Maritime History

Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings February 1936

            

Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings February 1936

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

This article recounts the arrivals and sailings at Youghal, Co. Cork in February 1936 with some biographical details on the vessels involved. The first entry in the Youghal Harbour book of arrivals and sailings, 1936-1941, records the sailing of the Nellie Fleming on 2nd February 1936. She sailed light under Captain Michael Duggan.[1] This vessel was owned by the Youghal firm of M.J. Fleming. When she left Youghal on that February day it would be for the last time. Following her arrival at Lydney on 5th February the Nellie Fleming sailed for Youghal with a full cargo of coal on 8th February 1936.

Her crew on that last sailing were Captain Michael Duggan, Bart Glavin (aged 58) mate, Dan Kenneally (aged 54) AB, Declan Doyle (aged 24) AB and Edward Sullivan (aged 18) on his first trip. Shortly after leaving Lydney a strong wind came up and the Nellie Fleming sheltered at Milford Haven where at least five other schooners were sheltering. Towards evening on the 8th the wind eased and the Nellie Fleming left Milford with the Camborne and the Kathleen & May while the others stayed in port.

By about 11pm the lull had changed into a dramatic and powerful east south east gale. The gale lasted for three whole days, reaching storm force 12 on 9th February. The Camborne was driven out into the Atlantic for five days while the Kathleen & May battled all Saturday night to get back to Milford by 5am Sunday. The Nellie Fleming was last seen west of St. Ann’s Head with her rigging partially dismantled.[2] All hands were lost. Her owner, Martin Fleming was devastated by the loss.

Image

Buttimer’s Quay at Youghal – often used by the merchant vessels and scene location of the Moby Dick film

Nellie Fleming

The Nellie Fleming was built at Carrickfergus by Paul Rodgers in 1884 and was originally named the Emily. Her official number was 83510.[3] This was the second vessel Nellie Fleming. The first Nellie Fleming was lost on 18th December 1913 on the Black Rocks in Ardmore Bay, Co. Waterford. Her master, Captain David Donovan (later owner of the B.I. of London), and her crew were saved.[4] This first Nellie Fleming had 120 registered tons.[5]

SS Nora

On 15th February 1936 the SS (steamship) Nora arrived in Youghal Harbour under the command of Captain Hollins. This vessel was of 89 registered tons and thus paid a harbour fee of £1 2s (shillings) 3d (pence). She brought 227 tons of coal for the Youghal firm of Murray & Son. The harbour fees for discharging this cargo was £2 16s 9d.[6] On 18th February 1936 the SS Nora sailed light from Youghal.

I don’t have much more information on the SS Nora. She first appears at Youghal in May 1923 when she came from Birkenhead with flour and bran under Captain Maston.[7] Unfortunately the port of registration is not given in the import book. In March 1936 the SS Nora returned to Youghal under Captain James.[8]

Margaret Hobley

On 19th February 1936 the Margaret Hobley arrived in Youghal under Captain Tommy Slade. She had 82 registered tons and her harbour fee was £1 6 pence. She brought 183 tons of coal for the firm of M.J. Fleming (cargo fee £2 5s 9d).[9] The Margaret Hobley had left Lydney on 1st February but contrary winds and the big storm of 8th-11th February slowed her passage.[10] Her cargo of coal for Martin Fleming also brought sad news that his own vessel was missing, presumed lost. The Margaret Hobley left Youghal on 26th February without any cargo.[11]

The Margaret Hobley was built at Pembroke in 1868 with dimensions of 86.6 X 22.2 X 10.8 feet. Her official number was 55674. The Margaret Hobley was registered at London while Thomas Hobley of Caernarvon was her first owner. She was later owned by William Postlethwaite of Milton. An 80hp engine was fitted in 1921 before she was sold by the Hook Shipping Company in 1922 to William Quance. He held the vessel for only a short time before she was purchased by the Slade family of Appledore.[12]

The Margaret Hobley served the Slade family well during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1940 the Margaret Hobley had her three tall masts removed and was employed as a balloon barge. The war did not serve her well and she returned to Appledore as a battered hulk. She died on the beach at Appledore where she was broken up.[13]

