How an Irish village erected a monument depicting an 1886 America’s Cup challenger

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Galatea sculpture 2009

The Galatea monument, Ballynacally

I’ve just heard from a descendant of the skipper of the Galatea that the people of the Irish village of Ballynacally have recently celebrated the unveiling of a monument depicting the 1886 America’s Cup racing yacht.

The great-granddaughter of Galatea skipper Daniel Bradford, Mrs Barbara Caveney (nee Bradford) reports that the sculpture was unveiled in a village playground by Brigadier Frank Henn, a relation of William Henn, who with his wife owned the Galatea from 1885. The village was also presented with a print depicting the Galatea racing against the American challenger the Mayflower.

Mrs Caveney was very surprised but absolutely delighted when someone in the village sent her information and photos of the event after reading about the Galatea at intheboatshed.net – the post included an appeal from her for information about the her great grandfather, the racing yacht and the family who owned her.

See the original post including and the photos from Jeff Cole’s collection here. I should explain that the Galatea didn’t win the America’s Cup, but the Henns became famous hosts aboard their yacht, which surprisingly wasn’t in fact designed to be an out-and-out racer.

But what was the connection between the little Irish village and the America’s Cup yacht? Mrs Caveney explains:

‘Ballynacally on the West Coast of Ireland is the place where Lft William Henn RN of Galatea fame was born, and is buried in the family graveyard of Paradise House.

In 1885 his wife Susan Henn commissioned J Beavor-Webb to design the Galatea to be built.

There is a lot of information in the archives of the New York Times archives on the lead up to the famous America Cup race in 1886 where Galatea was beaten by Mayflower. My great-grandfather’s name appears quite frequently in the write-ups. He lived in Devon.

The Henns lived on board the Galatea, which was not built to be a racing yacht. There are great pictures of the inside of the yacht in a book by Ian Dear.

Lft Henn unfortunately became ill and died at the young age of 44 in 1894.
From what I can ascertain from the internet, Mrs Susan Henn continued to live on Galatea after her husband`s death.

Skipper Bradford helped her look after the yacht until he dropped dead on board the yacht in Dartmouth Harbour in April 1902 at the age of 52 years.

Mrs Henn I believe continued to live on board the yacht until her death in 1911. The following year the yacht was broken up in Plymouth.

Going back to Ballynacally, apparently the Henn family were very helpful to the people of the village, and this is why the Balnacally Development Association decided to erect the plinth showing the Galatea out of respect to the kindness of the family.

I will add I found most of this information from the Internet in recent years – when I started researching my family history all I knew was that I had a great grandfather who was the skipper on a famous yacht called the Galatea.

Hope this has been helpful.

Regards Barbara C’

That’s very helpful indeed – thank you Mrs Caveney!

If anyone else has information relating to the Galatea, Daniel Bradford or the Henns, I’d sure Mrs Caveney would be very pleased to hear from them. Her email address is in the comments at the end of the original intheboatshed.net post linked above.

Print of Mayflower & Galatea presented to Ballynacally Aug 09

The start of the first race for the America’s Cup, September 7th 1886, painted by Admiral Richard Brydges Beechey, RN

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5 Responses to How an Irish village erected a monument depicting an 1886 America’s Cup challenger

  1. jeff cole says:

    Morning Gavin Nice to see that another of my old pics have stirred a memory. I wonder if the Penn family still have a villiage connection. If one surfaces I'd be happy to send that pic, or a very good print to the family or to Mrs Caveney for that matter.

    House passed final inspection last week, a few builders tidy ups and a month of painting to go before we move in. Veggies are growing already, safely fenced off from the wallabies.

    Cheers, I'm looking forward to a normal life again soon!

    Jeff

  2. John Cole says:

    Hi all,

    I hope it's OK to post a question here (being a newcomer!). I found this site while searching the web for info about steam yachts etc. built by my ancestors at W. White & Sons of Cowes (not to be confused with J.S. White) and White Bros. of Itchen Ferry, Southampton. Does anyone know of any vessels still in existence by these builders?

    The only ones we are aware of are "Christoprase" (WW&S) and "Lulworth" (WB).

    Any information would be much appreciated. I have a web site up at http://www.vectisworks.com which covers both firms, but the period between 1914 and 1939 is very sketchy.

    Thanks in anticipation,

    John Cole

  3. Barbara Caveney says:

    For Jeff Cole.

    Re your reply to site on 22nd Sept,2009.

    Irish village connection to "GALATEA"

    You refer to the owner of Galatea as PENN it is in fact HENN. You also mention a print – I would be very interested .

    Thanks

    Barbara C

  4. Gavin Atkin says:

    Paul Austin in Texas has added the following to the story. Thanks Paul!

    Gavin: I have an old copy of Francis Herreshoff's INTRODUCTION TO YACHTING. This is what FHerreshoff says about Galatea and Mrs. Henn:

    Mrs. William Henn who was perhaps the most popular yachtswoman as she and her husband are spoken of very fondly in the writings of their time…Mrs. Henn is the only woman who paid for a cup challenger, for she had Galatea built and sailed her for a couple of years after her husband died. She is the only woman who sailer over and returned on a cup challenger. She lived on yachts for about ten years and spent several winters in the Mediterranean, making her cruising mileage about 60,000 miles. Her racing mileage must have been very great…Galatea was of compsite construction with an outside lead keel of fifty-one percent of her displacement. Galatea was steel plated with her lead run into her trough keel. She was said to have eightyone tons of ballast so must have had a high percentage of ballast…The owners of Galatea were Mrs. William Henn and her husband Lieutenant W Henn, R.N., retired who had served aboard the crack frigate Galatea. They were both great yachting and cruising people who had cruised some forty-nine thousand miles in their eighty-ton yawl Gertrude, which was for some time kept in commission the year around, and they had won a great many races both in England and on the French Mediterranean coast. Mrs. Henn had Galatea built to be their floating home, and she was a fine wholesome craft. Both Lieutenant and Mrs. Henn are said to have been the most popular characters who challenged for the cup…unfortunately Galatea did not turn out to be very fast either in England or here and I believe it was partly because her sails were very heavy and logy in light and moderate weather.

    Gavin, there is a picture of Mrs. Henn in this book, unfortunately it doesn't copy very well. She has a long slender face, a handsome woman who looks to be thin and modest. Her hair is very short for the times, and she is wearing a cap. Herreshoff calls the Henns 'characters,' and I can imagine Mrs. Henn enjoying her own unique status as a woman of her times.

    Yours,

    Paul Austin

    Dallas TX

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