Those who have looked on the photos depicting the bustling trade on Waterford and New Ross quays in the 19th Century must wonder at the safety aspect of so many ships in close proximity. Indeed the risks associated with this golden age of sea travel have made for many epic stories of heroism and tragedy. A story that perhaps is not so dramatic, but none the less indicative, if not more common, is that of the Clyde Shipping’s SS Pladda and the schooner Cintra. The Cintra however sank not just once, but twice in the Waterford harbour area.
|SS Pladda Image courtesy of Andy Kelly
According to the then Cork Examiner(1) Arklow
was en route to New Ross
on Friday 4th October 1901 with a cargo of coal from Cardiff. Her master that evening was Captain John D Kearons, and she was piloted by a Dunmore East
man Philip Boucher (or Bouchier) It was 8pm on a foggy night** and under darkness she was heading towards the river Barrow. The Railway bridge
had yet to start construction, which would eventually give us a century of incidents
, so one must think the pilot had little to concern him at that point apart from the fishing weirs
Heading into Waterford at the same time was the SS Pladda
en route from Glasgow on her normal weekly run under Captain McLeod. She was a ship of the Clyde Shipping
company. Passing Cheekpoint
there was an almighty crash and measures were taken to reduce way and come about, the engines were reversed and the ships boat was dropped.
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The schooner had been struck broadside (abaft
of the main hold) and she healed over but righted again. Sinking fast the Captain ordered all hands to abandon ship and the four crew and the pilot took to the tender and made it safely away, but with no personal possessions. The Cintra
was sunk in minutes and the crew headed under oar power towards the shore.
|Schooner B I, to give a sense of the Cintra
Photo from William Doherty courtesy of Pat O’Gorman
Meanwhile the rescue crew from the Pladda
arrived and seeing that that the Cintra
crew were safe, hung a light from the mast of the schooner which was still to be seen over the surface. Returning to their ship, they resumed the journey to the city. No casualties were reported from either ship. The Pladda
would continue with the company until 1907 when she was resold and eventually she too got a watery grave
At a meeting of the Harbour Commissioners
Quay Committee of the 9th October(2) the wreck was discussed as a hazard to navigation. Lying in seven fathom of water near the channel it was considered imperative to have it moved. However the owners of the Cintra
, seven brothers and sisters from an Arklow family (presumably all the Kearon family had shares in the craft, and have a proud nautical tradition from information kindly sent by Arklow Maritime Museum
) had written to say they could not afford to have the wreck removed and asked that the commissioners salvage what they could and that the owners get whatever was left over after costs were covered.
A further news report 3) stated that Messers Eason of Queenstown
(Cobh) had quoted a fee of £340 to lift the wreck or £120 to blow her up leaving nothing 8ft above the river bed. Both prices were agreed to be far in excess of what the Commissioners were willing to pay. The Harbour Master, Captain Parle, thought that explosives was the most cost effective manner of disposal and that his own staff could successfully carry this out. It was decided that work would commence immediately.
|Cheekpoint, where the incident occured, note no Barrow Bridge spanning the Barrow
Photo from NLI AH Poole Collection circa 1899
Presumably the work was a success as the the final mention of the incident, perhaps not surprisingly was court! The Board of Trade inquiry found both ships at fault in the case, and further civil actions followed including one on behalf of Philip Boucher, the pilot, who it would appear was badly hurt in jumping aboard the the schooners tender.
The strangest part to the whole story of course is that this was the second time the Cintra
had sunk in the harbour! In 1899 (Thursday morning 16th November to be exact) the schooner departed New Ross without a pilot under Captain Fitzpatrick. She was carrying 1000 barrels of Oats for a Mr Reville of the town. At the Lucy Rock,
about five miles from the port she grounded and keeled over on the ebbing tide. The flood tide later that day totally sank her. No mention is made of salvage, but she obviously lived to fight another day. The age of sail was coming to a close, but it would be several decades yet before their beauty was lost to the harbour.
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Thanks to both James Doherty and Arklow Maritime Museum for extra information
Dear reader, if you have any further information, particularly a photo or image of the Cintra that I could include I would love to hear it via comments or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
1851 by Gowan, Berwick
Lost at Cheek Point, Waterford estuary, 4 October 1901 en route
78’ x 19.2’ x 10’
Produced with thanks from Arklow Maritime Museum
**in two other newspaper accounts the weather is described as crisp and clear with stars shining in the sky, and a blustery dark night!
***sourced from two accounts, Wicklow People 18/11/1899 & Wicklow Newsletter and County Advertiser 25/11/1899
(1) Irish Examiner 7/10/1901 P.5
(2) Munster Express 26/10/1901 P.7
(3) Waterford Standard 13/11/1901 P3.