imageLightDarkIconDark Cork Steamship Company (1843 - 1918)

Ships Lost At Sea 1847 - 1918

SS Sirius lost Saturday 16th January 1847

SS Ibis lost Saturday 23rd December 1865

SS Lapwing lost Tuesday 2nd July 1872

SS Quail lost Monday 3rd March 1873

SS Inniscarra lost Sunday 12th May 1918

SS Sirius

lost Saturday 16th January 1847

Following information supplied by

SS Sirius, built 1837


On 16th January 1847, on a voyage to Cork from Glasgow via Dublin with cargo and passengers, she struck rocks in dense fog in Ballycotton Bay, Ireland. Despite being refloated, she was found to be leaking badly and, in steaming for the shore, was wrecked on Smith's Rocks, half a mile from Ballycotton.

The only lifeboat launched was heavily overloaded; swamped by heavy seas, the twelve passengers and two crew were drowned. Most of the 91 on board were rescued by rope passed to the shore, though twenty lives in all were lost.

In response to the loss of SS Sirius, the need for a lighthouse between Old Head Kinsale and Hook Head on Ireland's southern coast was recognised.

Ballycotton Lighthouse, on Ballycotton Island, was constructed over the following years and lit in 1851.

Following information supplied by
Irish Shipwrecks SS Sirius

Daily News, London
Newspaper Article Wednesday 20th January 1847


The information, which we gave yesterday of the wreck of the SS Sirius, has been fully confirmed.

The Cork Southern Reporter states that between three and four o'clock on Saturday morning, 16th January 1847, the vessel, having made an excellent passage from Dublin to the offing of Cork harbour, struck in a dense fog on a reef of rocks in Ballycotton Bay, and instantly a scene of consternation not to be described, prevailed among the passengers.

Captain Moffett, the commander, then deemed it advisable to back the ship off the reef, and by much exertion with the engines and otherwise, succeeded in doing so, but they were only a very short time clear of the rocks, when it became evident that the vessel would not much longer remain afloat, as she was making water fast and had received serious injuries in her bottom and sides.

She was accordingly again turned towards the land and very soon after, began to strike on a ledge called Smith's Rocks, about half a mile to the west of Ballycotton, with the certainty of going to pieces in a few hours.

The total loss of the vessel being thus inevitable, the attention of all on board was directed to the preservation of the crew and passengers, and amidst the confusion and alarm that prevailed, the life-boat, which is usually carried over the paddle-box, was attached to the davits and lowered, though unfortunately, on the wrong side of the ship.

[A paddle-box is the structure enclosing the upper part of the paddle wheel. A davit is a crane-like device, used for supporting, raising, and lowering equipment, such as life-boats and anchors.]

This boat we understand, was not equal to accommodate more than eight, but immediately she was launched, twenty crowded into her, principally deck passengers, and before she was well clear of the steamer, melancholy to relate, she was swamped and all in her met a watery grave, save Captain Cameron of the Prince river steamer, who was a passenger from Dublin in the vessel.

Retaining his presence of mind at such an awful and trying moment, he managed to keep himself afloat and grasped a rope by means of which he was hauled on board.

Meanwhile, the steamer continued to thump heavily on the rocks, while the screams of alarm from the affrighted passengers, and the heavy surf breaking on her sides and on the deck, rendered the scene one of awful danger and intense anxiety.

Soon after, the Coast Guard boat from Ballycotton station, under command of Mr. Coghlan chief officer, came alongside and the ship's boats, having by this time been also launched, the remaining passengers were got into them and safely landed, though with the loss of every portion of their luggage.

We are sorry to learn, that the country people in that wild and wretched locality, availed themselves of the melancholy occasion to carry off everything they could lay their hands on. Every article that was washed ashore before the assistance of military or police arrived, was instantly carried off by the people who continued to assemble in large numbers.

A portion of the cabin plate and other portable articles of value, were brought on shore in one of the boats, but soon became the booty of the country people, as did also such personal luggage belonging to the passengers, as they contrived to save from the wreck.

One gentleman showed us his carpet-bag, ripped open with a knife, and having been plundered of all its contents, it was thrown on the beach as useless. In fact, the passengers who arrived in town had barely the clothes on their back and were obliged to purchase or borrow changes of linen.

