Dúchas Thír Chonaill

Donegal Heritage

Acres School




41lb (18.6 kg) 2005




Belcruit School






Compiled & Presented


Jimmy Duffy

Thank you for watching

November 2017




































Tráigheanna an Dúin Mhóir (The Strands of Dunmore)

Trá Shruthán na nEascann in aice le Tráigheanna an Dúin Mhóir (Strand End Beach adjacent to the Strands of  Dunmore)


Ó ‘gus éalóchaidh mé i mbárach go Mullach Dubh Gállda dom’ chómhair,
‘Gus is tuirseach gan áidhbhéil a ghním na tráigheanna romhama threabhadh;
Acht ó’s nídh é bheas déanta ‘s nach bhfuil a áthrach anois rómham,
‘Sé mo chéad beannacht a fhágaim ag tráigheannaibh an Dúin Mhóir.


Agus ná saoil nach bhfuil fárus damh i Mullach Dubh Gállda, mar is cóir,
Ná tá óig-fhir na háite sin i ngrádh orm go mór;
‘Siad a roinnfeadh súgh an ghráinnín i dtigh na táibhirne ar an bhórd,
Agus nach n-iarrfadh sin m’ áthrughadh comrádaidhe go deóidh.
Mullach Dubh Gállda (Mullaghduff Scotch)
 Tá mé i n-eolas na dtráigheanna so gach aon áit go dtí ‘n Bhóinn,
Ó Cheann Ghlinne go Fánaid, ‘s go Cúil Inis Eoghain;
Bhí spórt agus fáilte ins an áird sin uilig romham.                                                                                Acht tá pléisiúr na háite uilig i dtráigheannaibh an Dúin Mhóir.
Ceann Fhánaide (Fanad Head)


Acht tá mé ‘nois d’á bhfágail go bráth uilig ‘mo dhéidh;                                                                       Tá mé ‘g dul imeasg mo cháirde agus is mór an sásamh sin fhéin;                                                     I n-íochtar Mhullach Dubh Gállda béidh m’fhárus níos mó,                                                                    Acht mo chéad beannacht ‘sé fhágaim ag tráigheannaibh an Dúin Mhóir.


le Donnchadh Ó Searcaigh (roimh 1906)

Inis Fraoich taobh thiar do An Dhún Mhór (Innisfree to the west of Dunmore)


Inis Shonnaigh agus Oileán Gabhla amach ó Trá An Dhún Mhóir (Inishinny and Gola Islands out from Dunmore Strand)


Paróiste Ghaoth Dobhair taobh thoir do Trá an Dúin Mhóir (Gweedore Parish to the east of Dunmore Strand)

Con Duggan (1894-1916)

The facts that we do know about of the death of Private Con Duggan of the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in Dublin in April 1916 gives rise to as many questions as answers.

He died in the Easter Rising allegedly killed in action. He was 22 years when he died and was buried in his native parish of Kincasslagh although he is mentioned on a tombstone over a ‘grave’ at Bully’s Acre, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin.

He was the son of Bartley Doogan from Calhame, Annagry and Brigid (Mhór) Doogan from Carrick A tSeascain in Gaoth Dobhair. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles of the British Army who were based that week at Portobello Barracks, (now Cathal Brugha Barracks) Rathmines, Dublin. The 3rd Battalion was in the effective control of Captain Bowen Colthurst from Mallow, County Cork as his superior officer was ill. On the Tuesday of Easter Week part of the battalion left the barracks under the command of Bowen Colthurst with the view to arresting ‘Fenians’ as Bowen Colthurst called suspects. Bowen Colthurst had with him as a hostage, with his hands tied behind his back, the pacifist Frances Sheehy Skeffington who had been arrested as a rebel sympathiser the previous day. It seems he had told the military when stopped on Portobello Bridge on his way home from trying to organise a group to stop the looting of shops that while he sympathised with the rebels aims he did not agree with their methods. Frances Sheehy Skeffington in his early thirties attracted attention from the way he dressed. He walked with a cane and generally had an eccentric appearance. He took his wife’s name Sheehy as part of his own name on their marriage. He was considered harmless but strange. He was friendly with Thomas Mc Donagh one of the signatories of the Proclamation and seemed to frequent the places Mc Donagh frequented largely to meet and often argue with Mc Donagh. This may have meant that he fell under suspicion of being a militant when he was not one.

