Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

NZ Bound   Index   Search   Hints    Lists   Ports Auckland Is. Wrecks

"Derry Castle"
New Zealand Bound

Geelong to Auckland Islands 1887

On a voyage from Geelong to Falmouth, with a crew of twenty-three, one passenger (McGhie) and a cargo of wheat, the Derry Castle, of Limerick, an iron barque, of 1,317 tons register, and only nine days out from Geelong, she ran onto a reef off Enderby Island in New Zealandís Auckland Islands on the 20th March 1887. At the time of the wreck she was registered in Boston, owned by P Richardson & Co and under the command of Captain J. Goffe.  After 192 days she was officially posted as missing by Lloyds. On 21 September 1887 the 45 ton steamer Awarua owned by Hatch, on an illegal sealing expedition to the Auckland Islands, sailed into Hobsons Bay, Victoria, with the eight survivors from the Derry CastleThe Times reported  the disaster of Derry Castle, that she was built at Glasgow in 1883, by Dobie and Co. and owned by Messrs Francis Spaight and Sons, of Limerick  Sep. 22 page 10.

A Tragedy Immortalized

Otago Witness Friday 23rd September 1887 page 18 column 1

The Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand, have once more been the scene of the sufferings by shipwrecked mariners. Our cablegrams this week announce the arrival in Melbourne of portion of the shipwrecked crew of the Derry Castle, having been rescued from the inhospitable shores of the Auckland Islands by the Awarua. Some 15 of the crew, including the captain and officers, were drowned when the vessel was wrecked. The survivors made their way to Port Ross, where, after suffering great deprivations, they found their way to the depots which are kept there by the New Zealand Government, and they were in this respect much more fortunate than the unfortunate survivors of the General Grant castaway on the same islands. 

Otago Witness September 30th Otago 1887
Table of Contents page 20
The Wreck of the Castle Derry
The Sufferings of the Crew

A Melbourne telegram in the Hobart Mercury of the 22nd inst. gives the following particulars:-

The schooner Awarua, which arrived to-day from New Zealand, brings seven survivors of the barque Derry Castle, which was wrecked on Enderby Island, one of the Auckland group, 15 being drowned. The Derry Castle belonged to Spaight and Co., of Limerick, and was a barque of 1317 tons (built at Glasgow in 1883, lbd 239.8 x 36 x 21.4 ft.)  She left Geelong on 12th March last with a cargo of wheat for a port of call in the Untied Kingdom, under command of Captain Gaff, and nothing was heard of her, and about a month ago serious apprehensions were felt as to her safety. It was only to-day, that news reached Melbourne of her sad fate eight days after leaving Geelong. She struck upon Enderby Island whilst going about 12 knots, and in a very few minutes the ill-fated vessel became a complete wreck. The boats were all smashed and a hole knocked in her bottom, and all the masts but the mizen had gone by the board. Seven of the crew, with one passenger named James McGee, were washed ashore and survived, but the captain and 14 of the officers and crew were all drowned. The survivors were put to great privations, as they were on a barren island, where there were no means of subsistence. One of the Government depots, which are established on many of the islands, was discovered, but it contained nothing but a bottle of salt, and for 10 days they were without fire, but at last they managed to explode a revolver cartridge and got fire. For three months they remained on this barren rock, feeding on seal fish, rabbits and grain which had been washed ashore from the wreck. At length they made a raft of lumber and reached the Government depot at Fort Ross, where they obtained some stores and clothes. They remained there until about a month ago, when the Awarua providentially put in there on a sealing voyage and took the ship-wrecked mariners away. They had suffered terrible privations.

