The Coastguard Cutter Vol5 No4

The Coastguard Cutter
"The Lady Margaret"

April 2007
Vol. 5 - No. 4

Dear Friend,

In this day and age we are inclined to laugh at the superstitions of long ago but if we look around many of them are still alive and thriving.




The people on the island were very superstitious. These superstitions have pagan origins and are still believed by older members of the island. Here are some of the superstitions. When a fisherman was going fishing and he met a red-haired woman, he would bless himself, and would not go fishing as this was a bad sign of things to come. Another one was that, if a boat or ship had sunk and the crew were drowning, another boat passing and seeing them had to leave them to drown. If they saved them they thought they would be next to die. (1)


The Unfortunate FishermanSea Gulls

Mr.Henry Irwin, Coroner, held 2 inquests at Mullaghmore on Monday last, on 2 brothers of the name of Davis, who were found on the coast; another body was also found, but forced away by the country people. The Officer of the Waterguards had the bodies put into his watch-house, and procured coffins and burial clothes at his own expense. His spirited and humane conduct deserves the very strongest commendations.

We rejoice to learn that the humane gentry in the neighborhood of Killybegs have commenced raising a subscription for the relief of the widows and children of the 36 men, who were drowned off the coast of this County on the night of the 19th. January, whilst employed in the herring industry - It is but justice to state, that by the timely and praiseworthy exertions of the Waterguards here, they were mainly instrumental in saving 2 boat's crews, consisting of 14 men, whom they picked up in a state of exhaustion, drifting before the wind, just as they were on the point of abandoning themselves to despair.   (Ballyshannon Herald) (3)


Coastguard and Three others Drowned. 1905

The Chief Officer of Coastguards at Larne. The Chief Boatman, another Coastguard and Mr.Beggs, a well known Larne merchant, went out on Thursday evening in a small boat on Larne Lough to board a coasting schooner laden with asphalte from Maheramourne. A strong south west gale was blowing, and as the party did not return, a search was instituted and the boat found upturned on the Island Magee coast at three this morning. Up to Friday there was no trace of the occupants of the boat and the presumption is they were carried out seawards by the strong tide running. The men supposed to be drowned are Chief Boatman Leary, a native of Cork, Assistant Boatman Swedenham, Portsmouth. Customs Officer Kerr, Belfast and a Larne Urban Counseller’s son, named Beggs. O’Leary leaves a widow, who is an invalid, and practically helpless, and three young children. Swedenham was also married but had no family. The other two were single. Kerr belongs to Belfas and Beggs is a native of Larne. The boat was found upturned on the beach a short distance from where the schooner was anchored.


Two Bodies Recovered.

The bodies of Chief Boatman Leary and Commissioned Boatman Swedenham of the Larne Coastguard station together with Assistant Customs Officer Kerr, and a young man named Beggs, were drowned through the capsizing of a boat in Lough Larne on Thursday evening last, were recovered on Monday morning on the shore of Islandmagee near the scene of the disaster. Search is being made for the other two bodies. Begg’s cap has been found floating in the Lough. (4)


Revenue Fleet NewsWreck on the Coast of Galway. 1843

The George of Belfast, Pattin, master, laden with cotton from New Orleans, and bound for Liverpool was struck by a heavy sea on Sunday night last the 29th.ult, between the hours of 11 and 12 o'clock and driven by a strong southerly gale on Life Island, about 2 miles eastward of Lettermullin, on the western coast of Galway, where she has become a total wreck. The master and crew are saved, with the exception of a little boy, who in endeavoring to escape was washed away and seen no more. Ten or twelve bales of the cotton are at present deposited in the Custom House here, and we are told the entire bay is dotted with it. Her Majesty's Revenue Cruiser, the Dolphin, Commander Lt. Gosling, proceeded this morning the 31st.ult at 3 o'clock having on board one or two Custom House officers, to the place of the wreck, but was obliged to return in consequence of high winds. The master from whom we have obtained the above particulars, has also informed us, that the inhabitants of and about Life Island , committed on the vessel the greatest plunder, and that even a knife was presented to the throat of the second mate, whilst striving to resist being deprived of his clothing. (Galway Vindicator) (5)

Arrival of a Battle-of-Line ship in Belfast Lough. 1858.

