Friday 23 August 2019

From our archives

Fethard man in Gulf ship attack horror

July 1988

A Fethard seaman was seriously reconsidering his future this week, in the wake of a terrifying attack on his vessel by an Iranian gunboat in the Persian Gulf's notorious Straits of Hormuz.

Eleven 100mm rockets pierced the hull of the Norwegian gas tanker 'Berge Strand' just a few feet away from where Alan Powell, of Ralph, Fethard on Sea, and his 22 crewmates were huddled for cover.

The attack left the ship in flames and in need of more than £1 million of repairs when it limped into Dubai port later that day.

Speaking of 'the most frightening experience in more than twenty years at sea' from his home on Tuesday, Alan Powell said that he would have some very serious thinking to do before putting himself into such a dangerous situation again.

Describing the ordeal, the 38-year-old said the attack occurred as their vessel sailed through the Persian Gulf trouble spot while returning from Japan.

'Our captain noticed on the radar that a small unidentified vessel was homing in on us at speed, and sounded the ship's alarms.

'The crew members were ordered to make for the passenger deck and stay low, and as the gunboat came in to the starboard, we were told to run and lie down on the port side.'

Saying that when the gunboat eventually fired, there were five or six direct hits which tore through the hull and on through three more interior partition walls, Alan Powell added that, although they then noticed thick smoke and flames, they were told to stay put because the gunboat was still there.

'Seconds later, there was a further volley of shells, a number of which entered the hull within feet of where we were all crouched for cover,' he continued, 'it was pure luck we weren't all killed.'

After the second volley, the gunboat sped off and the shocked and frightened crew set about fighting the blaze.

Last Sunday's attack, which occurred just hours after the deckhands on board the 'Berge Strand' had heard about an Iranian Airbus being shot down with the loss of 290 lives earlier that day, was the second time that the Norwegian gas tanker has been singled out by Iranian gunboats in the past forty days.

One crew member was injured in the earlier attack, but there were no injuries in last week's incident.

'It was only because a number of the crew members had sought leave following the earlier ordeal that I was on in the first place,' Alan Powell said, adding that 'there are tremendous strains on crews going through the Persian Gulf, and it's very difficult to go back again.'

'I will have some serious thinking to do about the situation over the coming weeks,' he added.

Alan said that although there were warships only 15 miles away from where they were attacked by the Iranians, his ship did not have a military escort because of the huge cost being asked for protection by the navies who patrol the Gulf.

81-year-old trawler 'Guillemot' is sold

July 1977

The 81-year-old MFV Guillemot, of the Kilmore Quay fleet, was sold recently. The sale breaks a link lasting 81 years with Kilmore Quay, as the new owner is from Ballyhack.

The boat, which is a 25-footer, has an interesting history. As a result of the big disaster in the port of Kilmore Quay in 1896 and subsequent driver to rebuild the port and its fleet, two boats were built in the Wexford dockyards, now the premises of Clover Meats. One of these was called the MFV Lady Maurice, which was built by Simon Lambert for Johnny Walsh. In later years, this was re-named the 'Guillemot'.

Among the many owners were the Power family, Jack Sinnott, and the recent owners, Jack Blake and Paddy Walsh. The most interesting point about the boat, as the older members of the fishing port will tell you, is that the Guillemot's structure is as strong and sturdy today as any boat in the harbour, which speaks volumes for the workmanship of Simon Lambert and his men in the dockyard.

Alan keeps his cool on his new TV slot

July 1995

2FM radio personality and Wexford town drama guru, Alan Corcoran, is becoming a familiar face on Friday night TV thanks to his new programme, 'Country Cool'.

Alan presents the programme which highlights new Irish country music, shows some of the best American country videos, and yes, has some line dancing thrown in too!

The programme is the brainchild of RTE's south eastern correspondent, Michael Ryan, however it is Alan who presents all the links for the programme.

Anyone watching the programme over the next couple of weeks might recognise the surroundings as well, as four of the links were recorded in Rackard's of Killanne, which is well known for its line dancing nights.

Recording of 'Country Cool' finished three weeks ago, and it will be broadcast on RTE1 at 6.30 p.m. on Fridays starting this week.

Alan has had some TV experience in the past, presenting a country-style concert show on RTE. However, this is more intricate, he explains, with more interviewing and link-ups. He also had the job of selecting the music and bands, and carrying out all the musical editing work.

Self-service banking coming to Wexford

July 1987

Self-service banking will come to Wexford next month as computerised technology continues to make a huge impact on the banking business.

Behind the move is the Bank of Ireland, and they have chosen Wexford's Custom House Quay branch for the major development.

The bank is installing three new machines to make as much information as possible available to the customer at the push of a button.

Wexford has been chosen because the existing PASS machine there is the most heavily used Bank of Ireland in the whole country outside of Dublin.

Coming into play from Tuesday August 2 will be a Rapid Cash Service that is even faster than PASS, a statement printing service with full or mini statements available, and a customer enquiry service to give details of up-to-date balances, cheque transactions, and standing orders.

Work is now taking place to provide a new lobby for the equipment. When it comes into operation, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., Monday to Friday, including lunch hours. Unlike PASS, it is not be available around the clock, as the equipment is expensive and not vandal-proof.

Cry Before Dawn in the Theatre Royal

July 1990

Wexford band Cry Before Dawn have appeared at top venues in New York, Boston, and throughout Britain, but believe it or not, they haven't yet played the most famous of Wexford town's concert halls.

This Saturday night, however, the local pop heroes will finally take the stage at the Theatre Royal in Wexford. Taking a break from their second album - the follow up to silver-seller 'Crimes of Conscience' - the band tops a talented bill of local rockers.

Young bands Twilight Dreams and The Vision are also lined up for the show, which is a benefit night in aid of the Wexford team trip to the New York Games for the Physically Challenged.

Doors will open at 8 p.m. and tickets at just £5 each are available from the Theatre Royal box office in High Street, from Sweet Music, and from White's Electrical.

From the adverts

July 1988

'The film you have had to wait to see' was how the Abbey Cinema in Wexford advertised Monty Python's 'The Life of Brian' in July 1988, when Irish audiences were finally allowed see it after it had been banned upon release some ten years earlier. Other adverts in the entertainment section included plugs for Linda Martin playing live at The Horse & Hound, and Sonny Knowles at The Broadway Tavern.

Wexford People

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