Otago Witness Friday October 7th 1887 page 16 column 3
Wreck of the Castle Derry
Fifteen Lives Lost
Privations of the Survivors
Five Months on Uninhabited Islands
Rescued by a sealer

Melbourne Argus, September 22
On the 12th March last the iron barque Derry Castle, belonging to Limerick, and chartered by Messrs Gibbs, Bright, and Co., left Geelong for Falmouth loaded with wheat, and for 192 days she was never heard of. No trace of her could be found in any port, and she was posted by Lloyd's as missing. To the surprise of all who heard of it, the sealer Awarua, a craft of 45 tons, sailed up the bay yesterday, having on board eight survivors of the wrecked barque, which, as they narrated, had been cast away on Enderby Island, one of the Auckland group, eight days after commencing her homeward voyage with a fair wind. The vessel struck the rocks at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 20th March, and broke up in a very short time. The captain, both mates, and 12 seamen were drowned in trying to reach the reef-bound shore, and seven crew and the only passenger, James McGhie, endured for five months a series of privations, and adventures which seldom occur in real life, and are generally read only in the most stirring works of romance. It is indeed a strange eventful history that is told in the appended narrative, and it cannot fail to strike the reader how nearly the Derry Castle was lost without leaving a trace behind. If she has struck on any other part of the long line of western coast of Enderby Island then the apex of the north-west point, those who reached the shore alive would have perished miserably on the rocks, unable to scale the inaccessible and almost perpendicular cliffs; or, on the other hand, if it had not been for the accident of a pistol cartridge being found in one of McGhie's pockets, it is improbable that they could have survived the exposure to the inclement weather without fire or cooked food to sustain them. In scarcely a lesser degree it was almost fortuitous that, owning to the place having been an old whaling camp, an axe half-buried in the sand was picked up, which enabled the men to build a boat and reach not only the mainland at Port Ross but food, and eventually succour by the sealer. The scene of the wreck is rarely visited by vessels, and only passing craft that was seen in the course of the 92 days' sojourn there failed to see the signals of distress which the castaways displayed and sailed away, leaving them to what would have been despair if they had had no other means of escape. But these are only a few features in this remarkable story of the sea, the particulars of which can hardly be too fully told.

pg18
The Argus got the statement of the solitary passenger, Mr M'Ghie, to itself by paying him a good round sum for it. He seems to be an intelligent man, with a good memory and powers of observation. Captain Drew, of the Awarua, is being made quite a hero, and he and his Maori crew have found a more payable cargo in the castaways than in seals. They are to get a gratuity of some £350 from Parliament.

THE WRECK

The Derry Castle made a quick passage to Enderby Island. She had a fair wind, at times amounting to a gale, behind her, and she made most of her canvas. On the night of the 20th March, only one day more than a week from clearing Geelong, the castarophe occurred without the slightless warning. Never was a vessel sent more blindly or speedily to destruction. It was about 10 minutes to 2 a.m., and the chief officers' watch on deck. All sail was set, and the barque was bowling along 12 knots an hour before the wind. The chief officer gave the order to haul up the mainsail, and the watch were casting loose the braces. Neither the man at the wheel nor the look-out reported land, which the survivors of the watch say could not be seen. The night was hazy, the sky cloudy - what sailors call a rather dirty night - and the wind freshening. Without the slightest alarm being given or effort to change the course of the vessel, she ran bow on to submerged rocks, and bumped over them some distance with terrific force. Then her bow dropped into deep water, and the stern rested high on the reef, with the seas rolling over it. The vessel listed heavily to starboard, and began to break up. She was close to land - about 200 yards - that the frowning coastline now rose clearly into view. The captain, McGhie, and the watch below ran on deck partly dressed. The smashing collision with the reef left no room for doubt that a struggle for life had come. The ship's company ran aft to the port side of the stern, which was highest out of the water, and there was a call for life-buoys, but some of the crew chose to trust to swimming, and would not wear them. In a few minutes the ship parted amidships, and the seas broke over the group on the poop, one by one they were washed off or threw themselves into the water. McGhie was the second last man and last survivor to leave the ship, and strike out as a forlorn hope for the uninhabited shore. Only eight half-dead, storm-beaten men faintly called to each other when the struggle was over. The surf had beaten 15 others to death on the rocks or sucked the swimmers back into the open sea, which did not give up its dead.

