Artillery in Ireland: Bantry Bay, and the Marina, Cork City

Artillery preserved in Ireland: Bantry Bay, and the Marina, Cork City

The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical piece of artillery preserved in Ireland.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these guns to provide and update the data found on these web pages.  Photos are by the author unless otherwise credited.  Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Guns and Artillery in Ireland would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at hskaarup@rogers.com.

Bantry Bay, Bantry House, Ireland

Four Smooth Bore Muzzle Loading Guns stand forward of Bantry House, a manor with a history dating back to the 1590s.  Bantry House (originally called 'Blackrock') was constructed in about the year 1700 on the South side of Bantry Bay.  In 1750, Councillor Richard White bought Blackrock from Samuel Hutchinson and changed the name to Seafield.

(Author Photos)

Blomefield Cast Iron 12-pounder 34-cwt Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight unknown, (208, CLYDE iron works, 1796) on the left trunnion, (12PR) on the right trunnion, 250-cm long, 12-cm barrel diameter, King George III cypher, no broad arrow mark observed, mounted on a concrete stand.  No. 1 of 4, forward of the castle facing the water.

The 12-pounder SBML Gun was an intermediary calibre piece of artillery mounted on warships of the Age of sail.  They were used as main guns on the most typical frigates of the early 18th century, on the second deck of fourth-rate ships of the line, and on the upper decks or castles of 80-gun and 120-gun ships of the line.  The 12-pounder calibre was consistent with both the French and the British calibre systems, and was therefore a widely used gun with many nations between the 17th and the 19th century.

(Author Photos)

Cast Iron 6-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight 11-2-16 (1,304 lbs) above the cascabel on the breech, (Serial No. 539 TBC, CARRON, Year corroded) on the left trunnion, (6-P) on the right trunnion, Falkirk, mitre over crowned M above the touchhole, 186-cm long.  No. 2 of 4 forward of the castle facing the water.

(Author Photos)

Cast Iron 6-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight 13-1-10 (1,494 lbs), (I) on both left and right trunnions, maker unknown, mitre over crowned M above the touchhole, 176-cm long.  No. 3 of 4 forward of the castle facing the water.

The I cast on each trunnion is quite a rare mark.  The there are three other examples, all for short merchant guns. There are two gunfounders working in the right period whose names fit.  Candidate No 1. John Jones of Bristol Iron Foundry, Cheese Lane.  He was a partner of Isaac Wilkinson from 1764 who worked in Bristol.  He seems to have been an infrequent gun founder, supplying some guns to the Ordnance Board and also for the armed store ships.  He was working in the 1760s-80s, but was dead by 1788.  Candidate No 2. James Jones of Wapping.  He was originally in a partnership with Henry Fletcher.  James was also an infrequent gunfounder, supplying small guns to the East India Company and other merchant ships from the 1770s.  He was working until the 1820s.  There are two II guns are on the Waterfront at Bristol in the UK, and two (including this one) in Ireland, within easy reach of a western port like Bristol.  Marginally, I prefer the Bristol Jones to the Wapping Jones, but I fear not enough evidence, so it remains unproven.  (Ruth Rhynas Jones)

(Author Photos)

French Cast Iron 18-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight not observed (2,361 lbs) TBC, (Serial No. 23836) on both trunnions, A4RP above the cascabel on the breech, 280-cm long, 11-cm barrel diameter, mounted on a concrete stand.  This gun may have been recovered from the French Frigate Surveillante, scuttled in Bantry Bay after an attempted invasion in 1796.  No. 4 of 4 forward of the castle facing the water.

A4RP can be: “An 4 de la République” (end 1795 - beginning 1796).  (Jean-Marie Balliet)

A4RP may be: "An quatre Revolution Populaire", the 4th year of the revolution, so the casting year will be 1793.  Indret foundry.  (Nico Brink)

In 1796, Theobald Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen attempted to land a formidable French armada, commanded by Admiral Hoche, in Bantry Bay.  It was intended to expel the British and establish an Irish Republic. The armada consisted of 50 naval warships and 15,000 men.  Richard White, having heard about the invasion had trained a militia to oppose the landing as he and his tenants were loyal to the British crown.  Munitions were stored in Bantry House for safe keeping.  Look outs were posted on Both Mizen Head and Sheep's Head to send warning of an invasion.  In the end the French armada never had a chance of landing.  The weather was too severe, and even ship to ship communication was too difficult.  Ten ships were lost.  One of these the Surveillante remained on the bottom of Bantry Bay for almost 200 years.

Surveillante was an Iphigénie-class 32-gun frigate of the French Navy.  She took part in the Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War, where she became famous for her battle with HMS Quebec; in 1783, she brought the news that the war was over to America.  She later took part in the French Revolutionary Wars.  She took part in the Expédition d'Irlande in December 1796.  She was badely damaged in a storm and was not seaworthy enough to returnto France.  She was scuttled in Bantry Bay in 1796.  The wreck was found in 1979.  In 1985 it was declared a national monument and work began on the excavation, preservation and exhibition of the ship and its contents.

Marina, Cork City, County Cork

(Alan Wright Photo)

(Kieran McCarthy Photo)

One of a pair of Russian cast iron Blomefield pattern smoothbore muzzleloading guns that originally flanked the mound at the Marina (possibly 24-pounders).  Cork was the first Irish city to ask for Crimean war trophies.  A pair arrived in 1857.  This gun stands next to the former Captain Hanson Flagstaff mound, and was captured during the Crimean War (1853-1856) in the British Siege of Sebastopol on the Black Sea in the late 1850s.  Both guns were originally installed at the junction of the South Mall and the Grand Parade, to embellish the equestrian statue of King George II.  When the statue was destroyed in 1862, the guns were moved to The Marina.  The mound was originally flanked by both of these guns mounted on wooden carriages.  The second gun is now missing as is the wooden carriage of the remaining gun.

Cast iron smoothbore muzzleloading gun, Queen Anne, mounted on a wood naval gun carriage at Black Rock Castle,

Cast iron smoothbore muzzleloading gun, small, mounted on stone at Black Rock Castle.

There are a number of cannon buried nose down that serve as bollards around the city of Cork, including one near the fountain on Grand Parade, and one at Anglesea Terrace.

(Its Cork, Obviously Photo)

There are three cast iron smoothbore muzzleloading guns on iron garrison carriages in Elizabeth Fort.

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