Ireland Station

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Ireland Station
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Part ofRoyal Navy
Station HQCork, Ireland
Cobh, Ireland
Queenstown, Ireland
FirstCommodore Thomas Hanway
LastRear-Admiral Robert Coote

The Ireland Station [1] also known as the Irish Station was a major naval command of the Royal Navy first established from 1758 to 1876. It was one of the geographical divisions into which the Royal Navy divided its worldwide responsibilities. The station was defined so by the Department of Admiralty to identify the area jurisdiction of it's Commander-in-Chief. The station was deactivated from 1832 until 1843, when it was reactivated. In 1876 it was renamed the Coast of Ireland Station.


Paining of Queenstown Harbour circa March 1856 by Fanshawe, Edward Gennys © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. The ship in the centre flies the flag of a Rear-Admiral of the Blue

In 1647 a dockyard at Kindale was established. The dockyard initially served as one of the bases for the Commonwealth Navy's Irish Guard Naval Squadron.[2] In 1694, the English Parliament established Kinsale as the headquarters for coordinating convoy operations in the Western Approaches (for protecting merchant shipping from attacks by privateers).

In 1758 the Admiralty appointed a senior flag officer to Cork to command British Naval forces with Commodore Thomas Hanway being appointed Commander-in-Chief at Cork until 1759. No further senior flag appointments were made at cork for 30 years although Kinsale Dockyard remained operational mainly as as store and supply base until 1789.

In 1790 Rear-Admiral of the White Philips Cosby was then appointed Commander-in-Chief, Cork until 1792 before the position lapsed once more. In 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars, Ballyvoloon or The Cove of Cork, was developed as a permanent British naval port, and assigned a senior flag rank officer to command British naval forces stationed there known as the "Admiral Commanding in Ireland" or "Commander-in-Chief, Cork" Vice-Admiral Robert Kingsmill held office until 1800.

Kinsale remained as the the garrison HQ for the Ireland Station until 1803, when the local agent victualler suggested instead developing Haulbowline (a nearby uninhabited island in Cork Harbour) that Kinsale Dockyard was fully run down, a process that was completed by 1812. From this date Haulbowline Dockyard became the main base of operations for the Ireland Station.

In 1828 the title of the stations commander, the Commander-in-Chief, Cork was altered to Commander-in-Chief on the Coast of Ireland until 1831. Between this date and 1843 the Ireland Station was deactivated. In 1844 the station was reactivated and moved its headquarters to the port of Cobh at which point the title of the stations commanding officer was changed to Commander-in-Chief, Cobh. In 1849 the Port of Cobh was renamed to Queenstown to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria. Once again the title of stations commanding officer was altered to Commander-in-Chief, Queenstown.

In 1876 the Ireland Station was renamed to the Coast of Ireland Station and the title of its new commanding officer was changed to Senior Officer on the Coast of Ireland.

Naval HQ

The commanders in chief of the Ireland Station were known by different titles usually the port they were headquartered at.

Commander-in-Chief, Cork (1758-1828)

Incomplete list of post holders included:[3]

  1. Commodore Thomas Hanway (1758-1759)
  2. Rear-Admiral of the White Philips Cosby (1790-1792)
  3. Rear-Admiral of the White Robert Kingsmill (1793-1794)
  4. Vice-Admiral of the White Robert Kingsmill (1794-1799)
  5. Admiral of the Blue Robert Kingsmill (1799-1800)
  6. Vice-Admiral Lord Gardner (1800-1807)
  7. Vice-Admiral James Hawkins-Whitshed (1807-1810)
  8. Vice-Admiral Edward Thornbrough (1810-1813)
  9. Vice-Admiral Herbert Sawyer (1813-1815)
  10. Rear-Admiral of the Red Benjamin Hallowell (1816-1818)
  11. Rear-Admiral Josias Rowley (1818-1821)
  12. Rear-Admiral Lord Colville (1821-1825)
  13. Vice-Admiral Robert Plampin (1825-1828)

Commander-in-Chief on the Coast of Ireland (1828-1831)

  1. Rear-Admiral Charles Paget (1828-1831)

Commander-in-Chief, Cobh (1844-1848)

  1. Rear-Admiral Hugh Pigot (1844-1847)
  2. Rear-Admiral Thomas Ussher (1847-1848)

Commander-in-Chief, Queenstown (1849-1876)

  1. Rear-Admiral Donald Hugh Mackay (1849-1850)
  2. Rear-Admiral Manley Hall Dixon (1850-1852)
  3. Rear-Admiral John Brett Purvis (1852-1855)
  4. Rear-Admiral George Rose Sartorius (1855-1856)
  5. Rear-Admiral Henry Ducie Chads (1856-1858)
  6. Rear-Admiral Charles Talbot (1858-1862)
  7. Rear-Admiral Sir Lewis Jones (1862-1865)
  8. Vice-Admiral Charles Frederick (1865-1867)
  9. Rear-Admiral Claude Buckle (1867-1868)
  10. Rear-Admiral Frederick Warden (1868-1869)
  11. Rear-Admiral Arthur Forbes (1869-1871)
  12. Rear-Admiral Edmund Heathcote (1871-1874)
  13. Rear-Admiral Robert Coote (1874-1876)


At various times it encompassed naval formations and other ships not attached to other fleets. In addition to shore establishments including, barracks, dockyards, depots, hospitals, refitting and re-supply bases, naval bases or victualling yards. Those components that were part of this station are shown below.[4]

Shore Establishments

Unit From To Ref
Kinsale Dockyard 1758 1812
Haulbowline Dockyard 1812 1876


  1. "Admiralty: Ireland Station: Orders and Memoranda". Kew, Surrey, England: National Archives UK. 1815–1912. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  2. Davies, J. D. (20 November 2008). Pepys's navy : ships, men & warfare, 1649-1689. Barnsley, England: Seaforth. p. 194. ISBN 9781848320147.
  3. Harrison, Simon (Cy) (2010–2020). "Commander-in-Chief at Cork". Cy Harrison. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  4. The Navy List. (Dec 1920). p.694.