The deck passengers who were drowned, were principally policemen, some who had gone up in the Vanguard in charge of convicts, and some reinforcements from the constabulary depot in the Phoenix Park, some soldiers and sailors, one of the latter, a man who was coming as mate to one of Mr.Scott's vessels, having been shipwrecked three times within the last year.

The commander of the vessel, Captain Moffett, who had the reputation of being a skilful and experienced seaman, is described as being almost out of his mind at the occurrence, but of course we cannot at present form any opinion with reference to his proceedings. It is however, next to a certainty that to the want of a lighthouse on Capel Island, which the shipping interests of this city have been so long contending for, one of the main causes of this dreadful catastrophe may be traced.

Up to the last accounts, the ship was fast going to pieces and probably after another tide, there will not be a vestige of her left. None of the bodies are as yet found, but it was thought that in the course of Sunday, they would be washed ashore.

The number of passengers and crew on board the SS Sirius, was as near as can be ascertained about ninety, seventy one of whom have been saved.

She had a very large and valuable cargo from Glasgow and Dublin, principally bale goods, groceries, musical instruments, books, furniture, packages, and among them it is said five cases of theatrical wardrobes, belonging to the comedian Mr.Wilde of the Olympic Theatre, London. It is understood that the vessel is insured, though whether to her full value is not known, but it is thought none of the cargo is so protected and that it will be a complete loss.

The SS Sirius was a fine vessel of 700 tons and 320 horse power. She had been temporarily placed on the Dublin and Cork station instead of the Ocean. The SS Sirius was distinguished as having been the first steamer which crossed the Atlantic. She immediately preceded the SS Great Western in her first trip and both vessels lay in New York harbour together and returned at the same time.

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SS Ibis

lost Saturday 23rd December 1865

Following information supplied by

On 23rd December 1865, the steamship SS Ibis was driven ashore and wrecked in Ballycroneen Bay, County Cork, with the loss of nineteen of the 40 people on board.

Survivors were rescued by the steamship SS City of London (United Kingdom).

The SS Ibis was on a voyage from London to Cork.

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SS Lapwing

lost Tuesday 2nd July 1872

photos of the wreck can be seen at
Wight Spirit Diving Charters

video of the wreck can be seen at
Vimeo dive on the wreck of SS Lapwing

Following information kindly supplied by
Dave Wendes

Crew of 19, plus 4 passengers (23 persons, possibly as high as 29).

Researched from newspaper reports of the time and from ‘Deaths at Sea’ found via a genealogy website.


1. STEWARD, Mr Chief Engineer
2. FRASER, Alice, Stewardess
3. STALK/FOLK, William, Quartermaster

All jumped aboard the Abbey Holme iron barque of Liverpool.
(Alice also survived the wreck of the steamer SS Quail, on 3rd / 4th March 1873, at Brighstone, Isle of Wight.)

4. EMMANUEL/MORDEL, Henry, Fireman

Rescued by the steamer SS Lady Ann and landed Saint-Nazaire.
Returned to the UK and landed at Cardiff on the steamer SS Elaine.

5. COLLINS, William
6. BONGER, Henry

Rescued by the sailing vessel Rhine and landed the Thames, London.

7. WARDENBURG, Hendrik, Sailor

Rescued by the Brixham fishing smack Satellite.


8. CULLEN, Daniel, Master
9. HOGAN, James, 1st Mate
10. SMITH, (Dutch), Rotterdam Pilot
11. SMITH, Pilot’s daughter
12. GEBBIE, William Russell, Second Engineer (son of John Gebbie, late grocer, Portland Street, Kilmarnock, formerly of Selkirk)
13. A boy, son of one of the crew
14. DELANEY, Fireman
15. SCANLON, Carpenter (also recorded as Scantillon and Scantlon)
16. FISK, Fireman
17. GAINOR, Fireman
18. PARRY, Fireman
20. BRILL, Fireman
22. HARVAST, C/E (?)
23. CASE, A.B.
24. LYONS, 2nd Mate
25. ROBERTS, Fireman
26. KELLY, Fireman
28. PERCIVAL, Peter, born 1863
29. SANDERSON, Frederick

Following information from
Shipping & Mercantile Gazette
Newspaper Article Saturday 6th July 1872


Report of Henry Wardenburg, Seaman on board the late screw steamship SS Lapwing, of Cork, 211 tons, from Liverpool for Rotterdam (general).

