Tag Archives: tutucorin

Captain A. Joachim Gomez (1886 -1952)

Joachim Gomez was born in Kilakarai, on May 8th 1886, as the son of Mr. Arokiam Gomez, a sailor and Mrs. Amirthammal Poobalarayee.

Like his father, Mr. Joachim Gomez also became a sailor in the Merchant Navy, soon after school. He passed the exams conducted for Merchant Navy officers in Bombay and earned his Master’s ticket in 1934. He became the Captain of the dredger named ‘Tuticorin’ in the old Tuticorin Port. A dredger is a vessel used for Dredging, equipped with power shovels, to remove excess sand, soil and other material from a sea channel or river bed, to provide sufficient depth for sailing vessels, so that they do not run aground. At that time all ships could reach the shore in the old port, due to regular, efficient dredging.

15Captain Joachim Gomez served almost continuously for many years, as a Board Member, in the Turicorin Port Trust, a signal honour, given in recognition of his outstanding service as the Captain of the Dredger. Once a big boat sank in the sea near the harbor, with the cargo. The owner of the boat sought the help of the Port Officer at Tuticorin, to salvage the boat. The port Officer, an Englishman, replied wryly, “If the Captain of the Dredger can do it, let him do it!” Captain Joachim Gomez took up the challenge and worked hard almost non-stop, at the arduous task, for three days and three nights and accomplished what seemed a Herculean labour. The Port Officer was impressed and even considered naming a channel in the new Tuticorin port, after the Captain, as the ‘Captain Joachim Gomez Channel’. But unfortunately, that officer was transferred back to his motherland, England, before he could carry out his intention. Captain Joachim Gomez also died soon after, in Service, after superannuation, and so this did not become a reality.

He had a helpful nature and enabled many individuals and families to advance in life, both by securing jobs for them and by extending monetary help to those in need. He was a benefactor to many, irrespective of caste and creed. He felt he had a special mission to help those who were in sea service. Many seamen, to whom he lent a helping hand professionally, rose up to be Captains. He was compassionate to the aged, the orphaned, the abandoned and the poor. When he saw an aged fruit vendor carrying a heavy basket of fruit in the hot sun, he would buy the whole basket and send him or her home happily. When he died, many street vendors of fruits and vegetables came with their baskets to pay their last respects to the ‘Mavarasan’ who cared for them. At least once a month, he would go to the orphanage and bring about 8 to 10 children home on a Sunday, give them a bath and treat them to a delicious non-vegetarian lunch. As it is said in the Book of Proverbs, 22:9, “Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor.”

Captain Joachim Gomez had many talents. He could sing well, dance stylishly and also act well. He was a skilled swimmer, who could dive into the sea, from the sailing ship, keep under water for many minutes, holding his breath, and resurface again, a long distance away from the diving spot. He loved to do acrobatics in the water. One might say, he took to water like a fish.

16He married Santhiyagumuthammal D’Almeida and they had nine children. He was an affectionate and responsible husband and father. He loved his children and also disciplined them. He woke up the children at 5 a.m. daily and insisted on daily mass. Among his children Captain Bernard Gomez followed his father’s footsteps and then handed over the baton to his son, Captain Lawrence Gomez. According to his children, Captain Joachim Gomez treated his wife like a queen. They were a devoted couple. Mrs. Gomez continued her husband’s tradition of hospitality. A niece, who lived in Tuticorin from 1953-1956, from age 6 to 9, remembers nostalgically the delicious Sunday lunch which she enjoyed with her mother, at the Gomez home in Kerecope street, once a month or so!

In February 1952, when Captain Joachim Gomez was in service after superannuation, he fell ill due to very high blood pressure. He availed one week’s casual leave, but passed away suddenly, probably due to a massive heart attack on February 11th 1952. The Tuticorin Port declared a holiday on his day of death and remained closed, as a mark of honour to him. The Port Officer, an Englishman, accompanied the cortege till the cemetery and was visibly moved. In his letter of Condolence to the Captain’s widow, the Port Officer wrote, “The world has lost a meritorious Captain par excellence, as great as Vasco-da-Gama and Magellan.” He sent many baskets of flowers as a floral tribute to the Captain.

Captain Joachim Gomez loved India and devoted his time, energy and knowledge for the betterment of the Tuticorin harbor, where his name is still a legend, because of his selfless and devoted service. He was a man of principles, who had good will towards all. He had many favourite sayings and loved to speak in metaphors. One of them was that Opportunity was a swift flying bird, which crossed one’s life rarely and so one should be quick to catch it, when it did. Echoing the poet Longfellow, he used to say, one should lead an outstanding life and leave one’s footprints on the sands of time. Captain A. Joachim Gomez did just that!

