Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Lighthouses, Accidental Torpedoes, Great Schooners & Safety on the Water

2nd May 2017
French Destroyer 'Maillé Brézé' afire and sinking at Greenock, Scotland, on 30 April 1940, after the accidental launching of one of her torpedoes French Destroyer 'Maillé Brézé' afire and sinking at Greenock, Scotland, on 30 April 1940, after the accidental launching of one of her torpedoes Credit: Redit

Hello and welcome aboard this week’s edition of your maritime programme Seascapes this week writer and broadcaster Hugh Oram on the Free French in Greenock in Scotland and hear from an eye witness to events seventy seven years ago author and maritime enthusiast Pat Sweeney who was attending school in Greenock ; we hear from Jack O’Leary, maritime historian whom we met on our recent visit to Wexford ............this weekend sees the start of of Shine A Light on Summer featuring many of the lighthouses around our coastline..... first this week we speak to Ethna Murphy - Brand Development Manager with Great Lighthouses of Ireland we first looked at two of the more famous lighthouses......and discussed the new season ahead.....

Ethna Murphy, Brand Development Manager, Great Lighthouses of Ireland ..........speaking of Lighthouses next Friday night on Seascapes we hear from Ballycotton Island Lighthouse where Justin Maher talked to Eddie Fitzgerald who was a Supernumerary Assistant Keeper with Irish Lights during the Ballycotton at the moment you can see offshore of the island a large group of visiting basking sharks......

Well from the Lighthouses to Rosslare and maritime historian Jack O’ Leary whom we met recently on our visit to Wexford we talked outside the Rosslare Maritime Heritage Centre about the great schooners and the seafaring traditions of the South East.....

Jack O’Leary, maritime historian whom we met on our recent visit to Wexford......

There are 133 drownings in Ireland every year - that's more than five per fortnight. As we approach the May Bank Holiday weekend, visitors to coastlines and inland waterways should be mindful of the dangers of cold shock, hypothermia and drowning.

On Bank holiday weekends, people can become complacent and put themselves and their families in dangerous situations in aquatic environments. People have a responsibility to themselves and family to stay safe around water by knowing the dangers and learning from the situations that have led to tragic drownings in the past.


Next this week on your maritime programme to Scotland and the Free French in Greenock , writer and broadcaster Hugh Oram has this story....

Writer and broadcaster Hugh Oram on the Free French at Greeenock , and whose latest book is “On Our Way” ............... we had a note from a great friend of the programme Pat Sweeney who has written –

“ Your correspondent might not be aware of the role of the town of Greenock in French naval history, earlier in the war, which I saw on 30th April 1940 before the fall of France 77 years ago next Sunday. I was born in Greenock in 1928.

There was a French destroyer the MAILLE BREZE at anchor. While cleaning her port side torpedo tubes, an armed torpedo was fired blowing a hole in the port side of the hull.

A number of sailors were trapped in the fore part of the ship and could not be rescued. Boats from other warships including the battleship HMS WARSPITE and the Aircraft Carrier HMS FURIOUS came alongside and medical teams gave pain relieving injections to the trapped men.

All this time I was in a singing class in the local convent school counting the 28 blasts. An older girl was sent out to find out what happened, she returned with the news that a ship had blown up in the Clyde. I was sent home running and I found the big block of flats right on the seafront, where we lived, had every pane of glass blown out.
Luckily my mother was in the back of the flat.

Eventually the MAILLE BREZE was scuttled to stop further explosions damaging other ships in the anchorage. In all 24 sailors were killed. The wreck remained there until the 1950s, before being salvaged.
Myself and mother were evacuated to Dublin the summer of 1941 as my father thought there would be more air attacks, which did not happen as Hitler turned his attention to Russia. My father, a teacher, stayed on and managed to get over to Dublin during the war. Hope this is of assistance......Regards
Pat Sweeney. “

Many thanks indeed Pat .......

Next to Justin Maher who was in Sligo at the Shore Shots Festival last weekend, we’ll have a full report here on Seascapes next Friday night from Justin and Ron Coveney who attended for the the programme , Justin talked to organizer Alan Mulrooney about this years event......

That’s about it for this week, on the sound desk this week Bryan Fitzpatrick, next week here on Seascapes we bring you a full report on the Shore Shots Festival held in Sligo last weekend where Justin Maher and Ron Coveney travelled for Seascapes and met Finn O’ Faoileain; pioneering Irish surfer Kevin Cavey; Ricky Martin from Coleraine of Skunkworks Surfboards; Noel Sweeney meets actor and drama therapist Mike O Mahony on Banna Strand where he finds great peace and tranquillity and Justin Maher meets Ben Selway and Andrew Cotton at Shore Shots in Sligo, all that and much more , until next Friday night, tight lines and fair sailing. “

Published in Seascapes Team

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