|Artillery - Ireland (1) Bantry Bay
Artillery preserved in Ireland,
Data current to 17 March 2021.
The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical piece of artillery preserved in Ireland. Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these guns to provide and update the data found on these web pages. Photos are by the author unless otherwise credited. Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Guns and Artillery in Ireland would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bantry Bay, Bantry House, Ireland
Four Smooth Bore Muzzle Loading Guns stand forward of Bantry House, a manor with a history dating back to the 1590s. Bantry House (originally called 'Blackrock') was constructed in about the year 1700 on the South side of Bantry Bay. In 1750, Councillor Richard White bought Blackrock from Samuel Hutchinson and changed the name to Seafield.
Blomefield Cast Iron 12-pounder 34-cwt Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight unknown, (208, CLYDE iron works, 1796) on the left trunnion, (12PR) on the right trunnion, 250-cm long, 12-cm barrel diameter, King George III cypher, no broad arrow mark observed, mounted on a concrete stand. No. 1 of 4, forward of the castle facing the water.
The 12-pounder SBML Gun was an intermediary calibre piece of artillery mounted on warships of the Age of sail. They were used as main guns on the most typical frigates of the early 18th century, on the second deck of fourth-rate ships of the line, and on the upper decks or castles of 80-gun and 120-gun ships of the line. The 12-pounder calibre was consistent with both the French and the British calibre systems, and was therefore a widely used gun with many nations between the 17th and the 19th century.
Cast Iron 6-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight 11-2-16 (1,304 lbs) above the cascabel on the breech, (Serial No. 539 TBC, CARRON, Year TBC) on the left trunnion, (6-P) on the right trunnion, Falkirk, mitre over crowned M above the touchhole, 186-cm long. No. 2 of 4 forward of the castle facing the water.
Cast Iron 6-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight 13-10 (1,466 lbs), (I) on both left and right trunnions, maker unknown, mitre over crowned M above the touchhole, 176-cm long. No. 3 of 4 forward of the castle facing the water.
The I cast on each trunnion is quite a rare mark. The there are three other examples, all for short merchant guns. There are two gunfounders working in the right period whose names fit. Candidate No 1. John Jones of Bristol Iron Foundry, Cheese Lane. He was a partner of Isaac Wilkinson from 1764 who worked in Bristol. He seems to have been an infrequent gun founder, supplying some guns to the Ordnance Board and also for the armed store ships. He was working in the 1760s-80s, but was dead by 1788. Candidate No 2. James Jones of Wapping. he was originally in a partnership with Henry Fletcher. James was also an infrequent gunfounder, supplying small guns to the East India Company and other merchant ships from the 1770s. He was working until the 1820s. There are two II guns are on the Waterfront at Bristol in the UK, and two (including this one) in Ireland, within easy reach of a western port like Bristol. Marginally, I prefer the Bristol Jones to the Wapping Jones, but I fear not enough evidence, so it remains unproven. (Ruth Rhynas Jones)
French Cast Iron 18-pounder Smoothbore Muzzleloading Gun, weight not observed (2,361 lbs) TBC, (Serial No. 23836) on both trunnions, A4RP above the cascabel on the breech, 280-cm long, 11-cm barrel diameter, mounted on a concrete stand. This gun may have been recovered from the French Frigate Surveillante, scuttled in Bantry Bay after an attempted invasion in 1796. No. 4 of 4 forward of the castle facing the water.
A4RP can be: “An 4 de la République” (end 1795 - beginning 1796). (Jean-Marie Balliet)
A4RP may be: "An quatre Revolution Populaire", the 4th year of the revolution, so the casting year will be 1793. Indret foundry. (Nico Brink)
In 1796, Theobald Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen attempted to land a formidable French armada, commanded by Admiral Hoche, in Bantry Bay. It was intended to expel the British and establish an Irish Republic. The armada consisted of 50 naval warships and 15,000 men. Richard White, having heard about the invasion had trained a militia to oppose the landing as he and his tenants were loyal to the British crown. Munitions were stored in Bantry House for safe keeping. Look outs were posted on Both Mizen Head and Sheep's Head to send warning of an invasion. In the end the French armada never had a chance of landing. The weather was too severe, and even ship to ship communication was too difficult. Ten ships were lost. One of these the Surveillante remained on the bottom of Bantry Bay for almost 200 years.
Surveillante was an Iphigénie-class 32-gun frigate of the French Navy. She took part in the Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War, where she became famous for her battle with HMS Quebec; in 1783, she brought the news that the war was over to America. She later took part in the French Revolutionary Wars. She took part in the Expédition d'Irlande in December 1796. She was badely damaged in a storm and was not seaworthy enough to returnto France. She was scuttled in Bantry Bay in 1796. The wreck was found in 1979. In 1985 it was declared a national monument and work began on the excavation, preservation and exhibition of the ship and its contents.