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Side-Wheeled Paddle Steamers
The company was established in 1846 and developed railways from Belfast to much of what is now Northern Ireland. For the 1893 season,the company ordered PS Slieve Donard from J & G Thomson of Clydebank to connect Belfast and Bangor. In the following year, PS Slieve Bearnagh joined the fleet to strengthen the Bangor service although occasional services went to Larne and Donaghadee. Growth continued when two more paddle steamers were bought from the liquidated Bangor and Larne Steamboat Company (PS Erin and PS Bangor Castle). Slieve Donard was sold in 1899 and Bangor Castle scrapped. PS Erin's Isle joined the fleet in 1912 and replaced Slieve Bearnagh. Erin's Isle was requisitioned by the Royal Navy after her 1915 summer season and never returned, being lost after hitting a mine with the loss of 23 lives in the Thames Estuary in 1919. The company did not resume steamship services after the end of World War I
In Erin's Isle, the railway company had a modern excursion steamer and, presumably, high hopes. Only a couple of years after her arrival on Belfast Lough, World War I broke out and, like most excursion paddle steamers, she was called up to serve as a minesweeper. Having survived the war intact she hit a mine in the Thames estuary and was lost along with 23 lives.