Eugene Daly recalls the tragic sinking 100 years ago this month of the yawl the Thomas Joseph, owned by his cousin John Daly.


October 10th, 2018, is the centenary of the wreck of the Thomas Joseph, a sixty foot ‘lugger’, fishing out of Cape Clear Island. The Thomas Joseph, owned by John Daly, was wrecked on the Catalogue Rocks between Sherkin Island and the mainland on October 10th, 1918.

Six people lost their lives, while five were rescued. This disaster still lives on in the folklore of the area; the sad event is still talked about with much speculation about what happened.

John Daly was one of the eight children born to Donal (Dan) Daly of Comar, Oileán Cléire (Cape Clear); his mother was Johanna Coughlan of Goleen. The family had a public house in Comar, the island village, at the time.

The Thomas Joseph was built by Tyrells of Arklow. Despite his young age (30), Daly was acknowledged to be a good seaman and successful fisherman.

On New Year’s morning 1917, with the aid of Captain Cadogan and his two sons, and his own brother, Tim, John Daly showed his bravery when they rescued forty-six people from the liner Nestorian, which was shipwrecked on the western side of Cape Clear.
In the autumn of 1918, he decided to replace the Gardner engine of the Thomas Joseph with a new Parsons engine. The engine was installed by the Parson engineers in early October, 1918. On Thursday evening, October 10th, it was decided to journey from Baltimore to Schull on a trial run.

The boat left Baltimore about 4 or 5 p.m. and reached Schull about 6. On board with John Daly, the skipper, were two crew members, Mike Walsh of Cape Clear and John O’Driscoll of Baltimore and three marine engineers, Messrs G. White, Edgar Stoate and J. Inglis, manager of Parsons and Co. Ltd., Dublin.

Eight others were on board, Edward Shipsey, fish buyer, Baltimore, Joseph Burke, Inspector, Congested Districts Board, and Constable Crowe of the Baltimore Coastguard Station. The five others were Albert Collins and his sister, Rita, who accompanied her teenage friends, Lily and Nan Shipsey, and also John Minihane, Ballymacrown, Baltimore.

Miss Nan Shipsey of Baltimore gave an account of her experience to The Skibbereen Eagle’s representative, published in the Eagle on October 19th, 1918. She stated that they were within ten minutes of Baltimore when the disaster occurred.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own