Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xmas 1895

The Moresby Buoy

Photo: Donal Power
The Moresby was built at Whitehaven, Cumberland in 1882 She carried two lifeboats, a cutter, and a gig. On 21st December 1895 the Moresby left Cardiff, with a cargo of coal bound for South America and a crew of 23 including the Captain, Caleb Francis Coomber, the captain’s wife Edith Isabella and their 2 year old daughter Ivy.

Photo: Waterford Co. Museum
On December 23rd the ship ran into rough weather. At about 1p.m. the Moresby followed the schooner, the Mary Sinclair into Dungarvan bay. The Mary Sinclair was also in difficulty at this point. The keeper of Ballinacourty lighthouse saw that both ships were in distress and headed for shore at Clonea beach.

Photo: John Foley Images
The Mary Sinclair ran aground on the beach but the Moresby changed course. It steered towards the lighthouse and set anchor, about ¾ of a mile from the lighthouse. The Ballinacourty Lifeboat set out for the ship but the crew decided to stay with the ship. During the night the weather deteriorated and the Moresby sent out distress signals.

Photo: Waterford Co. Museum
About 4.30 a.m., the anchor broke and the ship went on its side. The captain, his wife and child, along with eleven crew members had to climb on the mizzen rigging. By 11a.m. the masts had dropped closer to the water. The crew saw no sign of a lifeboat coming to their rescue and decided to swim for shore. The Captain put his daughter on his back and jumped into the sea, followed his wife. But an ebb tide pulled them away from the coast.

Photo: Waterford Co. Museum
The Ballinacourty lifeboat, manned by a volunteer crew from Dungarvan, set out to rescue the crew, most of whom were in the sea.

Photo: Bet I Can Get 5000 That Love Dungarvan
The bodies of the captain, his wife and daughter were washed ashore. All three are buried together in the one grave. The Moresby was wrecked in Dungarvan Harbour on Christmas Eve 1895. Twenty out of the twenty five aboard were drowned.

Photo: Waterford Co. Museum
In 1899 a wigham light buoy was placed at the site of the wreck. This buoy marked the wreck until 20th December, 1906. It was beached for some years and in 1930 the lamp was reconditioned and the buoy was put back on site, until August 1954 when it broke its moorings in a gale, and was brought in to the Causeway.

Photo by me
The restored bouy sits on the Causeway which joins Dungarvan and Abbeyside as a memorial to those who died aboard the Moresby and  as a tribute to the gallant men, who manned the lifeboat, one of whom lost his life. 

Photo: Bet I Can Get 5000 People That Love Dungarvan

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