Coastguard Cutter

The Coastguard Cutter 2.19

-> Tony on March 05 2017
K51. In more recent times a little discreet smuggling has continued all along the coast of Wexford. Probably the most unusual form of barter, which legally amounted to smuggling occurred during the 1914-18 War, when German submarines, operating off the south coast of Wexford, occasionally sent dinghies ashore for supplies of fresh water, eggs and vegetables. They usually exchanged bottles of schnapps for these. One resident of Kilmore Quay swore that it was Germans who stole half of the six drills of cabbage plants he had planted behind the lifeboat house. No one contradicted him.
Reference; “Tales of the Wexford Coast” by Richard Roche.

L17.It is difficult to trace back the design of the early 19th Century Coastguard station. In his report to the Treasury department, James Dombrain recommended the construction of a "watch-room and boathouse" on the great majority of the stations. These were built in large numbers during the 1820's to a standard plan with some local variations in proportions. Architecturally, the watch houses resemble buildings from an older period and they are often mistakenly dated to the late 18th century. It may be said that they were based on designs that had been introduced by the Customs some years previously. The classic watch-house was a two storey, rectangular block with half-hipped roof, split-stone rubble construction, roughcast and whitewashed; it was built on the very edge of the shore a foot or two above storm tide level with a boat slip protruding from the front.
Their measurements vary from station, but most were about 40ft long by 20ft wide by 16 ft high. The building was divided into a number of functioning areas. The large front room on the ground floor, with twin doors that opened on to a slipway, housed the boats and their equipment. Above this was the watch room with canted bow window overlooking the sea and where the crews arms were stored. Behind these rooms was an office and the living quarters for the chief officer and his family.
Reference; Denis Mayne

The ‘Joseph and Dorothy’, Morton, of Hull, was lost in Inch Bay, near Ballycotton, on the irish Coast, about four miles East from Cork Harbour, on the night of the 8th inst. A letter from the Rev. C.R.Adams, Minister of the Parish, to the Mayor of Hull, after mentioning the circumstances adds;’ Every soul perished ,four bodied have been washed on shore, three on Monday and one this morning the (10th) which last I have just returned from committing to the Parish grave-yard, where the poor mans remains were recently interred alongside the three others, who were buried on Monday. There were no particular marks on any of them, except this last had the letter C on his left arm, and C.M. on his shirt, a check one. Nothing has been saved but the two masts and bowspits, much damaged, part of the forecastle, the planks on which her name was painted, and the bower anchor and chain cable. These articles have been placed in the possession of the Coastguard, whose station is near the scene of destruction and the officer and men of this establishment have been unremitting in their endeavours to watch the shore for any property coming upon the beach, and to render every due respect and attention to the bodies as they are drifted on the coast’ Great praise is due to the writer of this letter for his humane conduct, who also kindly offers to give such further information, and assistance as may be in his power.
Hull Advertiser.
Reference; Freemans Journal Tuesday 23 December 1828.

LX170. Ballycotton seizure. 1819.

Waterford. September 14. A small cutter-rigged vessel, of about 30 tons burden, laden with smuggled tobacco in bales, and having also on board about a dozen ankers of gin, was made prize of on Friday evening off Bunmahon, having being abandoned by her crew, by the Passage Revenue barge. She was brought up to the quay on Saturday evening, and her cargo was taken out and lodged in the King’s Stores. Nothing is known with certainty as to where she belonged to, or whence she came; but it is conjectured that she is from the West of England and that her illicit cargo was taken in on the French coast. It is said that she has lately been in Cork harbour, whence she eluded the vigilance of the Revenue Officers, by representation of her being laden with herrings, a few barrels of which she had on deck, and immediately under the hatchway, to assist the deception.
Reference; Freemans Journal Thursday 16 September 1819.

