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The Past

From this small start John Mullock and his sons prospered taking an increasing role in the commercial life of their adopted and now rapidly expanding Georgian city. By 1830 John Mullock (1st) had passed to his reward, laid to rest in an imposing family vault hard-by the Great West Door of St. Mary's Cathedral, a privileged position with a fine view over the busy harbour of those days. His eldest son John (2nd) was at the helm and Mullock & Sons were Shipowners. They had the "Jean" & "Native" two masted Topsail Schooners the latter built on the Deep at Wexford was the smaller but boasted a fine figurehead of a "Bonny Negrees with golden earrings". The "Jean" of about 400 tons traded transatlantic to the Canadian Maritimes, St. Lawrence, the Chesapeake Ports, and the Mediterranean, in 1834 calling to Leghorn. Among our archives is preserved the "Slate Book" of the "Jean" in Captain Daniel Gormans own hand for the years 1830-34. In this he records full details of crew wages and all outlays for Port expenses and provisions, and by contra cash advanced, freight and passenger fare receipts. A fascinating insight to conditions at sea one hundred and fifty years ago. A painting of this stout little vessel, under full sail off Leghorn in October, 1834, hangs in our Limerick Head Office.

In two hundred odd years two families have directed the fortunes of the firm: first Mullock; later Herriott (now Dundon). David Herriott came to Mullocks as an employee (Clerk) about 1830, and in the late 1840's brought his young son, Michael into the business. It was at this time that Stephen Mullock was tragically drowned at the age of eighteen on a yachting trip from Limerick. Luke Mullock (2nd) born 1827; Stephen's elder brother; and Michael Herriott born 1831 were almost contemporaries. When Luke's father John (2nd) died in 1854, Luke took control with Michael Herriott as his chief Clerk and trusted colleague. Luke died suddenly in 1881, aged 52, leaving a widow and four children. The eldest and only boy aged six, and three girls, the youngest but six months old. For seven years Michael Herriott ran the business as partner for Luke's widow until just one hundred years ago, when she sold him her remaining share, and transferred and her children to Dublin.

Until very recently there were no traces of the Mullock family, in Ireland or elsewhere, known to us. Then quite by chance, and to our great delight, we made contact with Luke Mullock's surviving grandson; Denis W. Mullock. This old gentleman aged 83 years is hale and hearty living in retirement in England. Our Chairman and Managing Director, John Dundon Snr., great grandson of Michael Herriot hosted a small luncheon party for him in London recently and presented a few pages of his Grandfather's personal diaries taken from our archives that referred to his courtship and marriage to his Grandmother, Sarah (Sikes) Mullock, a Quaker Limerick lady.

Ted Russal Dock Limerikc clock tower


Mullocks was always a compact family business but it proved impossible, as a shipping concern on a small island, not to be involved in every social and economic change of the passing years. There have been good times and bad. Peace and plenty followed by wars and rebellion. In the period nothing was more tragic for this small nation than the Great Famine and the Exodus that followed "black 47" (1847). In that darkest year of recent history our records show Famine Relief Food cargoes, chartered through Mullocks, from Baltimore, Md. U.S.A. to Ireland. In 1850 Mullock's received a special Passenger Brokers License from the Colonial Office, London. By this means the worst abuses of the "Coffin ship" traders, taking full advantage of a panic stricken population fleeing plague and starvation, were brought to and end. Mullock's Charter Party for Emigrant ships provided for official inspection of accommodation for an approved maximum number of persons, adequate fresh provisions and water, and a Surgeon to take passage on the vessel to care for all on board.

As the decimated Country slowly recovered trade in Limerick prospered. Betimes Mullock's, were Ship-owners in sail and steam, Merchants (Coal and Ice), Master Stevedores and Insurance Brokers. At the turn of the century they owned the Barques "Aretas" 500t and "M & E Cann" 980t, later ships were the steam Colliers "Loop Head" and "Kerry Head". These were the most unlucky Ships. The "Loop Head" was lost without trace and no survivors in the Great Autumn Storm of 1927 in the vicinity of the Tuskar Rock, St. Georges Channel. Even more tragic was the wartime loss of the "Kerry Head" when sunk with all hands in broad daylight by German aircraft on the South West Coast in October, 1940. At this time, although Eire was officially neutral, our ship continued to trade to the West coast U.K., maintaining the only link with supplies of vital foodstuffs to beleaguered Britain. In those sad years we had the opportunity to make some small contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic then raging caring for the survivors sunken Allied and Neutral vessels who struggled ashore often half dead. The exhausted survivors of the "Eleni Stathatos" and "Langley Ford" were hospitalized and nursed back to health and quietly returned to their homes. In May of 1940, when Denmark was occupied, our Principal Wm. Herriott, Honorary Danish Consul, found safe haven for two Danish ships "Agnete Maersk" and their crews. A few of the Senior Officers were still in our care until their homeland was liberated five years later, when at last they could safely return home. Two British ships the "Christina Maria" and the "Melrose Abbey" badly damaged in wartime convoy attacks, were repaired and refitted although with much improvisation, because of shortage of essential materials.

The "Melrose Abbey" completed her voyage to Malta, laden with her cargo of Admiralty Steam coals, with a replacement bow-section to the fwd. bulkhead No.1 of Irish oak timbers fitted afloat at Foynes, River Shannon. She was too large for the small Limerick Drydock and steel plate was unobtainable.

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