Historic Map indicates cause for Tramore Shipwreck
During the course of archaeological monitoring of the Tramore Sewerage scheme, the remains of a previously unrecorded timber vessel was uncovered and investigated by a team from Moore Marine. These remains were located c.1km east of Tramore promenade, in an area of flat sandy beach close to the Low Water Mark. Upon exposure the wreck remains were seen to be those of a carvel laid double planked vessel. All planking was held in place by treenails with the plank ends butt jointed to its neighbour. The form and size of the vessel timbers appeared to indicate that the remains were those of a 100 – 150 ton early 19th century merchant vessel.
Work in progress
The discovery of this relatively intact vessel on a flat section of shoreline with no known navigation hazards nearby appeared to be an enigma. It was not until investigations of historic maps of Tramore Bay was undertaken that the apparent cause of the stranding became apparent. During our cartographic search, a navigation chart of Tramore Bay produced by Laurie and Whittle in the 1790’s was found. This map recorded depth soundings, navigation hazards and seabed form for the Bay as well as provided advice to mariners. Concerning Tramore Bay, there was a small paragraph entitled Observations on Tramore Bay. This paragraph detailed how many vessels mistook Tramore Bay for Waterford Estuary and were grounded in shallows on the northeastern side of the Bay. The observations then advised mariners on manoeuvres to avoid such grounding. These involved turning their ship towards Tramore town and running their vessel ashore, it was then reported that the subsequent tide could refloat the vessel and allow it to return to safety.
Extract from above mentioned map showing Tramore Bay
The content of these advise notes appeared to indicate an apparent cause of the stranding of our vessel. Had the vessel mistook Tramore Bay for Waterford Estuary, did it progress towards the eastern side of the the bay only to discover that they were in the wrong location? Were this the case then the ships master would certainly have known to drop his anchors, spin his ship 90° and head towards the beach at Tramore. Although our investigations of the vessel are not fully completed, it would appear that based on the current orientation, location, state and nature, our vessel was indeed one of the tragedies where the vessel was run onto the shore in order to ensure safety only to become stranded and later abandoned.
Studies of the wreck are still ongoing and it is hoped that through these studies, a name, date and origin of this vessel can be determined.