West Cork fisherman makes a diamond catch

lusitania

Posted on: 4th August, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

When the Lusitania was struck by a German torpedo off West Cork’s coast 100 years ago, 1,198 lives were lost, but so too was a cargo worth $735,579. Lily P.Murphy recounts the long-forgotten tale of the extraordinary honesty of West Cork fisherman John Hayes. 

When the Lusitania set sail from New York, with its passengers of all classes and creed, there was also a disparate mixture of cargo onboard – from simple bacon and butter to costly furs worth over $119,000. Also included were auto parts, dental goods, motorcycle parts, electrical machinery, leather, shoes and wool. In the aftermath of the sinking of the luxury ship, wild rumours spread regarding its precious load – gold bullion, diamonds and expensive paintings had all been lost to the sea off the Old Head.

Four days after the tragedy, a local fisherman by the name of John Hayes, skipper of the fishing boat ‘Pet’, was out fishing some ten miles from Glandore harbour when he made the catch of his life.

As he hauled in his nets, Hayes spotted something tangled in them; on further inspection he discovered a registered postal basket with three parcels inside. He opened the parcels to see what they contained uncovered a batch of priceless diamonds tucked safely inside.

In the following days several more items from the ship washed ashore including deck chairs, clothes and cutlery from the ship’s kitchens, though having been securely locked away in the cargo-hold’s safe, it is surprising that the basket containing the diamonds came loose and floated away.

The honest fisherman handed the parcels over to the coastguard in Castletownsend, who in turn brought them to the Receiver of Wreck at Baltimore village. The diamonds were then forwarded to the General Post Office in London in a simple, unregistered postal packet. Luckily they arrived safely and enquiries were made to find the owners of such expensive gems.

The Lusitania was carrying the diamonds from a firm in New York to jewellers in London and they had been insured for $13,000 with the Union Insurance Company. In the aftermath of the sinking, the insurance company promptly paid out believing the diamonds to have been lost in the depths of the sea. It took another two years before the rightful owners of the diamonds were found and they graciously paid back the insurance claim of $13,000.

Meanwhile, in the House of Commons, Jeremiah McVeagh, a Home Rule MP from County Down, brought the subject of the found diamonds to the attention of the house. McVeagh insisted that a reward be paid to the John Hayes who had made the discovery of the diamonds and in his great candour handed them over.

In the aftermath of his extraordinary find, John Hayes had to give evidence before the American Consul and in return was given only travelling expenses – eventually he received a reward of only £10 pounds for the discovery of gems worth over $23,000! However his story made news all over the world, providing a much-need positive story from what was such a tragic event.

Latest News Articles:

Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat
Clonakilty town aims to get snowed under with the return of the Clonakilty Christmas Express
On call for Christmas
Have your say in shaping the future of Clonakilty
Dursey Island project passes first phase in Failte Ireland’s Grant Scheme

Join us on Facebook

Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
... See MoreSee Less

8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
... See MoreSee Less

15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

Jump to:

Top