Patrick Buckley Patrick BuckleyChief Officer of Coastguards at Crosshaven, who had command of the rocket crew on the night on which the “Snowdon Range” drifted into Cork Harbour and whose association with rescue work of a daring nature was alluded to in Monday′s “Examiner ”.

Patrick was a member of the crew of the lifeboat MAYER DE ROTHESCHILD during the rescue of the ship BENVENUE between Hythe and Sandgate, Kent in 1891.

Benvenue Rescue Page

Patrick Buckley was born 12th April 1858 in Cork, Ireland. He joined the British Royal Navy in 1873 and had a long
service record with many ships and the coastguard, which was part of the Royal Navy at that time.
The following is a transcript of an article which appeared in the local Irish newspaper when Patrick Buckley retired in 1913.

I would like to thank John Considine for sending this article and the photographs

Cork Examiner, May 8th, 1913.

Popular Coastguard Officer



There has just retired from the Coastguard service, in which he distinguished himself for many years not alone by faithful and conscientious discharge of duty, but by conspicuous bravery in saving the lives of people at sea, Mr. P. Buckley, who has been chief officer of Coastguards at Crosshaven. On the occasion of the wreck of the Snowdon Range, when heroic efforts were made at Crosshaven to save that famous vessel and her crew from imminent destruction. Mr. Buckley exhibited those qualities of cool judgment and of readiness to face all risks, so that lives may be saved, numerous examples of which have been crowded into his interesting career.

In a notice which appeared in the “Examiner” in connection with the Snowdon Range’s almost unprecedented plight and her almost miraculous escape from it, particulars regarding Mr. Buckley’s exploits in daring rescue work were given. In the efforts that were made to save the crew of the ill-fated Leon XIII he played a heroic part. This French vessel was driven into Quilty, County of Clare, by a violent storm and was jammed in closely between two rocks. When signals of distress were eventually seen, and when calls for aid were eventually heard, rescue work was swiftly and surely undertaken. The brave Quilty men with their canoes and a British cruiser with her lifeboats, cleaved their way to the Leon XIII. Mr. Buckley, always ready to respond to calls of this character, had charge of the Coastguard station at Seafield when the summons for aid came. Without calculating the risks that were to be faced, he with his crew set off in the lifeboat from Liscannor, a distance of twenty miles. The lifeboat broke down, but she was quickly righted, and the intrepid coastguard officer and his crew in the teeth of a fierce storm bore down on the Bay of Quilty. When they got within about half a mile of the wreck they could hear the agonising screams of the Frenchmen. Eventually they got under the bow of the Leon XIII, and though the sea was mountain high they succeeded in rescuing a French seaman who was buffeted about by the waves and was almost on the point of death. The scene presented as his crew jumped from the rigging into the breast of the angry waters, from which providentially they were rescued by brave men, was calculated to draw enduring lines on the minds of those who beheld it. For his action on that occasion Mr. Buckley was presented with a medal and a certificate in vellum by the French Government.

The following particulars of another thrilling story of the sea, in which the subject of this notice figures conspicuously, may be of interest: - on the 11th November 1891 during a terrific storm, a ship named the Benvenue was sunk down to her lower yards abreast of Seabrook lifeboat house. In their terrible predicament the crew climbed to the rigging, and the heavy seas lashed around them with unrelenting fury, their cries for aid being indeed piteous. Five seamen, seeing no hope of rescue, jumped into the water and were almost instantly drowned. Immediately the lifeboat put out from Seabrook, with Mr. Buckley amongst the crew, but the seas were so rough that the boat was capsized at an early stage of her adventure. The oars were smashed and owing to their having come in contact with a heavy steel spar, some of the men had their legs broken. The boat was eventually righted, but she was quickly washed ashore by the terrific sea. The next time the lifeboat was taken two miles to westward, to Hythe, and at this place there was a handoff rope about 250 fathoms in length, belonging to the Lifeboat Institution, brought into requisition. An idea of the perils which the lifeboat’s crew faced and of the hardships they had to endure may be gathered from the fact that the boat was capsized eight times in succession. Nothing daunted, however, Mr. Buckley and his comrades hauled away to a well-known floating mark, from which they made sail to bear down on the wreck. Whilst going to her, however, the boat capsized, and all its occupants were washed overboard. A man named Fagg unfortunately lost his life. Mr. Buckley tried to lash him to the mast of the boat, which was floating, as he could not swim, but a heavy sea put them asunder, and the subject of this sketch never saw his comrade again. He himself was picked up about two miles from where the boat capsized, and he woke up next morning in the residence of a gentleman in the neighbourhood. The significant feature associated with this wreck was that though the lifeboat’s crew went forth so gallantly to the rescue of the crew of the Benvenue, they themselves had to be taken from the water by the inhabitants of the district bordering on the place where the wreck occurred.

