It was with great interest that I read John Jordan’s comprehensive account of the saga of the light vessel (October 2016 issue of Sea Breezes) on the Daunt station in 1936.
As well as the two vessels and lifeboat that he mentions that gave assistance to the stricken light vessel, the Irish Lights steamer, SS Isolda, was also present.
However, this was not the first tragedy to befall the Daunt station. The Gannet was placed on station in 1874 and nine years later was badly damaged when a barque, the Largo Bay, collided with her. Then on 8 October 1896, a violent storm caused the Puffin, then on station, to sink with all hands. Light vessels, by their very design, were extremely difficult to live and work in. They had very cramped crew accommodation and they pitched and rolled excessively. They also faced the constant danger of breaking adrift without propulsive power and the hazard of collision in bad weather.
Up to the mid 1960s, there were eight light vessels on station on the Irish Coast. In November 1965, the vessel on the Kish Bank was replaced by a new lighthouse built on the telescopic principle. Virtually all the construction of the new lighthouse was carried out in Dunlaoghaire Harbour. To refer back to the SS Isolda, which was built in 1928, her working life came to a tragic end when she was carrying out the relief of the Conningbeg light vessel off the Wexford coast on 19 December 1940. She sank when attacked by a German bomber killing six of her crew despite having had “Lighthouse Service” painted on her side. One of the survivors of that attack, Sammy Williams, later became Bosun in the Irish Lights Depot Dunlaoghaire. I was a shipmate of his brother George when I joined the Irish Lights tender, Atlanta, as a deck boy in 1968.
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