(This article is the joint effort of the Children of Captain Joachim Gomez – Miss Xavierammal Gomez, Mr. Thomas Gomez and Miss Mary Gomez, with help in compiling from his niece, Christine.)


The first half of the twentieth century threw up many stalwarts in our community. In these pages we have already referred to a few. The Pereiras and the D’Mells who did very well in business in Srilanka; the Mascarenhases who did well as Tamil poets; the Rodriguezes who were part of Madurai Tamil sangam and specialized in Chithira kavis; and the Moraises who championed the labourers; the innumerable priests and nuns who adorned the firmament of catholic church, the Lobos who excelled as teachers – all these have been alluded to in this site somewhere in some context. Continue reading RAO BAHADUR CRUZ FERNANDEZ (1869—1930)

Celestine Machado

When Dhanushkodi was swallowed by sea in 1964, and when the postal services and mails to Ceylon got disrupted and left the Postal administration confounded with no way to keep their service on to Ceylon, it was Celestine Machado who offered the ready solution. He unhesitatingly offered his as well as his relalatives’ boats as carriers of postal mails to Colombo till situation improved. The mails from India reached Colombo within eight hours. The grateful Indian postal department, for this act of National Service honoured him by issuing a First Day Cover in 2010. Continue reading Celestine Machado

Fr. Adrian Caussanel – on Paravas

Rev. Fr. Adrian Caussanel ( 1850- 1930 ) was one of the French Jesuit missionaries who began his mission in Tuticorin in 1889 –and served in erstwhile Tinnevely District till 1930. Fr. Caussanel sj, took up recording history of the communities he served and wrote “ Historical notes on Tinnevely district.” Two chapters of this document deal with Paravas. And these were written between 1910 and 1916. Continue reading Fr. Adrian Caussanel – on Paravas

Fr.AUGUSTINE PEREIRA -The Founder of congregation of Immaculate Conception

Augustine Pereira, son of Ignatius Xavier Pereira and Maria Michelammal was born on 11th February 1854 at Tuticorin.

His mother , a very pious and devoted lady ,brought him up in deep faith in our Lord ; and sowed the seeds of love for people . Continue reading Fr.AUGUSTINE PEREIRA -The Founder of congregation of Immaculate Conception


Among the many who fought for Independence in the erstwhile Tirunelveli district, a few like Veerapandiakattabomman, Pulithevan, Subramaniya Bharathi and V.O. Chidambaram Pillai have been extolled in history.

There were many others — nearly 400 of them — whose sacrifice of life, limb, health, livelihood, property has been left unrecorded for posterity and has been allowed to pass into oblivion without much notice by scholars or ordinary people. A few others were lucky to have occasional and miserly references in a few pages of history.

One such great warrior who merits a much larger space than what he gets in Thoothukudi district’s history is Joseph Pichaiya Rodriguez popularly known as J.P. Rodriguez.

Born in Thoothukudi on May 2nd, 1891 and educated at St. Xavier’s school in Thoothukudi, and later in St. Joseph’s college, Tiruchirappalli, he married Roselin Corera in 1917, and had thirteen children — one among them was the famous actor Chandra Babu whose name was Panimaya Dasan.

J.P. Rodriguez joined the freedom movement in 1921, following Gandhiji’s call during his visit to Tirunelveli. His close associate in the Freedom Movement was Masilamani Pillai, a well-known Catholic freedom fighter of Thoothukudi; another was Pe. Kandasamy also of Thoothukudi. These three were the ring leaders in the freedom movement in Thoothukudi.

J.P. Rodriguez had close contact with Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Kamaraj, Satyamoorthy, and Indira Gandhi. The rapport that J.P. Rodriguez had with Nehru was so good that Nehru who travelled with him on a ship from Ceylon, readily accepted his invitation to pay a visit to Thoothukudi.

During Nehru’s visit to Thoothukudi, Rodriguez arranged a grand and impressive reception for him. Responding to the call of Gandhi, he, as one of the Congress leaders of the district, led the masses of Thoothukudi in the agitation to boycott foreign cloth, and the agitations to picket toddy shops. In these agitations his wife Roselin also took an active part.

J.P. Rodriguez, started a journal Suthanthra Veeran in Tamil to conscientise and educate Tamil youth in the Freedom Movement. Worried by the fervent exhortations to Tamil youth to rebel, aired in the journal, and the tangible response they elicited, the British government unleashed a reign of terror on the journal and its founder, J.P. Rodriguez. His press was raided, the types were confiscated, cases for seditious activities were registered and the journal was banned and closed. Further, the British confiscated his properties worth Rs. 2.5 lakhs. Undeterred by all these suppressions J.P. continued his participation in the struggle for freedom.

