IRISH WRECK LEGISLATION

Wrecks over 100 years old and archaeological objects found underwater are protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994.  Significant wrecks less that 100 years old can be designated by Underwater Heritage Order (UHO) on account of their historical, archaeological or artistic importance as is the case with the wreck of the RMS Lusitania lost off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915.  UHOs can also be used to designate areas of seabed or land covered by water to more clearly define and protect wreck sites and archaeological objects . https://www.archaeology.ie/underwater-archaeology

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The Loss of the Celtic
(1928)

Constructed by Harland and Wolff and launched in 1901, the White Star liner Celtic was the largest ship built to that date. Designed for large carrying capacity rather than speed, the 20,880-ton vessel could carry over 2,900 passengers and 17,000 tons of cargo at the sedate speed of around 16 knots. Financially the Celtic was a great success, and very popular with passengers due to her stability in anything but the largest seas.

During the First World War the Celtic had a short career as an armed cruiser, but was mainly used as a troopship. She survived being mined once and torpedoed twice before war's end, when she returned to theLiverpool-Boston-New York route. The final voyage of the Celtic began on the First of December 1928 for Liverpool, via Cobh and Boston. Under the command of Captain Gilbert Berry, the Celtic had a crew of 350, with 300 passengers on board as well as a large mixed cargo. The voyage was a calm one until the ninth of December when the weather deteriorated and a large swell developed.

By 3.00am on the tenth of December the Celtic arrived off Roches Point, Co.Cork, Ireland to pick up the Cobh pilot. There was a large sea running and Captain Berry decided to carry on for Liverpool without stopping. The Celtic steamed on for a time, but the weather seemed to moderate and Captain Berry again decided to make for Cork Harbour. The great ship reversed course and again awaited the pilot.

When the pilot had returned, the sea was too rough to enable boarding. captain Berry decided to move closer to the harbour entrance, but the force of the gusting wind on a lee shore,carried the Celtic broadside to the Cow and Calf Rocks, at Roches Point.The ship rolled and bumped on the rocks for a time, and the passengers prepared to abandon ship, but as the tide receeded she stuck fast. There was such calm on board that breakfast was even served that morning. after an unsuccessful attempt to tow the Celtic off the rocks, the passengers were taken off.

Over the next few days further salvage attempts were made, but finally by the 19th of December the White Star Line abandoned the Celtic to the shipbreakers. Tragedy occurred on the wreck in November 1929 when hydrogen sulphide gas from the rotting cargo killed four workers in No 4 hold. For an account of this tragedy and the heroism of those involved click here

By 1933 the ship had been fully dismantled, and many items of decor from the Celtic survive in houses around Co.Cork to this day. Large amounts of remains also litter the seabed around the Cow and Calf Rocks at Roches Point, providing enjoyable diving for local scuba diving enthusiasts. Large sections can be found just south east ot the Cow and Calf Rocks, in depths varying from 6metres to about 18metres. This site needs to be dived on a slack tide, approximately one hour either side of high or low water.

Tragedy on board the Celtic          Home