Kathleen & May

On the same day of 19th February 1936 the Kathleen & May arrived with another 198 tons of coal for M.J. Fleming (cargo fee £2 9s 6d).[14] This vessel was purchased in 1908 by Martin Fleming of Youghal to replace his brigantine, the Dei Gratia and join his other vessel, the first Nellie Fleming. Tom Browne of Youghal was her master for much of the 1920s.[15] The Dei Gratia was the vessel which found the famous ghost ship, the Marie Celeste. The Dei Gratia had her own run of troubles. She sank twice and was refloated twice but she had gained an unlucky name among mariners and ended her days as a coal hulk at Cobh. Today she lies buried under one of the piers at Haulbowline Island.[16]

The Kathleen & May was sold by M.J. Fleming in the summer of 1931 to 36 year old Tommy Jewell of Appledore and his father, William Jewell. The installation of an 80bhp Beardmore diesel engine in 1931 altered her tonnage and so the vessel arrived at Youghal with 92 net registered tons (fee £1 3s) but Tommy Jewell retained her full fore and aft rig.[17]

It was this retention of sail and application of engine power that saved the Kathleen & May in that February of 1936. She had started her voyage to Youghal on 22nd January from Lydney but was forced to seek shelter on route. On 8th February she was at Milford Haven when a lull in the wind encouraged some to leave the shelter of port. By 11pm the wind increased to gale force east south east and the Kathleen & May needed all her power to get back, against the wind, to Milford.[18]  

In this article weather and war took their toll on many merchant sailing vessels while the lack of return cargo made some vessels uneconomical to continue operations. Through all of this challenge and change the Kathleen & May still sails. She was built in 1900 by Ferguson & Baird of Connah’s Quay as the Lizzy May. She was named for the two daughters of her first owner, John Coppack and Tom Hughes was her first master. Her dimensions were 98.4 X 23.2 X 10.1 feet with 139 gross tons and 95 net tons.[19]

The Kathleen & May retired from trade in 1961. After a number of ownership changes, including for a time with the Maritime Trust in London, she was purchased in 1998 by Steve Clark of Bideford and restored to seagoing conditions. 

M.A. James

The third vessel to come into Youghal on that same day of 19th February 1936 was the M.A. James under Captain George Slade. But this vessel did not come for trade as she was windbound. Her harbour fee of 3s 8d, based on 87 net tons, reflected this action.[20] The M.A. James was making her way slowly to Courtmacsherry from Lydney after been caught in the February storm which claimed the Nellie Fleming and many other vessels.[21] The M.A. James only stayed briefly at Youghal as she sailed the following day (20th February).[22]

The M.A. James was originally built as a two mated schooner but was later converted to a three masted auxiliary schooner of 125 gross tons. She was built in 1900 by D. Williams of Portmadoc and measured 89.6 X 22.7 X 10.6 feet. She was built for the Labrador salt fish trade but later became a coaster.[23] Her shallow draft allowed her to load in the small creeks along the Labrador coast.

The M.A. James was owned by John Jones of Portmadoc until 1917. During her time at Portmadoc the M.A. James did a passage from Portmadoc to Cuxhaven (780 miles) in eighty-two hours.[24] She was purchased in 1919 by the Plymouth Co-operative Society and sold 1930 when brought by W.J. Slade of Appledore. It was he who installed a 70hp engine in 1930 which was later upgraded to a 100hp engine.[25] During the Second World War her masts were removed as she went into employment as a balloon barge. After the war the M.A. James was deemed uneconomic to repair and in 1948 was broken up.[26] Other sources say that the M.A. James was still afloat in 1950 and used as a hulk by Harris Shipyard at Appledore.[27] Richard Scott published a photo of the decaying hulk of the M.A. James at Boathyde, Appledore in August 1952.[28]

As the M.A. James lay in the mud of the Torridge River in 1948 the lettering of three ports of registry could be made out; Bideford, Plymouth and Caernarvon. Basil Greenhill remarked that sometimes if a vessel came from a port that had no custom house and therefore not acceptable as a port of registration, an owner would inscribed two names onto his vessel. An example of this would be “Portmadoc, Port of Caernarvon”.[29]

Image

SS Lonsdale

As the M.A. James left Youghal two trading vessels arrived in port. The first vessel was the SS Lonsdale (85 tons) under Captain Stubbs. She brought 205 tons of coal for the Gortroe Co-op.[30] I have no further information on the SS Lonsdale.

Ketch

The second arrival on 20th February was the Ketch of Ayr under Captain John Bowden. She brought 125 tons of coal for the Dungarvan Co-op.[31] The cargo was taken by road from Youghal to the two local branches of the Dungarvan Co-op at Clashmore and Grange.

