250 years after the ship sank, the mystery of the “Butter Boat” shipwreck has finally been solved.
After the boat’s remains were discovered off the coast of Ireland, its true origin was eventually discovered.
When the low tide moves, the skeletal remnants of the large vessel become visible-it has drawn curious visitors for years, reports The Mirror.
But the landmark of County Sligo, which was originally thought in the 16th century to be part of the fabled Spanish Armada, has now been found.
Thanks to Ireland’s National Monuments Service’s recent archaeological and archival studies, the initial hypothesis has been ruled out and the ship’s tragic identity has now been revealed.
Timber samples from the shipwreck position the vessel’s construction squarely in the first half of the 18th century, sometime after 1712.
The timber was likely sourced from the English Midlands, probably Yorkshire, they also suggested.
Further study into historical records from the 18th century led to the vessel being known as the Greyhound, a coastal trading ship owned by Mrs. Allely from the port of Whitby in Yorkshire, England.
When it sunk on the night of December 12, 1770, 20 people died.
The Greyhound was caught off the coast of Mayo in a storm and, unable to reach a safe harbor in Broadhaven Bay, was driven to anchor under the towering cliffs off Erris Head in a precarious position.
The crew was forced to leave the ship, but a cabin boy was left on board in a tragic oversight.
Some crew members, the crew of a passing ship, Mary from Galway, and volunteer groups from Broadhaven Bay were trying to rescue the boy and the struck ship upon learning of the plight of the cabin boy.
Although the rescue team managed to board the Greyhound and move the vessel away from the cliffs, with some of the volunteer crew and the cabin boy still on board the ship was pushed further out to sea by the force of the storm.
Later that night, at Streedagh Strand, 100 kilometers to the east, she was killed, losing 20 lives.
Just one man – “from Erris” – survived the devastation.
Last Saturday, December 12, the 250th anniversary of the disaster, a ceremony to pay tribute to those who died was held by locals and members of the National Monuments team who discovered the story.
The Department of Housing’s Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, said there was an immense amount of local interest in the wreck and he was very happy that the National Monuments Service was finally able to confirm its true story.
“In particular I am struck by the value of folklore archives along with applied archaeological research in uncovering the full and tragic story of the Greyhound and those caught up in the tragedy,”
The calamitous tale vividly shows the risks of the sea, but also highlights how the shared bond of the sea brings people from diverse backgrounds together in times of distress in an effort to save lives.
“I am proud that my department has been able to bring to light this story of tragedy and loss but also of extraordinary bravery, compassion, selflessness, and heroism.”