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Arklow Maritime & Heritage Museum About

'Centuries of Sea-faring Heritage - A Story Worth Telling'

Arklow Maritime
& Heritage
Museum About

Left-right: Peter Byrne, Michael Fitzgerald, Vincent McCarthy, Ann McGovern,
Capt. Danny O'Neill, Jimmy Tyrrell, Mark Corcoran, Michael Allen

     Arklow Maritime Museum celebrates its fortieth year this year, but the story really begins with the passing of the 1960s and the advent of the '70s. As the irish economy improved, old ways were being looked upon more as painful reminders of less well-off times than evidence of a rich heritage.

    Most families in Arklow had some connection with the sea, whether it was fishing, coasting or deep-sea sailing. Houses in every street and lane had souvenirs brought back from all corners of the globe.

    By the 1970s, such treasures were embarrassments and many ended up in the rubbish bin. Being aware that this major change in attitude brought on by more affluent lifestyles would see this rich heritage disappear in a very short time, a group of people got together to save what they could for future generations.

Left-right: Peter Byrne, Michael Fitzgerald, Vincent McCarthy, Ann McGovern,
Capt. Danny O'Neill, Jimmy Tyrrell, Mark Corcoran, Michael Allen

     Arklow Maritime Museum celebrates its fortieth year this year, but the story really begins with the passing of the 1960s and the advent of the '70s. As the irish economy improved, old ways were being looked upon more as painful reminders of less well-off times than evidence of a rich heritage.

    Most families in Arklow had some connection with the sea, whether it was fishing, coasting or deep-sea sailing. Houses in every street and lane had souvenirs brought back from all corners of the globe.

    By the 1970s, such treasures were embarrassments and many ended up in the rubbish bin. Being aware that this major change in attitude brought on by more affluent lifestyles would see this rich heritage disappear in a very short time, a group of people got together to save what they could for future generations.

Left-right: Peter Byrne, Michael Fitzgerald, Vincent McCarthy, Ann McGovern, Capt. Danny O'Neill, Jimmy Tyrrell, Mark Corcoran, Michael Allen

     Arklow Maritime Museum celebrates its fortieth year this year, but the story really begins with the passing of the 1960s and the advent of the '70s. As the irish economy improved, old ways were being looked upon more as painful reminders of less well-off times than evidence of a rich heritage. Most families in Arklow had some connection with the sea, whether it was fishing, coasting or deep-sea sailing. Houses in every street and lane had souvenirs brought back from all corners of the globe.
    By the 1970s, such treasures were embarrassments and many ended up in the rubbish bin. Being aware that this major change in attitude brought on by more affluent lifestyles would see this rich heritage disappear in a very short time, a group of people got together to save what they could for future generations. An exhibition was held in the Marlborough Hall on St. Mary's Road around 1970 or 1971. This event showed not only the quantity, but also the quality of many of the items still in people's houses. It was obvious that a museum was needed.

    An exhibition was held in the Marlborough Hall on St. Mary's Road around 1970 or 1971. This event showed not only the quantity, but also the quality of many of the items still in people's houses. It was obvious that a museum was needed.

     On 17th and 18th March 1973, a second Maritime Exhibition was held. This time the venue was St. Kevin's Christian Brothers' School on Coolgreaney Road. The folding partition walls on the upper floor were pushed back and the entire space was filled with a display even better than the first exhibition. It ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, with an admission price of 10p for adults and 5p. for children. No one was left in any doubt about the need for to find a permanent home for these wonderful objects.
Committee Chairman Capt. Danny O'Neill
    An exhibition was held in the Marlborough Hall on St. Mary's Road around 1970 or 1971. This event showed not only the quantity, but also the quality of many of the items still in people's houses. It was obvious that a museum was needed.

     On 17th and 18th March 1973, a second Maritime Exhibition was held. This time the venue was St. Kevin's Christian Brothers' School on Coolgreaney Road. The folding partition walls on the upper floor were pushed back and the entire space was filled with a display even better than the first exhibition. It ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, with an admission price of 10p for adults and 5p. for children. No one was left in any doubt about the need for to find a permanent home for these wonderful objects.
Committee Chairman Capt. Danny O'Neill
Committee Chairman Capt. Danny O'Neill
    An exhibition was held in the Marlborough Hall on St. Mary's Road around 1970 or 1971. This event showed not only the quantity, but also the quality of many of the items still in people's houses. It was obvious that a museum was needed.

