Initially ordered by Bibby Line, White Star’s Gaelic was purchased while on the stocks. Launched on 21st September 1872, she was equipped with a compound two-cylinder engine and was also barque-rigged. Primarily a cargo vessel, she could accommodate 40 in First Class. Gaelic was handed over to White Star on 7th January 1873. Her sister, Belgic, was also purchased on the stocks at Belfast.
Gaelic left Liverpool on her maiden voyage on 29th January 1873, bound for Valparaiso, Chile, with calls at Pauillac, Vigo and Lisbon to embark passengers and cargo. She made the ﬁrst of eight north Atlantic crossings on 10th July 1873 from Liverpool, and arrived in New York on 22nd July. In 1874 Gaelic was switched from Liverpool to London and made the ﬁrst of four round-trip sailings on 3rd June. She later reverted to the Liverpool route.
Her ﬁnal north Atlantic voyage was from Liverpool to New York on 11th February 1875. She left Liverpool on 29th May 1875 to join the White Star/Occidental & Oriental S.S. Co. joint service on a ﬁve-year charter, and reached Hong Kong on 9th July. Gaelic made her ﬁnal departure from San Francisco on 6th March 1883 on the trans-Paciﬁc service. From Hong Kong, she headed back to England via the Suez Canal. Once at London, she was sold for £30,000 to Cia. de Nav. La Flecha, of Bilbao, and renamed Hugo. On 24th September 1896 Hugo (ex-Gaelic) stranded on Terschelling Island, off the Dutch coast. After inspection she was declared a constructive total loss. She was later refloated, then sold at auction on 9th December and scrapped at Amsterdam.