The following is a terse record of Mr. Buckley’s experience in the service: -
Before joining the navy in 1873 he went to sea in a Norwegian barque called the Asta of Drammen, and sailed from Barry’s Well, Queenstown for New York, from New York to Havre, France, Haver to Aubeck and back to Calais, France and Germany were then at war, Calais to Christiana, Norway; Christiana to Drammen, Drammen to Svelvick, Germany; Welstein, Svelvick to Fredericksail, Norway; Fredericksail to Leight, Scotland; Leight to Glasgow. In January 1873 he arrived in the Glasgow boat on a Sunday evening, and joined H.MS. Revenge at Queenstown shortly afterwards. After being trained in H.M.S. Ganges at Falmouth he was commissioned to H.M.S. Sapphire corvette in August 1875 and left Plymouth for Sydney, Australia, calling at Madeira, Vigo, Asention Island, Simons Bay, Capetown, Perth or Freemantle, Western Australia, Adelaide, Melbourne, arriving after a voyage of nearly six months. The ship then left for Brisbane and at Port Chalmers he drafted to the sailing schooner Beagle to proceed to the South Sea Islands, and called at Makeela in the Solomon Islands. Here he lived under canvas ashore for three weeks, and then left for New Hebrides. At Zanna or as it is called Portresolution, they had war, and captured, 17 ships and a kind and killed a good many, and hanged one at the starboard yard arm, who had murdered a Mrs. Easterbrooke. Mr. Buckley and the crew then returned to England, and went out to China in the Tyne troopship in 1890, and went to H.M.S. Curacock, (NOTE: This should be 1880 and H.M.S.Caracoa) steel corvette, in Hong Kong, and visited several parts of the Empire on a round trip through Suez Canal, Port Said, Malta, Gibraltar, and Plymouth, and joined the Coastguard station At Sandgate on 13th August, 1886. A wreck which occurred at Folkestone in September 1886, of the barque Ellida, shewed Mr. Buckley’s bravery. She broke in halves and he swam aboard the after-part of her and saved the log books. He was afterwards stationed at Romney, near Dungeness, and in several bad and heavy gales went off to wrecks and collisions in the Littlestone lifeboat. From Dover, in 1889, he was removed to Hythe and Dymchurch, and then back again to Hythe, as he was the only man who knew the signals at that time. He was sent to Ireland in 1893, being stationed at Wexford. While in Roches Point as station signalman he was on duty the night of 7th October, 1896, when the Puffin went down, and all the buoys broke adrift in Queenstown Harbour. He was removed to Crosshaven in 1898, and left Crosshaven in 1901, as chief boatman, and took charge of Ballycrovane station in Castletown. He was promoted in October 1905 to station officer and went to Ballydavid, Kerry. After nine months he was appointed to the charge of Liscannor, Co. Clare and took part in the attempts to save the crew of the Leon XIII, the French sailing ship which was wrecked at Quiltys in Clare on the 2nd October, 1907. He received a silver medal and a certificate on vellum from the French Government. He was promoted chief officer in 1906, and privileged to take charge of Crosshaven station, which he held until a short time ago, when he retired on pension.

A number of his friends in Crosshaven testified their appreciation of Mr. Buckley’s many fine qualities by making him a presentation on the occasion of his retirement. It is gratifying to note that he will continue to reside at this pretty seaside resort, and his well-wishers - and they belong to all classes in Crosshaven – dearly hope that he will be spared for many years to enjoy deserved rest. It is no exaggeration to say that his conduct in the discharge of the duties imposed on him he reflected credit on the service to which he belonged, as well as on the reputation of his countrymen for courage in the face of danger.

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Patrick Buckley
Last updated February 2021
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