Tides n Tales moves to a monthly format

In May I came to the difficult decision to change my weekly martime blog to a monthly publication.  Several people have asked me why and so I thought it best to set out my thoughts and reasons. 

I first started blogging when in college as a mature student studying community education and development.  Journaling was a personal development tool used on the course, allowing students to reflect and intertwine theories and concepts used, into the everyday language and practice of the student. It also provided a space where a tutor can see that assimilation. I tended to write copious notes, and delighted in rewriting these into what I hoped was a cohesive narrative.

A print of Waterford looking westwards from Dunmore Road area dated to circa 1831. Its an engraving by W. Taylor from a print by W.H. Bartlett and I understand it comes origially from a publication called Ireland Illustrated.

When I commenced with the tour guiding of Russianside Tours I decided to continue the practice, seeing in it a valuable way to record the information, knowledge and skills I had gained over my years in the locality.  It came as a complete surprise when I shared these on social media and got a positive reaction. Eventually this grew to include the wider community of the rivers and its villages. In embracing the wider communities, I moved to Waterford Harbour Tides & Tales. Late last year, with the support of Ronan Cleary of Eagle Dreams, I self funded a new website.  Who was I to start researching and writing this I thought, yet who better?  No one else seems minded to.

In those four years I have, along with those guest blogs, contributed 277 stories (so far) to showcase the areas rich maritime heritage traveling the lengths of the Suir and Barrow and as long as Kilmore on the Wexford shore and Bunmahon on the Waterford coast.  Some stories had thousands of viewers, some hundreds, but I have enjoyed putting each and every one of them together.

An old advert, of an old website, I managed somehow to create myself

The fulfilling part is knowing that many people enjoy the stories as much as I do, the feedback is gratifying and the offers of extra information and access to peoples private documents is, at times, humbling.  This week alone I received emails from America, South Africa, Australia and the UK.  Visited people in New Ross, Great Island, Dunmore and took trips to Lismore and Clonmel.  The kindest offer this week was an opportunity to take a boat trip around the Amsterdam canal system whenever I get to visit. 

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of course is the friendships and the support along the way. All those who have liked, commented and shared a story are supporting me in a very real way. And then of course there are those who are regularly available with IT advice and information. Too many to mention personally, but I have to acknowledge people like Frank Murphy, Brendan Grogan, Andy Kelly, David O’Carroll, Maurice Power, Brian Boyce, Tomás Sullivan, Brian Cleare, Paul O’Farrell and John Flynn who go out of their way to help me source information at a personal cost to themselves in terms of their time. Then there’s my cousin Jim Doherty, who doesn’t let a week pass without a call and some advice or other on a particular story or lead.

If I had one reaction to readers who don’t know me personally, when meeting me for the first time, its surprise.  In general they thought I must be retired to be putting so much obvious time and energy into the stories.  (It’s why I started putting my photo on some of them in recent months – it wasn’t vanity!!) Truth is I work a three day week and although I had hoped I might develop an income from my obvious passion, the opposite has occurred…Its costing me actual money and hours per week. I know it’s a passion, and it’s worthwhile, and if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life and all those memes you see on facebook but…!

so much time, energy and enthusiasm…

So over the last few months I’ve explored how I might retain what I love doing but pay the bills.  Not just that but allow me to grow what I do.  I have a few ideas, all of them based on the maritime heritage of my area, mostly from the perspective of enhancing not just my situation, but the situation of others in the harbour villages.  My deep fear is that I will start down a path that will just cost me more, but if I don’t start down the path I’ll never know if I can make a real difference in terms of the harbours rich cultural heritage. 

I’m also working on a chapter for a forthcoming history book for the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society, hope to contribute a chapter to this years Deice’s, am part of the editorial team supporting David Carroll on a history of the Dunmore East Lifeboat and am up to my oxters with the local development group in trying to enhance the local community, and an officer on the committee of the local boat owners assoc. in trying to provide pontoon access at Cheekpoint for river craft.

Stay tuned, my new blog format commences Friday 28th June…a story of a ship wreck in the harbour that made national headlines for all the wrong reasons.  Oh and my new book.  I’m currently finalising the photographs, and trying to get some sponsorship to help with costs.  Come hell or high water I’m launching September 2019. 

Not vanity! How could I be vain with a head like that!!