Left Liverpool, June 20th at 6 P.M. wind S.W. moderate breeze, weather fine.

On Tuesday, July 2nd at 12 5 A.M. the weather fine and the wind E. blowing fresh, the said ship was going S.W. by S. The lookout man reported a light on the port bow. The Second Mate called to the man at the wheel to port, at the same time a barque ran into us, striking on the port side just abaft the funnel, cutting the vessel to the water's edge. [Abaft is a nautical term meaning nearer the stern than behind.]

We then got a boat out, but so many got into her she turned over. I being one of them, I got hold of a piece of wood, which I retained for about an hour when I saw a bale of cotton and got upon it.

I saw two men at daylight upon a piece of wood and called to them. Shortly after that they disappeared.

I remained on the bale of cotton, till taken off by J. P. Hannaford of the sloop Satellite of Brixham, at 7 A.M. July 2nd.

Following information supplied by
Tyne Built Ships

Shields Gazette
Newspaper Article Wednesday 3rd July 1872


A frightful collision took place in the Channel early yesterday morning 3rd July 1872 [18 nautical miles] off St. Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight, resulting in the total loss of a steamer and, it is feared, twenty-one lives.

The SS Lapwing (screw steamer, 600 tons, Captain Cullan, belonging to the Cork Steamship Company) was sailing from Liverpool to Rotterdam and bearing up the Channel with a full cargo and having on board twenty-four souls, including four passengers, was struck by the Abbey Holme (iron barque of Liverpool) on the port quarter, cutting her right down. The steamer was missed about five minutes after.

Boats were sent out but failed to pick out any of the crew. The engineer Mr. Steward of Liverpool, the stewardess Alice Fraser, and the quarter master William Stalk, jumped on board the barque and were saved. It was afterwards found that two vessels [steamships SS Elaine and SS Rhine] had picked up four more.

The disabled barque was afterwards towed into Portsmouth Harbour.

SS Lapwing Technical Data

Type: Passenger Cargo Ship
Launched: 9th April 1868
Completed: June 1868
Builder: Palmers' Shipbuilding & Iron Co Ltd
Yard: Jarrow
Yard Number: 229
Dimensions: 841 gross registered tonnage, 535 net registered tonnage, 211.4 x 28.2 x 17.0 feet
Engines: twin cylinder, 90 horsepower
Engines by:
Propulsion: 1 x Screw
Construction: Iron
Reg Number: 58547
18th June 1868 Cork Steamship Co Ltd ( E Pike & Co ), Cork
2nd July 1872 Sank
Comments: Probably engined by Palmers' Shipbuilding & Iron Co Ltd, Jarrow

(Dave Wendes has confirmed that the engine was built by Palmers, also the engine number is 146)

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SS Quail

lost Monday 3rd March 1873

Following information supplied by

On 3rd March 1873, the steamship SS Quail was driven ashore at Atherfield Point, Isle of Wight.

Her 22 crew survived: seven were rescued by the Brighstone Grange Lifeboat Rescue (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and fifteen reached Freshwater in a boat.

The SS Quail was on a voyage from Liverpool, Lancashire to Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands.

She was refloated on 6th March 1847, with assistance from the tugs Aid, Fawn and Robin Hood (all United Kingdom) and towed in to Southampton, Hampshire.

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SS Inniscarra

lost Sunday 12th May 1918

Following information supplied by
The City of Cork Archives

SS Inniscarra, built 1903
(by Wigham Richardson & Co. Ltd, of Newcastle)


On 12th May 1918, on a voyage from Fishguard to Cork with general cargo, SS Inniscarra was sunk by the German submarine U-86, ten miles South East off Ballycotton Island, County Cork, with the loss of 28 souls.

SS Inniscarra was a British passenger steamer of 1,412 tons, owned at the time of her loss by the Cork Steam Packet Co Ltd.

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