The Celtic- world’s biggest liner and the chair in our back hall.
One of my fathers earliest boyhood memories of the bounties of the sea was a crop of apples floating ashore at his home next to the "Town Clock" slipway on East Beach in Cobh
- that was back in 1928 - and the apples came from the wreck of the liner Celtic which had gone aground on Roches Point at the entrance to Cork Harbour.
The Celtic was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast and was launched on 4 April 1901. She was the biggest ship in the world at nearly 22,000 tons and over 700 feet long. She was built for the White Star Line and was a regular caller in Cobh -then Queenstown on her transatlantic run sailing from Liverpool to New York. She was capable of carrying nearly 3000 passengers and was the first of the big four - the Celtic, Cedric, Baltic and Adriatic- built by White Star and dominated the lucritave Atlantic route until Cunard built the Lusitania.
During the first world war the Celtic saw active service and In 1917 hit a mine in the Irish Sea killing 17. She was repaired and a year later she was torpedoed in the Irish Sea, killing 6. Again she was repaired and served through the remainder of the war without incident.
After the war she returned to the Atlantic route and on 10 Dec 1928 she called at Queenstown on the way from New York. Conditions were heavy from the south west and the Celtic ran aground on the rocks on the southern side of Roches Point.
The Ballycotton Lifeboat,the tender Morsecock along with tugs, a destroyer and local life-saving teams, rescued all on board. Seven thousand tons of cargo were scattered. She could not be moved or salvaged, and was declared a total loss. She was completely taken apart for scrap by Dover firm of A.O. Hill in partnership with Copenhagen firm of Peterson and Albeck. Tragedy occurred on the wreck in November 1929 when hydrogen sulphide gas from the rotting cargo killed four workers. When the operation was completed in 1933 it eventually resulted in the formation of Haulbowline Industries Ltd. whose scrap yard was later set up in Passage West.
Many items of decor from the Celtic survive in houses around Co.Cork to this day - including a lovely cast iron and mahogany chair in our back hall!
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