The Coastguard Cutter Vol6 No4

The Coastguard Cutter
April 08 Edition
Vol 6 No. 04.

"The Lady Margaret"


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Many of the earlier Coastguard stations were well built and many were sited in attractive surroundings. Robert's Cove station had both of these qualities plus later sympathetic extensions as a private dwelling. It is a real gem.


Roberts Cove coastguard station.

Roberts Cove, corkThis station was one of the “First Stage” stations, erected between 1819 and Sept.1820 (which became, finally a line of 160 coastal stations in total) by the British government, under the direction of the British admiralty and the British board of Customs, to ensure that the entire coastline of Ireland was securely watched.A deed in the possession of Leslie Roberts, Mount Rivers, Carrigaline, details the granting of a site by Randal Roberts, Landlord of Britfieldstown, Roberts cove, for the construction of a Coastguard station in1796. However it was some years before this building programme was carried out.

The building was typical of its type. A two-storey rectangular block, approx. 40 ft. by 20 ft. wide, with half-hipped roof, split-stone rubble construction, roughcast and whitewashed, built on the edge of the shoreline, a foot or two above storm tide level with a boat slip projecting from the front. The large front room, with double doors opening onto the slipway, housed the boats and the equipment, with the watch room, containing the store of armaments and weapons, above this. Behind the large front boat-chamber was the office and living accommodation for the Chief Officer. It may be that the year 1863, saw a refurbishment of the existing station and it may be that the large house, separate accommodation for the Chief Officer, was then constructed. This house is on the left behind the stone wall, now the property of Terry King, while the cottages for the other Station employees straggled along the hill between the station and the Masters’s dwelling. (These cottages were demolished in the 1920’s, within living memory and the stone re-used for the road and for two local cottages.)

Robert’s Cove was the most westerly of the group of eight stations which constituted the District of Cobh.

There are drawings, dated 1863, in the National Archive of Ireland (Item No 543) which are of the Roberts Cove station. Another local Station which dates from the same First Stage of building is Oysterhaven Station (no 29), which was managed from the Old Head of Kinsale centre.

Roberts Cove Station was the most westerly of the group of eight stations which constituted the District of Cobh, so it was directed from Cobh. It was in 1822 that the British Coastguard Service was finally established, incorporating those bodies which until then were responsible for sea defence and prevention of smuggling.

The Census taken on 31ST March 1901 lists seven officers quartered and on duty at Roberts Cove station; six of them were of the Church of Ireland religion and those six were British born. Only one man, J.A., a widower, was a native Co. Cork man and was a Roman Catholic. Chief Officer was George W. Baker, born in England, aged 43, of the Church of Ireland, married, his wife Nelly was also English but their two children, George William and Nelly were born in Wicklow and Wexford respectively, showing how frequently the officers were shifted from Station to Station.

Ref: Eileen McGough, Kinsale.


R.N.L.I. Award. 1829

LLEWELLYN, DAVID. Chief Officer Coastguard Roberts Cove.   Silver Medal.

On the 25 January 1829 Mr. Llewellyn and his crew saved the entire complement of Master and 10 seamen from the Portuguese schooner ‘Souza and Bastos, wrecked at Rocky Bay.

Ref: “Lifeboat Gallantry” by Barry Cox.

The Inquest of Patrick Desmond.

An inquest was held on Sunday on the body of Patrick Desmond, Water-guard of the Roberts Cove Station, at Dunbogy, Barony of Kinnelea. The investigation took place before Thomas Knowles Esq. and George A. Daunt Esq. Magistrates of the County -  The first witness examined was John Hull Esq., Officer of the Coastguard. He deposed that he sent Patrick Desmond from the Ballyfeard Petty Sessions on the previous evening 24th.inst, along the coast to ascertain if a second wreck had taken place, of which he had some notice. Desmond went accordingly. William Barry swore that the deceased came to his house about half an hour after fall of night of that day, and witness endeavoured to prevail on him to stop with him the whole night being so dreadfully severe. He did not suppose that he could be expected to be on duty such a bad night. Desmond replied to witness that he must go, else a report would be sent to Dublin the next day and he would be dismissed. He accordingly went; Barry did not see him after alive. The next witness ----Neill swore that he found the body of Desmond at the foot of a cliff near where the ‘Killarney’ had been wrecked. He assisted in bringing up the body. Dr. M’Dermott of Glenview having examined the body swore; that he found the skull shattered to pieces – the brain almost entirely evacuated and some of the ribs fractured. These injuries were sufficient to account for his death. The jury agreed that the deceased had met his death by falling off the cliff into the water underneath while in discharge of his duty under command of his Officer John Hull Esq.

(Cork Reporter)

Ref: Saunders News Letter Friday 2nd.February 1838.

Loss of the Barque ‘Advocate’ of London at Robert’s Head. 1852

The Barque ‘Advocate’, Donald, master, arrived at Queenstown some days since, from Moulmain with a cargo of teak timber, for orders, and sailed for London on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The pilot left her about 10 o’clock S. by E. with wind light from the S.E. and a heavy easterly swell setting on the shore. She drifted rapidly towards ‘Robert’s Head’ when the anchor, with 45 fathom chain, was let go, but did not hold, and her stern struck the steep cliffs between the Point and Robert’s Cove, and she soon after capsized – the sea breaking furiously over her. The crew 15 in number landed by their boat and Coast Guard boat, the latter having come promptly to their aid. At 6 o’clock in the evening the account of the casualty was received at Queenstown and the assistance of steamers etc. sent of the agents of the vessel, but they could not get to the vessel, she was found unapproachable, being on her broadside, with masts under water, and a furious sea breaking over her. The vessel will be a total wreck. The utmost attention was paid by the Coast Guard Officer (Mr.Sheppard) to the captain and crew.

