each rivet hammered into the Titanic was accompanied by shouts of “[email protected]#% the Pope”. +

above rt: Shipyard: Harland & Wolff on Norway Heritage

mould loft

 Mould loft with three men chalking ship’s lines on floor

Some spoke of “clear outs” of those Catholics who were employed at the shipyard. One even said the clear out was so comprehensive that we might properly regard Titanic itself as Protestant. You can listen again to this week’s programme here and join the debate yourself…

Have we airbrushed the history of the Titanic?
on the BBC


Photograph, Harland and Wolff glass plate negative. subject : Repaired underside hull, starboard bow view from dock floor. Ship No: 299. Name: China. Type: Passenger Ship. Tonnage: 7899. Launch: 13 June 1896. Delivery: 28 November 1896. Owner: Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company via National Museums Northern Ireland – full size


Another famous ship built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast for the White Star Line…


photo gallery – Titanic: Icon of an Age on BBC Northern Ireland


HMS UNICORN Aircraft Maintenance and Repair carrier
ordered from Harland & Wolff at Belfast on 14th April 1939

Launch on 20th November 1941 was delayed by suspension of work on several occasions because of higher priority being given to completion of work on smaller warships required for convoy defence. She was the 14th RN ship to bear this name. Build of this maintenance carrier was completed on 12th March 1943. +


1951 Launch of the Kenya Castle
Changing Cityscapes: Belfast
photo gallery on BBC
SS Kenya Castle on wikipedia


Simply Belfast Photos – Titanic Builders Harland & Wolff

Cross Channel Steamers at Donegall Quay Belfast rnd

Cross Channel Steamers at Donegall Quay, Belfast
August, 1929 by Farnk McKelvey
Belfast Harbour Fine Art Collection


Sold 1909 to Clydeside SS Co. Ltd; Glasgow; registered Glasgow. In 1910 renamed LONDONER. In 1912, the owners renamed her CLYDEVALLEY;  Sold 1914 to Hugh Crawford, Glasgow and acquired in April by Major Frederick Crawford at Glasgow on behalf of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Gallant Clyde Valley

There’s a rusty old steamer on a far distant shore
Its sail will sail into Larne harbour once more
Her name’s the CLYDE VALLEY and a proud ship is she
For she helped to keep Ulster both loyal and free.

The liberals in England in 1914
said Home Rule for Ireland we’ll wash our hands clean.
Now Carson spoke firmly, they did all agree
That we must be armed to keep Ulster free.

What brave men will get them, they rightly got asked
Carson he knew just the man for the task.
Major Fred Crawford, a brave Ulster son
Was sent off to Europe to purchase the guns.
When a ship was required to bring bullets and guns
To arm Ulster’s men , royal fathers and sons
What better than one built in Belfast they said
Clyde Valley was really the munjoy instead.

She sailed proudly forward her strange roundevous
With her master in charge, Bold Captain Agnew
At a spot predetermined on a wide open sea
Met HMS Fanny of the Royal Navy
The guns were transferred to the Clyde Valley’s hold
Now that moment in history can proudly be told.
She made for Larne harbour with the greatest of speed
Knowing her cargo was Ulster’s great need.

text source; Orange Pages


Rusting hulk of the SS Clyde Valley; c 1970
(broken up in 1974)

The SS Clyde Valley was a steamship which achieved notoriety for its role in the Larne gun-running of April 1914. She was built by MacIlwaine, Lewis and Company Ltd; Belfast and launched in 1886 as the SS Balniel for the Wigan Coal and Iron Company.

The Larne gun-running was a major gun smuggling operation organised in Ireland for the Ulster Unionist Council to equip the UVF.

