At 8.31 p.m. Louis Brady, 2nd Officer on the ‘Princess Alexandra’ sent a telegram reporting ‘All hands are saved. I have notified Harbour Masters at Liverpool , Holyhead and Dublin to advise all cross channel traffic re Kish’
Archive & Heritage Officer
At 5 p.m. on the 8th September 1902 in dense fog the Royal Mail Steamer ‘Leinster’ collided with the Lightship ‘Albatross’ stationed on the Kish Bank. The Lightship sank within minutes, miraculously with no lives lost. Throughout the evening reports of the sinking began to trickle in. At 8.31 p.m. Louis Brady, 2nd Officer on the ‘Princess Alexandra’ sent a telegram reporting ‘All hands are saved. I have notified Harbour Masters at Liverpool , Holyhead and Dublin to advise all cross channel traffic re Kish’. At 8.34 p.m. a telegram was sent by the Principal Keeper Howth Baily reporting ‘Kish Lightship Sunk on Station’.
Two days later on the 10th September William Daly, Master to the Lightship ‘Albatross’ stationed at the Kish Bank submitted a full report of the sinking: ‘I beg to report that at 5 p.m. on Monday the 8th September the RMS ‘Leinster’ collided with and sank the ‘Albatross’ Lightship on the Kish Bank Station during thick fog. At 5 p.m. we observed the Mail Steamer about half a vessel length from our Ship’. The Master gave immediate orders for firing the fog gun and sounding the gong. Steamer approached ship slowly and cut halfway through Lightship. We then got out our boat and all the crew went on board the Mail Steamer. When Steamer backed clear of Lightship, ‘Albatross’ sank showing her day mark over the water. The crew had every assistance from the Mail Steamer but had no time to save any of their goods’.
Immediate action was required. The Kish Lightship marked the entrance to Dublin Bay and was essential for cross Channel traffic. The following morning c. 11 a.m. the ‘Princess Alexandra’ towed out the ‘Shearwater’ Lightship and placed her on the Kish Bank and a wreck buoy was placed close to where day mark was still visible above water. A Notice to Mariners was hastily published and circulated to shipping companies and Harbour Masters.
As the wreck was an obstruction to navigation Irish Lights swiftly engaged Henry Enson of Cobh to survey the wreck and remove the masts. He submitted tender for raising the wreck which Irish Lights recommended accepting.
For the crew of the ‘Albatross’ the collision had left them shaken. William Daly reported ‘my crew of 6 men were unable to resume duty on board ‘Shearwater’ Lightship through shock of collision’. In addition to shock, John Day, Carpenter, suffered contusion to his left side and George Warren, Gunner, wrenched his knee during the collision. In a gesture of solidarity the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company wrote to Irish Lights enclosing £9.7.6 collected by the crew of the RMS ‘Leinster’ to be distributed among the crew of the Kish Lightship. This act has particularly poignancy as just 16 years later on the 10th October 1918 the RMS‘ Leinster’ was torpedoed by a German U-Boat 4 nautical miles east of the Kish Bank with the loss of an estimated 564 lives.