BALTIMORE RNLI have this week remembered the six people who lost their lives when the Thomas Joseph foundered on October 10th 1918.
Volunteers from the local RNLI went to the Catalogue Rocks – between Sherkin Island and the mainland – on Wednesday to lay a wreath to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their passing.
The 60ft lugger was owned by John Daly, who had been successfully fishing out of Cape Clear Island, but on this occasion – Thursday, October 10th 1918 – he was taking its new engine on a trial run.
The boat left Baltimore and safely reached Schull at 6pm with 11 people on board, but six of them were to perish on the return journey.
Those who died were Elizabeth Shipsey and Rita Collins from Baltimore, W Inglis and Edgar Stoate, engineers, John O’Driscoll and John Daly, captain.
Those who were saved were Nan Shipsey, Albert Collins and John Minihane from Baltimore, G White, a marine engineer, and Mike Walsh, crew member.
On January 1st, the year before, John Daly had played a valiant part in a rescue operation when he and four others saved 46 people from the liner, Nestorian, which was shipwrecked on the western side of Cape Clear.
Nan Shipsey gave an account of her experience to The Skibbereen Eagle on October 19th 1918. She said the boat was within 10 minutes of Baltimore when the disaster occurred. She recalled how she jumped on to one of the rocks and managed to hold on to it.
She was, at one stage, swept off the rock, but was able to clamber back on to it again.
She recalled that she had been allowed to go on the trip because it was her birthday and her sister, Elizabeth, and friend, Rita Collins, had travelled with her.
Ms Shipsey and four others were rescued by John Harte of Heir Island. At the inquest, John Harte, of Reen, Heir Island, said he had been herring fishing in his boat the Mary Ann when he heard the cries for help.
With him were his two crew members, Jeremiah McCarthy and Timothy Murphy and they described how there had been a terrible sea running at the time, and that it was quite dark and foggy.
They took Ms Shipsey and crewman Mike Walsh off the rocks at imminent risk to their own lives and also managed to save John Minihane, Mr White, the engineer, and Albert Collins, all of whom had been found clinging to the mast.
The three Heir Island men were awarded RNLI medals for their part in the rescue.