Surely we would all be quick to acknowledge that the greatest technological advent in our day was the invention and household availability of computers and more especially the internet.
One might say that the pace began in the ‘80’s and it could also be suggested from then until today; the knowledge humanity gained in 40years is equal to that gained from the dawn of civilization until the ‘80’s!
For a little additional illumination, we should go on a journey through history. I selected a period in the mid-1800’s through to present day.
In the early 1800’s, if we sent off a letter to someone, it could take as many as three months to deliver! Maybe the word ‘urgency’ had a different meaning then. If we consider two World Wars for instance, communicating vital and timeous information was of critical importance.
In 1844 there was an invention by a man, which was destined to accelerate communication throughout the world. Samuel F. B. Morse inaugurated America’s first commercial telegraph line and Morse Code was introduced into personal, commercial, and military lives.
The next mammoth event took place as the first undersea cable was laid from Newfoundland to Valencia in Ireland by Cyrus West Field, with the aid of four British and American Naval Vessels in 1858.
Finally, it was the turn of a village in Co. Wicklow Ireland, Newcastle, from where In 1886 to 1898, three undersea cables were laid to Aber Geirch in Wales. The 1886 Cable was laid by the HMTS Monarch.
In the 14 years from 1844, there was a momentous change in the world, not unalike from 1980 to today with our world. No more waiting for three months to have a letter delivered – telegrams became a vital form of urgent messaging. For the very first time, money could be transmitted by telephony.
The Newspapers were probably the first to jump onto the band wagon as now news could be speedily transmitted globally. In addition, Post Offices adapted to the new means of communication.
This little article is by no means exhaustive regarding the Newcastle Cables as there is probably much more. In addition, it only covers this one aspect of the rich Newcastle history. Who knows, we might be back with more.
If we look around us, history is not only in abundance, but also very interesting. Wicklow and for that matter Ireland, is no exception. In your next journey to Ireland, or if you are a happy resident here, pay Newcastle a visit – you’ll be pleasantly surprised! If you already live in Newcastle you may just have learned something you didn’t know – you are famous.
HMTS Monarch, the ship that laid the cable, landing at Aber Geirch, Wales in 1886. She was, sadly, sunk in Folkstone in 1915, by a mine or torpedo.
The Plaque, commemorating the landing of three cables at Aber Geirch 1886-1892. It stands among the breakwater rocks, opposite the Railway line running aside of the Newcastle Beach.
The Cable House in Aber Geirch, near Nevin, where the cable landed.
The Winding House along Newcastle Beach. This name appears in a book published by Cannon Jenkins in 2008, “Newcastle down the years.” As ‘winding’ is generally associated with the mining industry, we rather wondered why it was not referred to as ‘The Cable Hut.’ If anyone can throw some light on this we’d be delighted to hear from you. The little ruin is situated opposite the plaque with the railway line in between.
This Map shows the three distinctive cable routes from Newcastle to Aber Geirch (Nevin) Wales. The name Aber Geirch does not appear on the map as it is small estuary about a mile and a half West of Nevin, also known as Cable Bay.
My thanks to Fred Rountree for his willingness and local knowledge in helping to educate my curiosity. Thanks too, to Bill Burns, his amazingly informative site and other information that he enthusiastically provided for this article:
Bill Burns’ Site: History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications.
Even if you don’t think you would be interested in undersea cables, this site is well worth a visit.
Information for this article came from the above sources.
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