A PITIABLE GROUP

It was a pitiable group that drew together to count the roll. Nearly naked some of them, spent with fighting the waves, and without food on an uninhabited island - they had still to look death in the face. The missing were 15, and the living eight, but there was still another shipmate whose life hung on the balance and might be added to their number. He was the sailmaker. He had climbed the misenmast of the doomed ship. In the morning he was seen still clinging to his perch, and then he made a fight for life. He threw himself into the sea, and the castaways on the desolate beach, with nothing but lift left them, saw their shipmate bravely strive to swim to land. He breasted the water for a time, and got nearer to the hands outstretched to save him, and then a curling breaker struck him, and swept him back into the vortex, and he was seen no more. The eye-witnesses state that the poor fellow must have been numbed with the piercing cold of that inclement night and his cramped position on the mast, or his life might not have been quenched so easily.

The daylight brought with it new horrors which the night, terrible though it had been, had veiled. The castaways began to search for shell-fish among the rocks. And then, pointed out by the ravenous sea-hawks, some ghastly sights were seen. There among the seaweed at the foot of the cliffs were three bodies, whose heads were crushed by the cruel breakers pounding them against the rocks. They were the captain, the first officer, and an able seaman who lay dead - mutilated not only by the surf and the rocks, but worse than all, by the sea hawks, who had made them their prey. The captain's face was the least recognisable, and in the holes that the eyes once occupied there were no longer eyes. The dead were stripped of their clothing for the benefit of the half-naked living, and then, in graves dug with a knife, the bodies were interred. The corpses were borne to the grave by men who were themselves in a living grave, with the dread upon them of perishing with naught to give their corpses the protection of burial against the devouring sea hawks.

A DEPLORABLE PLIGHT

For their plight was at this time truly deplorable. They had no fire, no food except shellfish, which was very scare, and but little covering, while autumn had set in and winter was approaching in a bleak southern latitude. They were out of reach of attracting the attention of any passing vessel, as they could not light a beacon nor even exhibit a flag of distress without material, flagstaff or tools. The only palliation of their sufferings was that they found that they could climb to the top of the cliff, which was impracticable at any other part of the coast. The island was explored, and the miserable party were much cheered by finding on the other side of the harbour a small gipsy-like hut, which it appears was formerly used as a depot for stores for shipwrecked seaman. The place was opened with the expectation of finding food, and it was a terrible disappointment to find that all that the hut contained was a pint bottle of salt. The New Zealand Government, it seems, had formerly maintained four depots for the relief of castaways on the Auckland Islands, but latterly dispensed with all but one, on the mainland at Port Ross. To Port Ross, which was tantalisingly in sight, the survivors used to strain their eyes in hopeless yearning to reach it, but they had no materials to make a boat. The wreckage which came ashore from time to time after the Derry Castle totally disappeared on the morning after she went ashore would have sufficed to make at least a raft; but there were not implements to fashion it. So that, in spite of something being seen on the foreshore of Port Ross, which some thought to be a rock, and others affirmed was more like a building, day after day passed without any prospect of escape. At this time, that is to say, for the first week after getting ashore, the men were undergoing great privations. The only food which floated ashore was two 1lb tins of herrings, a pumpkin, and some wheat, which soon began to grow mouldly, and germinate on being removed from the water. At the end of the first week hunger drove to kill a seal, of which there were many (but more properly speaking sea lions), but the raw, rank flesh was too disgusting for even starvation to overcome, and some of the men grew more skeleton-like every day upon the miserable diet which a few shell-fish afforded. There were no birds' eggs, but on one occasion a shag was killed and eaten. To keep themselves warm they had two blankets which floated ashore, several bags and couches of grass, which were spread on the four wickerwork beehive-shaped huts, which everyone assisted to build. For boots they had pieces of sealskin sewn round the feet by means of a sharpened nail and some rope yarn.

