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William Bligh

 

 

William Bligh, British naval officer & marine surveyor, was born in Plymouth, England on the 4th October 1754.  Having entered the navy he sailed with Captain James Cook on his second voyage around the world (1772-1774).  He saw service in naval battles (1781/1782).  In 1786, when the Corporation for the Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin was established, he was taking part in naval blockades of the French ports.

In late 1787 he was assigned to H.M.S. Bounty.  While sailing from Tahiti to the West Indies, he, and 18 of his crew, were overpowered and set adrift in a small boat in the Pacific Ocean.  In April 1789 Bligh's skills as a navigator of the highest quality was demonstrated by his ability to sail the Bounty's lifeboat, which was 23 foot long and 6' 9'' wide, from the island of  Torfoa to the island of Timor, a distance of 3618 miles, with only a sextant as a navigational aid.

He returned to England in 1790 and continued his career in the navy.  Captain William Bligh was  invited to survey Dublin bay by the director general of  inland navigation.  He had a reputation, earned in the South Seas, as a marine surveyor. He arrived in Dublin in September 1800 and commenced work immediately.  He completed his survey and report in 3 months, noting in his report that this had been achieved notwithstanding the unfavourable and tempestuous time of the year.

Bligh's complete report and chart are now in the records of the Dublin Port and Docks board.  His proposal was a wall on the North side of the channel, parallel with the South wall, to speed the flow of water and to assist the natural scour. This proposal was accepted in principle.  As a result of further investigation it was decided to build the present Bull Wall at an angle to Clontarf's foreshore, thereby enclosing a greater volume of water between the two walls and consequently increasing the scouring effect of the ebb tide.

Captain William Bligh returned to his naval duties in early 1801 and fought with Admiral Horatio Nelson at the battle of Copenhagen in that year.   He was appointed Governor of New South Wales in Australia in 1805, and took his office in 1806.  A mutiny took place in the colony, during which Bligh was deposed.   He was held in custody until February 1809 and he returned to England in 1810.   In 1811 he was promoted to Rear Admiral.  In 1814 he was named Vice Admiral Bligh and he died in London in 1817.

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