Captain John Bowen-Colhurst image-independant Newspapers

The unit controlled by Bowen Colthurst were a motley crew made up of the 3rd Battalion recruited mainly from Ireland and East Belfast in particular but that week their numbers were increased by the presence of other British soldiers including it seems one Australian who were on holiday leave in Dublin when the fighting started. Bowen Colthurst stopped a 17 year boy who was coming from a religious service in a nearby Catholic Church. After questioning him about being in breach of curfew Captain Bowen Colthurst shot him dead. He also shot a Labour Party Councillor who was an inactive member of the Irish Volunteers and although he did not die there and then he died a fortnight later. Bowen Colthurst fire-bombed with it would seem the Australian’s help a shop of a Unionist Alderman Councillor at Kelly’s Corner confusing it with the property of a Nationalist Alderman Councillor of the same surname Kelly. He also killed the owner of the shop. He arrested two journalists, Mc Intyre and Dixon who although they were editors of Unionist publications he seemed to think they were Nationalists. They together with Frances Sheehy Skeffington were brought back to Portobello Barracks and the following morning Wednesday all three were executed by seven man firing squad. Sir Frances Vane who had overall command of Portobello Barracks was otherwise engaged that day with heavy fighting at the South Dublin Union held by Eamon Ceannt one of the signatories of the Proclamation of 1916 but he returned to the barrack on Wednesday evening to discover what had occurred.

image- National Library of Ireland

Efforts by the highly principled Sir Frances Vane to have Captain Bowen Colthurst arrested did not find favour with the authorities in Dublin and Sir Frances Vane was forced to go to London to press the government there to arrest Captain Bowen Colthurst. This was done reluctantly although in the meantime the Defendant had been promoted by the military in Sir Frances Vane’s absence. While Vane is clearly a person of high principles the military in general seemed to feel that it would be detrimental to army morale to punish Bowen Colthurst. Bowen Colthurst was tried and convicted of the three murders at the Barracks and found guilty but insane. He was held at Broadmoor Prison Hospital for less than two years and then released on the basis that he was no longer insane. He went to Canada and lived there until his death in 1965. Sir Frances Vane was discharged from the army in 1917 and one of the reasons for his discharge was given was his involvement in the Sheehy Skeffington affair. His attempt to record what had happened was frustrated by the military censor. There was a Judges Inquiry and Bowen Colthurst did not come out to well out of the affair.  He was probably insane at least by the standards of our time although he was not lacking in calculation when it came to trying to cover his tracks. He for example searched the house of Sir Frances Sheehy Skeffington in an attempt to find evidence that the pacifist was a closet militant.

The British Army Roll of Honour has an entry for Con Duggan and it says the following;

Con Duggan, Private No 5470 G Coy, 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, second son of Bartley Duggan of Calhame, Annagry, by his wife Bridget Duggan, born 22/3/1893, educated at Mullaghduff National School. Was an electric tram car driver, Lanarkshire Tramways. Enlisted 14th January 1916 and was killed during the fighting in Dublin about 30th April 1916, unmarried. Buried in the grounds of the Royal Hospital there, 2nd May. His younger brother was killed at Loos.

In other British Army records Templecrone the parish he was from was confused with Templemore in County Tipperary and the county he was from was given as Tipperary. His date of death is given as 29th April 1916 but that is not inconsistent with ‘about 30th April 1916’. He could have died from wounds received early in the week but it does seem unlikely that he would have been killed on the 29th (Saturday) or the 30th (Sunday) as the fighting was over at that stage particularly on the south side of the city.  And Con Duggan was not buried in Bullys Acre, Royal Kilmainham but in Kincasslagh, County Donegal.

A contemporary image of Kincasslagh Cemetery

The soldier who accompanied the body of Con Duggan to Annagry for burial in Kincasslagh graveyard reputedly said to Con’s mother at his wake that her son had been asked to take part in a firing squad and when he refused he was then killed himself. The soldier allegedly said Con had been a foolish boy to refuse to take part in the firings squad as all he had to do to give the impression that he was complying with the request was to take his place in the firing squad and then he could deliberately aim to miss the target. He reputedly added that he had to do that himself. Con’s mother supposedly replied that ‘that would not be Con’s way’. It may be the case that Con Duggan death was collateral damage in the Portobello Barracks murders.

I am indebted to Jimmy Duffy of Carrickfinn, Kincasslagh, County Donegal and John Mc Fadden of Calhame, Annagry who provided me with information regarding Con Duggan.

