Monday, November 2, 2009

December 9th - 100 years since the sinking of the Ellan Vannin


The 100th anniversary of the wreck of the Ellan Vannin will be commemorated with a wreath laying ceremony at the site of the disaster. Public transport body Merseytravel has agreed to provide a ferry which will take dignitaries out to the site in the Mersey estuary on Thursday, December 3.

Chief Minister Tony Brown will represent the Isle of Man and will lay the wreath on behalf of the Manx government. Also aboard will be the man who wrote the well known song about the disaster.

The Steam Packet's Ellan Vannin left Ramsey on December 3 1909 bound for Liverpool, but a huge wave overwhelmed her in rough weather. Five hours after she set out, she sank with the loss of 15 passengers and 21 crew in gale force eleven winds and 20 feet waves. A fund for victims' relatives was set up and the Steam Packet donated £1,000 but the feeling behind the tragedy is revealed in the fact the company never again named a vessel Ellan Vannin.

Hughie Jones of the Spinners wrote the song about the Ellan Vannin, and will perform it live during the ceremony. Here are the words from the song.

Snaefell, Tynwald, Ben My Chree
Fourteen ships had sailed the sea
Proudly bearing a Manx name
But there’s one will never again
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

At one a.m. in Ramsey bay
Captain Teare was heard to say
"Our contract said deliver the mail
in this rough weather we must not fail"
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

Ocean liners sheltered from the storm
Ellan Vannin on the wave was borne
Her hold was full and battened down
As she sailed towards far Liverpool Town
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

With a crew of twenty-one Manxmen
Her passengers Liverpool businessmen
Farewell Mona's Isle farewell
This little ship was bound for hell
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

Less than a mile from the Bar lightship
By a mighty wave Ellan Vannin was hit
She sank in the waters of Liverpool Bay
There she lies until this day
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

Few Manxmen now remember
The third day of the month December
The terrible storm in Nineteen-nine
Ellan Vannin sailed for the very last time
Oh Ellan Vannin, of the Isle of Man Company
Oh Ellan Vannin, lost in the Irish Sea

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