Friday 24 May 2019

Thomas Wright's memorial unveiling

Hubert Murphy

Up to 80 descendants of famed naval admiral Thomas Charles Wright will travel to Drogheda this week to mark the 150th anniversary of his death.

The majority of them live in Ecuador. where he was a folk hero.

Wright was born at Queensborough on the Baltray Road.

The group will meet up with locals on Saturday with a ceremonial firing of the canons at Millmount at 1pm and then the unveiling of a memorial to Wright at 3pm at Fiddle Case Pier, close to the port entrance.

Local historian Noel Bailey made contact with the extended Wright family in South America, asking would they be interested in marking the event.

They responded positively and can't wait to see Drogheda.

'Some of them have been here before, but it will be a special day,' Noel stated.

Wright was born at Queensborough on January 22 1799 and entered the naval service at the age of 11, attending college in Portsmouth.

His first commission was when he was 13, boarding the 64-gun Newcastle, whose first action was chasing the American USS Constitution, commanded by Charles Stewart Parnell's grandfather, right across the Atlantic.

Home on leave in 1817, his biographer, Alberto Edwardo Wright, said that Wright took to fishing in the Boyne and pondered on his life, craving a new challenge.

He met exiled South American patriots, then preparing an expedition which sailed from England to join the revolutionary forces of Simon Bolivar and Jose deSan Martin.

He is remembered most of all for his outstanding bravery in the fierce battle for Quito which was fought on the foothills of Mount Pinchincha on 24 May, 1822, in which the South Americans won a great victory that liberated Ecuador.

A year later, he was appointed by the Liberator Bolivar, to organise a naval force in the Pacific.

Incredibly, the Spanish fleet had also been beaten in a battle in the Caribbean, one ship commanded by Dick Wright, a cousin of Thomas.

Wright went on to play a leading role in establishing the new Republic of Ecuador and was its first admiral, and governor of the great port city of Guayaquil from 1835-1845 .

Drogheda Independent