Daily Event for December 31, 2007

Another north Atlantic mystery began when the SS Erin of the National Steam Navigation Company of Liverpool sailed from New York on Dec. 28, 1889. The ship, built by Palmer Brothers & Company in Jarrow was registered at 4,577 tons, was 419' long and could carry almost 1,300 passengers. Launched in 1864 she had been rebuilt twice and even had new a engine fitted in 1873. However as she carried three masts and was rigged for sail engine trouble was probably not the cause.

It will never be known for sure what happened after she was last sighted on December 31, 1889, however it is known that the Erin was carrying no passengers, but was carrying cattle. The limit that the insurance company set for her was 475 head, however Erin had loaded 527 head, 52 over the limit. Furthermore 252 of them were carried on her upper deck which may have made her top heavy and caused her to capsize.

But this may not have been the cause either, at least not the sole cause. The schooner Creole out of New
Orleans reported that they had come alongside a lifeboat on Jan. 9 with the name Erin on it. It was found drifting empty about 630 miles northwest of the Azores. There were some basic provisions onboard, but most curiously oars a mast and sail. This would indicate that the crew of the Erin had some warning that the ship was about to founder and prepared a lifeboat or boats for survival. The captain of the Creole, Capt. Darling, brought the items onboard and continued on to Bremerhaven, Germany where he made his report.

The cause of her loss is still unknown, but bad weather surely played a roll, severe storms were reported
across the Atlantic in December and January. In late March the National Steam Navigation Company released
a statement officially declaring the Erin to be lost at sea.
© 2007 Michael W. Pocock

Jan. 27, 2014

I enjoyed reading you article on the Erin which sank after leaving New York on 31 December 1889. My great grandfather John Low Grant was the captain's mate. Do you have any data about my great grandfather or have a photograph of him?

John Grant
Napier, New Zealand

2006 Daily Event