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 The Author with the late Jack Benton and Colm Timmins of the Historical society

Dramatic Rescue 30th. January 2017

Sadly Mr Baxter’s boat the Atlantic Osprey was lost last weekend but all hands were saved. Volunteer Lifeboat crews from Clogherhead, Skerries and Howth RNLI and Coastguard Helicopter 116 were involved in the dramatic rescue of five fishermen whose boat ran aground off the coast of Balbriggan on Monday morning the 30th. January last. She was fishing for razors when she began taking on water and on arrival the lifeboat crews placed pumps aboard, However despite the crews best efforts the pumps were unable to cope with the volume of water and the boat sank shortly after 8 a.m.. The crew was taken off and brought safely to Skerries. Since then the boat has completely broken up.Sadly since I wrote this memo Helicopter 116 and all its crew have been lost.

Small crew for Christmas Morning 2016

small crew
However a great turnout for Christmas Swim

Pick of items  2014-19

This site is dedicated to the historic, photographic and other records of Balbriggan harbour since it was improved way back in 1761. We hope that in time it will become a reference stop for any one interested in our little pier, especially since it will contain up to date information in its news section on the day to day happenings on the ‘quay’ as it was always known. We hope that many people around the world will send us accounts of their time spent working in or out of it. The harbour was once a hub for local, Welsh and English coal traders, as well as for fishermen from the Isle of Mann, Scotland, Kilkeel and Arklow. Let us hope that any of them still around, and, or, their descendants will add to the content of the site. Photos, records, personal accounts etc. no matter how trivial will be warmly welcomed.

Breaking News   PRESS RELEASE
I received this the other day from Ann Marie Bohan. Check it out! 

Back to the Future – photographic exhibition of Balbriggan past and present
Balbriggan Creative Quarter
(BCQ) is delighted to announce the opening of its first photographic exhibition on St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2014. Entitled Back to the Future, the exhibition will feature photographs from the renowned Benton/Curtis collection together with a contemporary take on the same photographs. The exhibition will be launched on St. Patrick’s Day by the Polish ambassador Marcin Nawrot and will run for two days at P.S. Creative Space on Railway Street in Balbriggan.
The Benton/Curtis collection is a hugely valuable archive to the town of Balbriggan, containing photographs going back to the beginning of the last century. The particular photographs selected for this exhibition will be displayed side by side with contemporary photographs of the same scenes, taken by local photographers Kasia Wasiak and Robert Patynski.

BCQ Chairman, Tony Murphy said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to view a small part of this wonderful archive and of course to compare Balbriggan as it was then and how it looks today. BCQ is delighted to have this chance to curate these works and to play a role in reviving the artistic heritage of the town.”

Back to the future

Talkback Thames TV who were starting Series 3 of their award winning Great British Train Journies.

Bella Lloyd assistant producer of the show had sent several emails to the site but seeing Talkback Thames in my inbox I despatched them to Junk, believing them to be just more adds for another internet provider. However on receiving a phone call from the library that someone wished to talk to me about the harbour, I gathered the ‘junk’ back and found that the Railway Section of the site had garnered the interest of the producer Jay Taylor and her crew who wished to visit Balbriggan harbour and include it in their series. A meeting was arranged between myself and Bella that her young crew would visit and gather any information I may have. I was to gather a couple of local fishermen and/or railway men who might prove interesting. What a job ..ever try to persuade somebody to go on live TV? A couple of suspects were arranged but some fell by the wayside as the day approached. I was finally left with two others and myself. To make a long story short the crew arrived and the stories started. the footage was sent back to London and a funny story about the “Cup of Scald Train” which was brought up in jest when one of the crew asked what the most important train on the harbour was at present, proved to be popular. It was then I realised that they were not looking for History but rather good viewing stories. Eoin McGarry who had been a railway official in the local station in the early 1950’s gave them a tour of the town in his minibus and we were told that the powers that be would get back to us. The Cup of Scald gang did the job and after other arrangements were set up and reset and set again Michael Portillo, Bella Lloyd and the rest of the crew finally made it to the harbour at the end of August. This was live telly, none of us knew what questions Michael was going to ask and that we were to play it ‘off the cuff’, while on site. As the critics say things just developed. What a shambles.

Michael Portillo chatting on the harbour with from left, Pat Dowling,Eoin McGarry Alex MacKinnon and some

of the of the young GRJ crew at work ie.Sophie and Tom


All photos courtesy of ‘Natch’ Mc Loughlin whom I had arranged to speak about the fishing and to tell some stories about his father and the Winkle Pickers. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of looking too young and so I was drafted in as one of the old ‘codjers’. Some stories were told several times but never in the same way so what they make of them, the Lord only knows.