AN OPPORTUNE FIND

But their sufferings were respited by a most opportune "find" which shows how ingenious men become in turning everything to the best account when they are in distress. The great desire of the castaways had been to make a fire, which they needed, not only for heat in their ill-clad state, but also to enable them to cook the grain, which was their staple article of food, and which was becoming more spoiled and unwholesome day by day. A box of wooden matches had been found, and had been eagerly prized, albeit they were found thoroughly soaked. The matches were carefully dried in the sun, but one after another had refused to light until the last one was exhausted in the vain endeavour, when no hope remained. The McGhie told his shipmates that he had another resource, which he had been too anxious concerning the doubtful success of the experiment to make known before. He found in his pocket a revolver cartridge, and when he exhibited it hope rose anew, and there was much consultation as how it should be utilised in order to obtain the much-wished-for-fire. At last the device was agreed upon. The bullet was taken out of the cartridge, and in place was put a frayed piece of cotton handkerchief, which had been worn next the bosum in order to thoroughly dry it. Then a hole was cut in a piece of wood to hold the bullet up to its neck, and the cap was detonated by the application of a nail driven against it by a stone. When the powdered ignited the cotton was smouldering, and by careful fanning a blaze was procured, which provided a fire, and this fire was kept alight unremittingly until the party effected their escape. They told off each other as watchmen to site up all night and feed the precious flame, by the aid of which the grain which floated ashore from the wreck was made a tolerably wholesome article of food. They used to parch the grain like roasted coffee, and then beat it down into powder, mix it with hot water, and drink the decoction. Happily there was plenty of fresh water, which gushed out in many rivulets from the hillsides, so that the tortures of thirst were not added to the semi-starvation and the privations of their lonely banishment.

BODIES OF DEAD COMRADES

After about a moth of trail, with no prospect of delievence, the devoted band had further cause for despondency in the finding of two bodies. Only a guess could be made as to the identity of one of the corpses, and the state of the other did not even admit of a conjecture as to whose remains were being interred in the little cemetery made of the knife-dug graves, for nothing but the skeleton was left by the hungry waves and the hungrier maws of the sea vultures. Once more the mourners, who have themselves been mourned as dead by their friends, performed the last rites, and then to mark the desolate spot as a place of burial some rude monuments were reared. Over the captain's head was placed the piece of the wheel of the lost ship which bore her name, and which floated ashore, and at the other side of the little square which enclosed the five coffins a rude pillar, encircled with one of the Derry Castle's life-buoys, was set up, to tell other shipwrecked mariners on this treacherous coast of the fate which befel some of those who were their forerunners into peril.

Time passed drearily on, and still day by day and week by week the seamen and their landsman companion, McGhie, set their eyes covetously towards Port Ross and the object on its foreshore, which looked like the depot of Government stores which was believed to be provided there by a beneficent Government for the relief of those who go down to the sea in ships and fail to take them to port. Surely, never was succour so near and yet so far from those who yearned to reach it. The mainland with its depot, if it existed, was divided only from Enderby Island by a land-locked harbour, which might be easily crossed by the rudest craft. The only point of danger was the tide running in the narrowest part of the harbour; but by making a detour the tide could be avoided. Little more than a raft was needed; in fact, one of the sufferers was willing to attempt the voyage on two planks lashed together; but his companions would have dissuaded him from so rash an attempt even if suitable planks and lashing could have been found. But if a raft would not do, the meanest sort of boat might be trusted to disclose the promised land. Yet no boat could be made without some cutting instrument to fashion, even if ever so clumsily, the decking timber and fittings of the Derry Castle which from time to time floated ashore. It seemed that the party must hope on and hope ever the succour would come, and that they could do nothing more to help themselves than to providently parch all the wheat that came ashore and husband it carefully by keeping everyone to the allowance mutually agreed upon, and which was faithfully observed.

A GLEAM OF HOPE

But on the 92nd day of this servitude and suspense, a prospect of release suddenly presented itself by the discovery, almost hidden in the sand, of an old axe head, which had been left near the old depot by some whaling party. Here was the tool for making a boat - a very odd one it was true, but still a boat- at last, and the work was immediately entered upon with hopeful zest by everyone. As the boat could not have been launched from the side of the island on which the barque was wrecked, on account of the surf, the men carried bundles of the wreckage up the cliff and across the island to the old depot, where the boat was in due course constructed. It was nothing more than an oblong box, 6ft by 2Ĺ feet, with the ends running up a little like a Norwegian prow, so as to do duty as a keel or cutwater. The caulking was done with odds and ends of rope yarn, driven into seams with a piece of iron hoop, which had also been left, together with the axe and an old pot, by the whaling party, whose gifts, were worth as much as the Midas nugget to the castaways, who were bravely struggling to hold to the lives which had already passed through many perils. The boat was launched, and with many hopes and fears for their safety and that of there rude vessel, two of the party - Sullivan and Rennie - pushed off from the shore and essayed to cross the water which divided the half-starved, nearly naked mariners from a feast of plenty, of only the stores at the Port Ross depot could be brought within their grasp. The dingey gradually passed out of sight of the six wretched men standing on the uninhabited coast, and one must hear them relate their experiences in order to vividly understand their feelings as the frail craft went away freighted with the hopes of men whose lives depended upon the success of her mission. While she was gone they were subjected to

