The Sunbeam pictured after the storm [Image: Seán Mac an tSíthigh]
THE NATIONAL MONUMENTS Service is taking steps to protect the wreck of a 150-year-old schooner dislodged from its century-old resting place off the coast of Kerry and washed up on a beach as a result of last weekend’s storms.
The ‘Sunbeam’ — built in England in 1860 — was driven ashore amid high winds while on a voyage from Co Cork in 1903 with no loss of life.
Over the intervening decades, the wreck has become something of an attraction on Rossbeigh Beach, with photographers regularly making trips to the site to capture images of the ship’s skeletal remains poking from beneath the sand in the shallows.
Local photographer Matthew Murphy, who lives nearby, believes he may have captured the last image of the ship before it was dislodged:
[Image: Matthew Murphy Photography]
He gave an account of the scene on Saturday evening via Facebook:
I took this last Saturday evening just as the tide was coming in. I literally had a minute to get a shot. No time for composition or anything like that and between the wind and splashes I was lucky to get anything. It was crazy weather and the tide was coming in faster than I had ever seen it. I literally had to run out of there.
I’m just glad that I had captured something that evening, because who would have know that just a short while later and after 111 years The Sunbeam would move again.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Murphy said that concerns had been raised locally after several planks and fittings from the wreck went missing.
Officials from the Monuments Service have been carrying out an inspection of the site this morning, and will then decide on the next steps to be taken. One of the options being considered is reburying it once again at a site close to its original resting spot.
Gardaí are warning people not to interfere with the wreck while it’s on the beach, as the ship is protected under the National Monuments Act. The penalty for a breach of the act includes a fine of up to €50,000 and/or a term of up to 12 months in prison.
Another view of the post-storm Sunbeam [Image: Martin Ficken]