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Did you know? Pirates started the Dublin Chamber of Commerce

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Storytelling is an integral and unique part of Irish culture. Stories from the past and present, fiction myths and tales, and real-life soliloquies have all been told throughout history to preserve Ireland’s customs and beliefs.  We have all heard stories of the sorrowful chronicles of the Irish famine and the courageous 1916 rebellion, myths and tales of the alluring Tír na nÓg and Cú Chulainn, but did you know that pirates started our Dublin Chamber of Commerce

In 1695, an Irish merchant ship called the Ouzel Galley (Meaning Blackbird) set sail from Ringsend in Dublin to the Ottoman Empire which we now know as Izmir in Turkey. The objective of the Dublin shipping company Ferris, Fig, and Cash was to begin a trading arrangement between the two ports and then return to Dublin a year later once a deal had been brokered.   

After the year had passed, the Ouzel had not returned to Dublin as scheduled and rumors began to surface about the ship’s and its crew’s possible fate. People speculated that the crew died from a shipwreck caused by ferocious storms or that they were kidnapped and murdered by pirates but one thing the Irish public was certain of was that all the crew had died, and the ship would never be seen again. 

By a strange twist of fate in 1700 just 5 years later, a ship was seen on the horizon of Dublin Bay. As it came into port it was quickly identified as the long-forgotten Ouzel Galley with the captain and crew intact. The people of Dublin were astonished. The public heard tales of how pirates had captured them and heroically escaped after 5 years in North Africa but was this the truth? Some believed that the entire voyage had been a cover for Captain Massey and his crew and that the sole purpose of the journey was to embark on piracy on the high seas.  These rumors were fueled by the Ouzel returning to Dublin port with a galley full of pirate booty. The crew’s dreams of riches and a fresh start were dashed because it was illegal to keep the stolen treasure and they became destitute. Due to the value of the goods on board, a special society was created to ensure the goods did not fall into the wrong hands. This group was called the Ouzel Galley Society which we now know today as the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

The Plaque commemorating the lost ship can be found on the side of the commerce building on Dame Street. Next time you take a walk around our great city keep your eyes peeled as our cobblestone streets tell more than just drunken secrets. 

Picture by Michael MacNamee Via The Circular
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