H.M. Line-of-Battle ship ‘Ajax’, 60 guns, double-decker, commanded by Captain Patrick Boyd, a County of Derry man, arrived in Belfast Lough, on Sunday, from Kingstown, and anchored at Greypoint. She is connected with the Coastguard department, and, is understood to have been sent to this station for the purpose of exercising the men in this locality connected with that branch of the service, and also, of picking up any volunteers who may offer. (6)

Coastguard News from England

Coast-Guard Seizure -  A smuggler shot.  1843.

Bridport, January 8 – this morning (Sunday), a seizure was made by Lieutenant Hicks and crew of the Coastguard stationed at Burton, about two miles to the eastward of this harbour, of 150 half-ankers and nine flagons of foreign spirits, a boat and three men. It appears that the boat came on shore in a very heavy sea, at a place called Freshwater, when smugglers landed the kegs from the boat on the beach, and were almost immediately surrounded by the officers of the Coastguard. The smugglers fled in all directions, leaving the officers in quiet possession. One poor fellow out of the three captured, on endeavouring to escape, was shot through the neck, where he lies without the slightest hope of recovery. His name is Smith and he keeps the inn at Osmington Mills, near Weymouth. The other two taken have been committed to prison. (7)

Melancholy Accident, Dungeness

On Friday morning, a bark, outward bound, grounded about 9 o’clock, during a very severe snow storm, at low water. Upon the weather clearing she was discovered by Lieutenant Combe, of No.2 Battery, who immediately ordered his galley to be manned from his station, the sea at the time running very high, and the wind blowing very strong from the north. The boat was carried a short way by the men into the water over the sands, and after a desperate struggle succeeded in getting alongside. She had no sooner succeeded in getting a rope, when a sea unfortunately upset the boat and immersed the rowers in the water, with the exception of Lieutenant Combe, who at the time was climbing up the ship’s side; two of the poor fellows succeeded in getting a rope, and were saved. Two others named Cocks and Cradick, sank to rise no more. Every effort on behalf of Lieutenant Combe and the captain of the ship to save them proved unsuccessful. Further assistance was then made, and No.1 Battery boat launched their galley, and after three more desperate struggles at length got alongside. We regret to say Cocks has left a widow and five children, the other a married man, but no family. Too much praise can not be given to the Coast Guard for their praiseworthy and noble exertions. Lieutenat Combe is deeply grieved at the loss of two men. (8)


There is a strange tale in the Wexford folklore archives about a smuggler who brought his ship close inshore at Bannow and sent a landing party ashore, He stayed awhile anchored off Bannow and fraternised with the local people and the Coastguards. On evening he invited about thirty locals, including the son and daughter of one of the Coastguards, to a party on board the ship. In the morning the ship was gone. Some time later thirty bodies were washed ashore. (2)

Sailors Omens

Sailors, usually the boldest men alive, are yet on their own element superstitious. At the present day they account it very unlucky to lose a bucket or a mop. To throw a cat overboard or drown one at sea is the same. Children are deemed lucky to a ship. Whistling at sea is supposed to cause increase of wind, and is therefore disliked by seamen. Though sometimes they practice it when there is a dead calm.


At the Breech Loading Gun

Irish Wit and Wisdom

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


Coming in May edition


  1. "Inisboffin Island" by Eamonn Mac Fionnaile.
  2. “Tales of the Wexford Coast” by Richard Roche.
  3. Evening Freeman 7th.February 1835.
  4. Wicklow People Saturday 2nd.December 1905.
  5. Friday 3rd.February 1843. Dublin Mercantile Advertiser.
  6. Saunders News-Letter Tuesday 6th.July 1858.
  7. The Times, London. 12 January 1843.
  8. The Times, London  5 February 1845.


© Coastguards of Yesteryear 2001- 2007
 Powered by HobbySites



0 Comments · 2665 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


No Comments have been Posted.

Post Comment

Please Login to Post a Comment.