The Ketch was built in 1894 by W. Fife & Son at Fairlie, North Ayrshire with 60 net tons. This was by 1936 reduced to 56 net tons. Her official number was 99732.[32] In the 1930s she was owned by William Jewell of Appledore and later sold to Arthur Hamlyn of Bristol. Like other vessels that came to Youghal that February of 1936 the Ketch was employed as a balloon barge at Falmouth during the Second World War. After the war she returned to Appledore but was soon after broken up.[33]

The Ketch had left Lydney on 9th February and ran right into the infamous big storm. She first sheltered at Barry and later at Milford before crossing the Irish Sea to shelter in the Waterford River. Eventually she made it to Youghal.[34]

Earl Cairns

The next arrival in Youghal was by the Earl Cairns on 26th February.[35] She had left Lydney for Kinsale in early February but was caught up in the great storm. Her master, Captain Philip White, had to take a rest after the ordeal and so it was Captain Eastman, possibly George Eastman of Appledore, who brought the Earl Cairns into Youghal on her windbound journey.[36] She left early on 27th February.[37] Within the month the Earl Cairns was back in Youghal on another windbound call and did not sail until 2nd April 1936.[38]

The Earl Cairns was the last vessel owned by Alexander Watkin of Saul. Alexander Watkin began his seafaring life on the Severn trows and rose to command two trows. When he retired from active seafaring he purchased a number of vessels for coastal trade including the Earl Cairns. Alexander Watkin died in 1935.[39]

The Earl Cairns was built at Connah’s Quay by Ferguson & Baird in 1884 for George Raynes of Liverpool. The three-masted schooner measured 93.2 X 23.8 X 10.4 feet and was 131 gross tons and 82 net tons. Her official number was 87826.[40] In 1935 she was owned by F. Harris of Appledore. Like other vessels in this article the Earl Cairns was used as a balloon barge during the Second World War and suffered badly. She was broken up at Appledore after the war.[41]

Image

Cooneen Quay on the River Blackwater — often used by the merchant sailing vessels

Harvest King

The next vessel to arrive in Youghal came not with cargo but came light to collect cargo. This was the Harvest King, under Captain Hagan, on 27th February 1936. The vessel had 81 registered tons and was charged £1 and 3 pence in harbour fees.[42] At that time she was owned by George Kearon of Arklow.[43] From Youghal Harbour the Harvest King went up the River Blackwater and onto the River Bride to load timber, possibly pit props. She passed up through Camphire Bridge at 11am on the 27th before returning down river in March.[44] The bridges at Youghal Harbour and at Camphire had a central section that swivelled open to let vessels pass through. The Harvest King sailed from Youghal on 11th March.[45]

The Harvest King was built at Runcorn in 1879 with a schooner rig. She measured 91 X 22 X 10 feet. She was brought by Arklow owners in 1901 and fitted with a motor in 1924. In 1942 the Arklow Pottery Company the vessel but they held it for only a few years before purchased by Captain James Hagan in 1949. The Harvest King ceased trading in 1952. In 1954 she travelled to Youghal to take part in the filming of Moby Dick. After returning to Arklow she was beached at Porter’s Rock and later broken up.[46]

As the Harvest King made its way up the Rivers Blackwater and Bride the Kathleen & May along with the Ketch left Youghal Harbour without cargo. The vast majority of the sailings from Youghal in the period 1936-1941 were light (without cargo). The only significant export cargoes came not from the quay side at Youghal but from river side quays on the Blackwater and Bride, such as those visited by the Harvest King.

Image

The Harvest King under sail

Gaelic

The last vessel to arrive at Youghal in February 1936 was the Gaelic under Captain William O’Toole. This vessel had 144 registered tons (harbour fee £1 16s) and brought 300 tons of coal (cargo fee £3 15s) for the firm of R. Farrell.[47] Captain William O’Toole of Ballinacurra, Co. Cork (and later of Arklow) had purchased the Gaelic in 1924.[48] The vessel remained registered to Beaumaris until 1932.[49] The Gaelic was an iron barquentine (later changed to a schooner rig) built in 1898 by William Thomas & Sons of Amlwch.[50] She measured 126.8 X 24 X 10 feet and her official number was 101760.[51] The Gaelic left Youghal light on 9th March 1936.[52]

During the First World War the Gaelic had served as a Q-ship to fight U-boats. Known as Q22 she was based in Gibraltar and cruised in the Bay of Biscay. She had four engagements with submarines. The Gaelic sank twice in her lifetime. She first went down in the Mersey on 17th February 1939 after a collision with the dredger Burbo and was refloated on 26th February 1939.[53] Her second and final sinking occurred while on a passage from Ards to Garston in February 1952 the Gaelic struck the Frenchman Rock off Mulroy, Co. Donegal and sank. Her crew survived.[54]

On this bright note we conclude this article on the trading vessels that arrived and departed from Youghal Harbour in the February of 1936.

