Double Take

Double Take: The shipwreck on Inis Oirr that stars in Father Ted

The story of MV Plassy, the steam trawler enjoying island life.

ON THE SMALLEST island off Ireland’s West Coast, an enormous wreck overlooks the Atlantic Ocean with a distant view of the Cliffs of Moher.

Resting on Finnis Rock, the rusted shipwreck of MV Plassy has been a distinctive feature of Inis Oirr for nearly sixty years.

Famously, the site is featured in the opening credits of the revered television series Father Ted.

But how did this steam trawler, measuring 53m in length and weighing close to 600 tons, find its way on to the land?

On the night of March 8 1960, whilst transporting various goods including whiskey and yarn, the MV Plassy was struck by gales on its voyage from Kerry to Galway. The crew of 11 men, led by captain Thomas Wilson, from Artane, Dublin, came to difficulty when the Plassy hit Finnis Rock in the early hours of the morning.

The crew notified Inis Oirr’s inhabitants by setting off a flare, which began a successful rescue mission that saved all members on board.

The Plassy as it looked in 1962 Harold Strong Harold Strong

In a detailed account of the maritime disaster on, Michael Kirwan reported that ”warnings of 2182kHz gale force to 8 to 9 with occasional storm force 10″, were transmitted on Valentia Radio Station, that night.

On the fiftieth-anniversary of the wreckage, survivor Mike Tobin recounted the event to

“We were too far to the north of our course, and closer to the island than we should have been, but we didn’t realise it in the bad night and the wind. We hit the Finnish Rock initially at 10 past 5 in the morning.”

Tobin described how a later storm caused the trawler to land up the beach on the site where it has rested ever since:

“At the tail end of some hurricane, the Plassy was lifted bodily from the position she was in, and shoved up there beyond the high tide in one fell swoop.”

The remarkable story and the size the shipwreck established the Plassy as the most popular tourist attraction on Inis Oirr, an island with a population of approximately 300.

While some would like to see the Plassy removed from Inis Oirr, many residents want it to remain as it commemorates the bravery of the islanders in rescuing the crew on that treacherous night.

The MV Plassy’s position today has been slightly altered on two occasions, in 1991 and 2014, since the incident in 1960.

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