Single Project


LOCATION: -4.19, 53.54

The most recent surveys have confirmed that this wreck is the CORK.

The SS CORK was a ferry built for the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. Equipped for transporting passengers and cattle, she was intended to ply the Irish Sea as part of the Dublin-Liverpool cross-channel trade.

At the time of her sinking on 26 January, CORK was steaming north-east from Lynas Point, carrying a general cargo of sheep, horses, and cattle between Dublin and Liverpool. She was sighted by U 103. A torpedo hit at between one and two o’clock in the morning. Hit on the port side, forward of the engine-room, her number three lifeboat was smashed in the explosion. The front part of the ship caught fire. All were killed in the engine-room save the chief engineer.  The chief officer was able to direct an evacuation for those that could escape.

A minute and a half after the first hit, another explosion rocked the ship. Shortly after this, two lifeboats were launched, one of them being the number five quarter boat. Occupied by second mate Mr. Laurence Doyle and another man, it was driven clear of the davits and the ship by waves as CORK went under. Steering around the wreckage for survivors, the boat did not find any for some time.

Doyle’s lifeboat picked up a raft containing the carpenter, J. Loughran, and the second steward, J. Keegan. After they were picked up by the SS NEW PIONEER around five o’ clock in the morning, a lifeboat containing twenty-five survivors was also found. These men had tried to sail towards the Welsh coast, but were beaten back by the weather. They were only rescued after burning signal lights. A portion of another lifeboat also survived with an occupant aboard.

A surviving saloon passenger, Mr P. Maloney of Liverpool, testified that a third explosion threw coal and furniture in the air shortly before CORK sank.

The ship sank within five minutes of being hit. In total, five crew and seven passengers were killed. The chief engineer was taken to Stanley Sailor’s Hospital, deaf from the explosion and clad in tattered overalls.

The City of Dublin Steamship Company’s CORK underway. Source: Photograph of Cork, ‘City of Dublin SP Co’, Ian Boyle/Simplon Postcards, 1999-2004.

Among the passengers lost were Miss L. Garvey, aged thirty, a tailoress. She was the sole source of financial support for her mother, then residing in Upper Rutland Street (presumably Dublin). She and two other women had boarded the ship in search of munitions work in Liverpool.

One newspaper account wrote of a woman that gave birth to a child en-route. Both perished.

The following five deceased crew members are recorded on the Tower Hill memorial to merchant seamen:

  • Byrne, James. Seaman. Born at Kingstown, County Dublin. Age forty.
  • Doyle, Thomas. Quartermaster. Born in County Down. Age twenty-nine.
  • Henry, Olivia. Stewardess. Born in Belfast. Age fifty-five.
  • McGrath, Michael. Fireman. Born in Kilcarn, County Louth. Age forty-two.
  • Phillips, Thomas. Greaser. Born in Dublin. Age thirty-three.

CORK was an important resource for the Company. Her launch was reported by the Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette with great attention devoted to her furnishings and equipment.

Her sinking, and the loss of two other vessels (including the LEINSTER, the greatest loss of life in the Irish Sea to date), would contribute to the financial losses that eventually crippled the company. With only two boats left at the end of the war, and other companies building new ships and taking over previous contracts, the company folded in 1924.

Sources:Byrne, James.’ Find war dead & cemeteries. CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Web. 

‘Doyle, Thomas.’ Find war dead & cemeteries. CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Web.

Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette. 13 April 1899. The British Newspaper Archive. Web.

‘Henry, Olivia.’ Find war dead & cemeteries. CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Web.

Londonderry Sentinel. 31 January 1918. p.4 The British Newspaper Archive. Web.

‘McGrath, Michael.’ Find war dead & cemeteries. CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Web.

Pearce, Duncan and Anne, Lilian. 1914. ‘Report’, Christiana & Her Children; a Mystery Play. London, New York: Longmans, Green.

‘Phillips, Thomas.’ Find war dead & cemeteries. CWGC Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Web.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 29 January 1918. p.5 The British Newspaper Archive. Web.

Tutty, M. J. ‘The City of Dublin Steam Packet Company.’ In Dublin Historical Record, Vol. 18, No. 3 (June 1963), pp. 80-90. Published by: Old Dublin Society.