(Cork Constitution)

Ref: Saunders news-Letter; Monday 19th.April 1852.

R.N.L.I. Award 1865

TAYLOR, WILLIAM. Chief Officer, Coastguard, Roberts Cove Silver Medal

On the 29th.December 1865 the Italian barque ‘Lidia’ was wrecked at Roberts Cove in a gale and terrific sea. Mr. Taylor and five of his men put off in a coastguard galley and saved the 13 man crew.

Ref: “Lifeboat Gallantry” by Barry Cox

Fatal Boat Accident Seven Lives Lost. 1872

Cork, Saturday.  (extract)

A melancholy boat accident occurred off Queenstown today under the following circumstances:- Last Wednesday evening a whale boat with a crew of seven proceeded to sea for the purpose of soliciting business in the clothing line from vessels expected to arrive for orders. Last night a regular south-wester set in, with a heavy sea, which suddenly changed at 9 a.m. today to N.N.W. causing a heavy cross sea with heavy squalls in one of which it is supposed the boat, with all hands perished. The following is the official of Thomas Bride, Chief Boatman, Robert’s Cove :- “At ten o’clock I found a whale boat named ‘Legion of Honour’, James O’Connor owner, off Robert’s Head, bottom up, mast stepped, and some short distance from the boat found a sail detatched and close reefed, also two caps, (one a sou-wester) together with three provision bags etc.”

It appears the first intimation was from some girls milking goats on Robert’s Head.

Ref; Freemans Journal 24 June 1872.

Currently meaning in all cases or in any case. From the nautical; by meaning into the wind and large meaning with the wind; as in, " BY and LARGE the ship handled very well."
The most common method of punishment aboard ship was flogging. The unfortunate sailor was tied to a grating, mast or over the barrel of a deck cannon.

 Revenue Fleet NewsRevenue Fleet News

The fine fleet of  Revenue Cruisers assembled in Kingstown harbour sailed out on Tuesday morning shortly after 10 o'clock and returned in fleet about half past one o'clock - the 'Shamrock' brig, bearing the Commodores broad pennant, leading, followed by the 'Prince Regent', the 'Prince Albert', the 'Kite' etc. They passed the mouth of the harbour in beautiful style, the brigs having their mainsails and foresails clewed up, the cutters with two reefs in their mainsails, it blowing stiff from E.S.E. They bore for the Howth coast, and forming in line-of-battle, fired a number of shots as if regularly engaged. Two of the cutters then, on signal being given, sailed off, one in chase of the other, as if a smuggler. The race across the bay was the most picturesque and beautiful objects that could be witnessed. Each vessel fired - the one on the attack, and the other on the defence.

The Lieutenant General, Commanding, Sir E. Blakeney, with a number of distinguished persons were on board the brig 'Shamrock' during the evolution. The fleet sailed out of Kingstown Harbour yesterday morning, each bound for its respective station.

Ref: Dublin Evening Post  Thursday 4th.August 1842

UK CG NewsCoastguard News from England

Crew saved. 1830.

Cornwall, The crew of the ‘Bon Pere’ were saved by the great exertions of  Richard Johns Esq. Trewinoe, Lieutenant William James, R.N. and several others who  hastened to the spot on being appraised that the vessel was on shore. Lieutenant James without hesitation , took off his coat and boots, plunged through the breakers and swam to the vessel. He succeeded in bringing a line to the shore, by which the crew  were happily saved. Also  the crew of the schooner ‘Brothers’ were saved by the extraordinary exertions of Lieutenant Alexander of the Coast Guard.

(from the ‘West Briton’)

Ref: The Times, London  14 December 1830.

Summer Assizes, Western Circuit, Dorchester, Saturday, July 28. 1832

James Davis and Charles Bascombe were indicted for having on the 28th June last at West Lulworth, feloniously assembled, with other persons unknown, armed with fire-arms and other offensive weapons, in order to aid and assist in the running and carrying away of certain prohibited goods – namely, 88 gallons of Brandy, which are liable to pay certain dues to the Customs.

This case excited very great interest here, as the prisoners were supposed to have been in company with, and forming part of the gang of smugglers who attacked Lieutenant Knight and his party, when the former was thrown over a terrific cliff by the smugglers and killed.

List of witnesses etc.

Thomas Barrett Brewer, a Commissioned Boatman in the West Lulworth Coast Guard – witness.

James Lifton – Coast Guard Chief Boatman at West Lulworth – witness.

William Ralph – Coast Guard Boatman at West Lulworth. – witness.

Thomas Teed – Coast Guard Boatman at West Lulworth – mentioned by Brewer as being present.

Lieutenant Stocker, Chief Officer of the Coast Guard at Osmington-mill station – witness

John Duke – Commissioned boatman in the Coast Guard at West Lulworth – witness

James Carter – Coast Guard – witness

The jury found “Not Guilty”

Ref: The Times, London  30 July 1832

Coming in May Edition.

 All about Seaweed.





With more and more people enjoying the beach and sea, the RNLI has never been busier - rescuing an average of 22 people every day. It now costs over £330,000 a day to run this essential service - to train their volunteers and maintain their craft and equipment. So however you choose to support them, every penny really counts.

To donate to the RNLI, simply call 0800 543210 or visit
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