The Ferry Point, Passage West

There is some early mention of a ferry crossing from Passage West to Carrigaloe including the granting of a licence by King James 1 in the early 1600’s to the Terry Family.  Colonel James Roche, during the Siege of Derry 1689, swam up river to deliver dispatches to the besieged city asking them to hold out that help was coming. There after James Roche became known as the “Swimmer” and for his bravery King William, awarded him with ownership rights of most of the ferries in Ireland, including the Passage West to Carrigaloe. 

1836. In 20 days the Passage West to Carrigaloe ferry carried 20,400 people.

For many years the ferry would have been the main access route from West Cork & Kerry to the Great Island & Cobh, particularly during the famine period.

The ferry continued to operate until the late 1950’s and the last Ferryman was Michael (Micko) O’Connell of Carrigaloe.


The Siege of Cork

In 1690 a large force under the command of the Duke of Marlborough landed his troops at Horsehead, Passage West (near Rockenham House) and they camped overnight in the field where Pembroke Wood estate is now located. The next morning the army proceeded via Rochestown & Douglas to lay siege and eventually capture Cork City.

One of the ships which landed troops at Passage and also shelled the City was the Bredah, Later that year she was anchored in Cork Harbour with a full complement of 400 aboard, including troops and 160 Jacobite prisoners, captured after the Siege of Cork, when a gunpowder explosion occurred on 12 October 1690. She caught fire and exploded.  There are two versions of how the explosion happened. One version was that John Barrett, a Jacobite prisoner who escaped, was considered to have deliberately blown up the ship. The other version was that her Commanding Officer, Capt. Tennet, went to check on the gunpowder store with a “lighted candle ...& BANG”. 390 souls died, including most of the prisoners who were in chains below decks.                    

Jim Murphy

(Visit the Maritime Museum to find out more of the proud history of our area).