ANOTHER CRUEL DISAPPOINTMENT

A sail hove in sight - a sail appeared in the harbour - while they had the means of making such a smoky beacon as a passing vessel might be fully expected to see; but the beacon was made in vain; the vessel put about and left the harbour behind and the men to their fate. It seemed to them that she must be a sealing poacher, who mistook the fire for that of people who were on the watch for poachers, and so gave the island a wide berth; but be that as it may, she came and went and the survivors were left to rely on their crank punt, upon the trusty sailors who manned it, and the fulfilment of the belief that the Government has stocked the depot with provisions. Two days passed without any message from the punt, and then on the third day smoke was seen on Port Ross, which assured the watchers that their gallant emissaries were safe. They soon came back with glad tidings, and provisions and clothes, to prove what they had seen in spying out the country. At last, after four months of harassing anxiety and insufficient food, shelter and clothing, they would be housed fed, and clothed in comparative comfort, even their Robinson Crusoe life should be prolonged indefinitely, or until the Government steamer Stella should make her next periodical inspection to the Auckland Islands in search of shipwrecked mariners.

LIFE AT PORT ROSS

The transportation of the men and the remainder of their store of roasted corn from Enderby Island to Port Ross was accompanied without accident, although several trips had to be made before the whole could be freighted across. An attempt was made to employ an old boat that was found on Port Ross, but after binding her round with wire to prevent her going to pieces, she took in water so freely it was abandoned. The dingey, too, had to be frequently patched up, but she did the work required of her without mishap, yet in a very slow and toilsome way. [This dingey is now at the Southland Museum, where it has been conserved.] In a few days the whole of the band, with such processions as they had, were established at Port Ross depot, which contained clothing, fat, and biscuits, but these were luxuries to the shipwrecked band, who, however, had still before them the prospect of a long and undesirable detention ay the port. This was the more unwelcome to them, inasmuch as while the health of the party had been fairly good, several of them were suffering from the exposure they had undergone. The weather during the sojourn at Enderby Island had been variable, with not a few fine days, but the time of the year - the middle of winter - had made camping out with little shelter or covering almost unendurable, especially for such a protracted period.

RESCUED AT LAST

The men were still tortured by the uncertainty as to when they would be released. They had been from the 20th March to the 18th June on Enderby Island - they kept count by notching each day as it passed - and they were destined to remain without further succour until the 19th July, when the Awarua put into Port Ross in search of a boat which she had left there some time previously. The men on shore, overjoyed 'at hearing the vessel arrive and drop her anchor - it being dark - hailed her, but as the weather was bad they did not venture to board her in their punt. Early next morning Captain L.F. Drew went ashore from the Awarua, and had a great reception from the shipwrecked party, whom he immediately took under his protection, and finally brought to Melbourne at considerable loss to himself and to his crew, who have shares in what was intended to be a five months' sealing cruise, and hence, while the captain and owner have lost their cruise and the use of their vessel for a period long enough to spoil the trip, the mariners who formed the crew have had to pay a great deal out of their small means in contributing to effect a work of humanity in saving the shipwrecked people. It is surely is only necessary to explain how the loss has occurred and upon whom it falls in order to ensure that compensation shall be made either by the Government or by the generosity of the public, who were not slow to express their appreciation of the manner in which the Queenscliff lifeboat crew did their work when the Gange went ashore. [The Austrian barque, Gange, from London, after entering the heads, struck off Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff, at midnight, 23 July 1887. The crew were saved.] The captain and crew of the Awarua did not risk there lives in actually saving the people of the Derry Castle, but they encountered such sever wether in coming to Melbourne, that the schooner was well-neigh lost. The survivors of the barque, on their arrival in Melbourne, obtained a cordial reception at the Sailor's Home, and the exception of McGhie, who is badly affected with rheumatism, none of them appear to be much worse for all that they have undergone.

