Bicentenary Commemoration 2016

In January 1816, the transport vessel the Sea Horse foundered in Tramore Bay with the loss of 363 lives. On board the ship were the majority of the 2nd Battalion of the 59th Regiment who had bravely fought in the wars against Napoleon. Others included the wives and children of the military men on board and the sailors. It was customary for wives and children of officers to travel with their husbands in the early nineteenth century.

The Sea Horse was part of a convoy of three transport ships which included the Boadicea and the Lord Melville; all three ships were lost during an unexpected storm over a 24 hour period during the last days of January 1816. The loss of life of those included in the convoy guaranteed the disaster was recorded as one of Ireland’s worst maritime disasters. The launch of the book The Shipwrecked Soldiers' Cairn, marked the commencement of a number of events to commemorate the tragedy. Further events will take place in January and July 2016. 

The legacy of the Sea Horse disaster includes the establishment of coastal rescue services and the construction of Tramore’s most iconic monument – The Metal Man. The pillars at Great Newtown Head and Brownstown Head were constructed to act as a warning system to keep seafarers away from Tramore Bay and further to indicate the safety of the port of Waterford.

The commemoration will not only remember those who lost their lives but further acknowledge the ancestors of those who attempted to rescue them. From contemporary records a list of local families involved in the rescue attempts have been compiled. The Commemoration Committee is seeking the public’s assistance to locate others who for any number of reasons have not been identified or who have relocated over the past 200 years.

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