J.P. Rodriguez assisted by one Valerian Fernando from Veerapandiapattinam formed The National Christian Army and recruited youth to fight against the British might. He even went to Ceylon to recruit youth from the island. In this he reminds one of Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

During his sojourn in Ceylon he started another journal Yavana Barathan and wrote articles such as ‘Yeniin Pathai’ in Gnanathoothan.

He took part in the Salt Satyagraha in 1930 and was arrested along with Masilamanipillai and Pe. Kandasamy and sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs. 200 or two months under the Salt Act.

J.P. Rodriguez in 1957 in Gnanathoothan recalled this arrest and the hardship he and his friends underwent. He said, “When Masilamani, Pe. Kandasamy and I were arrested in 1930 in Thoothukudi, there was a big agitation in the town. They arrested and kept us in the police station for a long time and locked us in separate cells in the Thoothukudi Sub–jail at 11 a.m.”

“The Police and administrative officers did not give us anything to drink or eat. The floors of the cells into which we were pushed into were uneven and uncomfortable either to sit or to spread oneself. There were no mats, no pillows, no blankets. The cells were dark and damp and there was no light — not even a night lamp! There were no windows — no air or breeze. The sepoy ordered us not to shout or cry out even if a scorpion or snake stung or a rat bit us. The sepoy further instructed us that in the event of any such calamity we might have to keep silence till the next day till the prison doctor might turn up.”

Despite all these taciturn threats and warnings J.P. Rodriguez and Masilamanipillai protested against prisoners removing the urine pots.

After some time, J.P. Rodriguez was removed to Vellore Central jail and Tiruchirapalli Central jail to undergo the sentence.

In 1939, J.P. Rodriguez was arrested again and imprisoned for his participation in the Freedom Struggle. After his release he was exiled to Ceylon where he started a weekly magazine Kalachakram.

1n 1941, he was again arrested for participating in individual satyagraha. His famous saying was “I will fight for the liberation of my motherland till the last drop of my blood in my body.”

After having spent some years in Colombo and Hatton where he had a shop, he returned to India and settled in Chennai in 1943 and joined Dinamani.
Though he was settled in Chennai, he visited Thoothukudi often and engaged himself in the freedom struggle till India attained independence.

M. Pitchai Savariammal Associate Professor, Department of History,St. Mary’s College, Thoothukudi

சிற்பக் கலைஞர் – வேம்பார் அமலநாதன்

தூத்துக்குடி மாவட்டத்தில் உள்ள வேம்பார் என்ற கடற்கரை கிராமத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர் அமலநாதன். தற்போது தூத்துக்குடி முத்தம்மாள் காலனியில் வசித்து வரும் அவர், தனது வீட்டையே கலைக் கூடமாக மாற்றியுள்ளார். 15 வயதில் சொருபங்களைச் செய்யும் பணியைத் தொடங்கிய அமலநாதன் கடந்த 52 ஆண்டுகளில் மேரிமாதா, ஏசுநாதர், புனித அந்தோனியார், அன்னைதெரசா மற்றும் கிறிஸ்துமஸ் குடில் சொருபங்கள் என சுமார் 1 லட்சம் சொருபங்களை உருவாக்கியுள்ளார். Continue reading சிற்பக் கலைஞர் – வேம்பார் அமலநாதன்

தென் தமிழக நெய்தல் படைப்பாளிகள்

ஜஸ்டின் திவாகர்

தமிழகத்திற்கு அச்சுத்துறையை முதலில் அறிமுகப்படுத்தியது கிறிஸ்தவம்தான். தமிழ் மொழியில் முதன் முறையாக 1577 ஆம் ஆண்டு ‘கிரிசித்தியானி (கிறிஸ்தவ) வேதோபதேசம்’ என்ற நூலும் 1579 ஆம் ஆண்டு ‘கிறிஸ்துவ வணக்கம்’ என்னும் உரைநடை நூலும் ஹென்ரிக்கஸ் என்ற யேசு சபைப் பாதிரியாரால் அச்சிடப்பட்டதாகவும், சுயமாக அச்செழுத்துக்களை இஞ்ஞாசி ஆச்சாமணி என்பவர் உருவாக்கியதாகவும் சொல்லப்படுகிறது. Continue reading தென் தமிழக நெய்தல் படைப்பாளிகள்

Thoni: the Sailing Vessel of Thoothukudi

A.Sivasubramanian, Folklorist, Thoothukudi. &
J. Ragu Antony, Department of English, V.O.C. college, Thoothukudi.

The history of Tamil navigation is more than two thousand years old and the Thoni was the earliest sailing craft used by the Tamils for their trade with other countries. Korkai on the Pearl fishery coast was the chief port of the Pandyas. Continue reading Thoni: the Sailing Vessel of Thoothukudi