By Seán Boner, Meenmore, Dungloe.

Kim Sharkey Art Shop

Multi-media Artist Animator, Kim Sharkey, lives on the North-West coast of Ireland in Co. Donegal.

Visit her shop here

Niall Ó Donaill agus Lá An Briseadh Mór


La bataille de l’île de Toraigh, huile sur toile de Nicholas Pocock, 1799.  The Battle of Tory Island –oil on canvas by Nicholas Pocock, 1799. This painting is now in the Ulster Museum.

Na Glúnta Rosannacha, a history of the Rosses, meaning The Generations of the Rosses, by Niall O Donaill was written in 1952. One of the historical events it deals with was the 12th October 1798 Battle of Lough Swilly or what is called in the Rosses in Irish Lá An Briseadh Mór/Lá An Briste Mór, meaning the day of the Great Defeat. The French call it La Bateille d’Isle de Toraigh or the battle of Tory Island. It is also referred to as the Bompart Expedition as Jean Baptiste Francois Bompart was the French Naval Commander on that expedition. The French also refer to it as the Third Irish Expedition, the first being Bantry Bay in 1796 and the second being the Texel, Holland in 1797. The Bompart Expedition was an attempt to land a French army numbering 2900 men or thereabouts in Ireland to come to the assistance of the United Irishmen an Irish revolutionary movement at the end of the 1798 Rebellion. It was part of the same Third Irish Expedition as General Humbert and Napper Tandy but Humbert and his Irish allies had already been defeated at Ballinamuck in County Longford a week before the Bompart force sailed and Napper Tandy had gone back to the continent on the Anacreon before the Bompart  was on route.

Theobold Wolfe Tone (1763 – 1798)

Theobold Wolfe Tone the leader of the United Irishmen had travelled with the Bompart Expedition on the Hoche. General Jean Hardy commanded the French soldiers and Sir John Borlase Warren was the British Naval Commander in charge of the British Fleet on their Flagship “The Canada”. The French squadron had one schooner “La Biche”, a man of war their flagship called “the Hoche”, and seven frigates. L’Hoche was named after Lazard Hoche the leader of the Bantry Bay Expedition of 1796 and the second in command at Texel and the great friend of the revolutionary Irish but by 1798 dead at the age of 28. The English squadron although one less in number had a stronger force being made up of four heavy ships, of men of war class/ships of the line, and four frigates. And, of course, the British were not carrying soldiers whose safety had to be a major concern for Bompart. Often in Na Glúnta detailed and attractive description is used to explain events and happenings. In others such as in the piece below events are dealt with in a purely factual, with a minimum of detail. The battle occurred in a heavy swell and the French Flagship L’ Hoche’s 80 odd canon fire power was reduced since she had to close her lower gun ports to stop the seawater coming in as the heavily laden vessel pitched and plunged in the heavy swell. The French knew they were beaten and implored Wolfe Tone to board their fastest vessel, the schooner Biche, to escape capture and likely execution and thereby live to fight another day. The Biche long, narrow beamed and well clothed with sail, the French believed, could out sail the heavier British ships and could not be caught. And the French were right as the Biche never looked back until she was home in Brest. L’Hoche was captured and towed into Lough Swilly, repaired and became ‘The Donegal’ when sailing under the British flag. It reputedly carried the Duke of Wellington to Spain and the Peninsular Wars and historic immortality. The French Officers were taken to Lord Cavan’s quarters in Buncrana were they were given breakfast. Wolfe Tone was recognised there by Sir George Hills (or his brother according to Sir George Hill), suffered the minor indignity of having to eat alone separate from the other French Officers, then paraded through Derry on horseback in chains and eventually sent to Dublin where he was court martialled for treason and sentenced to death by hanging notwithstanding his remonstration to the Court that he should be shot like a soldier. Tone cut his own throat with a shaving blade (or maybe a penknife according to his son William’s account) on the 11th November 1798 the night before his planned execution in an almost botched attempt at suicide, ‘ I am but a poor anatomist’, to cheat the hangman. He did cheat the noose but died eight days later from his self- inflicted wounds. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

  • Ag imeacht do Napper Tandy as na Rosa bhí Wolfe Tone ar a bhealach ag teacht.  Ach ba seo fear.  ‘An mbeidh sé le rá liomsa gur imigh mé nuair a bhí na Francaigh ag troid chatha mo thíre?’  Lá an Bhriste Mhóir ar an Fharraige adúirt sé an focal sin, ar aghaidh na Rosann ó thuaidh.

