Tram and schooner collide at Ringsend –© Edward J Bourke, prepared for the Dublin Historical Record 2009.
Tram and schooner collide at Ringsend –Few stories have been mentioned so often with so much confusion than the tale of the collision between a sailing ship and a tram at Ringsend bridge. There have been several errors repeated and one discovery has been that there were two similar incidents at the same place. Earlier researchers have not had the advantage of the computer searchable versions of the digitised newspapers and this has helped resolve mysteries and tales such as this. The story gained interest when the visitor’s centre was constructed near the site of the accident. The story defied researchers who had hoped that a photo of the incident might be available for display. The written source of the date February 12 1928 is “The short history of the Grand Canal Docks 1796-1996” published by the by Inland Waterways Association of Ireland on the bicentenary of the opening of the docks. Ms Delaney in a personal communication says. I looked through my notes of the Minute books through the 1920s and could find no reference to it but I could have missed it at the time. The Ringsend booklet was produced by the Dublin Branch of the IWAI in 1996. I was part of an editorial team which put the information together. Some of the details were provided by George Brierly who had been the dockmaster for many years and it is possible that the information about the Cymic came from him. The date quoted in the book of 12th February 1928 is very specific but I will take your word for it that it is not correct. It is stated that the No.3 tram outward bound to Sandymount collided with the Arklow schooner Cymic on Victoria Bridge. It continues “It seems that the bridge operator decided to allow the tram to pass and signalled this intention to the schooner. She was blown forward suddenly by a gust of wind and her bowsprit penetrated the lower saloon of the tram fortunately without striking any of the passengers”. I fear that the newspapers may be your only way to get the date
Lorna Siggins in an Irishwoman’s diary published in the Irish Times on 8-5-1996 cites “the short history of the grand canal docks 1796-1996” by Ruth Delaney published by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. Her item repeats the date which seems so precise, Feb 12 1928. This item is easily found by computer searching which tends to support the information but the same Irish Times on line does not verify the date when contemporary papers were checked. Jim Cooke in an item on the career of the Cymric “A seafaring tragedy” published on the internet adds to the confusion by suggesting 1927. “In 1927 when on one of those trips to Dublin she had an unusual accident when entering the Inner Basin of the Grand Canal at Ringsend. She collided with a tramcar which was crossing the drawbridge on Irishtown Road. She got too near the bridge and her bowsprit speared the tramcar, but no one was hurt.” A more recent book Shipping in Dublin Port 1939-45 by Walter Kennedy cites a newspaper report saying that on Tues. December 21st 1943 the schooner Happy Harry colliding with a tram at Victoria Bridge Ringsend. This was an opening bridge which carried the road and the tram lines from the City centre towards Ringsend and Sandymount, and when opened for the passage of ships. It gave access from the Grand Canal outer basin to the inner basin. The opening it seems was too late this time for poor Happy Harry. Fortunately, there were no casualties reported, not did Happy Harry need to change his (or her?) name