We All Live in a Yellow Submarine… Thanks to an Irishman

John Philip Holland is remembered as the inventor of the first commercially successful submarine. Born in Liscannor, County Clare, he began his life in a different direction. He joined the Irish Christian Brothers in 1858 at the age of 18 and began teaching around Ireland in the towns of Cork, Drogheda, and Dundalk. Due to illness, he left the Christian Brothers in 1873 and emigrated to the U.S. the same year. While in America, Holland worked for an engineering firm in New York.

Growing up in a coastal town fueled an obsession with sea travel at a young age. While in Cork with the Christian Brothers, Holland was encouraged by his teacher, Brother Dominic Burke, to pursue his design interests. It is believed that Holland finished his first drafts of his submarine design in 1859. His first submarine was built in 1877, only four years after his arrival to the states. His most successful submarine was the Holland 6 and was poetically launched on Saint Patrick’s Day 1898 in New York Habour. Despite the success the submarine was not adopted by the US until 1900. Holland died before he could see his invention in use, as he passed just before World War I broke out.


In Drogheda, a memorial is dedicated to J.P. Holland on the grounds of the Scholars Hotel.

Tours to Drogheda and other Celtic sites run everyday. For more information see:



Liscannor, Holland’s hometown, is conveniently just a 10 minute drive away from the ever-popular Cliffs of Moher.

Tours to the Cliffs of Moher run everyday. For more information see:


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