Irish Ships and Shipping

Irish Shipping Ltd.

Crew and Ships

Irish Sycamore fire 1965



Photos and cuttings from Kieran O' Connell  
  Taken at mass in New Orleans for Tom Paul Ring and the seamen of the Irish Sycamore 
with some of their shipmates present.
Capt.O'Shea surveys the scene    


Fire Sweeps Through Irish Sycamore in New Orleans 


Cork And Limerick Victims 

FOUR Irishmen three from Cork, one from Limerick died in a fire which raced through the upper deck of the cargo ship Irish Sycamore (10,500 gross tons) in New Orleans yesterday. The vessel, owned by Irish Shipping Ltd., and registered in Dublin, was tied up at a public commodities dock on the Mississippi River. The cause of the fire was not determined.

The dead were named as: Patrick Cowhey (44), a member of the engine room staff. whose wife, Noreen lives at Gardiner's Hill, St, Luke's. Cork; Thomas Ring (36), ordinary seaman, whose mother lives at Sarsfield Terrace. Youghal, Co. Cork; Michael Walsh (21 ) deckhand, whose mother lives at Claughaun Avenue, Garryowen.. Limerick, and William Gaule, able seaman, a native of Youghal with an address at 34 Kenilworth Court. Curson  Crescent, London. N.W.10 survived by his parents, None of the remainder of  the crew of about 40 was  injured.
Captain Padraig O'Shea, the ship's master who resides in Castle­knock. Co. Dublin contacted the

Company's Dublin headquarters yesterday afternoon. He said that the five was discovered in the crews' quarters about 4 a.m. local time 01 a.m. Irish time). He believed that the men were overcome by fumes. One report said their  was an explosion. The blaze was put out by harbour city and Coast Guard 'fire fighting units in two hours. The four men who lost their lives signed on the Sycamore al the Cork Dockyard in March last They had previously served on other ships of the company. . The Sycamore is on time char­ter operating in the Far East between Japan and the US.

The ship which left Dublin last March had arrived at the Mississippi River port on Thursday with a load of steel products from Japan. It had been due to depart today. Many of the victims shipmates stood on the smoldering deck with tears in their eyes as a Catholic chaplain administered last rites.

The fire was first reported about
  4 a.m. One of the first to spot it was Michael Murphy(29), a seaman. He said he smelled smoke. then saw it drifting through his sleeping quarters.

He began shouting to his shipmates and' set off the ship's alarm system. He was joined by a 22­ year-old junior engineer, identified only as K. Edwards of Dublin  "I was asleep in the engineer's quarters," Edward’s said, "I saw the smoke and I jumped up and started waking up the lads."

He ran on deck to escape the thick smoke, then decided to go below again to see if any of his shipmates remained asleep but clouds of smoke forced him back. Dennis Kirk (18) apprentice  Seaman from Clare, was on cargo watch. He saw smoke seeping from a door to the steward's alleyway just as the fire alarm sounded.


The late Mr. Patrick Cowhey of 12 Gardiner’s hill St.Lukes Cork  was aged 44 Years, and the father of four young children, the eldest at whom is 16 years and the youn­gest eight years. They are Pat (16), Michael (15). Marie (11) Cathleen (8).

Mr Cowhey, who joined the Irish Sycamore in March last, when she sailed from Rushbrook, Co.Cork following refitting had been in employment with Irish Shipping for the past eight Years. He was expected home in December next. He was previously employed by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. 
Michael John Walsh was a deck­hand aboard the Sycamore. He joined the Limerick Steam Ship Co as an able seaman four years ago and later transferred to Irish Shipping Ltd. This was his first deep sea voyage and he was due home at Christmas. He was aged 21 years and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Walsh of 29 Claughan Avenue, Garryowen. Yesterday morning his mother received a letter from him stating that he bought same lovely china pieces as a Christmas present for the family. He has a brother Gerry (13). three sisters. Noreen (14). Margaruite (20) and Marie.

Mr. T. P. Ring (Jnr.) (26). of 68 Sarsfield Terrace Youghal, was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. P. Ring. He joined the Irish Sycamore on 'March 10 Iast and although he had been to sea before this was his first long voyage and he was, expected home in December. He was single and is survived by his parents, three brothers and four sisters.

The late Mr. Ring's sisters are Mrs. Margaret O’Connell, of Dominic Collins Place. Youghal, Co. Cork; Mrs. Kathleen Bulman. also of Dominic Collins Place. Youghal: Mrs. Linda Butler. who lives with the family and Miss Teresa Ring  His brothers are Messrs. Pat­rick, Joseph and Sean Ring.

William Gaule, aged about 27 years is survived by his parents. both of whom reside in London. He left Youghal almost seven years ago, and was a frequent visitor to his home town.

An aunt of the dead man, Mrs. C, Fitzgerald. resides at Mall Lane. Youghal, Co. Cork. Deceased signed on as a member of the crew of the Irish Sycamore on March 10 last, The father of the dead man was reported to be serving with the British Army.


Bodies Of Ship Blaze Victims Brought Home

T HE bodies of the four crewmen who lost their lives in a fire on board the Irish Sycamore at New Orleans on July 23 last arrived in Dublin last night. Two of the bodies are being taken home today, those of Patrick Cowhey, Gardiner’s Hill. Cork, and Thomas Ring, Sarsfield Tce. Youghal. The body of Michael Walsh, of Cloughaun Ave. Garryowen, Limerick. was taken to Limerick last night, and the body of William Gaule, a native of Youghal, was flown out for burial in London, where his parents reside. Relatives of the four men were among those on the quayside as the lead-lined coffins containing the remains were taken from the Irish Maple, sister ship of the Sycamore. and placed in separate hearses. The Sycamore is at present undergoing repairs in New Orleans.


The remains were put on board at. Norfolk, Virginia, and the Maple's flags flew at half mast on the journey to Dublin,

Requiem Mass was celebrated at the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole, Seville Place, by Rev, D. D. McCarthy, C.C., who also received the remains on the quay­side.

Deck apprentices of the Irish Shipping fleet formed a guard of honor as the remains were landed.

The Taoiseach was represented by his aide-de-camp Comdt. J. O'Brien. Also present were Mr. P. H. Greer, Chairman, Irish Shipping Ltd.; Mr. S. McKenzie, Mr.N.Griffin, Mr., G. Jones and Mr. F, Robbins (directors); Mr. R J. O’Halloran, Assistant General Manager and Mr. P. P. English, secretary of the company; Mr. D. O'Riordan, representing the Minister for Transport and Power', Capt. T, P. McKenna, Director of the Irish Naval Service; Mr. J. Fogarty, Irish Manager of Marconi; Mr. W. H. Waggott, representing Lloyds Register of Shipping; Mr. W.J. Stacey General Secretary of the Seamen s Union of Ireland; Mr. J. Dunne, General Secretary of the Marine, Port and General Workers Union. 


The attendance also included: Capt. P. O'Shea. master of the Irish Sycamore and other officers of the vessel; Capt. M. D. Langran, master of the lrish Maple; Capt. M. J. O'Dwyer, master of the Irish Pine: Capt. T. H.P.McCormack, President,, and Comdt. H. R.O'BrIen, Vice-President of the Organization of National Ex. Servicemen.

Mr. Andy Minihan. Chairman of New Ross Council, whose son was an apprentice on the Sycamore, was also present.


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