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Olive Colemans Family History Page

The story of the SS Bandon


Introduction/ Names that I am researching / Graves stone inscriptions / The Story of the SS Bandon / History of Port of Cork Steam Navigation / Link to Cork Genealogical Society / Link to Mormon's site / Link to Cyndi's List

John Courtney

Newspaper Cutting
Pirates' Cork Victims.
An inquest has been held on the body of John Courtenay, Seaman of Cork, a member of the crew of an Irish steamship lately sunk by a German Submarine. The crew numbered 32 in all, and were the residence of the South of Ireland. Four only now survive. Of the re-maining 28 Twenty-Six appear to have gone down with the ship. And two sunk before aid arrived. The deceased man Courtenay, and two other Cork Seaman still surviving- Victor Quelley and John O'Keeffe - were picked up after the explosion which sank the vessel. Quelley and O'Keeffe are in Hospital. Courtenay was extremis at the time he was taken from the water, and died before his rescuers reached land. The vessel in question was on its way to and Irish port with a cargo of provisions and general merchandise. Courtenay was a man of 40 years of age. The surviving mem-bers of the crew escaped only with their lives. The two injured men amoungst the survivors are making progress towards re-covery. Twenty-eight members of the crew lost their lives, of whom 19 left widows with 49 children. Two of the crew were widowers and have left six children. The families of the men who were drowned were solely dependant on them, and they are now left destitute.


Extract from Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society

Extract from
Part 1.-Vol XXV. No.121
[January-June, 1919]
Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society
(Twenty-Eight Year of |issue)
History of Port of Cork Steam Navavigation 1815-1915
By William J. Barry (Council Member)
(Continued from Vol. XXIII.,page 199.

  • "Bandon," 1910; 668 Tons ;City of Cork Steam Packet Company Ltd. Built at New Castle by Messrs. Swan, Hunter & Wighan Richardson, Ltd. Length 266 feet, Breath 37.2 feet, Depth 17.4 feet.
  • She sailed from Liverpool for Cork on the 12th April 1917, under the command of Captain P.F. Kelly (As I have shown he was also in command of the Inniscarra when Torpedoed) with a crew numbering 32 in all told. He was on the bridge all that night and until 4 p.m. the following day. Being tired after his long and anxious vigil, he decided to go to his room for a short rest, leaving the second officer, Mr. O Brien, in charge. The "Bandon" was off Mine Head. After a short time, as he was changing into his shore clothes, and in the act of buttoning his waistcoat, the ship was struck by a torpedo on the port side, abreast of the engine room, and immediately began to sink. On opening the door of his room, he stepped right into the water, knee-deep, and proceeded to the bridge and ordering the helm hard to port, so as to head the ship to land. Fearing the boilers would explode he endeavoured to make his way aft, but in the space of a minute the ship sank from under his, flames and sparks issuing from her funnel and engine room. Just as she was sinking he made an attempt to get hold of the stern of one of the life-boats on deck (her bow was flung inwards by the force of the explosion) but missed her and was carried down with the ship. As she sank the main stay caught him across the back, but he managed after what seemed a long time to clear himself, and came to the surface. When he was being dragged down in the vortex, he saw the chief officer, Mr. Ferne, and some of the crew on the after deck house, near one of the life-boats, but when he (Captain Kelly) came to the surface, they had all disappeared, having gone down with the ship.
  • After a short time, while swimming about amidst the wreckage, he saw the third engineer, Mr. Mercer, clinging to one of the life-saving collapsible deck-seats, which floated off the "Bandon's" deck, and grasped it, when it capsized. He then swam round to its end and opening it out it became more buoyant. In addition to Captain Kelly and Mr. Mercer the following members of the ill-fated ship were holding on the seat viz., J. OKeeffe, fireman, and the carpenter, also J. McCarthy, A.B. (who afterwards became exhausted, lost his hold of the raft, and was drowned), and a fireman named Walsh.
  • After 6 p.m. they described a boat in the offing, which proved to be a motor launch (M.L. boat) which speedily came on to the scene (she had been order to go th their rescue by telegram for Mine Head Lighthouse) and picked up four survivors, after being 2 1/2 hours in the water. The fifth man, Walsh, in letting go of the raft grasped the large rope fender of the motor launch, but just as he did so she took a heavy roll, with the result. he lost his grasp and was drowned.
  • Nothing could exceed the kindness of the crew of the launch. The survivors were given hot tea, coffee, warm blankets, & c.
  • They arrived at Dungarvan about 9 p.m., and were met by the local doctor and others, who took them to the Devonshire Arms Hotel. Captain Kelly at once sent a telegram to the Company at Cork, Advising the loss of the ship and also the names of the survivors.
  • They were:- Captain P.F. Kelly, H. Mercer, 3rd Engineer; Kewley the carpenter, and John O'Keeffe, fireman.
  • The Lost were:- Edward Ferne, chief officer; M. J. O'Brien, second officer; R. Mercer, first engineer; M. Dowling, second engineer; Charles Bird, A.b.; Patrick O'Keeffe, Richard O'Keeffe, Bartholmew Collins, Jeremiah Long, and Charles E. Martin, Firemen; John Courtenay, Quarter master (his body was picked up warm by another M.L.; artificial respiration was tried, but it proved useless, as he was quite dead. His body was landed in Dungarvan and brought to cork withe the survivors on the next day) ; Caleb Crone, cook; John O'Callaghan, Fireman; John Wafer, A.B. ; Simon Louro, Quartermaster; Jeremiah Leahy, and George O'Mahony, Greasers; Joseph Geo. Thompson, Jeremiah McCarthy, and John O'Sullivan, A.B.'s; Charles McCashin, Steward; Wrixan and Sullivan, cattlemen; two gunners; Walsh, Fireman; and the donkeyman.

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