Four abandoned ships have become an eyesore on the coast of south west Kerry.

Four shipwrecks have littered the scenic harbour of Kilmacalogue in County Kerry and locals are finding it almost impossible to find out who owns them. 

These four wrecks are an indictment of our inadequate laws. They've littered the most scenic part of the beautiful. 

The wrecks, which have been abandoned in the tiny port of Kilmacalogue, are an eyesore along the coast of south-west Kerry and are extremely dangerous. 

They're a scandal that their owners have tried to forget.

The owners of the boat chose Kilmacalogue as the location to abandon the ships as there is no harbour authority and therefore they weren't subject to any control. 

The story of the abandoned boats goes back to 1977 in the village of Sneem, where three men decided to buy them from Holland with the intention of using them for fishing trips for visitors.  The boats were brought to Ireland via Crosshaven in County Cork but along the way, the men faced difficulties over import duties with the custom authorities. The Revenue Authority holds files on the entire affair. However, they will not disclose the papers to the Department of Transport which has been trying to locate the owners of the vessels. The boats were berthed for some time in Sneem until the local people had enough and they were ordered out. It was then that the owners took them across Kenmare Bay to Kilmacalogue. 

Three ocean-going tugs, the Stentor, the Bornrif, and the Meeuw, along with a trawler the Moray were left tied to the pier in 1977. In November 1977, they were torn from their mooring by a severe storm and were wrecked on the rocks around the bay. Locals formed a protest action committee to lobby to have the boats removed. The protest has been ongoing for six years. 

A spokesman for the Local Action Committee Jim O'Sullivan outlines their efforts to date to get the boats removed. He explains that while they have their suspicions, they have yet to confirm who exactly owns the boats. Two of the owners are believed to be a Cork solicitor and a prominent South Kerry Hotelier. 

After an exhaustive investigation, RTÉ News did manage to discover one registration for the Moray listed as Raymond Roche of Sneem in County Kerry. Mr Roche refused to talk to RTÉ about the vessel.  All he did say was that

He was not the owner and he wouldn't divulge any information about the person to whom he'd sold it.

The locals of Kilmacalogue are still stuck with the boats. 

Captain John Crosby a barrister specialising in marine law outlined the general principles about shipwrecks. 

There is no law as such that would compel an owner to remove the wreck.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 June 1983. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney.