Friday, December 28, 2007

Treasures of the Deep

The Sunday Press, 14th June, 1987

In the summer of 1987 I was part of a diving expedition to search for artifiacts from the lost ship "The Aid" which was wrecked close to the shore at Killoughter in Co Wicklow.

The photograph above was taken a few weeks before the expedition started as part of a publicity campaign. The photo was taken in front of the Dept of Zoology building and I happened to be around to be included - it was published on the back page of the now defunct Sunday Press on 14th June, 1987.

The 10-day expedition was a partial success. Some parts of the wreck were found, but the main body of the ship was not. It had previously been discovered by members of the Dublin University Sub-Aqua Club, but despite extensive searching we failed to locate it. We found lots of ballast stones and a few rusted bits. Probably the most interesting item was a broken lead tube of the type used to transport valuable paintings - it was rumoured that The Aid was carrying a Carrivaggio.

We had a mix of camping and staying in a local B&B - the campsite was located on the beach. There were about 20 people on the expedition altogether.

What I remember most was the heat and the algal bloom that occured just as we started. The bloom spoiled all our ropes and reduced visibility a lot. The sea current was very strong, so diving was confined to mid-tide. On one occasion I was washed down along the beach. I felt safe as I had a life jacket as well as my dry suit on - after a few minutes the expedition's came to the rescue. I wasn't really in any danger, but it did give us a reminder as to what the dangerous current can do. There were some follow-up expeditions, but I did not take part in any.

The article that accompanied the picture was written by Colm Keena, now a well known Irish Times journalist. He also graduated in Zoology the same year (1983) as me - small world.

There is also a report on the expedition in the Database of Irish Expedition Reports web site.

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