Warships U boats and Liners
 

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Warships, U-boats and Liners
Charise McKeon - Marine Geologist, INFOMAR Programme

As an island nation, Irish people are used to looking out to sea, following the ever-changing weather patterns and watching boats rising and falling on the waves. What cannot be seen from shore are the dark, cold depths which hold secrets from the past – shipwrecks that tell of cruel wars, thwarted ambitions, political machinations and sunken treasures.

The Manchester Merchant
A 3-D multibeam image of The Manchester Merchant in inner Dingle Bay

On November 14th a new book, Warships, U-Boats and Liners was unveiled in The Custom House. This is a beautifully illustrated volume presenting sixty of those shipwrecks and telling a colourful tale of Ireland’s maritime heritage. From the sixteenth century to the two world wars, the ships’ stories recounted here are compelling and often relate to important moments in our island’s history. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD together with Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State, Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, officially launched the book.

For the past 12 years Ireland’s offshore waters and coastal seas have been subject to one of the largest seabed surveys in the world, the Irish National Seabed Survey which was commenced by the Geological Survey of Ireland and today continues as INFOMAR, a joint venture involving the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute.

In the course of this survey, working in conjunction with the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the National Monuments Service, a database of over 300 mapped shipwrecks has been compiled, containing detailed information regarding each wreck’s condition on the seafloor, its extent, dimensions and water depth, along with a short background history and the reason for its loss.

Sherman tank
A Sherman tank lying in the vacinity of the wreck of the Empire Heritage (Photo Barry McGill)


Warships, U-Boats and Liners highlights the mapped images of these shipwrecks and the importance of maritime conservation and recording. The book brings together factual historical and archaeological information with state of the art bathymetric imagery to bring to life the stories behind these shipwrecks from their building to how they ultimatley met their fate. The wreck entries are divided into four chapters, listing wrecks chronologically according to date of loss: Historic Wrecks of the 16th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries; World War I wrecks; World War II wrecks and Post-war wrecks. As the majority of the wrecks mapped relate to the two World Wars, two introductory chapters are included to provide a context and background, to explain why there were so many wartime losses in the waters off the coast of Ireland. It is hoped that this publication will appeal to anyone with a general interest in the maritime history of Ireland and the history of the two World Wars from a maritime perspective. It is also hoped to create awareness amongst the general public, divers, oceanographers, developers, planners and all those who are interested or involved in the management of the marine environment regarding the existence and importance of this fascinating aspect of our maritime heritage.

Warships, U-Boats and Liners is available to purchase online from www.gsi.ie, the Government Stationery Office and major booksellers priced €25.

Warships, U-Boats & Liners