THE SURVIVORS 

The actual names of the survivors are not given, but from the names mentioned in their narratives we find the following mentioned
James McGhie (the only passenger) of Limerick (came home to Plymouth on the Orizaba from Australia)
    and seaman
Nicholas Wallace
Alexander Nyeberg
Alfred Jarwell
William Rennie
Daniel Sullain
Osborn
Logan

THE DROWNED

That only names of those drowned given are:-
Captain J Goffe
Robbins (1st mate)
Rasmussen (2nd mate)
Peterson (seamen)
McGill (seamen)

SUPPOSED CAUSE OF THE DISASTER

Captain Drew ascribes the loss of the Derry Castle to an inaccurate chart. He stated that there was a chart published some years ago which placed the northern extremity of the Auckland Islands where their southern point really is, or 32 miles south of their proper position, and he is of the opinion that Captain Goffe had one of these misleading charts, and considered that he was steering over 30 miles to the northward of the islands when he was reality making straight for Enderby Islands. Captain Drew added that there is a clear gate or open space covering 150 miles of navigable seaway between the Auckland Islands and the Snares: and it is between these rocks and the Auckland Islands that nearly ll the vessels bound from the southern coast of Australia to Cape Horn pass. Captain Goffe must have ascertained his exact position by his observations the day preceding the night of the disaster, and would have never have tried to steer so close in to Enderby Island, especially when he had reasons to believe that he would pass it at night. The only conclusion, therefore, that the captain of the Awarua can arrive at is that Captain Goffe unfortunately possessed a copy of that old inaccurate chart, and decided upon passing 30 miles to the northward of the Auckland Islands, and believing that he was doing so ran unawares on to the dreaded coast of Enderby. There was nothing to be gained, no time to be saved, nor inducement whatever to steer within five or 10 miles of the Auckland Islands.

Captain Drew, who knows Enderby Island well, also says that if the Derry Castle had only been 1000 yards further to seaward on the course she was making when she struck the rocks she would have passed that fatal point, and no one on board of her would have known the danger she was in. The point in question juts out on the shape of an acute angle, and the ill-fated barque was sailing broadside on to it when she was lost. Nothing is more clear in connection with the deplorable catastrophe that that the land was not seen by anyone up to the time of the striking of the ship; but whether, or to any other preventable cause can only be determined by injury before a competent tribunal.

GENERAL

The Government of Victoria was decided to grant £150 to the captain and crew of the Awarua for their gallant conduct in rescuing the survivors of the Derry Castle, conditionally on £200 additional being raised by public subscription. It is believed that £350 will be sufficient to compensate the crew for the loss they incurred in sustaining the survivors and abandoning their sealing cruise. It is probable that arrangements will be made with the New Zealand Government for a more frequent visitation to the islands of Bass' Strait, and for provisioning additional depots for the relief of castaways, most of the vessels wrecked in the straits during recent years having been traders between the two colonies. The matter will also be brought under the notice of the Admiralty with the view of more frequent visits being paid to the islands by H.M.'s vessels. 


Mr Joseph Jewell, one of the survivors of the General Grant, (wayback) now a stationmaster at Trafalgar, Victoria, in a letter to the Melbourne Argus says: - "I can deeply sympathise with the castaways, because my wife, myself, and eight others resided 10 months on Enderby Island and eight months on the Main Island. I know every inch of Enderby Island, and the only thing that surprises me is that there is one left to tell the tale of this wreck. There is a sunken rock about four miles north-east of the middle of Enderby Island, and nothing whatever to show its position, excepting the sea which break over it. If a vessel happened to strike that rock it would be impossible for anything living to reach the island on account of the strong current that always runs there, which current I have no doubt had something to do with the present wreck. No pen can describe our sufferings in the first eight months on those islands, and I am sure the survivors from the Derry Castle must have gone through something of the same. We had no compass or any other instrument with us, and when we left for New Zealand we had to use our own judgment, and had nothing to steer by. Knowing those islands so well, shipwrecked crews might get a landing and still perish, as it is so hard to get to Port Ross from many parts of the islands. I think there should be two depots, one at Port Ross and one at Carnley Harbour. Carnley Harbour is about 30 or 35 miles from Port Ross. I would also recommend that a few boas made of corrugated iron, so that they would keep for years, should be placed, one at anyrate, on Enderby Island, and one on Adams Island, also one on a point about eight miles east of Port Ross, with some matches secured in a dry place in the boat, an axe, and directions where to find the depots. With these appliances no party of men need starve, as we survived for 18 months and 10 days with far less to start with."


