Curse of the HMS Wasp
Monday 31st, May 2021
1884, on the morning of September 22nd a ship with the name HMS Wasp was sent on a task to ferry police and bailiffs to the small Island of Inishtrahull, off the coast of Donegal with the purpose of evicting three poor tenant families but as the ship passed Tory Island a tragedy occurred which would cause the HMS Wasp to never reach its destination.

A Royal Navy gunboat built in 1880, th eHSM Wasp was used primarily to transport officials to and from Islands with lighthouses and for fishery inspections among a few other duties.

In September 1884 three families on the Inishtrahull which is a small Island which is one of the most northerly Islands of the coast of Island, these families could no longer afford their rent and being unable to pay their landlord, evictions were issued to make an example. The HMS Wasp set sail for the Island loaded with police and bailiffs to enforce the evictions.

Early in the morning of September 22nd 1884 the HMS Wasp chose to use a route rarely used which was to pass between northwest Donegal and Tory Island instead of going around the Island where there is much less risk of hitting any rocks. It's worth remembering that the senior officers were reported to be asleep and more junior officers were piloting the ship.

The HMS Wasp struck rocks just below the lighthouse on Tory Island and sank within 30 minutes with the masthead still protruding out of the water. It's reported that there were only six survivors who were rescued by people on Tory Island.

After the incident occurred an inquiry was held by the Royal Navy to figure out the last moments of the HMS Wasp and to try and understand how the incident came to pass. The conclusion by the inquiry that the HMS Wasp was lost due to, "in consequence of the want of due care and attention".

Focus was put on the lighthouse on Tory Island as to whether the lighthouse was on or off and some suspicions were aimed at Islanders. Questions were being asked as the HMS Wasp was lost just below the Tory lighthouse as to was the lighthouse light deliberately extinguished by Islanders or was there a curse that had caused the loss of HMS Wasp.

Speculation about the HMS Wasp incident started to make its way into what happened and it came to light that some Islanders thought a curse caused the loss of HMS Wasp, the Island's own cursing stone Cloch na Mallacht or Cloch Thorai which dates back to neolithic times. Curse stones are usually said to be one or more round stones resting in depressions or a larger stone and sometimes known as bullauns.

Even with all inquiry and the many stories over the years including a lot of hearsay the true cause of the loss of HMS Wasp has never been found and looks to be one of the many stories of lost ships of the coast of Ireland with oddities that will permeate Irish history for many years to come.
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