As Napper Tandy was leaving the Rosses Wolfe Tone was on his way coming. But this was a (great) man. ‘It will never be said to me that I fled leaving Frenchmen fighting for my country’s battle? The day of the Great Defeat on the Sea –  he said those words, out north from the Rosses.

  • Ar an 12ú Deireadh Fómhair, 1798, troideadh an Briseadh Mór – nó ‘Cath Loch Súilí’ mar thug na Sasanaigh air.  Casadh an Hoche agus a mionchúrsóirí ar Chabhlach Loch Súilí an mhaidin sin taobh thiar de Thoraigh, amach go maith san fharraige.  Bhí na longa Francacha ag bualadh aniar as an aigeán agus na longa Sasanacha ag cúrsáil anoir.  Tháinig an teangmháil leis an lá gheal.

On the 12th October 1798 the Great Defeat was fought – or The Battle of Loch Swilly as the English called. The Hoche and her light frigates met the Lough Swilly Fleet that morning west of Tory Island well out into the sea. The French vessels were coming in west from the ocean and the English vessels were cruising from the east. The engagement occurred at day break.

  • Rinneadh míthrácht go minic ar chúrsa an chatha seo.  Ar an ábhar sin is cóir a rá nach raibh na cabhlaigh ag béal Loch Súilí nó i mBéal Thoraí in am ar bith den lá.  Troideadh dhá aicseán:  cath an Hoche ar maidin siar ó Thoraigh, os coinne Chnoc Fola amach: cath na gcúrsóirí tráthnóna siar os coinne Árann.

There has been much misreporting on the course of the battle. For that reason it should be said that at no time were the fleets at the mouth of Lough Swilly or in Tory Sound at any time in the day. There were two actions fought, the battle of the Hoche in the morning west of Tory Island off Knockfola, and the battle of the frigates in the evening to the west off Aranmore.

  • Sir John Warren a bhí i gceannas ar longa na Sasana.  Nuair a thit sé isteach le scuadrún na Fraince, dúirt sé, bhí na Rosa san aird theas-thiar-theas, cúig léig uaidh.  B’ionann sin is go raibh sé tuairim ar chúig mhíle dhéag as Árainn nó Uaigh – ar na hoileáin thiar a bheireadh lucht loingeas na Rosa san am – agus go raibh Toraigh ar a chlíbhord thoir.  Tráthnóna lae an bhriste chuir Stiubhart Dhún Fionnachaidh scéala chuig Lord Castlereagh go bhfaca sé cath tréan á throid an mhaidin sin, ‘amach ó Thoraigh,’ ach go raibh na longa comh fada siar i bhfarraige is nár aithin sé na scuadrúin óna chéile le gloine láidir.

Sir John Warren was in command of the English vessels. When he engaged with the French squadron, he said, the Rosses was at a point five leagues to his south west. That was to say that he was approximately 15 miles from Aranmore or Owey, the western islands so called by the seafarers of the Rosses at the time and that Tory was on his eastern gunwale. The evening of the defeat Stewart of Dunfanaghy sent word to Lord Castlereagh that he saw a battle fought that morning, ‘out from Tory Island’ but that the ships were so far out in the sea he could not identify the squadrons from one another with strong glasses.

  • An oíche chéanna sin scríobh tuairisceoir in Inis Mhic Duirn cuntas do Faulkner’s Journal ar an bhriseadh.  Bhreathnaigh sé féin agus captaen loinge an cath as sean teach solais Árann, dúirt sé.  ‘Amach ó Stacaí Uaighe’ a troideadh an chéad aicseán.  Bhí gaoth aduaidh ann agus theith na cúrsóirí siar-siar-ndeas.  Troideadh cath an tráthnóna os coinne theach an tsolais, fá dhá léig den chladach. 

The same evening a reporter wrote from Rutland an account of the defeat for the Faulkner Journal. He said that himself and a sea captain viewed the battle from the old lighthouse on Arranmore. It was out from the Owey Stags the first action was fought. It wind was from the north then and the frigates fled west-south-west. The battle of the evening was fought opposite the lighthouse about two leagues from the shore.

