Sir, – A recent burial in the old Clontarf churchyard in Dublin uncovered a flat gravestone that had been covered for many years by earth and grass. It commemorates a Capt Joseph Massey of New Haven in Sussex, who ”was shipwrecked in this port on the 1st of February 1799”.

I searched online and found that five ships had been wrecked in Dublin Bay on that date, two coming from Liverpool and three travelling from the Clyde to the West Indies. This was of course before construction of the North Bull Wall so there was no protection from north-easterly gales. I could not find weather records for that time, but another ship, the Prince of Wales, was driven ashore by ice flows in a blizzard at the mouth of the Elbe river on the same date, making an easterly or north-easterly Atlantic gale a likely culprit.

It is worth remembering the many brave men who over many centuries kept Ireland connected internationally at great risk to themselves and at the cost of many lives. Websites such as have mapped over 15,000 wrecks around the Irish coast. – Yours, etc,





Dublin 3.