By Helen Riddell
A CREW on a Castletownbere trawler made an unusual catch last week, whey they hauled up a china bowl, stamped with the Cunard Steamship Company insignia, which is believed to be more than 100 years old.
Crew members Tony Browne, Maurice Reid and Kieran Sheehan of the Castletownbere-based trawler Lours Des Mers, were out on a fishing trip and hauling nets approximately 20 miles off Dursey Island when they discovered the bowl while sorting through the catch. Maurice Reid said: ‘I was surprised the bowl was intact as the net was full of small stones and grit when we hauled it in. The bowl must have been on the seabed for some time, the base of it is slightly scuffed, but otherwise it’s in very good condition.’
The plain white bowl with a red rim is stamped with the name Cunard Steamship Company, and the company insignia. The base of the bowl is stamped with the Mintons logo, a major ceramic manufacturing company that was founded in Stoke-on-Trent, England in the late 1700s. On returning to Castletownbere, Maurice did some online research to discover more about the bowl, and he also contacted the Cunard Preservation Society, who were able to tell him that the bowl they had found was a particular style which was used by Cunard on their ships in the 1880s.
Maurice commented that the Cunard Preservation Society seemed to think the bowl had probably spent more time on the seabed than on a ship. It’s impossible to know which ship it could have come from, or how it came to lie on the seabed off Dursey. Cunard’s liners plied the Atlantic throughout the 1880s and early 1990s. One of the company’s most well-known ships was the ill-fated Lusitania, which was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale in May 1915.
For now, the crew of the Lours der Mers have no immediate plans on what they will do with their unique haul, which will certainly go down as one of their more memorable catches.