(While named MOUNTJOY II) On the night of the 24th April, 1914 she rendezvoused at sea with the coaster FANNY. The two ships steamed along lashed together, one showing a port light and the other a starboard light, while a cargo of rifles and ammunition was transferred to the Mountjoy. +

The operation involved the smuggling of almost twenty-five thousand rifles and three million rounds of ammunition from Germany, with the shipments landing in Larne, Donaghadee, and Bangor in the early hours between Friday 24 and Saturday 25 April 1914. +

see also: color photo 1975, St. Georges Quay, Lancaster Scrapyard

detailed history (post 1914) of the vessel on wikipedia

  VIDEO: Gallant Clyde Valley (well, audio, really)


Guinness Metal Pub Sign Collection; £17.95


In the 1900’s, the route to and from the port was by way of the River Liffey, where because of the low bridges they could only sail 1 hour before and 1 hour after high tide.

 The Guinness Boats

Guinness Brewery founded in James St. Dublin in 1759 – Up until 1913, they use regular transport ships that make regular sailings between England and Ireland

1868: company uses regular cargo transport barges to and from port, and by rail to Plymouth, Southampton, Holyhead, and the continent.

GUINNESS purchase their first steamship, the W.M. Barkley, a former collier. In 1917 she is torpedoed seven miles east of the Kish lightship and sinks; 5 lives lost  *

Operation of their own shipping prooves so successful, they decide to purchase three more ships; the Carrowdore, Clareisland, and the Clarecastle; all former  colliers who work the London/Liverpool/Manchester routes.

1931: a new ship is ordered from the Troon Yard of Ailsa, shipbuilders in Scotland.

* One of the crewmen who survived was the Cook/Steward, Thomas McGlue and in 1964 at the age of 82 he was interviewed about that night…

READ (scroll down to The Lighthouse Focus)


The SS Guinness steamship is launched in 1931;
the first to be custom built to transport GUINNESS beer


The Guinness barges were a familiar sight on the quays and canals of the British Isles. By 1961, wooden casks had been replaced by steel tanks.


Lady Patricia in 1992
delivered 1962 from Charles Hill & Sons of Bristol.
SS Guinness goes to the breakers.

In 1973, Lady Patricia is converted into the world’s first beer tanker, increasing her capacity 205,000 gallons (1.87 million pints).


N.S. Savannah visits Dublin

In 1964, the first transatlantic crossing of an atomic powered merchant vessel, NS Savannah, carries 6,000 cartons of bottled Guinness Stout from Ireland to the USA. +


1976: the world’s first purpose-built beer tanker, the MV Miranda Guinness, is launched

1987: Irish Marine Services, Ltd, made up of former Irish Shipping management and crew assume control over the running of the Guinness ships.

1993: Guinness discontinues tanker operations. +

Guinness boats photo archive; Irish Ships & Shipping
Shipping in Dublin; Ships of Dublin Bay and Port

The History of Guinness Brewery in Dublin

Dublin to Manchester on the Miranda Guinness. doc
Tony Watson 2008


Hound of the Sea; 1st ship of the Irish navy

HMY Helga II

Built in Liffey Dockyard in 1908 as a fishery protection cruiser under control of the Irish Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction until she was taken over by the Admiralty in March 1915  and officially described as “His Majesty’s Yacht Helga“, an armed steamer; serving as an anti-submarine patrol vessel and performing escort duty in the Irish Sea.

April 1916; shelled Dublin during the Easter Rising.  Later used to transport British auxiliary troops the Black and Tans around the coast when many of the roads in Ireland were rendered impassable by Irish forces during the War of Independence.

imageCredited with the sinking of a submarine off the Isle of Man in April 1918.

Eventually, the Helga was handed over to the Irish Free State in August 1923 and renamed Muirchú, becoming one of the first ships in the newly established Irish Navy.

Later sold to Hammond Lane Foundry and while on passage to Dublin for disposal on the 8th May, 1947 she sank off the Saltee Islands;  all hands were safely evacuated.

The wheel was recovered from the wreck by local divers and can now be seen in Kehoe’s Pub, Parlour, and Maritime Heritage Centre in Kilmore Quay. +


The official site on the sinking of RMS Leinster

RMS Leinster was one of a quartet of fast steamships named after Ireland’s four provinces; Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster,  commonly referred to as “The Provinces.”

imageBuilt in 1897 by Cammel Laird of Birkenhead for the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, she was used to carry mail and passengers between Britain and Ireland. She grossed 2,646 tons and measured 115m x 23m x 13m. Twin screws were powered by an 8 cylinder triple expansion steam engine, and she could reach 24 knots.

