Ireland gets new website on historic shipwrecks

Ireland has launched a new website providing free public access to information on thousands of historic wrecks including warships in Irish waters.

The launch of the Wreck Viewer was announced by the country’s Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., on April 25.

As informed, the Wreck Viewer is a digital service that has been developed to facilitate easy access to the Wreck Inventory of Ireland Database compiled by the Department’s National Monuments Service.

The database holds information on over 18,000 known and likely wreck sites both off the Irish coast and in inland waterways. These wrecks span the entirety of maritime travel around and within the island, from prehistoric logboats to medieval trading vessels, warships and ocean liners. There are exact locations for approximately 4,000 of the recorded wrecks which are displayed on an interactive map.

The map also provides summary information on individual wrecks and their history, voyage, cargo, passengers and, if known, the circumstances of their loss. Information on the 14,000 wrecks in the database for which locations have yet to be fully confirmed can also be downloaded. Further details of these wrecks will be added to the database as they become available.

“The Wreck Viewer provides information on shipwrecks across a wide expanse of time. Of particular interest, in this decade of centenaries, are the stories of those wrecks from the First World War. Over 1000 ships were lost off the coast of Ireland during that conflict, in effect bringing the Western Front to our shoreline and alerting the Irish people to both the grim realities of war and the scale of the tragic loss of life that took place on land and sea,” Minister Madigan said.

The National Monuments Service is tasked with protecting and preserving Ireland’s underwater cultural heritage. The Wreck Viewer will contribute to that goal and will be of use to all marine environment users, the diving community, researchers and to those who might be undertaking development in the marine, lacustrine or riverine environments, according to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.