Misadventure on the SS Pembroke, 1899

The SS Pembroke was one of a proud fleet of ships of the Great Western Railway company which carried passengers, freight and mails between Waterford and the UK. While en route to Waterford in February of 1899 she encountered dense fog and ran aground on the Saltee Islands, sparking a major rescue and salvage operation.
SS Pembroke heading inbound to Waterford, Flying huntsman ahead.
AH Poole Collection NLI

http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000591122

The SS Pembroke was built by Laird Brothers of Birkenhead, in the year 1880. She was originally a paddle steamer, but in 1896 she was altered by the shipyard into a twin screw steamship as shown above. She was operated by the Great Western Railway Company and did regular sailings on the Waterford to Milford Haven route, latterly Fishguard, and as such would have been a regular sight to the people of the city and the harbour.
SS Pembroke departed Milford port on the 18th February 1899 with 28 passengers, a crew of 30, the mails, and a cargo of 28 tons. The ship was under the command of Captain John Driver. At 6.19am the ship was forced to reduce speed having encountered dense fog off the Wexford coast. At about 6.30am the Master spotted breakers ahead, and immediately ordered the engines to full astern. The response came to late and she struck land.
Aground on North Saltee- AH Poole Collection NLI

http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000591118

A passenger takes up the story; “…we were thrown out of our bunks onto the cabin floor. For a few seconds we heard a terrible sound underneath the vessel.  The rest of the passengers thought that the vessel had collided with another vessel and was sinking…When we got on deck, other passengers were huddled together in a group, half dressed. Among the passengers were some ladies, who seemed very calm, while male passengers were running about in terror. The captain ordered the boats to be launched and by 7 o clock all the passengers were landed on the island”(1)
The land they encountered was one of the Saltee Islands and there were two men staying on the island at the time (William Culleton and Anthony Morgan).  These men guided the ships boats in, and treated the passengers to tea and tried to make them comfortable. The second mate then set off in a ships boat for Kilmore Quay where he raised the alarm by telegram to Waterford. The entire fishing fleet set to sea and the tug “Flying Huntsman” part of the Waterford Steamship Co fleet which was then at Dunmore responded and eventually took on the passengers, cargo and the mail and brought all to Waterford that same day.(2)
Paddle tug, Flying Huntsman at Limerick,
courtesy of Frank Cheevers and NLI

A man named Ensor from Queenstown (Dun Laoghaire) was engaged as salvor and it was considered feasible to refloat the ship.  This was achieved five days later on the 23rd Feb and under the Pembroke’s own steam, but with several tugs on stand-by, she was brought into Waterford harbour and up to Cheekpoint.(3)

Aground again, but purposely
AH Poole Collection NLI

http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000591127

Inspection in progress – AH Poole Collection NLI

http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000591124

She was re-grounded at the Strand Road, above the main quay at Cheekpoint, and it seems that it was a major draw for city and country people alike.* The photo above shows clearly the benefit of re grounding the vessel as a full view could be got of the damage and temporary repairs could be carried out.

The Pembroke sailed down the harbour for Lairds of Liverpool for repair on Saturday 4th March. Again she sailed under her own steam and safely got across the Irish sea, but sprung a leak off Liverpool and had to call to Hollyhead for emergency repairs.(4)

The subsequent inquiry into the incident was held at the Guildhall in Westminister on March 29th 1899.  It found that the ships Master, John Driver, made insufficient allowance for the tide which appeared to be running abnormally strong on the morning of the grounding. They found that he did not reduce speed sufficiently and should have cast a lead when unsure of his position.  However after a previous unblemished career of 39 years, the tribunal made no ruling on his position saying that he was “entitled to the confidence of his employers”

The Pembroke returned to service the Irish Sea and continued up until 1916. In that year she was given over to general cargo runs.  She survived the war, having at least one near brush with a U Boat which she managed to outrun. She survived the war but following 45 years of loyal service she was sold for scrap in 1925.

*  If you follow the links under each photo it will bring you to the NLI website and you may then zoom in on each photo where you will get a good sense of the crowds at Cheekpoint.  There is also a great view of a paddle steam tug ahead of the Pembroke as she departs above Passage.

The original story was passed on to me by Tomás Sullivan Cheekpoint.

(1),(2) & (3)John Power – A Maritime History of County Wexford Vol 1(2011) pp 377- 381
(4). Waterford Standard. Wednesday March 8th 1899

I publish a blog each Friday.  If you like this piece or have an interest in the local history or maritime heritage of Waterford harbour and environs you can email me at tidesandtales@gmail.com to receive the blog every week.
My Facebook and Twitter pages are more contemporary and reflect not just heritage
and history but the daily happenings in our beautiful harbour:
F https://www.facebook.com/whtidesntales  T https://twitter.com/tidesntales

Andrew Doherty Interview for People Places and Passions – Ireland’s Ancient East

I was recently contacted by Mark Power, who has filmed me previously as part of tourism skills course run by Dunhill Multi Education Centre.

Mark had a new concept he and a colleague Derek Walsh wanted to discuss with me, to showcase individuals who are working in local areas to bring alive the stories and traditions that give our communities their uniqueness and character.

The guys at work

The series is entitled People Places and Passions and I was thrilled to be asked.  Mark and Derek hope that the idea will help to enhance and develop the new tourism venture that has seen the East coast of Ireland marketed as Ireland’s Ancient East.

I was blown away by the final product. You can see it too, here.

Mark and Derek can be found through their website at Red Iron Productions 
Mark prepares the drone for take off

I am open to doing pre-arranged tours.  Please contact me for further details at russianside@gmail.com.

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