The basking shark An Liamhán Gréine, Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus) is the second largest fish species in world and the largest in the North Atlantic.Curently there is an Inishowen based basking shark survey is leading the way with internationally significant scientific research on one of Ireland’s most iconic marine species, the Basking shark. Since 2008 the locally based team of researchers have deployed over 180 visual tags and numerous archival satellite tags with the aims of uncovering the secrets of the shark’s life cycle. The Museum has two Life sized models of this giant but gentle fish. Further information on the project can be found here
Faces From the Past
This exhibition contains around 170 copies of British central record cards, which include a photograph of the seaman. Theses identity cards acted as a foundation for the research of Inishowen mariners and their families in relation to this. It explores such subjects as mariner’s careers, connections to WWI, emigration, loses at sea, contribution to the communities’ economy and maritime families.
The Rocket Cart
The rocket carts primary use was to rescue the crew from vessels stranded close to the shore by using the rocket apparatus and breeches buoy. The museum’s Rocket Cart is equipped with it’s original life saving equipment, except the live rockets, and is one of only six which still exist in Ireland and Britain today.
Malin Head Radio Station
Malin Head Radio Station was established in January 1902 at the Lloyd’s of London signal tower at Banba’s Crown. The stations radio was a simple battery powered spark transmitter connected to a 120 foot aerial supplied by the Marconi Radio Company. Operating through both World Wars, the station has witnessed many historic events. On the 3rd April 1912 records show the ill-fated Titanic tested its radio equipment with the station.
Fishing and seafaring has played an important role in the survival of many families in the Inishowen peninsula. The Royal Navy anchorage’s in the Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly created opportunities for Inishowen men to serve in the Royal Navy and the advent of the Second world war saw may Inishowen men joining the Irish Naval service.
The Drontheim Boat
The Drontheim Boat or Greencastle Yawl was once the most common fishing boat along Ireland’s North Coast. The name “Drontheim” is a corruption of the word Trondeim, the port of the Norwegian coast were it originated. Pigged with a simple sprit-sail and jib or rowed by four men, the Drontheim was used for net and line fishing and also for transporting seaweed, turf, goods, people and livestock to and from the coast’s many Islands.
Irish Navy Service
The onset of World War II accelerated the need to establish a naval service. By 1941 the naval base, Haulbowline, administered 10 craft and 300 ‘all ranks’. After the War, on the 15th March 1946, the Irish component of the armed forces. Today Irish Naval service has responsibility for fishery protection, pollution control and drug interdiction.
La Trinidad Valencera
La Trinidad Valencera, an 1100-ton Venetian converted warship, was the fourth largest ship in the Spanish Armada. On the 14th September 1588, she arrived in Kinnagoe Bay on Inishowen, storm damaged and leaking. The majority of the crew managed to get ashore before the ship sank, aided by the local O’Doherty clan. The wreck of La Trinidad Valencera was discovered in 1971 by City of Derry Sub-aqua Club.
Inishowen Maritime Memorial
The Inishowen Maritime Memorial, located at the front entrance of the Greencastle Maritime Museum, was unveiled in 1997 by the Irish President Mary Robinson and commemorates all those from the Inishowen area who have lost their lives at Sea. The centerpiece of the Inishowen Maritime Museum Memorial is a sundial. On the wall inside the museum is displayed a table giving corrections to be applied to convert solar to mean time.
Lighthouses throughout Ireland act as traffic lights of the sea. Manning lighthouse’s was a light keeping family tradition and new keepers began training in Bailey Lighthouse in Dublin, moving around lighthouses as relief workers and finally being placed in lighthouse stations, usually located on one of the rocks; Fastnet, Maidens or Tusker. Keepers became accustomed to sea life and often required the sound of the sea hitting the tower to fall asleep.
During World War II, Derry acted as the largest and most important base for the Atlantic convoy escorts. The Foyle Pilots, although based in neutral country, piloted allied warships throughout the War and they were awarded “The Atlantic Star” for their contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic.
In June of 1941 the British Government signed a contract for the construction of the Londonderry Navel Base situated at Lisahally using American Lend Lease money. Ships sailing from the USA and Canada traveled in convoys across the Atlantic visiting the Lough Foyle and the Base played a strategic role in the winning of the Atlantic War. At the end of the War the surrender German U-boats were brought up the Foyle to Derry in recognition of the Port’s role as a destroyer and anti-submarine base.
In September 1942 a Boeing B17 “F” type aircraft, on the maiden flight to the American Army Base in Thurleigh, South England, crashed into the Lough Foyle. The B17 Flying Fortress played a pivotal role within World War II for the allied forces, and its remnants were discovered nearly 59 years after its demise, under the waters of Lough Foyle by a local diving club on 3rd August 2001.
In the 18th, 19th and early 20th Century, Ireland suffered considerable economic difficulty, which resulted in mass emigration. The first exodus of Ulster Scots on sailing ships began in 1718 and continued until 1939 via the great oil-burning liners, ensuring that Derry became the premier emigration port in Ireland, forever forging links with North America.
At the most northwesterly point of Ireland, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean have a reputation for being dangerous and often unpredictable. Armada galleons, stately colonial traders, emigrant ships, Atlantic liners, and War time battleships have all been claimed by the Donegal coast and its surrounding islands; Arnmore, Tory and Inishtrahull.
The Greencastle Ferry to Magilligan has along history going back 150 years. It was the main transport of that time and Coleraine was the main market town. Farmers brought over cattle, sheep and horses. A great amount of flax was grown, spun and woven in the Greencastle and Shrove area and the linen conveyed to market on slipes. There were no wheeled vehicles at that time. Men and women walked 13 miles from Magilligan Point to Coleraine and back again on the same day. If the weather got too rough for the return journey in the small boats, sheds were erected at the Point for overnight stays.