     On 17th and 18th March 1973, a second Maritime Exhibition was held. This time the venue was St. Kevin's Christian Brothers' School on Coolgreaney Road. The folding partition walls on the upper floor were pushed back and the entire space was filled with a display even better than the first exhibition. It ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, with an admission price of 10p for adults and 5p. for children. No one was left in any doubt about the need for to find a permanent home for these wonderful objects.
Left-right: Back row: Nick Tancred, Billy Roberts, Mark Synnott, Bernard Riley. Front row: John Kearon, Paddy Doyle, May-Anne Rynne, Tommy Myler.

     The committee which had organized this second exhibition were Billy Kavanagh, Brother Jack Lynch, Ciaran Boyle (Secretary), May-Ann Rynne, Billy Roberts (Treasurer), Mark Synnott, Senan O'Boyle, and John Kearon. That same committee had compiled a newsletter of twelve typed foolscap pages containing articles about:

  • Arklow fishermen who were contracted by the Congested Districts Board to go to the Aran Islands and other locations on the west coast to teach the people there how to establish and maintain a commercial fishery
  • First Arklow man torpedoed in World War II
  • Ships & Memories
  • The names of Arklow men on the Marcantile Marine Memorial in London
  • Arklow schooner DE WADDEN
  • Life on the Arklow Lightship
  • Arklow's connection with the Lusitania disaster


  •     Also included was a letter from Don Patterson of the Institute of Irish Studies in Queen's University, Belfast. Committee secretary had written to Arthur Reynolds, editor of the newspaper Irish Skipper, asking him to mention the exhibition which Mr Reynolds did in the March issue. Don Patterson was quick to send what information he had that he felt would help the committee establish a permanent museum, with the DE WADDEN as its centre-point. Getting the DE WADDEN was simply out of the question for a variety of reasons, not least financial. Nevertheless, the committee was determined to harness the goodwill the exhibition and their general efforts had created in the town. Public meetings were held and soon offers of items on loan or permanent donation were being made to the committee. The difficulty was where were they to house the growing collections?
        Enter the ESB. Through the good offices of local urban councilor and ESB employee, Tom Clandillon, the committee was offered a pre-fab no longer needed at the company's station at Turlough Hill in the Wicklow mountains. Now came the question - where were they going to put it? Several sites were considered and ruled out for various reasons. Finally, there were near a faint light at the end of a long tunnel. County Wicklow Vocational Education Committee had plans to build a new vocational school on Coolgeaney Road (this later became Arklow Community College which in turn gave way to Glenart College). This left the 'Old Tech' redundant. The county library saw its potential as a new home for the local library, leaving two of the downstairs rooms free to house the maritime museum.

        On 10 October 1975, the Wicklow People published a lengthy article on the origin of the museum and carried a photograph of committee members Nick Tandred (Chairman), Mark Synnott, John Kearon and Billy Roberts hard at work in building display cases and other preparations. Five months later, on 20 February 1976, the same publication carried an article under the title 'Maritime Museum records Arklow's proud seafaring record'. The piece detailed the historic milestone that had taken place the previous Sunday, 15 February, when Arklow Maritime Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.
    Left-right: Back row: Nick Tancred, Billy Roberts, Mark Synnott, Bernard Riley. Front row: John Kearon, Paddy Doyle, May-Anne Rynne, Tommy Myler.

         The committee which had organized this second exhibition were Billy Kavanagh, Brother Jack Lynch, Ciaran Boyle (Secretary), May-Ann Rynne, Billy Roberts (Treasurer), Mark Synnott, Senan O'Boyle, and John Kearon. That same committee had compiled a newsletter of twelve typed foolscap pages containing articles about:

  • Arklow fishermen who were contracted by the Congested Districts Board to go to the Aran Islands and other locations on the west coast to teach the people there how to establish and maintain a commercial fishery
  • First Arklow man torpedoed in World War II
  • Ships & Memories
  • The names of Arklow men on the Marcantile Marine Memorial in London
  • Arklow schooner DE WADDEN
  • Life on the Arklow Lightship
  • Arklow's connection with the Lusitania disaster