  • ‘Bhí lá glan ann agus d’aithin mé gach urchar beagnach dá ndeachaidh i gceann.  An méid nach ndeachaigh i gceann chonaic mé iad ag déanamh sciod-ar-uisce san fharraige.’

It was a clear day and I recognised every cannon ball almost that struck the target. The ones that did not hit the target I saw them water skid on the sea.

  • Chruinnigh cathlonga na Sasana timpeall ar an Hoche i dtús teangmhála.  Chomhraic sí ar feadh na maidne iad, go dtí go raibh a crainn briste, a seolta ina scifleoga, a stiúir caillte, a taobhanna ag tarraingt uisce, a ceithre fichid gunna as gléas, agus a hiomluchtóirí ina ndramhaltach i gcosair chró.  Bhí Wolfe Tone i gceannas ar bhataire de na gunnaí.  Throid sé, dúradh, mar bheadh sé ag tnúth lena bhás.

The English warships gathered around the Hoche at the beginning of the engagement. She fought them for the duration of the morning, until her masts were broken, her sails in strips, her rudder lost, her beams drawing water, her eighty guns inoperative, and her occupants trampling on a bed of gore. Wolfe Tone was in charge of one of the gun batteries. He fought, it was said, like he courted his death.

  • Rinne sé a éacht deireanach ar muir, an mhaidin sin ar shleasbhord na Rosann.

He carried out his last deed on sea, that morning off the shore of the Rosses.

An artist’s impression, showing a former French frigate towing the captured Hoche, that is travelling under rolled sails and sporting its new flag The Union Jack, to Lough Swilly in the Year Of The French 1798.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Niall O Donaill’s reference in Na Glúnta Rosannacha to an account in the Freemans Journal, a Dublin newspaper of that time, 1798, was to an account of the battle given by a Joseph Sproule who witnessed the battle from Arranmore Lighthouse then just opened. Sproule owned a large house on Inishcoo Island and another house on Rutland Island. Both islands are off Burtonport. William Tone in his book about his father, the Life of Wolfe Tone, painted a linguistic picture of the French flagship, the Hoche with his father on board, surrounded and gallantly battling against the odds. Although Niall O Donaill used different language to describe the same event I think that he relies heavily on the image crafted by William Tone of the Hoche fighting to the end out from the Donegal’s coast.

An artist’s impression, showing a former French frigate towing the captured Hoche, that is travelling under rolled sails and sporting its new flag The Union Jack, to Lough Swilly in the Year Of The French 1798.

¸There were with Wolfe Tone and the Bompart Expedition at least three other Irishmen and possibly a fourth. William Henry Hamilton was amongst the prisoners and was questioned by the British on suspicion of being Irish but his fluent French and the fact that he wore an ear ring helped to convince them that he was French and he was later released as part of a prisoner exchange. Thomas Corbett was also with the Expedition. He was one of the founders of the United Irishmen in Belfast and was once editor/manager of the United Irish journal the Northern Star.  His brother William came to Rutland with James Napper Tandy almost a month earlier. Thomas Corbett passed himself off as French as well and was later exchanged. He had a lucky escape as the temptation to execute him would be very great on the part of the British. He was a very capable man and had a successful career as a French government administrator later, serving first the governments of the revolution and later the governments of the restoration. He was kept on as they say, as all good people should be. A third man with the Expedition was a called McGuire according to William Tone and he was also exchanged. A possible fourth was called Colonel Waldryn. He said when captured that he was the pilot of the Bompart Squadron and that he was an American although the British had their doubts about that. Waldryn may have spent time in America that would allow him to more easily pass for an American but French records of that time noted that he was from County Armagh. He was recommended to the French as a pilot for the expedition by among others Munroe, presumably the American Ambassador to France, because he had a good knowledge of the Donegal Coast. He was not executed either and eventually released with the other under prisoner exchange.

The Anson Takes The Loire 16th October 1798 by Nicholas Pocock – Maritime Museum, London.                The HMS Anson was itself badly damaged but nevertheless with the assistance of the HMS Kangaroo engaged the Loire near the coast of County Mayo successfully forcing its capture.

