The early years of the Irish Free State from January 1922 were a time of turmoil after the war of Independence ceased with the Truce in July 1921. The British army commenced their withdrawal and the Free State Army developed from the Volunteers of the IRA. The seizure of the Four Courts in summer 1922 marked the commencement of the Civil war and a huge military build up by the new government. This was aided by the transfer of equipment from the British alarmed at the possibility of renewed hostilities by Republicans especially in the Six Counties. The craft acquired were disposed rapidly in 1923 after the defeat of the Irregulars in the Civil War when it became clear that the new state could not afford to maintain a significant army and navy it was disestablished after 11 months in March 1924. It is hardly realised that this short lived force was the most extensive naval fleet ever operated by the state.
Acquisition of armed trawlers
Major General Vize established a force in May 1923 at Killybegs, Dun Laoghaire, Haulbowline and Galway with HQ at Portobello Barracks. The fleet was:
|Dainty||Deep sea tug||469||12 pdr||Ex admiralty|
|Muirchu||Patrol Vessel||323||12 pdr||Ex Fisheries|
|John Dunn||Mersey class trawler||250||12 pdr|
|William honner||Mersey class trawler||250||12 pdr|
|Christopher Dixon||Mersey class trawler||250||12 pdr|
|Robert Murray||Mersey class trawler||250||12 pdr|
|Thomas Thresher||Mersey class trawler||250||12 pdr|
|Mersey class trawler||250||12 pdr|
|TR 24||Canadian class trawler||200||12 pdr|
|TR 25||Canadian Castle class trawler||200||12 pdr|
|Tr27||Canadian class trawler||200||12 pdr|
|Tr29||Canadian class trawler||200||12 pdr|
|Tr 30||Canadian class trawler||200||12 pdr|
|Tr 31||Canadian class trawler||200||12 pdr|
|Inisherer||Drifter||36||Mg||Congested Districts board|
|John S Somers||Drifter||36||Mg|
|ML 1||80 foot||Described USA but probably Canadian|
|ML 3||80 foot||ditto|
|Ml 4||80 foot||ditto|
|unnnamed||River patrol in Shannon|
|Unnamed||River patrol in Shannon|
|Unnamed||River Patrol Waterford|
|Unnamed||River Patrol Lee|
|190||Steam Launch||Naval Pinnance||Mg|
|199||Steam Launch||Naval Pinnance||Mg|
The civil war troop landings
Blockships Gorilla and dredger Owencurra sunk in the Lee to obstruct landings at Cork in 1922
On 7-8-1922 the Arvonia and the Lady Wicklow commandeered steam packets from the LNWR and B&I landed troops from Dublin at Passage west. An armoured car was landed at Passage west.
On 11-8-1922 the Margaret and Mermaid carried troops from Limerick to Coogmar pier in the Kenmare River.
The Irish Lights tender Alexandria landed troops at Union Hall on 12-8-22.
On 25-8-1922 troops were landed from the Helga at Kinsale.
The Tartar was used on 21-7-1922 to engage Irregulars in the Rosses point area and Sligo.
On 22-7-1922 the Minerva carried 400 troops and artillery from Dublin to Westport.
The Lady Wicklow landed troops at Fenit pier on 7-8-1922
The Slieevnamon, St Senan and Mayfield were chartered from the Cargo steamship company of Dublin on 11-11-1922 as transport vessels and to patrol the Cork coast. They were equipped with searchlights and sometimes used to transport prisoners.
The Slievenamon ran aground at Ballycotton during her service and was assisted by the Dainty and the lifeboat before being salvaged by Ensors.
The Guinness barge Shannon, tug Corona, motor yacht Lady Ada, steamers St Nicholas, Mermaid, Countess, Erin and Margaret were used for river crossings in the Shannon and Waterford.
- The Irish Navy by Tom McGinty, Kerryman, 1995
- Ireland’s Civil war by Calton Younger
- The Seahound by Daire Bruncardi
- A history of the Irish Naval service by Aiden McIvor