Portavogie Culture and Heritage Society
As the title suggests, here you will find a collection of stories, myths and legends provided by our volunteers, their friends and familys. If you would like to contribute then get intouch through our contacts page.
STORIES MYTHS AND LEGENDS
cost of running the lighthouse service and in so doing did not hire sufficient numbers of keepers, paying those he did employ very poor wages. Many keepers turned to additional ways of enhancing their income, some of which were illegal or immoral and the matter eventually became such a scandal that an Act of Parliament was passed in 1810 transferring the management of the lighthouse service into the care of the Dublin Ballast Board, latterly the Commissioners of Irish lightThe 'Kilwarlin Lighthouse' (or the South Rock Lighthouse) remained lit for 80 years, until 1 April 1877, when it was replaced by a manned light vessel, named the 'South Rock Light Vessel', positioned about 2 nautical miles further east of the Kilwarlin Light. The light vessel was eventually automated and the crew withdrawn on 31 March 1982.The lighthouse still stands.
South Rock lighthouse.
With the financial and lobbying support of Lord Kilwarlin, 2nd Marquis of Downshire, a grant of £1,400 was obtained to assist in the building of a lighthouse on the South Rock by resolution of the Irish House of Commons on 14 November 1783. However, it was not until 1793, ten years later, that construction began. The lighthouse was designed and built under the supervision of Thomas Rogers, lit for the first time on 25 March 1797 and named the 'Kilwarlin Light' in honour of the Marquis. Only two 'wave washed' lighthouses, the Eddystone and Bell Rock lighthouses, had been built earlier. The Belfast Newsletter of 19 July 1793 reported;'Mr Rogers an emininent artist has now begun the lighthouse on the South Rock, under the patronage of the Earl of Hillsborough. The several lighthouses now in the Kingdom have been viewed by Mr Rogers preparatory to their being improved'When construction of the Kilwarlin Lighthouse began in 1793 plans to use finished stone blocks from Wexford had to be abandoned after the first supply vessel sank on passage and the second was driven well off course onto the English coast. It was then decided to use local granite from a quarry near Newry, County Down, and a squad of 20 masons, 18 labourers, 2 smyths and 2 foremen were employed. They were based in the townland of Newcastle on the Ard's Peninsula (Note : not the town of Newcastle, County Down) where a masonary platform and a short quay was built, from where the construction materials were transported to the South Rock. The provision of lighthouses around the coastline of Ireland had hithertoo been managed by the Revenue Board. The Revenue Board had little interest supervising or maintaining lighthouses and offered Rogers the position of 'Lighthouse Contractor and Inspector'. He accepted the post and took over the construction and supervision of Irish lighthouses. Sadly, Rogers attempted to cut the
The White Heather
On 3 rd March 1913 she was sold to Mr James Palmer of PORTAVOGIE County Down, Northern Ireland, and re-registered as B504. C1918 a 14Hp Kelvin auxiliary engine was fitted, during the war this was replaced with a five cylinder Gardener engine, large enough to make her a fully motorised vessel but carrying a steadying sail on the mizzen. Palmer and his two sons William and James Jr. appear to have owned her till C1945
During Palmer's ownership of the original White Heather at the time of the Great War, she was reputed to have been fishing with the County Down fleet off the Antrim coast when a U Boat surfaced, the U Boat crew ordered the crews of the remaining boats into White Heather and two others, and then proceeded to sink the boats with gunfire. This action resulted in the loss of 28 fishing vessels.
In C1945 she was sold to Sam McVeigh of Portavogie and reregistered B179. Norman Quillan an ex-fisherman of Port St Mary remembers fishing for cod out of Whitehaven in the 1950's, and recalls McVeigh and the White Heather fishing with the same fleet. At this time of course she carried no sailing rig.
In 1952, in the hands of the McVeigh family, White Heather put to sea from Whitehaven on the night of the same storm which caused the car ferry Princess Victoria to founder in the north channel. No one in Whitehaven thought that they would ever be seen again but they made it to Portavogie, or at least the Strand near Cloughy. It is generally believed that a certain amount of 'anaesthetic' had been consumed prior to departure!.
We have met with Mrs Mahood of NEW RD, PORTAVOGIE who is Palmer's daughter. She could remember as a very young girl going down to the boat at the weekend, making the bunks and cleaning the stove and in return she was allowed to drink the spare condensed milk. She also remembers White Heather going on fire in Portavogie on one occasion although, fortunatly little real damage was caused.