The Bompart Expedition was for the French and their four or five émigré Irlandais a fairly desperate throw of the dice. The main theatre of war for the French was then, in the Autumn of 1798, Egypt where Napoleon Bonapart had headed with his army in late May/June of 1798. Ireland at this point had become a side show of no great importance to the French although they probably felt a moral obligation to help out arising from their earlier encouragement of the Irish to rebel. Had the Bompart Expedition sailed with Humbert and Napper Tandy in May 1798 when the rebellion commenced in Ireland and succeeded in landing it could have had some hope of success. With 2900 men with Bompart/Hardy men with Savary/Humbert, 100 with Blankman/Tandy and 1000 on the second Daniel Savary trip to Killala that never landed, the total of 5100 men might have had sufficient success in establishing a bridge head to have encouraged the French to send the other 9000 men under General Kilmaine that were held in reserve for the Expedition. The Batavian Republic (Holland) that was allied to France also sent two vessels that were captured as well but it is not clear how many men were on board. The failure of the French to coordinate and ensure that the Bompart/Hardy squadron (it sailed from Brest, Brittany on the 16th September 1798) sailed at the same time as Savary/Humbert ships (they sailed from Rochesfort, Charente Marine on the 6th August 1798) and Blankman/Napper Tandy (the Anacreon sailed from Dunkerque 4th September 1798) is difficult to explain without risking being uncharitable to General Humbert in particular. Of the nine French vessels that sailed from Brest only three made it home safely, the schooner Biche already referred to and frigates Semillante and Romaine. The Bellone, Coquille, Immortalité, Résolue, Loire, Embuscade and L’Hoche were captured. The Romaine probably left one of its anchor in Donegal Bay after trying to put men ashore at Mountcharles who it seems refused to disembark, and same is now on the quay there as an historical feature. All in all, the Third Irish Expedition seemed to have been an expensive failure in terms of ships and men for the French. However, the huge French war machine at the time was inured to its casualties, and when compared with the ship losses at the Naval Battle of the Nile 1798 or the deaths and injuries in that battle and in its four year war with the Ottoman Empire, the cost of the Irish Expedition of 1798 at about 600 could be presented as relatively inexpensive. They could lose that number of men, in a morning, on one of their successful days fighting with the Ottoman Empire or its tenacious allies never mind what they would have lost on one of their more disastrous days.  If the Bompart Expedition ensured that many tens of thousands of British soldiers and some of British ships were tied down in Ireland for the duration of the war with Britain that could only be to the benefit of France and the Expedition could be justified in those terms. The British lost no vessels although one or two were badly damaged. The British victory off Donegal probably did not get the respect or acclaim it deserved in Britain. The noise of the victory was drowned by news of the competing success of the Horatio Nelson’s naval victory at the Battle of the Nile (1st August 1798). A greater number of French ships and better ships had been captured or destroyed in that battle than was the case in the Bompart Expedition, 13 in all (11 of them ships of the line) as against 6 (one of the line – the Hoche, in the Bompart Expedition). The crowning glory of the British success at the Battle of the Nile was that Napoleon Bonaparte, already for the British the great bogey man of his age, was as a result of the Battle of the Nile stranded in Egypt, locked in a bloody struggle with the Ottoman Empire that he would not lose but could not win. And he had no ships to resupply his army from France or even to allow them withdraw from Egypt. Still, undaunted, the bogey man was nothing if not driven by blind ambition and back to France he duly came the following year without his army. In Niall O Donaill’s account of Lá An Briseadh Mór he borrowed, as I said, extensively from the description of the engagement of the Hoche given in Tones Diaries entries. The British records suggest that British vessels when they engaged the Hoche subjected it to strafing.  Strafing involved sailing past the Hoche at an angle from behind so that, initially they the British could bring almost all of their cannon to bear on the stern or aft part of the L’Hoche causing maximum damage as the cannon balls went right through the ship from stern to bows wrecking much and killing and injuring many within. At the same time the Hoche could only bring its few aft guns to bear on its attackers and had to wait until the enemy vessels came more broadside before the full force off the Hoche’s cannon fire could be brought into action.

The Stags of Owey (Na Stacaí Uaighe), nó na Trí Mhicí gCorra

The battle involving the French frigates was a running one that took place over a considerable distance from the Stags of Owey (Na Stacaí Uaighe) to the Coast of France. The French frigates put up dogged resistance near the Uaigh Stags (Na Stacaí Uaighe) and that fight was viewed from the lighthouse in Arranmore. The British record of the battle gives the spelling of Owey as Uay. This was the pre 1835 Ordnance Survey spelling that was used on the Mackenzie Chart that the British would have had at that time. Uay would have been a better spelling for the Ordnance Survey than Owey as it equates in sound more accurately to the Irish language Uaigh.

