One hundred and sixty-two years ago next Monday, on June 5, 1815, an inquiry was held in Cobh into the objections by a former prisoner-of-war against the compulsory acquisition of a tower and land he owned at Roche’s Point by the Ballast Board.
Edward Roche had refused to sell but offered a lease at 100 guineas a year. He had previously been paid that sum by the then British Government which considered the tower necessary for the defence of the harbour.
Roche had been a prisoner-of-war in Naples, Italy, but was due for release when the Ballast Board in 1814, then responsible for the protection of shipping, instructed the famous engineer George Halpin, to examine the necessity for a lighthouse at the entrance to Cork Harbour because of the dangers to shipping heading for Cork Port.
The Board was ‘The Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin,’ which also had responsibility for the coast. Halpin had already built several lighthouses.
The Board turned down Roche’s offer because they wanted the land for ever. He threatened to take his case to the House of Commons, but the inquiry ruled against him, valuing the tower at £160 and the ground around it at €1,266, making a total of €1,426.
Thus did Roche’s Point Lighthouse come into existence and, for the first time, it will be open to the public on Sunday during the Cork Harbour Festival. It is a historic part of Cork’s maritime and social history, the last sight of their home place that many emigrants would have seen as they left and the first of Cork for those arriving in the port.
Roche’s Point Lighthouse was converted to automatic operation on April 1, 1995, and the Lightkeepers left for ever, its systems monitored and operated by a telemetry link from Irish Lights Headquarters in Dun Laoghaire, with a local Attendant to look after the building.
The Cork Harbour Festival will be the biggest maritime festival in the country when it begins this weekend, according to the organisers. Fifteen towns and villages, as well as the city, have joined together with the City and County Councils and Cork Port Company to create 60 events. There is a huge range of activities planned during the “nine-day celebration of the harbour,” starting on Saturday and running until Sunday week, June 11.
The Ocean to City rowing race, An Rás Mór, will be held on Saturday of next week, June 10.
“Cork Harbour Festival is getting bigger and better each year,” says Joya Kuin, Festival Manager. “It encompasses all that the harbour has to offer the visitor and local alike, packed full of heritage, culture, stories, water activities, people and communities and lots of fun and memories in the making. The festival celebrates Cork Harbour as a natural and cultural resource, with the communities and their stories at the heart of it.” www.corkharbourfestival.com has the details.
A fish which lived in a cave 20,000 years ago has been found in Southern Germany, the first time that a cave- dwelling fish has been found in Western Europe. The remains of the fish have been identified as a loach.
The largest container ship in the world has been launched at the Samsung shipyard in South Korea. The ‘Hong Kong’ can carry 21,413 containers, the most of any ship in the world according to its owners, Orient Overseas Container Line of Hong Kong.