 

[1] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 2 recto

[2] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight: the last years of the Western Seas traders (Black Dwarf Publications, Lydney, 2012), pp. 37-8

[3] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 157

[4] Brendan O’Driscoll, On a Wave and a Prayer: a history of the Youghal Lifeboat Station (R.N.L.I. Youghal, 1999), p. 50

[5] Youghal Harbour Import Book, 1902-1912, various folios

[6] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 1 verso

[7] Youghal Harbour Import Book, 1917-1927, MSS folio 55 verso

[8] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 4 verso

[9] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 1 verso

[10] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 37

[11] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 3 recto

[12] W.J. Slade, Out of Appledore (Percival Marshall, London, 1959), p. 115

[13] John Anderson, Coastwise Sail (Percival Marshall, London, 1948), pp. 47-8

[14] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 1 verso

[15] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 41, 43

[16] Niall O’Brien, Blackwater and Bride: Navigation and Trade, 7000 BC to 2007 (Niall O’Brien Publishing, Ballyduff, 2008), p. 451

[17] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 46-7

[18] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 37-8

[19] Niall O’Brien, Blackwater and Bride: Navigation and Trade, pp. 419, 420

[20] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 1 verso

[21] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 37

[22] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 2 recto

[23] John Anderson, Coastwise Sail, p. 46

[24] Basil Greenhill, The Merchant Schooners (2 vols. Percival Marshall, London, 1957), Vol. 2, p. 61

[25] W.J. Slade, Out of Appledore, p. 116

[26] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 148

[27] Basil Greenhill, The Merchant Schooners, Vol. 2, p. 173

[28] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 148

[29] Basil Greenhill, The Merchant Schooners (2 vols. Percival Marshall, London, 1951), Vol. 1, p. 71

[30] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 1 verso

[31] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 1 verso

[32] Douglas Bennett (edited by David Clement), Schooner Sunset (Rochester, 2001), p. 196

[33] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 146

[34] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 37-8

[35] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 2 verso

[36] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 37, 98

[37] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 3 recto

[38] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 4 verso & folio 5 recto

[39] Basil Greenhill, The Merchant Schooners, Vol. 1, pp. 173, 175

[40] Douglas Bennett (edited by David Clement), Schooner Sunset, p. 181

[41] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 123

[42] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 2 verso

[43] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, p. 134

[44] Typescript copy of the Camphire Bridge log book, 1929-1956, February 1936

[45] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 4 recto

[46] Frank Forde, Maritime Arklow (Glendine Press, Dun Laoghaire, 1988), p. 75

[47] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 2 verso

[48] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 73

[49] Frank Forde, Maritime Arklow, p. 73

[50] Jim Rees & Liam Charlton, Arklow: Last Stronghold of Sail (authors, Arklow, 1986), p. 40

[51] Douglas Bennett (edited by David Clement), Schooner Sunset, p. 186

[52] Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings book, 1936-1941, MSS folio 4 recto

[53] Frank Forde, Maritime Arklow, p. 73

[54] Richard J. Scott, Irish Sea Schooner Twilight, pp. 128, 130

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5 thoughts on “Youghal Harbour arrivals and sailings February 1936

  1. Fascinating article. Re ‘KETCH’ (20th February). There was a sailing coaster named ‘KETCH’ built by William Fife & Son (better known as yacht builders) of Fairlie, Ayrshire, Scotland in (in their books) 1892… If anyone has a photo of her I’d love to see it, and if possible have a copy.

    Iain McAllister, Peggy Bawn Press

    • Thank you Iain. I have updated the article to have Fairlie in Ayrshire and not New Brunswick. I had a search of some maritime books but found no photo yet of the ‘Ketch’. Hopefully a photo will turn up someday. Niall

  2. Re photo: I’ll do some digging Niall…

    I may be among the last folk to have sailed – by wind power, off Dunoon on the Clyde in the early 1980s – on the Dutch-built sailing trader De Wadden that I believe was one of the last (if not the last) coasters to trade up the Blackwater before the N25 bridge span was completed. Iain

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