The mine was originally purchased by Joe Harty Snr at an auction of the estate of the late John Bowen, former Waterford County Surveyor. Not realising the significance of the World War Two artifact, the mine was used by Joe to store oil in the 1950s, and in the intervening years lay disused on the family farm.
It is not known how John Bowen came to have the mine in his possession, however it has been widely reported that because many of the battles of World War Two were fought at sea, some of these sea mines were carried on the currents away from their intended targets, washing up on the Irish coastline.
The Harty family recounted the catastrophic events of May 2nd, 1945 when three fisherman from An Rinn were tragically killed when their fishing boat struck such a mine. John Griffin Snr, his son John, and Nicholas Cuddihy were killed, while Patrick Whelan was the sole survivor.
Joe’s son Tommy Joe, and family donated the deactivated mine to Waterford City and County Council. The mine has been restored and is erected on the Jetty at the Quay in Dungarvan Harbour.
Tommy Joe’s son, Joe, was delighted to see the mine restored to its former glory. “Having grown up in Gortnadiha with the mine in our yard for years, it was a great source of entertainment to my brother and me. We spent many a weekend, trying to force it open with vice grips and lump hammers, not even considering whether it was live or not. Fortunately for us, it was deactivated, and we never managed to prise it open, despite our best efforts!”
Kieran Kehoe, Director of Services and Dungarvan Town Manager welcomed the donation by the Harty family. “It’s great to see this piece of history from World War Two displayed so prominently on the Quay side. We may never know the origin of the mine, or the circumstances which brought it to the County Waterford coastline, but through the foresight of John Bowen and the generosity of the Harty family, we now have a genuine World War Two artifact on display for generations to see.”
The Harty family was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from Waterford City and County Council by Cllr. Declan Doocey, Cathaoirleach of Dungarvan/Lismore MD Council, for their contribution to local history and heritage.
Free to use image – Pat Crowley
L to R: Billy Harty, Margo Ronayne, Joe Harty, Tommy Joe Harty, Cllr. Declan Doocey, Cathaoirleach, Dungarvan/Lismore MD Council, Cllr. Pat Nugent & Cllr. John Pratt