Balbriggan Harbour News
This site is dedicated to the historic, photographic and other records of Balbriggan harbour since it was improved way back in 1761. We hope that in time it will become a reference stop for any one interested in our little pier, especially since it will contain up to date information in its news section on the day to day happenings on the 'quay' as it was always known. We hope that many people around the world will send us accounts of their time spent working in or out of it. The harbour was once a hub for local, Welsh and English coal traders, as well as for fishermen from the Isle of Mann, Scotland, Kilkeel and Arklow. Let us hope that any of them still around, and, or, their descendants will add to the content of the site. Photos, records, personal accounts etc. no matter how trivial will be warmly welcomed.
Its Good to see that Fingal County Council has finally done something about the maintenance of the harbour with the painting of the Lighthouse and pointing of the the old wall. Unfortunately no type of sealant was used in preparation of the painting and old brown paint used by a former film crew is already coming through the new white surface. It is also nice to see the Capstan and railing looking resplendent in it red regalia
With the workforce on the pointing reduced to one man it is now a question of whether the wall will survive another winter as it has done since 1761 or will reduce itself to survive.
The lighthouse looking its best after being repainted with the Willawaw also looking its best
Well done to Fingal County Council for removing the wrecks from the Harbour
The wrecks were as follows
[a]St. John D49 after her return to the harbour
and finally being scrapped in 2010 after 50+ years service
[b] Girl Margaret D458 :-
I believe was A Wick boat of Caithness owned by the Ross family and skippered by Jack Ross senior. (correct me if I am wrong). Later purchased by T. Roche of Arklow and brought to Balbriggan later in her life. She left the harbour again but returnd as a wreck. She can be seen on the inside below inside the Ros Liath in photo below. [Joe Curtis photo]
The Girl Margaret D549 being finally scrapped after many years service
(c)Sea Maid:- The 3rd wreck removed was the Sea Maid a converted Royal Navy tender converted in Balbriggan into a fishing boat at much cost and then left to sink and rot. Not much is known about her
[d] the last wreck removed was the Mary Christina, which had a colourful career even before she came to Balbriggan and a more colourful after she arrived.
Getting ready to break-up and above working on her stern
The Wild Wave went on her last journey as a fishing boat last week and is undergoing a refit as a sailing cruiser above in Kilkeel at the moment. A Champagne reception is promised on her return. Good Luck Harry.
Plenty of smoke above and setting off into the sunset below as three stalwarts below watch her go
Visitors:- Welcome to our new visitors who have brought a bit of height to our budding yacht fraternity over the last few weeks.
The blessing of the boats 2010 will take place on Sunday 27th. June circa 1.pm. The P.P. was down the harbour the other night to arrange the same. The event was a great success last year when it was reintroduced after a lapse of many years.
15Jack takes a practice run
16Well done to all the Festival workers who created a great day which was enjoyed by a large crowd and especially to the fishing community in general who took the time, some of whom can be seen below.
Skipper of the Caher Star ...Johnny Monks
Des Mc Loughlin, Skipper of Eoin Pol 11, and family
Skerries lifeboat crew at blessing....Photo Dave Brangan
Would I make a good life saver? .Photo Dave Brangan
Solan takes a trip around the harbour with some of the spectators. Dave Brangan
June 2011- harbour committee wait for a quorum, as two of its members and dog discuss problem out of shot, while chairman sips coffee in his adjacent café.. Photo c. Denis Hegarty
Not too long after this photo was taken the cafe ie. Sharlisa SO765 departed the harbour for the SouthCoast. We wish the new owner a safe farewell, and may all his catches be large.
The Skipper prepares to hand over the ropes
Sharlisa rounds pier for the last time bon-voyage
As his fishing boat leaves the skipper replaces her with the yacht ‘HYLIA’,..safety to all who sail on her. Photo shows Brian, Liam, Pat and the skipper at the helm arriving on the evening tide 8th. Sept. 2011. The mackerel boat acting as pilot is manned by one of Balbriggan’s best mackerel-men, Winnie Guest...see following photo taken at the same time.
Not too long after the above photo was taken we had a visit from Talkback Thames TV who were starting Series 3 of their award winning Great British Train Journies.
Bella Lloyd assistant producer of the show had sent several emails to the site but seeing Talkback Thames in my inbox I despatched them to Junk, believing them to be just more adds for another internet provider. However on receiving a phone call from the library that someone wished to talk to me about the harbour, I gathered the ‘junk’ back and found that the Railway Section of the site had garnered the interest of the producer Jay Taylor and her crew who wished to visit Balbriggan harbour and include it in their series. A meeting was arranged between myself and Bella that her young crew would visit and gather any information I may have. I was to gather a couple of local fishermen and/or railway men who might prove interesting. What a job ..ever try to persuade somebody to go on live TV? A couple of suspects were arranged but some fell by the wayside as the day approached. I was finally left with two others and myself. To make a long story short the crew arrived and the stories.started. the footage was sent back to London and a funny story about the “Cup of Scald Train” which was brought up in jest when one of the crew asked what the most important train on the harbour was at present, proved to be popular. It was then I realised that they were not looking for History but rather good viewing stories. Eoin McGarry who had been a railway official in the local station in the early 1950’s gave them a tour of the town in his minibus and we were told that the powers that be would get back to us. The Cup of Scald gang did the job and after other arrangements were set up and reset and set again Michael Portillo, Bella Lloyd and the rest of the crew finally made it to the harbour at the end of August. This was live telly, none of us knew what questions Michael was going to ask and that we were to play it ‘off the cuff’, while on site. As the critics say things just developed. What a shambles?
If you want to see what happened tune in to BBC2 next week starting on Monday ...when the series comes to Ireland for 5 days.
Michael Portillo chatting on the harbour with from left, Pat Dowling,Eoin McGarry and Alex MacKinno
All photos courtesy of ‘Natch’ Mc Loughlin whom I had arranged to speak about the fishing and to tell some stories about his father and the Winkle Pickers. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of looking too young and so I was drafted in as one of the old ‘codjers’. Some stories were told several times but never in the same way so what they make of them, the Lord only knows.
Having now seen the show I can understand why we had to make good pitch for the town as they said that they had a good programme on the Bog of Allen proceeded by the Viaduct in Drogheda and the Navan Zinc Ore Mines. Despite tours of the town and all its major, for the want of a better word “attractions”, and history I can justly say that only for the jovial manner they were made feel at home, the cup of scald gang and the friendliness of the fishermen with whom I had arranged for them to meet,they would have passed us by. One unfortunate aspect of the show to me was the fact that Ian McGarry who was there as the Railway historian and the only living character with a connection with both the harbour and railway, spoke for 95% of the time and related some wonderful memories and related history on camera but yet only received about 10 seconds of dialogue. I had given them a fair amount of history and photos courtesy of Joe Curtis on both subjects, and they had a copy of History for the Millennium which they had received from the Historical Society, however it was clear that they just wanted light entertainment, though I did hear Tom say to Sophie while we were standing in the sunshine against the wall of the lighthouse that Michael would like the place ie. harbour since it had not changed much over the centuries.