  •     Also included was a letter from Don Patterson of the Institute of Irish Studies in Queen's University, Belfast. Committee secretary had written to Arthur Reynolds, editor of the newspaper Irish Skipper, asking him to mention the exhibition which Mr Reynolds did in the March issue. Don Patterson was quick to send what information he had that he felt would help the committee establish a permanent museum, with the DE WADDEN as its centre-point. Getting the DE WADDEN was simply out of the question for a variety of reasons, not least financial. Nevertheless, the committee was determined to harness the goodwill the exhibition and their general efforts had created in the town. Public meetings were held and soon offers of items on loan or permanent donation were being made to the committee. The difficulty was where were they to house the growing collections?
        Enter the ESB. Through the good offices of local urban councilor and ESB employee, Tom Clandillon, the committee was offered a pre-fab no longer needed at the company's station at Turlough Hill in the Wicklow mountains. Now came the question - where were they going to put it? Several sites were considered and ruled out for various reasons. Finally, there were near a faint light at the end of a long tunnel. County Wicklow Vocational Education Committee had plans to build a new vocational school on Coolgeaney Road (this later became Arklow Community College which in turn gave way to Glenart College). This left the 'Old Tech' redundant. The county library saw its potential as a new home for the local library, leaving two of the downstairs rooms free to house the maritime museum.

        On 10 October 1975, the Wicklow People published a lengthy article on the origin of the museum and carried a photograph of committee members Nick Tandred (Chairman), Mark Synnott, John Kearon and Billy Roberts hard at work in building display cases and other preparations. Five months later, on 20 February 1976, the same publication carried an article under the title 'Maritime Museum records Arklow's proud seafaring record'. The piece detailed the historic milestone that had taken place the previous Sunday, 15 February, when Arklow Maritime Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.
    Left-right: Back row: Nick Tancred, Billy Roberts, Mark Synnott, Bernard Riley. Front row: John Kearon, Paddy Doyle, May-Anne Rynne, Tommy Myler.

         The committee which had organized this second exhibition were Billy Kavanagh, Brother Jack Lynch, Ciaran Boyle (Secretary), May-Ann Rynne, Billy Roberts (Treasurer), Mark Synnott, Senan O'Boyle, and John Kearon. That same committee had compiled a newsletter of twelve typed foolscap pages containing articles about:

  • Arklow fishermen who were contracted by the Congested Districts Board to go to the Aran Islands and other locations on the west coast to teach the people there how to establish and maintain a commercial fishery
  • First Arklow man torpedoed in World War II
  • Ships & Memories
  • The names of Arklow men on the Marcantile Marine Memorial in London
  • Arklow schooner DE WADDEN
  • Life on the Arklow Lightship
  • Arklow's connection with the Lusitania disaster


  •     Also included was a letter from Don Patterson of the Institute of Irish Studies in Queen's University, Belfast. Committee secretary had written to Arthur Reynolds, editor of the newspaper Irish Skipper, asking him to mention the exhibition which Mr Reynolds did in the March issue. Don Patterson was quick to send what information he had that he felt would help the committee establish a permanent museum, with the DE WADDEN as its centre-point. Getting the DE WADDEN was simply out of the question for a variety of reasons, not least financial. Nevertheless, the committee was determined to harness the goodwill the exhibition and their general efforts had created in the town. Public meetings were held and soon offers of items on loan or permanent donation were being made to the committee. The difficulty was where were they to house the growing collections?
        Enter the ESB. Through the good offices of local urban councilor and ESB employee, Tom Clandillon, the committee was offered a pre-fab no longer needed at the company's station at Turlough Hill in the Wicklow mountains. Now came the question - where were they going to put it? Several sites were considered and ruled out for various reasons. Finally, there were near a faint light at the end of a long tunnel. County Wicklow Vocational Education Committee had plans to build a new vocational school on Coolgeaney Road (this later became Arklow Community College which in turn gave way to Glenart College). This left the 'Old Tech' redundant. The county library saw its potential as a new home for the local library, leaving two of the downstairs rooms free to house the maritime museum.

        On 10 October 1975, the Wicklow People published a lengthy article on the origin of the museum and carried a photograph of committee members Nick Tandred (Chairman), Mark Synnott, John Kearon and Billy Roberts hard at work in building display cases and other preparations. Five months later, on 20 February 1976, the same publication carried an article under the title 'Maritime Museum records Arklow's proud seafaring record'. The piece detailed the historic milestone that had taken place the previous Sunday, 15 February, when Arklow Maritime Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.
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