Pioneering sea captain Kate to be celebrated

International Women's Day will celebrate career of Kate Tyrrell

Kate Tyrrell

Esther HaydenWicklow People

Arklow woman Kate Tyrrell is to be celebrated as the town marks International Women's Day next month.

Ms Tyrrell, who was born in Arklow, was the second of four daughters born to Edward and Elizabeth Tyrrell. She blazed a trail as the first female ship's captain.

Arklow Town Team has decided that the fiery and charismatic Arklow woman and her love of life at sea and working on ships should be celebrated.

Her father had a shipping company that imported and exported goods between Ireland and Wales. From childhood, Kate could be found around the shipyard learning her father's trade and it became clear that she would be his obvious successor.

He promised her that one day she would be the owner of her own ship and, in 1885, her father purchased a 62-ton schooner called the 'Denbighshire Lass' from Wales which Kate captained on its way back home to Arklow. A strong will meant she would fulfil the role she most wanted by becoming the first woman to be called Captain.

Her achievement and that of other significant women (past and present) associated with Arklow will be celebrated at a brunch on Thursday, March 8, in the Arklow Bay Hotel.

Local historian Jim Rees and John Mahon, grandson of Kate Tyrrell, will give talks about two different aspects of her life. There will be a cross section of women`s groups from Arklow town present, including some foreign national women who are now living and working in Arklow.

A raffle will be held on the day and all proceeds will go to Wonder Work's Women's charity in Nepal. This charity works to take young girls off the streets to train them in social skills and give them the knowledge needed to gain employment.

Welcoming the planned celebration, Cllr Tommy Annesley, chair of the Arklow Town Team and cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District, said: 'Kate Tyrell was an extraordinary woman and ahead of her time. In the face of outdated laws, she pursued her dream to be called Capitan. I would also like to congratulate the Town Team Heritage Subcommittee for this wonderful initiative.'

Tickets can be purchased from the Arklow Bay, McMullans, Kustomkids, Sandra Duffy, Cllr Mary McDonald, Cllr Miriam Murphy and at Arklow Municipal District.