Shipwrecks of Ireland

Efforts are underway to catalogue all of the known shipwrecks that lie in Irish waters, and these efforts, using the latest surveying technologies, have yielded a rich harvest of previously unknown wreck sites.

Ireland might be a small country but its offshore area certainly isn’t. The massive Irish offshore area of 850,000 square km reaches out towards Iceland North America and the Iberian peninsula. This watery realm has devoured many vessels and seafarers. Until recently, much of the hard data on shipwrecks lying in Irish waters was fragmented and very confused. However, a project to survey shipwrecks in Irish waters by combining all the known information and generating new data along the way had proven extremely successful. The shipwreck project supported by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the National Monuments Service (NMS) was completed at the end of 2006. Using the ;attest om seafloor imaging techniques, spectacular 3-D images have been made of famous wrecks such as the Lusitania as they appear today on the seabed. The project managed to increase the number of shipwreck records from 140 when it began, to 246 when it was completed. Many of these new records correspond to “new shipwrecks’ previously unknown. In time, the identity of these wrecks can now be revealed either by divers, or robotic submersibles.

There is a great deal of interest in shipwrecks from divers, and the general public. The tale is dramatic, recounting a desperate life-and-death struggle that took place in Irish waters over two World Wars involving German U-Boats and the British Navy. Older boats sank too of course, just think of the Spanish Armadam but these boats were made of wood and thus, very little is likely to remain on the seabed from such early times.
The oldest known shipwreck in Irish waters is the Queen Victoria, which sank in a storm off Howth in 1853. This was a wooden vessel, and all that is left of it now are its metal boilers.

The project to survey shipwrecks, name and locate them is not exclusively of interest to divers, who can be fanatical in their enthusiasm for wrecks, and members of the public with an interest in naval history. Others are interested too, for example fishermen. Shipwrecks provide a hazard for fishing vessels whose nets can get caught in them so the fishing community would like to know precisely where all the wrecks are located. For marine biologists meanwhile, wreck data provides an opportunity to study the unique micro-habits that exist around wrecksm while marine geologists can learn more about sub-sea sedimentary processesm by looking at how sediments behave around these wrecks.

To learn more about these sea wrecks around Ireland visit:

A comprehensive database of more than 14,000 shipwrecks in Ireland’s coastal waters.

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