Sea Echoes: Cork Cranes' transatlantic journey and riots in Cobh at the arrival of US troops

Sea Echoes: Cork Cranes' transatlantic journey and riots in Cobh at the arrival of US troops
The heavy transport ship the albatross departed Cork last month with its cargo of three massive cranes bound for Puerto Rico. Picture by Dan Linehan

The three massive container cranes built at Cork Dockyard by Liebherr of Killarney have arrived in Puerto Rico where they will be part of a $130 million dollar development of the San Juan Terminal by the international Crowley Maritime Corporation of San Francisco. 

They created huge public interest when they were shipped from Cork Harbour by the heavy-lift vessel, Albatross. The Crowley company was started by the son of Irish immigrants to the United States in 1872. Tom Crowley began by rowing passengers and freight from the San Francisco quayside to tall ships anchored in the Bay.


Can you imagine, riots in Cobh when women arriving from Cork were beaten back onto trains by local men with sticks who didn’t want them to be meeting with American sailors? 

Or the sailors and local girls they met being attacked in both Cork City and Cobh by jealous local men?

Those are amongst stories about the arrival of the American Navy into Cork Harbour on May 4, 1917 to help Britain in its fight against Germany in World War One. The arrival of 5,000 sailors, with dollars to spend, into Cobh and the village of Aghada where a seaplane base was built, will be commemorated in official ceremonies next month.

This week Archaeologist and specialist author on military conflicts, Damian Shiels Director of the Rubicon Heritage Company in Midleton, described the social effects of so many sailors arriving into the harbour community on my radio programme, THIS ISLAND NATION: ”The Americans had dollars to spend and came from a developed nation to Cork Harbour which, at that time, was socially well behind their level.” 

Damian has researched the human stories. Those of local women “getting passports to follow their sailors to the United States, marrying them and living in a country far removed from the Ireland they knew.” But there were also the sad stories of unmarried mothers left behind.

Apparently, when Éamon de Valera went to the US in later years to raise money for the Irish War of Independence against the British, he experienced some resentment about the way local men had treated American sailors in Cork and Cobh.


MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’ has accused the European Fisheries Commission of avoiding giving him an answer in the European Parliament to his question, asking for the total value to the EU of fish caught by non-Irish vessels in Irish waters since Ireland joined the EEC. He said he has been given “non-answers” and “a load of nonsense” and has accused the Commission of “dodging an answer.” MEP Flanagan claims that the value is at least €1 billion for every year. He intends to go on demanding an answer in the Parliament.


Greek archaeologists have found one of the oldest harbours in history. This is a military harbour on the island of Salamis from which the largest and “most decisive naval battle ever-fought in antiquity was launched,” they say. The harbour was found in underwater reconnaissance by a team of 20 experts from two Greek universities.


International Cruise Victims is a US-based non-profit organisation which helps victims of violent crimes aboard cruise ships. It claims that up to 200 people have disappeared from cruise vessels since the year 2000.



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