ROMEOs December 2013 Outings
Author: Pat Murphy Posted on: 19/3/14 Print Version

Photos by Pat Murphy

The ROMEOs, minus three, about to enter the Museum
They are off again, the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out) after a two month rest period, some of whom needed it, are again going offshore at the end of March.
Their 2013 monthly outings concluded in December with a very interesting and enjoyable visit to the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire followed with a Christmas lunch in the National Yacht Club.

Seamus O'Connor, an Historical Guide at the Museum, gave a very good and informative talk on the establishing of the Museum, and, organised for our group to be divided into two, with each given a Museum volunteer to guide us around the very many exhibits.

The working Optic light from the "Baily Lighthouse" dominates the exhibits. It was installed in 1902 and removed in 1972 when the lighthouse was modernised. Originally gas, then oil powered, the light was equivalent to 2,000,000 candle power. The optic now shines a lesser light over the Museum.

The Baily Light
The "Great Eastern" was the largest ship in the world when it was built in 1857. Its commander Capt. Halpin was an Irishman from Tinaheely House in Wicklow. During her life she was used first as a passenger ship, then a cable layer, successfully laying the second transatlantic cable on 27th July 1866, after her first cable broke having laid 1,200 miles of cable and finally as a showboat. When the cable opened for business only the very wealthy could afford it. The initial rates were a startling $1 a letter, payable in gold - at a time that a monthly wage for a labourer might be $20. The display contains documents and items of Captain Halpin's and a clockwork model of the ship over one hundred years old.

The Great Eastern. Splicing the cable after the first accident
The "S.S. Irish Elm" had a narrow escape when stopped and questioned by a German U-Boat during the Second World War. As the skipper had an English accent it was decided to send the first mate across by dinghy instead. The U-Boat skipper enquired as to whether a famous strike in a Dun Laoghaire pub (Downey's) was still on. When informed it was. It was of course a question to test the validity of their claim to be Irish and they were allowed to continue.

The SS Irish Elm
The "Cymric" was a British and Irish schooner, built in 1893. Initially she was in the South American trade, and, joined the fleet of Arklow in 1906.

The Cymric
The exhibits described above represent a very small sample of the many on show. We would certainly recommend a visit.

Finally, on the 26th March, (the scribe's birthday, in case they forget) the first of the 2014 programme of outings will take the ROMEOs offshore to the Liverpool Maritime Museum and the many other interesting attractions surrounding the docks there. They are privileged at having the services of John Kearon, he who was in charge of conserving the Asgard, to act as guide for the visit. John, a shipwright from Arklow, who worked on the building of "Asgard II" now lives in Liverpool and is considered an authority on the conservation of historic vessels.

Dun Laoghaire painting by Tom Roche

Model of Barge "Killiney" presented by Messrs Arthur Guinnes & Sons

The Guinness Barge Fleet

A Radio Operators room

Chief ROMEO Gerry O'Neill

John Connolly winner of
the Best Dressed on the day

Appropriate attire, they said!

Seamus O'Connor, Historical Guide

The missing three ROMEOs
Peter Clarke, Sean McCormack & Seamus O'Carroll