The Coastguard Cutter Vol1 No6

June 2003
Vol 1 - No.6.

The "Lady Margaret"

 |M@il Me | Visit the Website | Forum *NEW |


New Station Photos;

Rosmoney Co.Mayo
Officers house and 11 cottages erected by the Dublin Board of Works in 1878. Cost of building £5,000.


Portballintrae Co.Antrim
Chief Boatman’s house and 4 for the men erected in 1875. Sold 1911.

Boat-house erected 1886. Sold in 1911 for £300.


Bosun's Chair




 Extra! Extra!

Lady smuggler caught red-handed and red-faced.

10th.June 1776.

A woman had been on board an East Indiaman then in Cork harbour and refusing to be searched by the Revenue Officers, was carried on board the quarantine vessel that lay near them, where she was obliged to strip to her shift, inside of which she had a piece of handkerchief, which was immediately seized, to the poor woman's mortification, it being her all.

Decency caused some persons present to direct that she should be accommodated with a private place to put on her clothes, in consequence of which she was ordered into the cabin, in which was a locker, where the different seizures, consisting of muslins, silks etc. of considerable value, had been deposited; the key having remained in the locker, she closed the door and helped herself plentifully to the seizures, which she packed up in quantities, by way of reprisal, and left the ship. (2)

Dear Friend,

Welcome to the June edition of "The Coastguard Cutter". Many of the old Coastguard stations vacated in 1922 have fallen into disrepair, many were demolished, some are inhabited , some are a pile of forlorn ruins. Over the years many have been rebuilt and refurbished for various uses. The Station at Rosmoney is an example of long term sympathetic restoration.

I would be glad to receive any coastguard information, stories or general snippets and pass it on in to our readers. As some may be aware there is now a forum for C.G. enthusiasts on the site, if you have a question then just post it on the forum and then check back from time to time to see if someone has the information you were looking for. You may also be able to answer queries others have posted.


FARMERS JOURNAL 17th.January 1998.

The British coastguards were a powerful and often controversial force around our shores in the last century, but now many of their stations have either collapsed or have been demolished. Now one man is single-handedly restoring one of the largest and most picturesque of these buildings at Rosmoney in Westport, Co.Mayo.

James Cahill, a solicitor in Castlebar, is slowly restoring the building which consists of twelve units. He has plans for a museum and a library to document the history of the coastguards, and to shed some light, on the battles between these revenue men and the smugglers.

James bought the building in 1981 and started the task of restoration. Now one of the units is lived in by James, his wife Katherine and their three children during the summer months and at weekends . Outwardly it now looks as it must have done 100 years ago. The fuel sheds and outside toilets have also been restored, as has the boat-house and the sea wall. The original flagstaff is a poignant reminder of the necessity to send signals of vital information.

(Update 2003. The Chief Officer's House is completely refurbished with Museum and Library, Tea room is building. The fuel sheds and outside toilets have also been restored, as has the boat-house and seawall. James is also planning to install a Thermal Recovery, high efficiency heating system in the building during 2003.)


A 27ft. steel pinnace attached to the coastguard station at Ros na Mihil near Westport was sunk in 1917 or 1918. A local man swam out to the craft and released the anchor. He then sank the vessel by making holes in her bottom. Though two naval vessels searched no trace of the pinnace was found.

The story behind the report.

The boat was stationed at Rosmoney. A Mr. Kelly, Merchant Navy, home on leave, was having a drink in Nolan's grocery and pub in Westport. He overheard the Chief Officer's wife boasting about the new motor boat which they had received. She commented that "this would wake up the sleepy Irish". So as a dare more than anything else, Mr. Kelly decided with his friends that they would make her eat her words so to speak. At that time the Station had been reduced to six men , and the building was protected by twenty-five Marines. That very night Mr. Kelly swam out to the boat, let go the mooring rope and clung to the boat as it drifted away. His friends met him in their rowing boat and brought the wooden motor vessel near the shore. They drilled holes in the hull and filled the boat with rocks from the shore. All rope and unattached equipment they locked into the forepeak. It sank close to the Island within sight of the two Royal Navy minesweepers anchored about one mile away.

The following morning Mr. Kelly turned up at the Coastguard shebeen. It was the house at the eastern end of the building. He was well dressed, he ordered a drink and listened with amazement to the story of the missing boat. Every house in the district was searched and there was "hell to pay" in the area over the loss of the boat. The minesweepers dredged the bay but failed to locate the pinnace.

The last survivor of the group showed James Cahill exactly where the boat lay. James and a diving friend located all that remained, a few tiny fragments of wood, and the steam engine buried in the mud. It remains there. His friend removed the propeller, shaft and pressure gauge from the engine. These items are on casual display in Quay Cottage Restaurant, The Quay, Westport.


On the 3rd. December 1863 the schooner, a fore-yard and sails missing, was observed attempting to enter the Skerry Roads in a north-westerly gale. She anchored, but being in obvious distress, two boats put out from Portrush; the schooners crew were unable to jump aboard the rescuing craft as they bobbed and yawed alongside, and by early afternoon the Providence had dragged to within 500 yards of the beach. The boat manned by local coastguards cast off again, but capsized in the surf and John Winter, an Englishman, was drowned. Inevitably the battered collier touched the bottom, was rolled over and quickly broken up, drowning three of the five crew. (3)



The first recorded service of a new life-boat was on the 6th. March 1826, when the barque Richard Pope was driven ashore in a fierce gale. At least two boats put out to the stricken barque, but the tremendous surf beat them back. The crew of fifteen realising the difficulties of their would-be rescuers, decided to try to save themselves. Five men clambered into a ships boat and attempted to make the shore, but the boat capsized in the breakers. Seeing what had happened, Alexander Douglas, an onlooker, swam through the surf in an effort to save life, but four of the men drowned. The remainder of the crew wisely stayed put, and eventually two boats reached them in safety. For his part in this hazardous and prolonged rescue Captain J.R.Morris R.N., a local coastguard, was awarded the Silver Medal of the R.N.L.I. (4)

Website Update..

How the Coastguards reacted to the Great Famine in Ireland.

There were many Famines in Ireland during the 19th.Century. The Coastguard service assisted in transporting food to districts around the coast where aid was needed. But the best remembered Famine was in 1845/6 when millions of people perished or flew from the horrors in Ireland.




E.Carson, The Ancient and Rightful Customs (London, 1972)

N.A.M. Rodger, Naval Records for Genealogists (London, 1998)

G.Smith, Something to declare 1,000 Years of Customs and Excise (London, 1976)

You can also find links to other interesting websites here
References :
  1. Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast’ by Edward J.Bourke. Vol.2. p.137
  2. "Discovering Cork"
  3. ‘Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast’ by Ian Wilson. p.149
  4. ‘Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast’ by Ian Wilson p.21

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0 Comments · 4174 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


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