The Coastguard Cutter Vol2 No8

August 2004
Vol. 2 - No.8.


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  • New Section - Two Sides to every Story
  • Shipwreck of the City of Limerick Schooner 1833
  • Capture of two Smugglers.
  • 4 New C.G. Letters
  • Extracts IX | Childhood Memories
  • 7 New Crosshaven CG Station Photos, courtesy of V. Farr, Serving Area Officer, IRCG

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  • Howes Strand Coastguard Station
  • Death of C/Guard Belderig 1837
  • Samuel Andrews died Blacksod pt CG station 1861
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I would be glad to receive any coastguard information, stories or general snippets and pass it on in to our readers.

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Court of Inquiry

Lieutenants Newenham and Prior of the Brighton Coast Guard have undergone a court of inquiry for absence of duty and insubordination. They had been reported by Captain Marsh, Inspecting Commander, and were ordered to the Coast Guard Service in Ireland, which is considered a punishment, as the duty is more severe. (1)

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Dunny Cove, Co.Cork, "My great-grandparents had their cottage next to that station. Michael Murphy was a fisherman and the sale of his fish to the coastguard families rendered the hard currency to help five from his family emigrate to the United States in the middle and later years of the 1800's." (2)

A Childs Prayer.

According to legend, as the night wind blew around their cottages, the children of the Cranfield, Co. Down area used to pray, 'God bless mummy and daddy, and send a big ship ashore in the morning.'

Wit and Wisdom of Ireland.

"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live"

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Dear Friend,

Welcome to the August edition of "The Coastguard Cutter".


Family Life

Unlike his sea-going compatriots in the Fleet, the Coastguard, by being shore based had the luxury of home-life and companionship of wife and family. He was at home for his toddlers first faltering steps, he was at his wife's side when illness threatened the household, he had a place of comfort to return to after his days work. Many readers have stressed that the posting to Ireland left their families with many happy memories of their stay here. A most charming family group photo sent to me, sets the tone for this month's Coastguard Cutter.


David Lemon and Family outside Dundrum Station, Co. Down c.1917.

David Lemon & Family

The eldest boy is Alexander Lemon. 1903-1971 The middle boy is David 1908-1984

The little girl is Isabella 1905-2000. youngest boy Leonard 1909-1942

Station Life

Ireland was an unpopular posting for the coastguards, who were almost always English. It felt isolated, particularly for the wives and families who had been used to living in the big cities. Coastguards were unpopular in that they were seen as another arm of the law sent to stop people from taking wreck along the coast, and they also seized poitin stills. Generally a coastguard's tour of duty in Ireland lasted for no longer than five years, and they were often shifted from area to area.

The coastguards were generally self-sufficient. The grew most of their own vegetables but would buy milk and eggs from the neighbouring farmers when available.

The coastguard's wives were very knowledgeable in first-aid, homemade remedies and cures. At Dunnycove station in Co. Cork it is said that two coastguards, named Giles and Fielding, helped the local farmers at threshing times in the fields. But their presence was resented - not because they were British, but because they drank more than their fair share of porter.

Many of the children attended the local National schools. They walked barefooted to school by road and field. Awaiting their arrival at the school was a stone trough set into the floor with water where they would cleanse their soiled feet. The non-Catholics amongst them would wait outside the school from 3.00-3.30pm while Catholic instruction was taught. Afterwards all the children would walk home together.

The children went bare-footed due to economic necessity. Their fathers would have known that slippery shoeson board ship on a wet, windy, and stormy night, aloft in the rigging, were inferior to the grip given by bare foot and toes. Even in the late 1870's bare-footed sailors going about deck duties were a common sight.

Naturally on a coastguard's pay the living had to be of the simplest description, but the men liked to have some little place which they could keep for best and which would house the trophies which they had collected in long service all over the Globe. Therefore the most popular stations were those built with large kitchens for living and small sitting-rooms for best, and nearly all of them were built on this principle. Some were not, and were built with beautiful sitting-rooms and pokey little kitchens into which the family had to be packed somehow.

The authorities made a point of providing a certain amount of furniture for the men's quarters, but it was very little. The regulations mentioned one double bed, two small bedroom tables, one six-foot kitchen table, six Windsor chairs, one dresser built into the wall of the kitchen, and three sets of fenders and fire-irons.

Needless to say the domestic peace of the station was sometimes difficult to maintain. Each station officer had to maintain the greatest tact to keep peace in his charge, but even so quarrelling among the wives was constantly having to be referred to the Divisional Officer for intervention, a job he hated. As a rule a stern reprimand from such an authority was sufficient to restore peace, if not he could recommend the removal of a quarrelsome pair to another station.

The man was told that if he could not control his wife's temper he would have to move his goods at his own expense instead of at the Government's, this threat generally proved effective.

There is a yarn on record of one woman who had not the least intention of embarrassing her husband by quarrelling or getting drawn into a quarrel, so avoided the possibility by never speaking to her neighbours in any circumstances. In order to avoid meting them she would invariably leave the house by way of the sitting-room window straight on to a path which led out of the station, never going through the front door and the yard.

Water Tanks

Ballygeary CG Station Water Tank

In many areas where a well or pumped water was not available large concrete water-tanks were installed at the rear of the houses. Roof water was piped down to the tanks. For table use such water was filtered through charcoal filters. The quality of this water could change from time to time, wind blown dust and detritus, bird-droppings etc. Light-house keepers suffered also in their wind-swept salt sprayed areas. After storms salt would dry out on the roof tiles and render the water un-usable. Some keepers would close off tank inlet till a shower of rain had washed the salt away and then re-open it for the cleaner water to enter. Failure to do this would result in a tank full of undrinkable saline water. The Coastguards would probably have taken similar precautions.

References :
  1. Evening Freeman Thursday 11th.March 1841
  2. Patrick Clark.
  3. Shipwrecks of the Ulster Coast by Ian Wilson.

Copyright 2004 [coastguards of yesteryear]. All rights reserved.

0 Comments · 10059 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


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