Ach bá seo fear – the Wolfe Tone monument by Sculptor Eddie Delaney erected in 1964 at the corner of Stephens Green, Dublin 2.

Ná Gluntá Rosannacha is for the Rosses, a significant historical record for a number of reasons. Firstly, because Niall O Donaill availed of a diversity of primary sources, state papers, annals, books, newspapers and archive material to support the case for the historical assertions he made and the measured conclusions he came to. Secondly he accurately, in a structured way, relying on well-established historical research methodology, placed on record the folk memory of the Rosses Generations but rather than defer to the accuracy of that folklore he stressed and tested that collective recall against more concrete evidential sources and against his own unique assessment of what likely happened here in the past.  It is not that Niall O Donaill disbelieved folklore, he very much did believe in it, but he also recognised the value of assessing and testing the accuracy of it. And last but not least, he crafted in Na Glúnta Rosannacha an Irish language book to tell that history of the Rosses that had its own intrinsic value in linguistic and idiomatic terms.

Na Glúnta Rosannacha le Niall Ó Domhnaill (Baile Átha Cliath, 1952)

In the Upper Rosses, Forbairt Na Rosann/Ionad Teampall Chroine Community Groups, An Mhachaire Le Cheile and Rosses CDB we are the local organisers in a national language plan for the Gaeltacht (Pleán Teanga do an Ghaeltacht) whereby we seek to make people in the Rosses aware of their Irish language heritage and  other cultural aspects associated with that heritage. As part of that process Forbairt would like to translate parts of Na Glúnta Rosannacha so that Na Glúnta will be available to a wider readership. The Pleán will be implemented in conjunction with other local community groups, the local schools and others that share similar ambitions to contribute to the process that I referred to.

Written by Seán Bonner, Meenmore, Dungloe (26th October 2017)

The Pikeman Monument at Ballinamuck, County Longford.


Owen Boyle and the Fairies

Owen Boyle lived with his mother near Kincasslagh, and worked as a carpenter. One Hallow Eve, on his return home, he found a calf was missing, and went out to look for it. He was told it was behind a stone near the spink of Dunathaid,

and when he got there he saw the calf, but it ran away and disappeared through an opening in the rock.

Owen was at first afraid to follow, but suddenly he was pushed in, and the door closed behind him. He found himself in a company of fairies, and heard them saying: “This is good whisky from O’Donnell’s still. He buried a nine-gallon keg in the bog; it burst, the hoops came off, and the whisky has come to us. “One of the fairies gave Owen a glass, saying he might be useful to them that night. They asked if he would be willing to go with them, and, being anxious to get out of the cave, he at once consented. They all mounted on horses, and away they went through Dungloe, across the hills to Doochary, then to Glenties, and through Mount Charles to Ballyshannon, and thence to Connaught. They came to a house where great preparations were being made for a wedding. The fairies told Owen to go in and dance with any girl who asked him. He was much pleased to see that he was now wearing a good suit of clothes, and gladly joined in the dance. After a time there was a cry that the bride would choose a partner, and the partner she chose was Owen Boyle. They danced until the bride fell down in a faint, and the fairies, who had crept in unseen, bore her away. They mounted their horses and took the bride with them, sometimes one carrying her and sometimes another. They had ridden thus for a time when one of the fairies said to Owen: “You have done well for us to-night.”  “And little I have got for it,” was the reply; “not even a turn of carrying the bride.”  “That you ought to have,” said the fairy, and called out to give the bride to Owen. Owen took her, and, urging his horse, outstripped the fairies. They pursued him, but at Belcruit Strand he drew with a black knife a circle round himself and the bride, which the fairies could not cross.

One of them, however, stretched out a long arm and struck the bride on the face, so that she became deaf and dumb. When the fairies left him, Owen brought the girl to his mother, and in reply to her questions, said he had brought home one to whom all kindness should be shown. They gave her the best seat by the fire; she helped in the housework, but remained speechless.

A year passed, and on Hallow Eve Owen went again to Dunathaid. The door of the cave was open.