October 10th, 1918: On her final voyage, The Leinster was bound for Holyhead from Dun Laoghaire just three weeks before the end of the First World War. On board were hundreds of passengers and crew, including many soldiers. Some way short of the Kish Bank, she was hit by two torpedoes fired by U-boat UB-123.

The first struck in the mail room, killing most of the postal workers. The second torpedo hit in the engine room amidships, and the Leinster then sank rapidly. Most passengers escaped from the wreck, though many drowned whilst waiting to be rescued. In all, an estimated 527 lives were lost. +

abv rt: Hey look, it’s a postage stamp!
90th Anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Leinster in 1918
issued by An Post, recalling particularly the Post Office’s 21 staff who died in the tragedy.


camouflaged and sinking Leinster on Irish Medals

One of the rescue ships was the armed yacht and former fishery protection vessel HMY Helga, stationed in Kingstown harbour at the time of the sinking, and notable for having shelled Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising two years before. +


RMS Connaught (1897); vintage postcard on

Connaught was a twin-screw vessel powered by an eight-cylinder steam engine, capable of 24 kn (28 mph; 44 km/h). She grossed at 2,646 long tons (2,688 t) and had a length of 377 ft (115 m).

With the First World War in progress, Connaught was commandeered in 1915 by the British War Office and pressed into service as a troop carrier. Having transported troops the previous evening, on 3 March 1917, Connaught was returning to Southampton from Le Havre.

At about 13:45, submarine U-48 fired a torpedo which exploded aft on the starboard side. The ship’s wireless was disabled, so an S.O.S. could not be sent. 15 minutes later, a second torpedo struck amidships on the port side.

With three crewmen now dead, the rest of the crew took to the lifeboats. Connaught sank in the English Channel within four minutes. +


City of Cork Steam Packet Co.
ship: Innisfallen

Innisfallen was sunk by a mine in the River Mersey on 21 December 1940. All passengers escaped on lifeboats and survived, four of the crew died

ireland oval

British & Irish Steam Packet Co.
Sailings May-September 1928

The British and Irish Steam Packet Company was a steam packet and passenger ferry company operating between ports in Ireland and in Great Britain between 1836 and 1992.

ireland 600

Shipping Poster, Ireland via Holyhead Ferry
c. 1930s – originally used by London and North West Railways to promote tourism
print available for £18.50

ireland oval2

G. & J. Burns; Scotland and Ireland – brochures
Sailings effective August 1912
Maritime Timetable Images

The Viper (1,713 grt, 315 ft. long), turbine-driven and capable of 22 knots, was built in 1906 for the Ardrossan-Belfast daylight service. She was withdrawn in 1920 following the unrest in Ireland and sold to the Isle of Man Steampacket Co.; renamed Snaefell and remained in service until 1945. +


Ireland via Holyhead, Passing the Kish Lightship
Irish Travel poster by Norman Wilkinson – poster available for £18.50

imageTravel poster by Norman Wilkinson for London Midland & Scottish Railway, which also operated ferry services. Wilkinson was commissioned by several of the companies to produce artwork for use in posters promoting their services.

The London Midland & Scottish Railway Company (LMS) was formed in 1923. It operated ferry services across the Irish Sea on routes between Holyhead and Dublin, and Heysham and Belfast.

In 1948 all the private railway companies’ shipping fleets were nationalised, becoming part of the British Transport Commission.

This poster shows the Irish Mail boat passing the Kish Light ship and entering Dublin Bay. +

 larger version of original painting


Yachts racing past the Kish light vessel off Dublin Bay
Oil on canvas; signed and dated, “SAMUEL WALTERS 1848”
1811–1882 (born at sea) —  (big fat huge LOOKY)

The Kish light vessel (replaced by a lighthouse in 1965) denoted the northern end of a series of dangerous sandbanks running parallel to the Irish coast. Lying about four miles offshore and extending from Dublin down to Wexford, they were responsible for the loss of many ships. The Kish was a familiar mark of the course for the offshore regattas organised by yacht clubs based at Dun Leary (Dun Laoghaire), the commodious sheltered harbour serving Dublin.

