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Photos: Inside the 'largest ship in the world' docked in Arklow in 1870

The SS Great Eastern was the largest ship ever built when it launched in 1858 – and here’s what the saloons inside it looked like when it docked in Arklow in 1870.

Image: National Library of Ireland via Flickr/Creative Commons

IT’S A FAR cry from the interior of modern-day ferries on the Irish Sea.

The National Library of Ireland has unearthed these photographs of the SS Great Eastern – the largest ship ever built when it launched in 1858 – when it docked in Arklow in Wicklow. The exact year isn’t known but the photographs are believed to date from around 1870.

The SE Great Eastern was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers. It was used as a passenger liner between Britain and America for many years, before being converted into a floating music hall and, strangly, into an advertising hoarding (you can see the words advertising a department store in Liverpool on the side of the boat in the third photograph). It was broken up in 1889.

The photographs show the dining area and the saloon on board the ship, as well as the exterior of it. The National Library’s Flickr account points out the ropes that tether the chandeliers in the saloon in place – testament to the rough crossings passengers may have had to endure:

(All images: National Library of Ireland/Flickr/Creative Commons)

Read: University looks for ‘amateur sleuths’ to help unlock pre-Famine stories >

Read: Free genealogy advisory service offered at the National Archives of Ireland >

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