Friday 10 February 2023

Expostulating at Kilronan Pier in 1914.

 In March 1914 the courthouse in Cill Rónáin heard of the interaction between the Limerick Steamship Company’s Captain Jones, aged (37) and the Kilronan Harbour Master, Colman Costello, aged (58).

The basis of the complaint was that on January 22nd, 1914, Jones refused to move his boat, the SS Adare, from the berth used by the island supply boat, the SS Dún Aengus.

The Dún Aengus had left Galway at 

 There was only room for one of them and the supply boat had priority. 

According to the newspaper report, the Harbour Master ……. ‘expostulated with Captain Jones but the latter declined to move his vessel or to obey the bye-law.’

We were unsure what exactly this meant so we consulted with a retired seafarer. He figured that Coley Costello probably said …….“get your boat to hell out of there” …….and that Captain Jones possibly told him to……f**k off. 

At this stage council for Limerick Steamship called for a summons to be issued against Colman Costello for entering the ship and cutting her mooring cables. 

Attempting to cut the ropes on the S.S. Adare. 
Charge dismissed.

The harbour master admitted trying to cut the cables but unfortunately, his knife broke. (We need a bigger knife).

 Captain Jones claimed he had left the pier at ten past one but the harbour master said it was after three O’Clock. 

The judges, (Resident Magistrate Joseph Kilbride, Justice of the Peace Patrick Johnston and Justice of the Peace Thomas Derrane) called for a break so that the Dún Aengus  captain could give evidence. 

The Aran Island ferry, SS Dun Aengus. (1912-1958)
Seen here as it ferried passengers to one of the liners in the bay. 

Sixty five year old Captain Patrick Meagher (1848-1925) backed up Colman Costello’s evidence and said he couldn’t berth until

The Head of the pier around 1900
Photo from National Library of Ireland. 

Defense council Patrick J. Daly now claimed that the SS Adare was stranded and had to wait for the tide. (Strange that this wasn’t introduced earlier.)

 Both Captain Meagher and the harbour master said this was untrue. 

After some deliberation, judgement was given against Captain Jones and he was fined ten shillings with six shillings and six pence costs. 

Kilronan courthouse where the obstruction case
was heard in March 1914. 

We can remember an old woman telling us long ago how islanders used to regard the arrival of the court in Kilronan a bit like how mainlanders would welcome the circus coming to town. Especially if you or somebody belonging to you, weren’t up for something. 

The courtroom was usually packed, with children like herself, at a small window at the back, straining to hear what was happening inside. 

This also involved those within earshot relaying back the news from inside and often adding distorted, salient and humorous comment. 

On the same day, a famous Cill Éinne publican was in court for selling drink after hours. We have come across  Roger Dirrane before as he famously bombed the priest’s house in 1908. 

In his defence it was claimed that the drink had been purchased during opening hours and just handed out later. 

Roger’s pub was at the start of the road near
 top left which leads to Killeaney Lodge
(Photo by Jane Shackleton circa 1906)

Sergeant Costigan of the Royal Irish Constabulary told of seeing Roger’s daughter handing a can of porter to an old woman. When she saw the policeman, she spilled the drink over the wall. 

This almost sacrilegious act caused great laughter in court. Roger was fined a pound with a shilling expenses but the court declined to endorse the licence which was held in his wife Agnes’ name. 

Those who have ever researched their Aran roots will have come across the name, Colman Costello as he was in charge of registering marriages, births and deaths for many years. 

An example of the signature of Colman  Costello. 

He was also the island agent for the Congested Districts Board which brought great change to the islands after it was established in 1891. 

Some of our older readers will remember Colman’s daughter, the late Peg Costello McDonagh and her late husband Stephen, of Bay View house in Cill Rónáin. 

SS Adare, seen here as SS Taff. 

The 870 ton S.S. Adare had been built in Sunderland for the Cardiff Steamship Company in 1890 and was then known as the S.S. Taff. 

 Limerick Steamship owned her as SS Adare from 1913 to 1915 when she again changed names to the S.S. Auriac and moved to Leith near Edinburgh 

In April 1917 the SS Auriac was sunk by shelling from a German submarine off St Abb’s head in S.E. Scotland. One seaman died. 

The German submarine which sank the Auriac would itself be lost a few months later while laying mines at Waterford harbour. 

A mine detonated by accident and the captain, Kurt Tebbenjohanns was rescued by fishermen. He was the only survivor from a crew of 30. 

It was successfully salvaged some weeks later and its cargo of mines removed. 

Michael Muldoon. February 2023.