Having now seen the show I can understand why we had to make good pitch for the town as they said that they had a good programme on the Bog of Allen proceeded by the Viaduct in Drogheda and the Navan Zinc Ore Mines. Despite tours of the town and all its major, for the want of a better word “attractions”, and history I can justly say that only for the jovial manner in which they were made feel at home, the cup of scald gang and the friendliness of the fishermen with whom I had arranged  for them to meet, they would have passed us by. One unfortunate aspect of the show to me was the fact that Ian McGarry who was there as the Railway historian and the only living character with a connection with both the harbour and railway, spoke for 95% of the time and related some wonderful memories and related history on camera but yet only received about 10 seconds of dialogue. I had given them a fair amount of history and photos courtesy of Joe Curtis on both subjects, and they had a copy of History for the Millennium which they had received from the Historical Society, however it was clear that they just wanted light entertainment, though I did hear Tom say to Sophie on their first visit while we were standing in the sunshine against the wall of the lighthouse that Michael would like the place ie. harbour since it had not changed much over the centuries.


The ‘Cup of Scald’ gang in 2012 Gang at time of programme.


            Probably my favourite picture of the late Dono - Bunny to Don ‘You won’t find any yachts in Lidl.s Booklet.

Photo of the Razormen

Another Classic of 2014 - Is this the train to Drogheda?




Lately plans for the Refurbishment of Balbriggan Lighthouse have been announced by Fingal County Council. Notice to that effect have been displayed on the harbour. When it shall it start ??


We are now well into 2017 and there is still no word about when it may be restored. TDs coming around soon, I shall mention it no doubt. But to what avail? you ask|

Rex Guildea, Timmie Richardson and crew at Blessing of Boats


The railings below have got the green light from the council.  On Bank Holiday Monday I saw saw everything ready and in place for  the Dome.  Photo below taken on Tuesday.

ready for dome 5

As promised I hope to keep you up developments on the work being done. The lighthouse has received a new coat of paint and the adjoining shed das got a new roof. A concrete pedestal had being added to the top and is now a cause of complaint as the dome made for it will not suit. What a cockup as every one knew that the old dome stood flat on  the lighthouse top. God only knows when it will be installed now. Surely the architect should have known better.

new lighthouse4

 The hunt is on for the best picture of the kingfisher which has appeared on the harbour of late. Here is one by Colette Frawley_Bailey.


 This is the Lighthouse as it appears today with new dome and repainted

Please visit our sister site for more information on Balbriggan


Blessing of the boats 2019

Waiting for the priest to arrive on a sunny day

A Coastguard arrives

Coastguard men attach to Johnny's boat

Balloons are released

Carnival takes place below at harbour

August 25.th

For the first time we had Rockabilly on the beach  which consisted of bike scrambling etc. It was great fun and attracted a lot of spectators. Plenty of noise but enjoyable. Well done to all concerned. An annual event?

Christmas Swim took place in 2020

Roller bikes on beach

Ready for the off

And they are off.

Commemorative Calendar Balbriggan 2020

As we are approaching 2020 the town will be commemorating  the 100 Anniversary of the burning and sacking of Balbriggan. A commemorative calendar containing the wonderful photos from the Glennon family has been produced by Balbriggan Historical Society for the occasion. The price is 10 Euros and can be bought in Supervalue and at Balbriggan Market at Bremore Castle on Saturday 7th. and Sunday 8th. of Dec. I was down at the Market on Sunday morning and found it was closed. They now can be bought on Thursday 12th. between 4pm. and 9pm. in Supervalue.

Photo courtesy Joe Curtis

I was contacted through email to speak on Seascapes by Fergal Keane about Balbriggan Harbour circa 04/07/2020. I replied about 4 times but received no acknowledgement at all, which I felt was, dare I say, for want of another word, rude. Any how the show went ahead on Friday 17th. July. after consultation with Fingal Co. Council. This is the same Council which a few years ago allowed private flats to be built along the right hand side of the harbour, which could have been used as a storage, cum-work area by fishermen and fish shop etc. at the behest of the fishermen then.  However the Council did restore the top of the lighthouse and I praised them at the time. I see that during the week work has started at the other end of our beach on a private old folk’s nursing home of which I know nothing other than the local residents objected to it and the following heading appeared in the Fingal Indepe

Year 2021

A huge new nursing home could be on its way to Balbriggan on a prime site overlooking the sea, if a new planning application for the proposal is successful.

