Destructive Storms in Limerick

On Christmas Eve this city was visited by a fearful storm, which arose before twelve o’clock, continued for several hours, and during the time period more destructive in its effects than almost any other in recollection or on record. Precisely at a quarter to twelve o’clock, while the bells of the Catholic Churches and Protestant Cathedral were tolling the joyous chimes announcing the arrival of the festive time of salvation, the breeze sprung up from S.S.W., increasing in violence at every gust, which obliged perambulators to betake themselves to their homes, in terror, as they could not retain an equilibrium. The gale continued for three hours without intermission, and when at its height blew tremendously from N.W. Our principal quays for shipping are situate south, and the vessels in port were therefore exposed to the violence of the storm. The tide rose quickly- in half the ordinary time- and although no within four feet of the quay wall, the billows were so tremendously convulsed as to dash the spray over the roadway, and into the windows of the houses in the vicinity.


The shipping moored at the quays suddenly broke from their moorings, and in several instances carried off the ponderous mooring posts, tearing away the entire masonry, and wreaking the groundwork. They bore down one upon the other with tremendous force, grinding and hammering at stem and stern. A vessel named the Tiley, of South Sheilds, Bradley master, snapped the chain cable, and was carried along against the west side of Wellesley bridge, the parapets of which (handsome cut stone) she shattered to pieces, but luckily received very little damage herself, save the chafing if the copper fastenings. The brig William and Joseph. Of South Shields, Mein master, in ballast, is a completer wreck. Her masts and riggings were snapped asunder, as if by magic; nothing remains but the hull; bulwarks and all were carried off. She bore up against Russell’s quay, and got in contact with the emigrant ship Jessie, the property of Francis Spaight, Esq., which latter sustained but slight damage, although she, too, tore away her mooring posts.


The barque, Constance, of Sunderland, Atkinson master, lost quarter top-mass bulwarks, stern and bows completely. The barque Heroine, of Shields, Meldram master, had her bows stove on and side chafed. The United, of Shoreham, escaped uninjured. The Margaret, of London, Shoreham master, lost bow sprit, forequarter, and was much damaged. – The Felton Park, Soppith master, Shields, had stern and bows stove in; top masts, rigging, &c. The Hannah, of Liverpool, Mackey master, had her top masts carried away. The Forth, of Inverkeatinge, Auld master, lost main top mass, cross bars, and rigging, &c. The Henry and Dorah, of Aberdeen, Rees master, laden with oats, and to sail next morning lost masts and shrouding. The Jane, of London, was slightly damaged. The small boats of the above vessels were shattered to pieces, while many others belonging to shipping agents were also destroyed. The Aid, of Sunderland, Dewan master, drove on shore from Tarbert Roads, and lies half a mile eastwards of Bowline Rock.


The extensive roofing and shedding at the terminus of Waterford and Limerick Railway was much damaged, the hurricane having swept away a great portion thereof, with gas lights, &c. The Club House in George-street did not escape, a large chimney fell in carrying with it the roof and upper story. In Baker’s place, near Queen-street, three chimney piles were blown down, broke through the roofs and flooring, but fortunately the inmates escaped. One of these dwellings was occupied by Rev. Thomas Elms, the other by Dr. Vereker.


The large chimney shaft, in connexion with the extensive flax factory, erected by the firm of Messrs. Russell and Sons, at North Strand, and which had been built to a height of 160 feet, has also fallen a prey. It fell, for the greater part, with a tremendous crash. The loss of this alone is about £500. The damage to the shipping is set down at £4,000.

As reported in The Limerick Reporter and Tipperary Vindicator 31 December 1852. There were a number of injuries reported but no fatalities.

Russell’s Flax factory is now known as Cleeve’s Factory on O’Callaghan Strand.

The Waterford Limerick Railway is now Con Colbert’s Train Station.

George-street is now O’Connell Street and Queen-street is Davis Street.

Another major storm to hit Limerick in the nineteenth century was what would become known as The Night of The Big Wind in 1839.