L Eithne (P31)

The name Eithne was borne by many characters in Irish history and mythology, but the Eithne after whom this ship was named was the tragic heroine of an early Irish romantic tale. She was the daughter of the one-eyed Fomorian King, Balor and there was a prophesy about which said that Balor would be killed by his grandson. Unlike some others, Balor was a man who paid attention to prophesies and as he had but one child, Eithne, so this would be an easy prophesy to circumvent. Eithne had to be killed, but bad as Balor was, he could not bring himself to kill the child, so instead he had her walled up in a castle on Tory Island. There she grew up, guarded by women, for no male was permitted on the island. The story of the beautiful princess walled up in the castle soon spread around the country and many warriors tried to capture her but none survived the sea and the guards.

However, one eventually did get in, disguised as a serving woman and some time later Balor found out that Eithne had given birth to a boy. The Furious king had Eithne and her lover killed and the child flung into the sea. But Mannin, the sea god took pity on the child and had a wave throw the infant up on a beach where a local farmer found him and brought him up. He grew up to be strong and high minded and when as a young man, he heard of the injustices perpetrated by Balor, he set out to rid the land of the tyrant. Needless to say he succeeded and slew Balor, duly fulfilling the prophesy. It has been suggested that the tale of Eithne may have been a forerunner of the Sleeping Beauty story.


Displacement (tonnes)

1760t standard, 1910t full load

Dimensions: feet (metres)

265x39.4x14.1ft (80.8x12x4.3m)

Main Machinery

2XRuston 12RKC diesels; 6800hp; 2xShaft

Speed (knots)

20kts+, 19kts normal

Range (miles)

7000ml at 15kts


85 ( 9 Officers and 77 ratings)


1 Bofors 57mm and 2xRheinmetall 20mm Cannons, 7.62mm GPMG




7 December 1984