Journal Volume 1 1992
Old Greystones and Ancient Rathdown (continued/16)
Another near-tragedy connected with Greystones relates to the very end of the First World War. On 15 September 1918 the schooner Joseph Fisher, owned by William H. Dann of The Beach (who in the 1922 Directory was described as a high-class grocer and wine merchant), was bringing a cargo of coal from Garston near Liverpool to Wicklow when it was sunk by a submarine off the Codling lightship. The crew of four drifted in an open boat for sixteen hours until they were rescued off the Isle of Man and landed at Peel (84). Greystones fishermen weren't behind in coming to the rescue either. In August 1867 when there was a railway accident due to coastal erosion they were quick to arrive on the scene and offer help (85).
The harbour, having ceased or been unfit to serve any commercial purpose, fell into decay. The groyne disappeared and with it about one third of the pier. Only the boat- slip and the dock remained. Despite belated efforts to encourage it, the tide went against the local fishing industry, which wasn't able to compete with steam trawlers landing their catches much nearer to the Dublin markets. In 1968 the base of the Kish Lighthouse was purchased by Greystones and towed here to give protection to the harbour (86). Fortunately, we're able to end this short account of the harbour on a hopeful note, for there's a proposal - or should I say a decision? - to build a marina here. Let's hope than if and when that happens the harbour will at last come into its own, marking the beginning of a new era for the Greystones of the twenty-first century.
I want to finish with a few remarks and facts about the first four decades of this century in Greystones - that is, down to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Most academic historians are, I believe, agreed that nothing is history until at least fifty years after it happens.
The early years of the century seem to have been uneventful, apart from a public meeting of the boatmen, fishermen and inhabitants held outdoors in September 1905 to discuss the restoration of the harbour. Old postcards show how the harbour looked then. In the same year the Christian or Plymouth Brethren were founded here. The Holy Faith Sisters came in the following year, 1906. In 1910 three noteworthy things happened. These were: the building which is now the County Library headquarters and branch library was completed; the Greystones Electric Light and Power Company was set up on Hillside Road: it was taken over when the ESB was established by statute in 1927; and Greystones featured in Porter's Post Office Guide and Directory of the County Wicklow, a publication brought to my notice by the County Librarian, Joseph C. Hayes, DipLib (CGL1), FLAI.