The Wreck of the 'Derry Castle' 

Day of ending for beginnings! 
Ocean hath another innings, 
Ocean hath another score; 
And the surges sing his winnings, 
And the surges shout his winnings, 
And the surges shriek his winnings, 
All along the sullen shore. 

Sing another dirge in wailing, 
For another vessel sailing 
With the shadow-ships at sea; 
Shadow-ships for ever sinking -- 
Shadow-ships whose pumps are clinking, 
And whose thirsty holds are drinking 
Pledges to Eternity. 

Pray for souls of ghastly, sodden 
Corpses, floating round untrodden 
Cliffs, where nought but sea-drift strays; 
Souls of dead men, in whose faces 
Of humanity no trace is -- 
Not a mark to show their races -- 
Floating round for days and days. 

Ocean's salty tongues are licking 
Round the faces of the drowned, 
And a cruel blade seems sticking 
Through my heart and turning round. 

Heaven! shall HIS ghastly, sodden 
Corpse float round for days and days? 
Shall it dash 'neath cliffs untrodden, 
Rocks where nought but sea-drift strays? 

God in heaven! hide the floating, 
Falling, rising, face from me; 
God in heaven! stay the gloating, 
Mocking singing of the sea! 

December - 1887 
by Henry Lawson

Published in The Bulletin on 24 December 1887 and in his book In the Days When the World was Wide and Other Verses, in 1887. 

Pictures
1. The Derry Castle homeward bound March 11, 1887.
2. The wreck, March 20, 1887. 
3. Huts erected by the survivors on Enderby Island.
4. The way the cartridge was fired.
5. "Hurrah! Boys, Fire! Fire!"
6. Attacked by a sea lion.
7. Crossing in the punt to Auckland Island. 
8. Watching the fire.
9. "A sail! A sail!"
10. The Awarua leaving the islands in a snowstorm. 
11. The Awarua in danger.
12. Mr. James M'Ghie, the passenger.
Shows the ship as it left port, during the storm and crashed upon rocks; the survivors, including one passenger.


The Derry Castle sailors found a depot at Sandy Bay, Enderby Island. They built rough shelters for themselves around it and on the edge of a windswept cliff overlooking the sea, they laid to rest those of their fellow crew members who had been washed up on shore. They marked the grave site with the ship's figurehead. The grave for the dead Derry Castle sailors was maintained by the government for many years. Then, it sank gradually into the ground. During the Second World War, the ship's figurehead was dug up by coast watchers stationed on the islands. Along with other relics of the wreck, it was brought to New Zealand and put in the Canterbury Museum. A tombstone was put in its place at the gravesite.

Te Aroha News, 7 November 1888, Page 5
Christchurch, Nov. 3.
The Government steamer Stella arrived at Lyttelton yesterday from her annual cruise to the Snares, Campbell, Auckland, Antipodes, and Bounty Islands. Captain Fairchild found the provision depots at all the islands intact. The beach at Auckland Island was strewn with relics of the ill-fated Derry Castle. The figurehead of the vessel, which is a life - size bust of the Queen, was found on the beach, and by Captain Fairchild's instructions was placed over the graves of the four poor fellows who were buried on the Island by their shipmates. Other relics such as name boards, lifebuoys, etc, were secured and brought to New Zealand. One board with "Derry Castle, Limerick," painted on it, Captain Fairchild intends sending Home to the late owner, of the vessel.

Shipwreck items
Trousers c. 1900
Signpost c.1900