The loss of the Lord Blayney with all lives on board after it left Warrenpoint in 1833, is one of the coast’s most enduring ghost ship stories.
The wooden paddle steamer had 96 people on board and 200 tonnes of cargo and animals when it set out on its fateful journey on the 20th of December.
The Blayney was one of the first paddle steamers to regularly cross the Irish sea between Ireland and England, and was one of the most popular routes travelled by those from the North and West of Ireland.
Several reasons have been given for the tragic fate that awaited the steamer. One reason given was that a light ship had broken free from its mooring and had led the Lord Blayney onto a sandbank; another is that the vessel was simply hit by terrible weather and was lost due to it.
What is known is that is was scuttled on a sandbank, and all lives were lost, as well as a vast number of pigs.
The only thing to survive the wreck is thought to be a thoroughbred champion racehorse, named “Monteagle”. who was strong enough to swim to dry land.
The most vivid account of the events of that surrounding the demise of the ship were that of Michael G Crawford, who penned a book that included an account of seeing the ghost ship or ‘fetch’ first hand.
In his book, Legendary Stories of the Carlingford Lough, Crawford wrote that he himself saw the ghost mist appear out of a vapoury cloud: “As midnight drew near we were very much surprised to see a small white vapoury cloud, low down in the water, in the direction of the Bar.
“We felt alarmed at this extraordinary phenomenon, and watched it closely.
“As it approached us we could see dimly through the mist the tall masts and funnel of a steamer appear, as if she was rising from the grey breast of the sea; then the mast-head light shining like a star burst full upon us.
“... then she slowly sank, her stern-lights vanishing below the waves.
“The vapoury cloud in which she was enveloped, dissolved, fading out of sight and nothing was left to our view but the calm moonlit waters of Carlingford Lough. The boatmen felt half frozen with fear and the dread of the supernatural scene they had just witnessed and prayed to be delivered from such phantoms of the deep.”
The ghost ship has now been linked to a number of maritime disasters, including the Carlingford Lough disaster of 1916.
The disaster claimed the lives of 86 crewmen, passengers and cattlemen aboard the steamer the Connemara, which collided with ,
On 3 November the SS Connemara, an 1100 ton passenger ferry, plying between Greenore and Holyhead (in Wales), collided in the Lough with SS Retriever, a 500 ton coal boat, and sank with the loss of 97 lives.
On the afternoon of November 3rd 1916, relatives of James Boyle, the only survivor, claimed to have seen the Lord Blayney.