Walters depicts a typical large cutter of the period apparently ahead of two similar craft, although in fact they are well placed up wind of the leader. Should the next leg of the course involve tacking around the light ship, the present windward yacht might well prove the winner.



Lightships at Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown) Harbour
signed “Jotter“, real name Walter Hayward-Young (1868-1920)
who was long dead when this card was posted to America in 1946

*found this postcard on a site called The Insatiable Collector
who seems to harbor a fondness for lightships.
see the entire category
(harbors a fondness… get it, hahaha)


MV Bolivar in two pieces (1947) on

MV Bolivar was a Norwegian Cargo Motor Vessel of 5,230 tons built in 1946 and owned by the Fred Olsen Line. On the 4th March 1947 she ran aground in a snowstorm off the Kish Bank and sank. At the time she was on her maiden voyage which would have taken her to South America via Dublin and Liverpool.

Fifty-five wrecks are listed for the Kish Bank area at Irish Wrecks Online. +


bow section of the Bolivar as seen from a salvage vessel
(full size)

Radio calls were sent out requesting assistance and were received by several stations around the Irish Sea at about 1.30 p.m.. The message read, “Aground on northern end of Kish Bank, require assistance of tugs.”

At about 3.30, an SOS was received from the BOLIVAR stating that the ship was breaking up…

The Wreck of the Bolivar by Cormac F Lowth


Since it first opened to the public on Trafalgar Day in 1971,
nearly eight million visitors have climbed aboard.
Builder: Harland and Wolff; Belfast — Launched: 17 March 1938
slideshow: HMS Belfast’s 40 years in London

HMS Belfast (C35)  is a museum ship, originally a Royal Navy light cruiser, permanently moored in London on the River Thames and operated by the Imperial War Museum.

In November 1939 Belfast struck a German mine and spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Returning to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment and armour, Belfast was the largest and arguably most powerful cruiser in the Royal Navy at the time.

In June 1944 Belfast took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950–52 during the Korean War and underwent an extensive modernisation between 1956 and 1959. In 1967, efforts were initiated to avert Belfast’s expected scrapping and preserve her as a museum ship.

A 1968 report decided that preservation was practical, so in 1971 the government formed the HMS Belfast Trust to campaign for her preservation. A popular tourist attraction, Belfast receives around a quarter of a million visitors per year. +


HMS Belfast seen from Tower Bridge
‎(3,541 × 2,360 pixels)


Poolbeg Lighthouse in Dublin Bay
©Robbie Cox

Built in 1768 and initially operated on candlepower (reputedly the first in the world to do so) but changed to oil in 1786. It was re-designed and re-built into its present form in 1820.

The lighthouse, one of a formation of three, is located on the Great South Wall (South Bull Wall), at the Port of Dublin, which extends from Ringsend nearly four miles out into Dublin Bay. The wall was the world’s longest at the time of its building, and remains one of the longest sea-walls in Europe. The tower is painted red. Its sister, the the North Bull lighthouse, is painted green.

Having been automated for many years, the light is managed by Dublin Port Company instead of the Commissioners of Irish Lights lighthouses, as are most others. +

ir closer

Further Reading:

History of the Naval Base and Naval Service
from the 1600’s to the present day, of Ireland’s only Naval Base and Navy

Irish Ships and Shipping

National Maritime Museum of Ireland

Irish Shipwrecks database

History of Belfast Harbour

Glasgow University Archive Services, photographic collection

Commissioners of Irish Lights
List of lighthouses in Ireland
Lightvessels in Ireland

Irish Lighthouses on Flickr

Harland And Wolff Wharf, Belfast, Ireland
on the Lessing Photo Archive

Greater Belfast; Harland and Wolff Memories on the BBC


The Kish Lightship
photo by Peter Rump

header image: album cover:
The Pogues & The Dubliners, Stiff Records/UK (1987)

Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr
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