Irish Coastguard: Stages of Development

Irish Coastguard Service : Stages of Development

Researched by Jim Lane, Cork

The following information giving the earliest listing of stations established for the Irish Preventative Water Guard, is based on extracts from ADM’s 175/1, 175/13, 175/14, 175/15 and the “Tenth Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the Collection and Management of the Revenue arising in Ireland, Scotland ; Etc.” published by the House of Commons, 24 June 1824.

When James Dombrain, Comptroller General of the I.P.W.G. , made his report to the Commissioners of Inquiry on 28 October 1823, he claimed he had completed the whole line of the coast and had established 160 stations. The service had in employment 1821 men [chief officers, chief boatmen and boatmen] and 33 inspecting officers, plus 200 casual boatmen , brought in during the winter.

First Stage:

Cork : Crookhaven / Dunmanus , Long Island, Hare /Sherkin Islands, Toe Head, Castletownsend, Glandore, Milk Cove, Dirk Cove on Galley Head, Dunny Cove on Galley Head, Ring, Seven Heads, Courtmacsherry, Old Head of Kinsale, Oysterhaven, Robert’s Cove, Spike Island, Poor Head, Ballycotton, Knockadoon.
Waterford : Ardmore Head, Helvick Head, Bunmahon, Isles of Icane, Ballymacaw.

Above are recorded in ADM 175/1 [London Head Office Book] among records from England, Scotland and Wales. Covers the period from late 1819 to September 1820.


The East Coast:

Wexford : Lumsden’s Bay, Fethard, Bar of Lough, Kilmore, Carnsore, Ballygeary Bay, Blackwater, Cahore, Glynn, Kilmichael.
Wicklow : Mizen Head, Greystones, Bray.
Dublin : Dalkey, Baldoyle, Malahide, Rush, Skerries.
Louth : Nannywater, Clogher Head, Dunany Point, Cooley Point.
Down : Crandfield Point, Leestone, Annalong, Newcastle, Terela, St. John’s Point, Gunn’s Island, Tara, Cloghy, Ballyhalbert, Mellisle, Groomsport.
Antrim : Black Head, Port Muck, Ballygally Head, Point of Garron, Port Scalberg, Cushendun, Torr Head, Rathlin Island.

[Above are listed on ADM 175/13] Established from late 1820 and throughout 1821.

The West of Ireland:

Clare : Baltard/Ballard Tower, Seafield, Mutton Island No. 1,Mutton Island No. 2, Spanish Point, Miltownmalbay, Freagh Point, Doolin.
Mayo : Belderg, Ballycastle, Kilcummin Head, Lackan Bay.

The above stage in the West of Ireland was started in December 1820 and probably completed in the summer of 1821. The references can be found in ADM 175/13 and for Doolin Co. Clare, in ADM 175/14.

The Kerry Coast and the link to Cork:

In October 1821, a start was made on the Kerry coast and finished in the summer of 1822. In July 1822, Valentia was established as a District of the Coastguard.
The following stations came into being in that period.

Kerry : Kilmakilloge, Bunaw, West Cove/Derrynane, Ballinskelligs, Minard Head, Ventry, Blasket Island, Ferriter’s Cove, Ballydavid, Brandon, Castlegregory, Barrow, Cashen River.

[Entries for these stations are to be found in ADM 175/14]

In September 1822, a connection was begun which eventually linked Cork to Kerry. It started in Dunmanus Bay, Co.Cork and went west towards the Kerry border station of Kilmakilloge. The following stations were established.

Cork : Toormore, Kilcrohane, White Horse, Ardrigole, Castletown, Black Ball Head, Garnish, Reentrusk, Ballycrovane.

[Entries for these stations are to be found in ADM 175/15]

The North West Stages:

In November 1821, a new stage was started in Donegal Bay and finished at Lough Swilly . The following stations were established.
Donegal : Tribane, Teelin Bay East, Teelin Bay West, Malinbeg, Malinmore, Glencolumcille, Dawros Head, Rutland Island, Gweedore, Inishbofin Island, Sheephaven, Mulroy Bay.

In January 1822, they decided to extend this area, by establishing stations between Lough Swilly and the Island of Rathlin. The following stations were established.
Donegal : Dunree Fort, Dunaff Head, Carrickbrackey, Malin Head, Glenegad Head, Port Redford, Port Kinnagoe, Greencastle.
Derry : Downhill, Port Stewart, Port Rush.
Antrim : Port Ballintrae, Port Ballintoy, Ballycastle Colliery.

[ See ADM 175/14 to source above stations]

Strengthening the Coastguard

A review of the service, that ran from far West Cork to Rathlin Island in Co. Antrim, took place in late 1821 and resulted in a decision in January 1822, to open further stations and to reduce the manpower of others. In all it involved the opening of 19 new stations ; 5 in Co. Cork, 3 in Co. Waterford, 3 in Co. Wexford, 1 in Co. Wicklow, 1 in Dublin, 2 in Co. Louth and 2 in Co. Down.

