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Wednesday, 10th February 2021

New book and web site featuring the Lady Boyne

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The "Lady Boyne" at the place she was moored for many years on the Boyne. The photographer is unknown, as is the identity of the man in the picture.

In 1937 a 125 foot long ship called the Cretegaff arrived in the Port of Drogheda having been bought by the Irish Oil and Cake Mill Company for use as a grain store.

She was one of 12 steam powered, concrete hulled, boats originally commissioned by the British Government during the First World War when there was a worldwide shortage of steel.

By 1922, the Admiralty had little or no use for the concrete tugs and Cretegaff, along with 11 other similar boats, were sold off and she was used to transport coal from the North East of England around the UK coast and as far afield as the Baltic and the Iberian Peninsula.

By 1936, Cretegaff, which by then had been sold to a Captain S.A. Portus of Garston, was used to transport newsprint from Liverpool to the Isle of Man and after this contract ended her steam engine and other equipment was stripped out.

In 1937 she was bought by the Irish Oil & Cake Company and towed to Drogheda to be used to store grain. Although she was still officially called the Cretegaff, a name which is still deeply etched into her concrete hull, the people of Drogheda re-christened her ‘The Lady Boyne’.

After some years at the Oil and Cake Mills the Lady Boyne had outlived her usefulness once again and was towed to the downstream side of the Boyne Viaduct and moored beside what became Silica Sand on the Marsh Road.

The Lady Boyne lay at this mooring for many years and, in those less health-and- safety conscious times was used by local children to play in and was the scene of many a swashbuckling battle between the pirates from Ship Street and the heroes of the Weir Hope Navy.

It was featured in at least one home movie production and was also filmed during the making of the 1984 movie ‘Cal’ starring Helen Mirren but the scene never made it into the final film.

The 'Lady Boyne' at Carlingford Marina.

The Drogheda Port Company, and specifically the Harbour Master of the time Bill Hanrahan, conscious of the risks posed by the Lady Boyne lying at the side of the river open to all and sundry, became anxious to see the back of her and began to apply pressure for her to be taken away.

The then Alderman and soon to be Mayor, Councillor Frank Godfrey, made strenuous efforts to keep ‘The Lady Boyne’ in Drogheda with a view to converting her into a floating maritime museum but in 1987, after some initial difficulties, she was towed down the River Boyne and in to Carlingford Lough where she remains to this day as part of the Marina at Carlingford Sailing Club.

She is also the subject of a book which is being written by Richard Lewis a history enthusiast who, along with his wife Josephine, runs a bike hire and repair business at the Carlingford Lough Greenway called OnYerBike which is based at Carlingford Marina.

For much more detail on the Lady Boyne/ Cretegaff and the rest of the ‘Cretefleet’ see Mr. Lewis’s new web site https://thecretefleet.com/

See also www.onyerbike.ie.

The launch of the Cretegaff in 1917, in latter days she was to become  known unoficially as 'The Lady Boyne'.

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