Skerries, its Harbour and the Coasting Trade

Paper 236

Lecture – 2003

Author – Conlon, Terry

Published : Time & Tide Vol 5

From the time of the Vikings the east coast around Skerries, Malahide, Howth and Baldoyle was a great seafaring area. The late 19th century was a particularly busy sea trading era in Skerries. Arklow had the largest number of sailing vessels with 55 ships, Skerries was second with 15 ships and Wexford was third with 9 ships. The trade out of Skerries was limestone and some timber, and the cargo coming into Skerries was coal. Sail was on the way out around 1900 and steam became the preferred power source.

Some sailing ships from Skerries plied their trade worldwide. There is an account of the “Bertie Mills” from Skerries sailing to Cardiff, then to Cadiz, out to St. John’s, Newfoundland, on to Labrador, back across the Atlantic to Gibraltar in 24 days, then to Genoa for Christmas 1898. These ships would have a compass, but maybe no sextant. It must have been magic for young men from Skerries to join sailing ships and travel the world, even though the work was very dangerous, as over the years many ships and the crews were lost. 

Themes : Maritime, Transport