THE support of the people of Kinsale and district is being sought for the public display in Barry, Wales of artifacts recovered from the North Sea of the paddle steamer Barry named after the port which has strong family and maritime links with the Co Cork town.
The PS Barry was built for the Barry Railway Company at the John Brown shipyard, Clydebank, Scotland, in 1907, in a new venture at the time to capture a share of the Bristol Channel excursion trade linking seaside towns in the south west of England to Mumbles (twinned with Kinsale), and the Gower and other resorts in Wales.
The vessel was requisitioned in World War I and was stationed in Salonika, Greece, mainly transporting prisoners of war but also taking part in the ill-fated Gallipoli landings.
Re-fitted in 1920 and renamed Waverley, it was sent to Brighton in 1926 to replace the Ravenswood. In World War II the paddle steamer became HMS Snaefell, based at North Shields and once again served as a minesweeper.
It was also involved in the rescue mission at Dunkirk (saving the lives of over 981 men) and was sunk in a bombing raid off Sunderland on July 5th, 1941 with the death of three crew plus nine wounded. Two poems about the ship have been written by JS Earl.
Keith Greenway, who has strong family connections with Kinsale, said the ship was discovered by an eight strong dive team in an operation named ‘Silent Running’ with the valuable help of Allan Lopez from North Shields, skipper of Spellbinder II in 2010.
Objects recovered after almost 70 years from the wreck were subsequently offered for sale. These incluced the helm, the damaged wheel, two solid brass windows and a copper and glass lamp, which were at the time of writing, were being transported to Barry for initial display in the Mayor’s parlour at Barry Town Council.
The overall cost of the artifacts and transport is around £800.
The wreck is now a war grave and although divers can still go down and inspect it, they cannot take anything else. It is one of over 1,500 wrecks and underwater obstructions in the hydrographic charts of Britain and Ireland.
Many donations have been received including that from a group under the banner of Kinsale-Barry Friendship Pact comprising, to date, Michael Doran, Billy Lynch, Dermot Collins, John Thuillier, Noel Harrington and Leo McMahon but further pledges and donations from Kinsale and West Cork are most welcome.
The first Friendship pact was signed in Kinsale in May 1999 between Kinsale Harbour Board and the Merchant Navy Association, Barry and reciprocated at the Seaview Labour Club, Barry in September 2001. Kinsale Town Council and Barry TC signed a friendship pact in the Municipal Hall, Kinsale in 2009. Sadly Kinsale TC (along with the harbour board) is no more so the second leg of the pact in Barry could possibly involve a delegation including a member of Cork County Council’s Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District travelling over perhaps for the permanent display of the artefacts or some other event of interest to both ports.
The fostering of sporting, cultural, heritage, maritime, touristic, civic, educational and other links between both Celtic ports is always most welcome, particularly with the soon to be revived Cork-Cardiff air link. There have been exchange visits to Sea Sunday and other maritime events.
Like minded people on both sides of the water are joining together to ensure a friendship continues between Kinsale and Barry. Glamorgan and Cork and Wales.and Ireland.
Family connections between Kinsale and Barry are also sought. Kinsale and Barry are forever friends and a search has begun for a full list of relatives and family in both towns.
Former Kinsale town mayor Tomas O’Brien said: ‘Many a young Kinsale man left to go to Barry, which to them was the gateway to the world. For some it was the first time they had left their native town, and their families survived on the money they sent home. Some settled in Barry and have families there today. Many others died in the wars while serving in both the Royal and Merchant Navies.’
Pledges for the PS Barry project in Barry can be made to [email protected]
Donations can also be posted to Jim Greenway, on behalf of the organising body, Merchant Navy Association Wales (Barry branch), 19, Fryatt Street, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan. South Wales. CF63 4JU. Further information is also available by e mailing Keith Greenway at [email protected]