From The People Who Brought You Titanic


mainThe Tayleur, pride of the White Star Line.

Unsinkable, they said.

That’s how they rolled.

Sibling of Daedalus writes:

It was the biggest ship of its time, and ‘the safest ever built’, the clipper ship, The Tayleur, owned by the White Star Line, which ran aground off a reef on the east coast of Lambay, Dublin, in 1854.

Like the the Titanic, The Tayleur was on its maiden voyage, but there was no iceberg (the new-fangled iron hull had distorted the compasses), and certainly no policy of women and children first; out of its shipload of Irish emigrants bound for the Australian Gold Rush, only 3 women (out of 250) and 3 children (out of 50) survived.

Among them was a baby, tied to a bed-tick, found still alive among the wreckage washed up on Portmarnock Strand the following day.

Known as ‘The Ocean Wonder’ he was adopted by a woman who had lost her baby in the disaster.

Not all survivors were so lucky. Many North Dublin coastal inhabitants of the time made a healthy living from wreckage, and contemporary accounts record some of them as more interested in cutting diamond-ringed fingers off the bodies of the dead than helping the living.

The ship’s African cook fared particularly badly with locals who, reputedly unfamiliar with non-Europeans, refused to help him on account of his skin colour…

Good times.

The Wreck Of The Tayleur (LoughShinnyVillage)

Lambay Island (MalahideHeritage)

Pic via Newton Les Wilows


31 thoughts on “From The People Who Brought You Titanic

  1. Pun Gent

    All these stories of how terrible people were in the past is very inconvenient for the narrative of how people today are the worst ever and how everything’s going to the dogs.
    It’s almost as if people in the past were as bad as people today, if not worse, Joe!

    1. dylad

      ‘….more interested in cutting diamond-ringed fingers off the bodies of the dead than helping the living.’ That is pretty much still the mindset in Malahide.

      1. cluster

        Wonder if those contemporary accounts were similar that suggested that the black folk in New Orleans had gone feral and were killing and raping each other, i.e. nasty, prejudiced nonsense.

        1. Pun Gent

          I make this declaration of the evidence of mine own eyes – the people of this city have sunk to the lowest ebb of degeneracy, Joseph!

          1. SDaedalus

            You are very welcome. And yes there do appear to have been first class passengers.

            Cluster, there were some dodgy characters round that neck of the woods, back in the day. I don’t think we can blame propaganda. From the Lambay Island own website (link above)

            The wreckers plied their trade in olden times. Men walked the rocks with bobbing lanterns to lure unsuspecting ships onto the rocks. In bad weather the moving lantern resembled the moving lights on the masts of another ship. Once on the rocks, the wreckers went into action and slaughtered all hands on board to obtain their plunder.

          1. Pun Gent

            You’re assuming that everyone emigrating to Australia was poor. The Tayleur probably had first-class passengers who may have had many reasons to travel to Australia. It’d be interesting to see a passenger list.

          2. pissedasanewt

            And right now there is two passenger ships in Dublin port.. will anybody get out alive. I’ll head down to the coast tonight with my lantern.. just to have a look see at the ships.. no other reason.

  2. ffintii

    Possible causes were identified by Captain Joseph Muguthi, formerly of the Kenya Navy, and writing in the pages of the Daily Nation as a marine navigation consultant. He labelled it an accident waiting to happen, as Lake Victoria ferries disregarded safety regulations. Specifically:

    lack of life jackets, life belts, and lifeboats;
    lack of fire fighting equipment;
    lack of distress signals;
    what equipment there is, is not regularly checked;
    the vessels are not regularly dry docked for routine maintenance and repairs;
    the vessels are not regularly inspected;
    the coxswains are not licensed to navigate.[citation needed]

    More overarchingly, Muguthi blamed the incident on governments’ marine departments being staffed by civil servants and politicians who have no understanding of ships and marine decisions.[1]

    The lack of equipment and divers were partially to blame for slowness in the salvage operation. Rescue teams from South Africa, including Navy divers, were flown in to salvage the ship and retrieve bodies.[1]

      1. trobuff

        Also, I think you’e talking about another ship entirely. ANd you copied and pasted it all from a wikipedia article on that other ship.

        Basically, none of what you’ve posted makes sense.

    1. cluster

      Oh ho ho, Paul.
      Of course, the current level of criticism faced by the party which ruled the state for 61 of the last 81 years including three consecutive terms of office leading up to the crash is merely unfair sniping by a media unable to comprehend how good Bertie, Cowen, Martin et al. were

  3. munkifisht

    Because the wreckage is still there, and trawlers can’t fish around the area it makes for some fantastic fishing. When I was a lad we caught 4 shopping bags of mackerel, probably about 100 of the feckers, in one day. Great days fishing but I’ll never eat mackerel again.

  4. dave g k

    I know this story well.

    I remember going out on a trawler to the wreck in the mid 70’s with my dad who was on a exploratory diving expedition down to it.

    He was always a bit crazy with the length of the dives he used to go on – if he only had enough air for 2 hours, he would be gone for 4 etc. This time was no exception, but it was worth it as he brought back up a treasure trove of artifacts. The crew reckoned that he must have had a JCB down there with him!

    A lot of plates and cutlery as I recall but perhaps the most interesting items were the iron collars of varying sizes with serrated jagged edges on the outside. The debate was whether they were for animal or human usage!

    The entire trove was donated to the Maritime Museum which is now in Dun Laoghaire. Not sure if it’s ever been on display or what they ever did with it.

      1. dave g k

        Hang on – you’re right – it was the Civic Museum, not the Maritime. Going to give him a ring about it now. Many thanks for the article.

  5. MrMe

    Seems that the White Star Line had a few disasters with ships built in Harland and Wolff and all were supposedly ‘top of the range’ at the time just like Titanic
    I remember reading about the RMS Atlantic – it called in to Cobh and then hit a rock off the Canadian coast and sank in 1873 with over 500 lost and also they had a bit of a mishap with SS Naronic which left Liverpool never to be seen again
    Interesting reading

    1. cluster

      Wasn’t part of the problem for the Titanic a late decision to cut costs by reducing the quality of materials used. Wonder if that was a factor in other White Star Line mishaps?

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