Plassey Shipwreck, Tours of Inis Oírr

Plassey Shipwreck

Tour Stop : Yes

Last Updated : 9 January 2023

Plassey Shipwreck, Inisheer, County Galway

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The celebrated Plassey shipwreck is renowned all over the globe. She appears at the beginning of the famous comedy show, Father Ted and is an absolute must-see for travellers to this, the smallest of the three Aran Islands. Since March 1960, this unexpected arrival has become an essential member of the community on Inis Oírr.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Juliet, serving as minesweeper in World War Two, was converted to merchant service in 1945 and renamed Peterjon. In 1951, the Limerick Steamship Company acquired the vessel and renamed it Plassey. The Plassey was, at the time, 53m long and weighed more than 600 tons.

In March 1960, the Plassey, captained by Thomas Wilson, carried whiskey, stained glass, and yarn for the Irish Merchant Service. As it sailed from Kerry to Galway, a fierce storm forced the cargo vessel to crash into Finnis Rock near Inis Oírr. The islanders courageously rallied together to bring the crew of eleven safely to shore through a Breeches Buoy hoist. Several weeks later, at the tail end of a hurricane, the ship was lifted off the rock and onto the Inis Oírr’s shore.

The Plassey Shipwreck has slightly moved position twice since 1960. One in 1991 and again in 2014, both times due to storms.

This is Galway feature some amazing photographs of the wreck.

 

The Plassey Shipwreck & Mike Tobin

Mike Tobin was the last servicing member of the Plassey crew. In 2010, Mike was the Guest of Honour on Inis Oírr for a special night to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the shipwreck. He described the night in vivid detail…

About 1954 was my first time on her. It’s kind of sad to be inside her like this, though. I was very fond of the ‘oul Plassey, because at that stage of my young career at sea, she went to very exotic places. She was in Italy, she was in the Canary Islands, Greece, Iceland, Angora and South Africa. She went from Helsinki over to Leningrad – at that time, it’s St Petersburg now. We never thought she’d end up in Inis Oírr of all places… but she’s there now…

The first we saw of people on the island was around daybreak, we were very happy to see them! They had only 3 rockets (to launch ropes), they fired the first 2 but the wind was so bad it took them away, and when they fired the next rocket it stuck! Only for that, that would have gone as well, because of the way the wind was blowing.

Well I tell ya, the wind was up me! You had to go over the side of the ship, at the bow, and you went straight down into the water, and you were being turned this way and that way, and then your legs were hitting close to the rocks and then you were going over and under… but that’s how we got out!

Later, at the tail end of some hurricane, the Plassey was lifted from the position she was in, and shoved up there beyond the high tide in one fell swoop. To think that she was lifted from over there, and she was full of water, and pushed up there, it would tell you the force of the seas that was around here at the time.

 

The Plassey Shipwreck & Father Ted

Some people come to Inis Oírr for just one reason… the opening credits of the hit TV comedy Father Ted. The shipwreck in it is the Plassey Shipwreck. Father Ted wasn’t shot in one location. Craggy Island was shot in various locations around Co Clare, Ennis for example, the parochial house is at Glenquin, near Kilnaboy, and the sets were all in London.

But one of the most famous locations was right in on Inis Oírr, the Plassey Shipwreck. In fact, it caused a bit of a “disagreement” in 2007 when the Father Ted festival was planned to take place on neighbouring Inis Mór. Paddy Power took bets on the outcome of the lovely girls competition and we even had a chance for revenge in the Craggy Island Cup (which we didn’t take).

 


 

The Plassey Shipwreck is always a highlight of the Wanderly Wagon tour. Some people might like to see the ship removed but we hope it stays here forever !!

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