The Pirates of Dollar Bay

When we think of pirates we usually think of people like Jack Sparrow, exotic islands and hidden chests of gold. It’s hard to imagine them here in Wexford but that’s just how Dollar Bay got its name and the focus of this story!

Back in the 1700s, a ship was returning from The Americas, bound for London, it was laden down with Spanish gold dollars, bags of gold dust and precious jewels. As it was coming around the Irish Coast it was hit by bad weather, tossing and turning it would have been terrifying for the passengers on board, but it was just the opportunity 4 members of the crew were waiting for! They attacked and killed everyone on board, all except for the cabin boy, who scrambled up one of the masts and hung on for dear life. The mutinous crew just laughed as they knew he would last long, once they piled all they could carry into the lifeboat, they scuttled the ship and rowed away, confident that the poor chap would drown as the ship sank.

Using Hook Lighthouse as a guide they sailed down the Waterford Estuary towards New Ross. However, they were very aware that Duncannon Fort overlooked the water and they would certainly be spotted by the Soldiers patrolling the walls and so they came ashore in Fisherman’s Bay. A pretty beach with golden sand. It was here they buried their treasure, under a stormy midnight sky.

They then made their way to Dublin, intending to sail to London, get a new boat, and come back retrieve the gold and sail away to live happily ever after.

Unfortunately for them, the ship hadn’t sunk; it had drifted, getting stuck on some rocks near Dunmore East. The Cabin boy was found the next morning, still clinging on for dear life by a local farmer. Who quickly rushed the boy (and his claim of salvage on the remaining gold still on board!) to the local magistrate.
Messenger’s where sent to Dublin castle and the four men were soon found. Drunk as skunks, celebrating their good fortune in a Tavern along the dockside in Dublin Port.

The men were tried for piracy and sentenced to be hanged, their remains thrown into gibbets on Bull Island just off the East Coast.
There in those metal cages, the birds would pick their flesh and their bones would be lost to the sea. A warning to other would-be pirates that a nasty end awaited them should they try.

And the gold? Well, the soldiers from Duncannon fort were quickly dispatched to Fisherman’s Bay, where it was dug up and brought back to the Fort for safekeeping. But local legend has it, that not all the gold was found, and that it’s not just the sand that’s golden on that beach, and that is why it is now known as Dollar Bay.

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