Ahoy! Father buys ‘golden’ birthday gift for son

An Irish businessman bought the replica of one of the world’s most famous ships because his young son wanted to celebrate his birthday party onboard it.

Sean Twomey, who is originally from the village of Meelin in North Cork, paid €222,461 (£195,000) to purchase the almost to-scale replica of the Golden Hind ship.

The original was captained by Sir Francis Drake and once captured a Spanish galleon which was carrying treasure worth nearly €600m in today’s terms.

Mr Twomey, who runs two successful backpacking/youth hostel businesses in Devon, England, visited the replica ship a few months ago with his family.

Although it was moored in the coastal village of Brixham, just three miles from one of his businesses, he had never seen the galleon until recently.

He discovered on Facebook that the ship was coming up for auction, but at the time wasn’t able to make a bid.

Its previous owner put it up for sale last year with a price tag of £400,000.

There were no takers and when it failed recently to make the £200,000 auction reserve the Irishman saw his chance.

“Luckily it didn’t make the reserve (price). I begged and borrowed and then bought it,” said Mr Twomey.

He said his son, Jude, aged six, was adamant when coming off the replica ship that he was going to have his birthday party on it.

Mr Twomey said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire the vessel that he couldn’t ignore and said his son can’t wait to have his seventh birthday onboard.

Mr Twomey, who studied business at Cork College of Commerce, said he is planning to host birthday parties and other events on the ship to defray the cost.

“Francis Drake was quite famous and the ship is being used as a museum,” he said.

Mr Twomey said he envisages that his wife, Mary, who is a teacher, will take up the full-time running of it because she would be an ideal person to host visiting school tours.

He said that a young woman who works for them is penning a special murder mystery which could also be performed on the ship to attract more visitors.

Mr Twomey left Meelin, which is on the Cork/Limerick, 12 years ago and went to Australia where he met his wife.

The couple started their businesses in Devon eight years ago and he said they have been “really successful”.

The current replica was built in 1988.

It replaced one which was constructed in 1963 and which had been used in a television series about the life of Francis Drake, which was filmed in and around the bays of Torbay and Dartmouth.

The vessel was being sent for restoration in Dartmouth in 1987, but it sank while it was being towed in heavy swells.

Original ship circumnavigated globe

The original Golden Hind, under the command of Sir Francis Drake, circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580, plundering treasure-laden Spanish ships. 

Drake was an English sea captain, slave trader, and privateer of the Elizabethan era. He carried out the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition and claimed what is now California for the English.

Drake had full permission for his mission from Queen Elizabeth I, who claimed half of the spoils for herself and England.

The ship was maintained for public exhibition at the dockyard at Deptford, London, from 1580 to 1650.

By 1688 the ship was rotting and the keeper of the stores at Deptford, John Davies, had some of its timbers made into a chair which was presented to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.



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