1st motorised fishing boat in the British Isles designed & built in Ireland 1908

In 1905 John Tyrrell and Sons, Arklow, Co. Wicklow designed and built a model for a motorised fishing boat which was in contrast to the dominance of steam driven vessels.  In 1907 the Department of Agriculture had this experimental boat built to this design and it was named Ovoca.  This was the first fishing vessel specially designed to be motorized in the British Isles and created a new class of boat a Motor Fishing Vessel (MFV).
25 HP Danish ‘Dan’ engine of the hot-bulb type similar to one installed in the Ovoca

This vessel was 50 ft. (15.2 m.) overall length, 14 ft. (4.3 m.) beam and 6 ft. (1.8 m.) draft.  It was powered by a 25 HP Danish ‘Dan’ engine of the hot-bulb type, having two cylinders and a controllable pitch propeller.  The winch was belt-driven by the main engine.  A version of the cruiser stern was adopted and was a considerable departure from the sailing type of the time, being much more suitable for power propulsion.
The Ovoca at Balbriggan Harbour, Co. Dublin

Originally registered to Charles Toole, 26 Harbour Road, Arklow the vessel was an immediate success.  It was intended mainly for drift-net fishing and to do some seine and long line fishing.  After her first year it was found that the large sail area was not required so both masts were shortened and the bowsprit and mizzen boom removed.  The Ovoca was brought to Balbriggan, Co Dublin by John Carton just before WW1.
Motorised schooner 'J. T. & S' at Dublin Quays, May, 1946 

The Tyrrell’s adapted their design for the larger schooner type vessels and built the 95 ft (29 m) motor-powered three-masted schooner J.T. & S.  The 120-ton boat was powered by an 80 h.p. engine and could travel at six knots when loaded.  They also designed and built (1921) the motor-powered schooner Invermore, a sister ship of the J.T. & S., and the last merchant schooner built in Britain or Ireland.  Both were successful compromises between full-powered motor vessels and sailing ships equipped with auxiliary engines, and had fishing-boat-type hulls.

Fishing suffered a serious decline after 1918 from which it began to recover with the establishment of the Sea Fisheries Association in 1932.  Many of the older motorised  fishing boats became obsolete.  It is interesting to record, however, that the Ovoca, with a modern engine, winch, wheelhouse, etc., is still operating successfully, and showed little sign of her age in Balbriggan Harbour.

The Ovoca rotting away at Barlbriggan Harbour in the 1960s

The last time it paid port fees for Balbriggan was in 1970.  From then on this official 1st. MFV in the British Isles was allowed rot away at the top of the harbour until she was broken up and removed by crane.
Ovoca commemorated in a stamp 2nd April 1992 by irish postal service An Post 

The historic nature of the Ovoca was commemorated in a stamp 2nd April 1992 as part of the celebration the International Maritime Heritage Year.

Do you have an Irish made project old or new you would like us to feature? Email us here info@irelandmade.ie 

Information:
  • Arklow Maritime Museum
  • Barbrigganharbour.com

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