'Colm and Sinead Mohan are seeking planning permission for a 114-bed nursing home in a four-storey building at Seabanks in Balbriggan. Alongside the nursing home, the developers want to build a new restaurant and six four-storey terraced houses.'

What a miss by Fingal Council to obtain this derelict old factory  site which has been lying idle for years to turn it into a lovely park with mature trees ,which would stand easterly winds, walks and seating areas as part of the famous Greenway  which they envisage.

See photo below of hoarding and imagine what a large building would look like. Maybe some agree to a nursing home with a sea view.

 Any how back to Seascapes and its presenter. He heard nothing about the plight of the fishermen. Of the 16 boats in the harbour none of the 5 prawn fishing boats left have been out this three months or more except on an odd day, because there is no price for their catch due to many causes like falling World markets, over fishing of the large super boats and the cold storage Glut. It is no wonder that so many of the prawn boats have changed over to razor boats. Even these are finding it difficult due to price failure and market glut. They were only back after a month of no fishing to improve stock when they were told that there was no price, and not worth going out. Any how I notice that the razors are much smaller than a couple of years ago. While I was looking at a full box of them  lately I asked an old fisherman what the next generation of the species will be like he answered ‘what next generation’. The same is true of these small boats; their era is over unless things improve, and the larger boats are pushed further out to sea as one fisherman put it ‘These little inshore boats are finished.’

Nothing of this was heard from the councillors by Seascapes only a copy of their brochure about paving about the boat house and fixing it up but nothing about the harbour itself, except for electricity and water, the leads for these are in place for while now.

I gave the link to the podcast to a couple of fishermen and received some of the following remarks.

‘Richie was all right but the rest was rubbish

‘When you hear a councillor talking about the wrecks on the NORTH side you know you know he is seldom down …the harbour ....East bank West bank of sand is the way it always was….’

'Harbour created the beach and its shape alone gathers sand since it was built. It is a good job the river cuts some form of channel.!

‘One Easterly Gale and the sand is back in ..What are they talking about.’

‘It would be great if the fish followed the boats in as the councillor said….You would not have to go out at all. ..such rubbish.’

'Its about time something was on the radio about the harbour.'

If your man is coming back to sail in 2 years time he better bring his shovel '.

‘I hope they do what they say.’

To explain some of the remarks above:-   The fishermen years ago christened the sand banks in the harbour as the East Bank and West Bank after the Israeli and Hamas War. I believe that neither of them know that our lovely beach is really a result of the harbour. Without the harbour we would have a Stoney one like all the rest around. The East Bank is always going to be a problem and will remain so for a long time.

A few nice Sunsets during the week mid September

The Painters from the Tidy towns are back again to do great work Sunday 20th, Sept.

Balbriggan Painters Group on a Sunny Sunday Dec. 2020

Same day with winter sun  behind me hence shadow

Year 2021

Wayne on the way in Dec. 

Very little happened down the harbour during 2021 due to the Covid Crisis. The Razor boats were out as usual though the razor clams are getting smaller. The prawn boats were not out as much because I am told the price was of no use and would not entice men men to go out and waste diesel especially because of the price of it now. It is also evident that it is difficult to get crews due to the uncertainty of the wage and the fact that very few want to work at such hard work nowadays. Other than that a few boats went and one new one arrived. The painting went on as usual and the better kept boats look well on Christmas morning as I took my usual stroll around.

Elsewhere there is a lot of cosmetic destruction and construction work going on on the pier itself as well as on bridge Street in accordance  with Fingal Councils plans to rejuvenate the harbour area and town centre. Some of the first houses to lose their backs were old Ennis's Pub and 'Steak' Carrolls butchers shop. The front of the old canal has been cleaned up and T.G. it has not upset the otters who use the waterway as a means to get down the harbour for a feed as they have been seen lately around mid December. One of the first buildings to go was that eyesore the Nightclub 'Home' and pub. See picture below taken on Christmas morning

The building of the of the Folks Home continued and the picture below taken just after the one above shows its progress.

The boat below The Arlanda arrived towards the end of 2021

Lets hope she gets working and does not rot away like a lot of other arrivals

Towards the end of 2021 I received a lovely copy of a photo taken in the first months of 1960

of the Naomh Siobhan just after she arrived in the harbour. The original dome on the lighthouse was just about to be taken down. Thanks Jeanette

Unfortunately there was tragedy down at the sea front as well in 2021 with a young swimming instructor drowned at Blackrock. I took the following photo not knowing that he was on his way to hospital in the helicopter at the time. May he rest in peace and condolences to all his family and friends.