Intrinsic Shipwreck Kilkee | County Clare
On January 30th 1836 the full rigged wooden sailing vessel the "Intrinsic" came to grief under the cliffs near Bishop's Island, Kilkee in County Clare....
....Amidst harrowing scenes witnessed by townsfolk who were gathered on the cliffs above Diamond Rocks the ship sank beneath the waves after being battered relentlessly while they looked on in vain.
The ship had left Liverpool bound for New Orleans carrying a full cargo of 500 tonnes of iron and steel and 14 persons including a master and crew.
The following extract from the Limerick Chronicle of February 1836 describes the Intrinsic Shipwreck scene thus; "The Master and crew 14, persons, are reported to have perished within view and 'hearing of the few natives who collected on the rugged heights of that wild region, but without the least possibility of affording succour or relief. The Intrinsic was laden with a general cargo, and appears to have sailed on the 14th of January from Liverpool."
So it seems that after 16 days sailing from Liverpool the vessel was still not clear of the Irish coast such was the dreadful conditions prevailing that January month of 1836.
Mary John Knott who at the time was staying in Kilkee to take in the clean air and sample the waters from the spa on the advice of her doctor husband wrote a vivid account of the tragic events in her journal entitled "Two Months in Kilkee".
She reports that; "The coast-guard, attended by their officer and a number of the inhabitants of Kilkee having flocked to render any assistance which might be in their power, they saw the supposed captain with his speaking trumpet calling to them in vain, but nothing could be heard with the roaring of the breakers which after dashing with tremendous violence upwards of 100ft high against the perpendicular cliffs, rushed back to the sea carrying the unhappy vessel with them.
During this awful period a lady came up from the cabin and looking around at the towering cliffs and dreadful breakers, sunk to her knees in an attitude of prayer but was soon obliged to go below by the waves which washed two of the crew overboard, who after astonishing exertions in the water soon regained their vessel."
She continues; "As all human efforts were now unavailing, while the tempest blew with such violence that the agonized beholders could scarcely keep their feet, the kind hearted natives, seeing the awful termination at hand, did all that remained in their power, by kneeling down and praying for their poor fellow creatures about to be swallowed up in the mighty deep."
Soon after the crew went down below to prepare for the inevitable end and were seen no more as the ship was lofted high on a wave before plunging back into the through and her shattered frame rising one last time, it was in the words of a spectator "shattered into a thousand pieces."
A poignant aftermath came a few days later when the only body from the wreck appeared in the water near the bathhouse and two local men were swept to sea and drowned while trying to retrieve it.
Intrinsic Shipwreck Salvage Operation
A report taken from the Limerick Chronicle dated June 1836 describes the salvage operation at the site of the wreck in the following extract; "The exertion of Mr Deane, of the diving apparatus, have proved successful. He has discovered the wreak and valuable cargo of the intrinsic of Liverpool lost off the coast of Kilkee, Clare, in February last.
After a survey of several days over an area of nearly ten acres in the bottom of the sea this unfortunate vessel and cargo valued at 25,000L was found in a ravine under 12 fathoms of water. Mr Steele anxiously co-operated in this undertaking."
The "Mr. Steele" referred to is Tom Steele the inventor of the diving bell who with Mr. Deane was undertaking the salvage of the cargo of which half was recovered as per the written agreement with the vessel's owners.
The anchor of the Intrinsic was raised to the surface on the 19th of August 1979 by the Kilkee Diving Club and the plaque for the monument built around it was unveiled by the President of Ireland, His Excellency Dr. Patrick J. Hillery on the 25th of July 1982, it is located at the East End of the strand.
Intrinsic Shipwreck Historical footnote;
The Intrinsic (UK) was owned by W. Sharp; The Master's name was Quirke, gross tonnage of 338, its registration Number at Lloyds is 1835no127-I, built at Chepat in 1832 and made entirely of wood its home port was Liverpool. For those looking for the wreck location the co-ordinates are 52.40 N / 09.40 W in what is now known as Intrinsic Bay.
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