In the early 1900s County Wexford being a sea bordering county had several coastguard stations dotted along it’s coast. One of these was located just south west of Duncormick, at the entrance to a small inlet along the Ballyteigh burrow called Bar of Lough. A station had existed here since around 1839, being visible on the ordinance survey maps from then. At around midnight on Saturday the 19th of June 1920 members of the south Wexford brigade IRA, estimated to number about 50, surrounded the residence of the chief of the coastguards, located about 550m from the station.
One of the coastguards who was leaving the Bar of Lough station was captured and brought to the chiefs house to seek entry. However, upon knocking on the door the chief became suspicious and fired several shots at those outside. The raiders replied with their own gunfire and after a firefight lasting about 20 minutes the chief was told his building had been mined and unless he surrendered it would be blown up. Meanwhile a number of coastguards from the station, upon hearing the gunfire, proceeded towards their chiefs residence, aiming to provide help. However, they were taken by surprise while on route and captured. Following this incident the raiders searched both buildings and took 5 Webley revolvers and a quantity of ammunition away with them. They were also proceeding to take several rockets which were used with the saving apparatus, but upon learning of this use they took only one.
Despite the ordeal the newspaper reports compliment the raiders; ‘Private property was not interfered with and one of the raiders informed a coastguard that any man found pilfering would be shot. The raiders treated the wifes and children of the coastguards with the greatest courtesy and the chief and men at the station praised the gentlemanly manner in which the raid was carried out. They state the attacking party were most considerate’. (New Ross Standard, 25th June 1920). The operation was not sporadic but done with detailed planning. Before the raid telegraph wires were cut and outposts set up nearby in case of any unwelcomed arrivals. Several people who happened upon them were held up by armed men, questioned and then escorted back to their homes. In total an estimated 150 men were thought to have taken part in the operation. On Sunday morning after the raid men could be heard marching back through Duncormick and Carrig.
This would not be the final time Bar of Lough coastguard station gained attention during the period. It was raided again on Sunday the 8th of May 1921 with doors and windows broken. Canvass candles and bunting was reported stolen with the raid presumably undertaken to procure weapons and ammunition (New Ross Standard 18th November 1921). Two months later on the 10th of July the coastguard station along with the officers house and boathouse was destroyed by fire (Enniscorthy Guardian 16th July 1921).
The Site Today
Nothing remains of the coastguard station at Bar of Lough today. After it was burned in 1921 the stations ruins remained standing up until about 2001 when it was demolished and the stone taken away for use elsewhere. Although nothing remains of the station other elements of the site survive.
A high stone wall marking the site boundary to the south and west survives. Its height would have provided protection from the sea winds. The most notable features on site are the boathouse with its slipway. The boathouse is depicted on the ordinance survey maps from 1905 and survives today as a stone built rectangular structure with a concrete roof.
The slip in front of the boathouse survives with its neat cobbled surface exposed leading down to the sea shore.
Cut stones are laid along the southern end of the site exposed to the sea. The ground here slopes gently upwards from the shore towards the seawall with the stones laid flat on top. Both elements designed to reduce erosion of the shore line. The coastguardsmen’s quarters still survives today and is a private residence.
Enniscorthy Guardian 16th July 1921
New Ross Standard, 25th June 1920
New Ross Standard 18th November 1921
South Wexford Brigade Activity Reports
Cover Photo: Bar of Lough coastguard stations boathouse and slipway