They were as follows;

Cork : Barlogue, within 3 miles of Castletownsend ; Howe Strand, within 4 miles of the Old Head of Kinsale ; Sandy Cove, near Kinsale ; Man of War Cove, near Oysterhaven ; and Ballymacotter, 6 miles from Poor Head.
Waterford : Annstown, 3 miles from Bunmahon ; Rhineshark, 6 miles from Isle of Icane ; Dunmore, 3 miles from Ballymacaw.
Wexford : Bannow, 4 miles from Fethard ; Tacumshane, 4 miles from Carnsore ; Currycloe, 9 miles from Ballygeary ; Morris Castle, 4 miles from Blackwater, Ballymoney, half way between Glynn and Kilmichael Point.
Wicklow : Five Mile Point, 5 miles from Wicklow Town.
Dublin : Portrane, 6 miles from Malahide.
Louth : Mouth of the Boyne, 4 miles from Clogher Head ; Blackrock, 5 miles from Dunany.
Down : Strangford Lough and Copeland Island.

The speed at which the above stations where established, can be judged by the fact that the Ballymacotter Station in Co. Cork, was in operation on 6 February 1822. A total of 27 boatmen were transferred from the following stations, most of which were adjacent to the above ones, as can be seen by a study of the above location information.

Castletownsend, Old Head of Kinsale, Oysterhaven, Poor Head, Bunmahon, Isle of Icane, Ballymacaw, Fethard, Carnsore, Ballygeary Bay, Blackwater, Glynn, Kilmichael Point, Wicklow Head, Baldoyle, Malahide, Nannywater, Clogher Head, Dunany Point, St. John’s Point, Gunn’s Island, Tara, Port Muck, Ballygally, Point of Garron, Cushendun and Rathlin Island.

Finishing the West Coast

Late in 1822, the last phase of the operation of surrounding all of Ireland with Coastguard Stations neared its end. Along with the completion of Co. Mayo, only Counties Galway and Sligo remained to be done. The following stations were completed in that area.
Galway : Arran North, Arran South, Costello[Casleh] Bay, Cleggan Bay, Inishbofin Island.
Mayo : Clare Island, Curraun [Currownish], Achill Head, Blacksod Point, Portacloy, Port Turlin.
Sligo : Inniscrone, Pullendiva, Pullocheny, Raghly Point, Mullaghmore.

Strengthening Belfast Lough
Antrim : Grey Point, Hollywood, Carrickfergus.

Strengthening Cork Harbour
Cork : East Ferry, Cove, Crosshaven, Ringabella.

Further Strengthening of the Coast

Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Jacks Hole, Co. Wicklow, Wicklow Bay, Co. Wicklow, Lambay Island, Co Dublin, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, Keel No. 1, Achill, Co. Mayo, Keel No. 2, Achill, Co. Mayo, Cape Clear Co. Cork, Dunboey [sic], Co. Clare, Raghly Point, Co. Sligo, Coonanna Harbour, Co. Kerry, Portmagee, Co. Kerry, Valentia, Co. Kerry, Mynish Island, Co. Galway.

Stations Closed

Of the stations listed in this document, the following were closed by 1824.

  • Spike Island, Co. Cork
  • Hare Island, Co. Cork
  • Man of War Bay, Co. Cork,
  • Ballard/Balland Signal Tower, Co. Clare
  • Miltownmalbay, Co. Clare.

Many thanks to Jim Lane for this article

5 Comments · 47918 Reads · Print  -> Posted by lanej on May 05 2007


#1 | rockface on 04/08/2008 01:40:27
Great Work on this Jim. Very interesting. I was able to tie in the date of my great great great Grandfather - George Stewart/ Stuart at Harwich in 1821 to taking an exam for Chief Boatman for posting to Ireland. He was sent to Mayo - Lackan in Killalla Bay. Both dates correspond to Admiralty uniting various aspects of Coastal Protection Services in Britain and Ireland in 1822. Thanks a million. Dominic.Grin
#2 | Roy Stokes on 10/03/2015 09:34:55
Is anything known of captain Samuel Hore, who lived at Lambarton (Lambarten), Arklow, Wicklow, and is reported to have been the commander of the 'Arklow District of the Preventative Water Guard' in 1822 ? Any help would be great please. Frown
#3 | willie Cunningham on 09/02/2016 13:21:25
Can anybody give me the date on which Roches Point station was established?
Sometimes referred to as "Lighthouse" or even "cork"
Where might I find the date?
#4 | Lynne Walker on 26/06/2016 22:12:41
I am trying to find info on my great great great grandfather who was lieutenant with the coastguard at Barry's Cove. He died there in 1844 but I don't know how. He also had a 4 year old daughter who died the same year and I can find no trace of his widow. His name was Millington Buckley Jones. Any information or help would be greatly appreciated. What was the situation in the area at this time?
#5 | Dolly on 19/10/2021 13:18:55
I am writing a local history of Sherkin Island off County Cork and wonder if anybody has any information about the coastguard station on Sherkin, specifically. I would be interested in finding the names of the crews associated with Sherkin CG station, which, ceased operations in, I think, 1837.
Dolly O Reilly, Sherkin Island.

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