List of Famous Shipwrecks in Ireland

Sea lanes are dotted with famous and not so famous wrecks of ships that have sunk through the ages. The waters around Ireland have their fair share, perhaps more, due to at least three reasons.


The Spanish Armada and English fleet in battle.Source:

Why are there so many Shipwrecks around Ireland?

  • First, the British have been a traditionally strong seafaring people and most of the routes from Britain to the rest of the world pass either to the north or the south of Ireland.
  • Second, the waters around the British isles have seen much fighting especially during the deadly two world wars.
  • Third, the weather has contributed its own share, more so in older times when sailing ships were more susceptible to the whims of nature.
    In these pages you can read about some of the more famous ones.
    • Some were warships. You can read, for example, about the Spanish galleass, Girona, or the famous and mighty Trinidad Valencera, both part of the great Spanish Armada that was defeated in the English Channel in 1588. Both ships survived the encounter with the English only to meet their end off the turbulent Irish coast.

    The Drake was a less dramatic but also noteworthy loss just outside Belfast Lough, in 1778.

    Another ship by the same name (HMS Drake) was sunk on Rathlin Island by the Germans in 1917, and still sits there, a favorite site for divers.

    And there is, of course, the SS Laurentic a merchant ship converted to a an armed merchant cruiser which sunk in 1915 after hitting two mines. Here is the list (more coming soon):

    The Galleass Girona

    The Trinidad Valencera

    HMS Drake

    SS Laurentic


    The Lusitania. Source:

  • More of the losses, however, were merchant ships and passenger liners.
  • The more famous one was probably the passenger liner RMS Lusitania which was torpedoed and sunk with great loss of life, turning perhaps public opinion against Germany and helping the US to join World War I against Germany.

    A less know but very sad loss was that of the The Exmouth, which sunk a day after leaving Londonderry with a group of immigrants bound for the US, a large percentage being children. Here is a brief list with more coming soon:

    RMS Carpathia

    RMS Empress of Britain

    RMS Lusitania

    The Exmouth

  • A list of famous shipwrecks would not be complete with a reference to the Titanic. Though it sunk a long way away it was built in Belfast and its last stop before sailing into the Atlantic was in Queenstown Ireland, now known as Cobh. Since it is the world’s most famous civilian maritime disaster, we have dedicated more space to it.
  • Read some Quick Titanic Facts.

    Read the Story of the Titanic’s Construction

    The Titanic 1912 Sinking Part 1

    Titanic 1912 Sinking Part 2

    Titanic 1912 Sinking Part 3

    The Mystery Ship that could have saved more people

    Titanic 1912 Sinking: The Passengers

    The Survivors

    The Titanic Band that played music to the end.

    Discovering and exploring the Titanic wreck.

    This list of famous shipwrecks is by no means complete (and neither can it ever be). We will be adding pages and make this site a comprehensive guide to shipwrecks of the coasts of Ireland.If you fascinated by shipwrecks, do come back!

    Return from List of famous shipwrecks to Northern Ireland Homepage 2008-2014.
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