H22. Shipwreck.
Extract from a private letter received this morning. Clogher Head, Drogheda, 11th.November at 9.30 am. The schooner ‘Will Pitt’ of Dublin, from Whitehaven to Dublin, coal laden, John French master, running in for this place, when off the harbour stuck on a reef of rocks to the northward, and immediately went down stern foremost, the crew holding on to the only part of the vessel above water; the sea running tremendous at the time. Captain Bernard, of the Coastguard, whose gallant conduct is deserving of all praise, was in attendance with his men to render all the assistance in his power, and fired several rockets from Dennetts life rocket apparatus, but all to no purpose. The hands were in imminent danger of being washed off the small space they had to cling to, when Capt. Bernard and three of his men got into a boat and succeeded in saving the captain and crew, four in number, the wind blowing a gale from the S.S.E. and a tremendous sea running in. Thomas A.Newcomen Esq. assisted by a number of men, held the rope which was fastened to the Coastguard boat and pulled them into land. The vessel became a total wreck. This is the second crew saved by Captain Bernard during the last fortnight, having rescued the master and crew of the brig ‘Fidelity’ on the morning of the 26th.ult from a watery grave.

Reference; Saunders News-Letter Saturday 13th.November 1852.

H85. A TURN OF PHRASE. By Eamonn Bermingham.

To be dressed up. To fit out a vessel ready for sea, Now commonly used to refer to one’s clothes (i.e. nice rig out)

Used today to mean ‘of top quality’ Derives from the Sailing Navy method of classifying their sailing warships depending upon their number of guns, i.e. First Rate, Second Rate etc.


Originates from the fact that meals aboard Royal Navy Men of War were eaten from square plates.

To be under pressure. When a sailing vessel has all sails set and is being strongly pushed by the wind.

There are two versions – A brass monkey was a cannon made from brass. Because it contracts at a different rate to the iron cannon balls (with the result that the ball will not fit the Muzzle) thus rendering the gun unusable. According to others a monkey was a brass rack for storing cannonballs, which shrank in very cold weather causing the balls to be ejected. Hence it could be cold enough to freeze the balls of/off a brass monkey.

On Tuesday evening last, a signal of distress having been made from Kilcredane battery, Mr.Butler, Surveyor of Tarbert, lost no time in getting his cutter under way, and proceeding over, when he succeeded in picking up the master-gunner, 7 artillerymen, 2 women, 2 children, and 2 boatmen in a small boat, in which they were endeavouring to get over to Tarbert.
But for Mr.B's exertions the consequences might have been fatal, as at the time they were picked up the boat was nearly swamped, and a strong gale of wind blowing. Ibid.
On the same evening, during Mr.B's absence on the above service, one of the Coastguards stationed on Tarbert Island, carelessly amusing himself with firing small shot out of his carbine, was near killing 2 tide-waiters on said station, one of whom received a shot in the chin, the other was hit by several grains, which, however did not penetrate his clothes.- fortunately no other damage occurred.
(Report Limerick Herald)
Reference Evening Freeman Tuesday 27th.September 1831. p.3.

110E.Smugglers Captured.
On the evening of Saturday last, a small schooner was seen in the offing, by the Water Guards near Baldoyle. She appeared to be unacquainted with the coast, and the breeze having freshened she driven on the sands near Tubbermackenny. The Water Guards under the command of Lt.Digby put off to their assistance, but before they arrived, the crew, 5 in number, got into a boat and rowed away. The Water Guards gave them chase, and upon coming up found they were all Frenchmen- they secured them, and having boarded their craft discovered 80 bales of tobacco on board, which have since been transmitted to the Custom house. The remainder of the cargo consisted principally of rum: it has also been seized.
Reference Evening Freeman. Tuesday 4th.October 1831. p.3.

To the Editor of the Freemans Journal

Sir, Having read in your paper of yesterday, in an article headed "Smugglers Captured", a statement of the wreck of a French vessel on the coast, near Baldoyle, and of the subsequent arrest of her crew , I feel it incumbent of me to inform you, that you have been completely led into an error; as to the circumstances relative to that unfortunate event, and also to the motives which have called forth the same arrest. The crew are neither accused of smuggling, nor of having sought to escape pursuit by flight. The only charge laid against them before the Magistrates, is the following, viz;- "How can the vessel have strayed so much in her course, as to deviate so far from her destination?" Now the query is, whether an officer of the customs has a right to believe himself sufficiently justified, on this head alone, in ordering the arrest of the crew, and seizure of goods? This is what the Magistrates shall be called on to decide in a few days.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant.


Charge de la Gestion Consulat de France a Dublin.
October 5. 1831.
Reference; Evening Freeman Tuesday 4th.October 1831. p. 3.

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