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The Bow Sprit and the Tram

The Bow Sprit and the Tram

I had the pleasure of skippering the gaff ketch Brian Ború into Grand Canal Dock last night, through the sea lock on the rising tide at around 6pm. Traditional vessels can be tricky to berth, as the bowsprit can cause problems, particularly if you approach at an awkward angle. Now, Brian Ború has a fourmetre-long bowsprit, and I had to berth her overnight alongside the quay wall next to the Hanover Quay Studio (of U2 fame).

The windows of the studio building are less than one metre from the edge of the dock. As I was berthing the vessel, starboard side to, I had to avoid the bowsprit through the windows of the studio, not an easy task. Of course, there’s a precedent, when the Arklow schooner Cymric disrupted traffic crossing Ringsend Bridge (now called McMahon Bridge) on Mon 28 November 1921, almost 100 years ago. While waiting for the swing bridge to open, allowing access to the inner dock, a gust caught the schooner. This pushed her forward with the bowsprit going through the window of the tram car No. 233 crossing at the time. Thankfully, I avoided the same fate with Brian Ború, and consequently we are not in the newspapers today, unlike the Cymric in 1921. “A tramcar and a schooner came into collision in Dublin yesterday. The tram was crossing Victoria drawbridge on the Ringsend line while a three masted schooner was being berthed in the Grand Canal Company’s basin, which is spanned by the bridge. The spars of the schooner overtopped the bridge and smashed the window of a passing tram. Nobody was hurt”. The Irish Times 29 November 1921. Another newspaper described the incident a little more succinctly, “Ringsend Road, Dublin, Cymric of Beaumorris ran into Victoria drawbridge and spiked a tram number 233. A window was broken but there were no injuries”, The Irish Independent 29 November 1921.      There was a sad postscript, with the Cymric (built 1893) being lost without trace during World War II, being last seen off Dublin on 24 February 1944. Six   of the eleven men who when down with her were from the south end of Wexford  town, where I was reared and now live. The site of the wreck is unknown.    Brian Ború will be operating an ‘open ship’ all this week   (15-21 November 2021), as part of a Dublin Bay Biosphere exhibition, and will be berthed at Hanover Quay, just near the Marker Hotel. Visitors welcome, no charge.

Peter Scallan, 15 November 2021

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