The 2,999gt Arklow Resolve arriving at Belfast. She was built in 2004 by Barkmeijer at Stroobos. In 2020 she moved to Wilsons of Bergen and was renamed Wilson Perth. (Neill Rush)

This big fleet currently has 56 owned and managed ships, and is the largest shipping company in Ireland carrying seven million tonnes of cargo per year, much bigger than the former national fleet of Irish Shipping Ltd. (ISL) and also the Shamrock Shipping Company. Arklow is the second biggest and the busiest town in County Wicklow, with a thriving commercial centre, port and maritime museum. It lies at the mouth of the Avoca river, halfway between Dublin and Carnsore Point, the south east corner of Ireland. The discovery of copper at Avoca, six miles upriver, in the 18th century, led to the export of copper in sufficient quantity to establish the port in the 1830s. Small sailing ships and fishing boats were the main users of the port until a former German coaster arrived at the small quay in Arklow as a war prize in 1947, and was renamed Tyrronall by Capt. James Tyrrell. The name of Tyrronall was derived from three letter groups chosen from the family names of Tyrrell, Kearon and Hall, all with family origins in trading auxiliary schooners from the banks of the Avoca river. However, Arklow boatbuilders and coaster owners had declined significantly in numbers by 1966, leading to the setting up of an ‘umbrella’ company, Arklow Shipping Ltd., by Capt. James Tyrrell, Capt. Michael Tyrrell and Capt. Victor Hall. The age of individual Masters running very small coasters was coming to an end, and only by working together to reduce costs, could profits be made.


Tyrrell is a well known family name in Arklow, with Capt. James Tyrrell born on 24th April 1907 two years after John Tyrrell, known as ‘Jack’, who was born on 16th June 1905 in Arklow as the son of Michael and Mary Tyrrell. John Tyrrell qualified as a naval architect at Arklow Nautical School in the 1930s, and designed yachts, fishing boats, tenders and pilot boats. One of the more famous yachts he designed was Gypsy Moth III of forty feet in length for Sir Francis Chichester in 1959. John Tyrrell became the first Chairman of Arklow Shipping Ltd. in 1966, and remained active for the remainder of his life as a member of Arklow Harbour Board, and of the RNLI station at South Quay, Arklow. This RNLI station opened in 1826 as the first lifeboat station in Ireland. John Tyrrell & Sons Ltd., yacht and boat builders, were in business until the last boat was completed in 1984.

John died on 29th July 1988 and was survived by three sons, Michael and James, who worked in the family shipping business, and John as Arklow Harbour Master, and also by a daughter.

James Tyrrell Ltd. began trading on 15th October 1959, and James Tyrrell was the main shareholder of the new company in 1966, and brought with him four of the seven coasters that formed the original Arklow Shipping Ltd. fleet in 1966. This quartet were owned by James Tyrrell Ltd., and included Tyrronall of 248 grt, built in Germany in 1935 and purchased after being badly damaged in a grounding in St. Austell Bay in 1947. The others were Murrell of 319 grt built in 1940 at Goole and purchased in 1954, Marizell of 428 grt built by Bodewes at Hoogezand in 1948, and Valzell of 576 grt built by the Caledon yard at Dundee as the Scottish owned Arbroath for the Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co. Ltd. and purchased in November 1962. Capt. Michael Tyrrell contributed the motor coaster Avondale of 303 grt, built in Holland in 1950, and purchased nine years later, and Capt. Hall contributed two coasters, Kilbride of 321 grt, built at Lowestoft in 1942, and River Avoca of 384 grt, built at Goole in 1948.

The first coaster to be actually registered under Arklow Shipping Ltd. was in February 1970, when a Dutch built coaster of 299 grt was purchased and appropriately named as Arklow. More coasters owned by James Tyrrell Ltd., but managed by Arklow Shipping Ltd. followed, including:-

– The new Darrell of 387 grt in 1970

Shevrell of 561 grt built in 1954 and purchased in 1971


Murrell (2) of 1,100 grt built in 1957 and purchased in 1972

Shevrell (2) of 881 grt built in 1962 as Wirral Coast for Coast Lines and purchased in 1972

– The new Murrell (3) of 951 grt in 1973 and her sister Arklow Dawn

Valzell (2) of 1,222 grt built in 1966 and purchased in 1973

– The new Cork built coasters Valzell (3) and Serenell of 1,038 grt completed in 1976/77

The 248grt Tyrronal was built in 1935 by Flender Werke at Lubeck as the Heimat for Hugo Rubarth. From 1945 until 1947 she served the Ministry of War Transport as Empire Contamar then from 1947 until 1966 she was part of the Tyrrell fleet and was one of the four original ships of Arklow Shipping in 1966. She was broken up at Santander in June 1974. (C. Reynolds collection)

New companies had been set up as the Bay Shipping Ltd. in 1971 and Vale Shipping Ltd. in 1972, but were operated under Arklow Shipping management. Arklow Bay of 533 grt became the first marine casualty on 22nd September 1971 when she foundered during a storm while on a voyage from Antwerp to Arklow with potash and chemicals, fortunately her eight man crew was rescued.

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