He entered boldly, and found the fairies enjoying themselves as before. One of them recognised him, and said: “Owen Boyle, you played us a bad trick when you carried off that woman.” “And a pretty woman you left with me! She can neither hear nor speak!” “Oh!” said another, “if she had a taste of this bottle, she could do both!” When Owen heard these words he seized the bottle, ran home with it, and, pouring a little into a glass, gave it to the poor girl to drink. Hearing and speech were at once restored. Owen returned the bottle to the fairies, and, before long, he set out for Connaught, taking the girl with him to restore her to her parents. When he arrived, he asked for a night’s lodging for himself and his companion. The mother, although she said she had little room, admitted them, and soon Owen saw her looking at the girl. “Why are you gazing at my companion?” he asked. “She is so like a daughter of mine who died a twelvemonth ago.” “No,” replied Owen; “she did not die; she was carried off by the fairies, and here she is.” There was great rejoicing, and before long Owen was married to the girl, the former bridegroom having gone away. He brought her home to Kincasslagh, and not a mile from the village, close to Belcruit Strand, may be seen the ring which defended her and Owen from the fairies. It is a very large fairy ring, but why the grass should grow luxuriantly on it tradition does not say.

The Mine at Ballymanus 1943

Oh weird and wild the wail of woe now borne

Upon the startled night-winds from the west-

Deep gasps of grief and soul-sighs from men torn

By death, grim hideous unbidden guest-

From where great breakers piling on the shore

Awaken eerie echoes o’er the dunes.

Fell waves! Foul, treacherous for-ever more-

While lethal-laden, chanting age-old runes.

Not more decit the steed that enter Troy

And dumped destruction dire within her walls!

Ye bore to Braide that deadly dark decoy

Its victims now lie ‘neath their eighteen palls.

Brave lives, all full of youthful faith and fire.

Strangers to fear, all anxious more to learn-

And hence inquisitive, in deep desire

To probe at things unknown-for knowledge yearn.


Unto the flotsam of that baneful beach

They saw it sail and wondered what it was…

Then rushed along in headlong haste to reach

Their coming destined doom-their tomb, alas!

Wild howling winds begat a drear banshee…

The gruesome monster slowly sought the shore…

A blinding flash! A thund’rous crash    The sea 

Rose up in rage and pain around its roar.

Some to the land were flung, and some to sea…

Some to the skies-to fall in mangled mass:

A silent lull… then shrieks of agony

Now rent the echoes o’er that gory grass.

Three vacant chairs in two once happy homes,

Two widows weeping nigh their orphan’d weans

How suddenly God’s visitation comes!

How swiftly pleasure turn to poignant pains!


Kincasslagh holds eleven tombs to-day,

While seven rest in peace at Annagry:

The goom at eventide when skies are grey

Is deepen’d by this tearful tragedy.

All Irishmen of every creed and class

Now sympathise with those lone folks forlorn:

For those who live, their grief may slowly pass!

For those now dead, new hopes of life be born!

Author unknown

Genealogical Reviews

Whilst thinking about my Irish ancestry well, I decided to see if I could find out the facts and confirm those tales that I had heard over the years. Having seen the service for family reports advertised on the Donegal Heritage site on Facebook, I thought I would give it a try. A tentative enquiry with Jimmy Duffy started a conversation which explained the services on offer and helped me determine what it was that I was really considering. The two main options, a full family history or a ancestral tree and their differing costs were carefully explained with respective costs and, armed with that information, I made my decision to proceed with an ancestral tree.
During the process, contact was maintained and Jimmy continued to keep me informed of progress. This helped greatly as I live in England and was able to maintain contact via the internet throughout. The whole process took about a month, at the end of which I received my ancestral tree, which confirmed the information I had been given as a child. The tree comes printed on an image of the recipients choice; mine was a view of Kincasslagh which invoked childhood memories. Also included are birth, marriage or death certificates where available. The package comes in a sturdy tube for protection.
Anyone wishing to find out further information about their Donegal roots and have a family tree to adorn their wall can rest assured that they will receive a great service from Jimmy Duffy at Donegal Heritage.”
Mike Latham
West Yorkshire


“Would like to thank you Jimmy , For doing my family tree ,and for all the hours of research that you put into it. You have done a fantastic job , I am delighted to find out so much information of my Donegal family history , dating back to 1670. It is fascinating to learn of ancestors who left Donegal to go to America and Australia. To work and live and to start a new life there. Also to find out that I am connected to so many people around the Rosses that I never knew I was connected to , The family history book that you produced for me is fantastic Jimmy so well documented , and laid out in a format that i am able to understand , The book itself is of great Quality Jimmy thank you once again for a brilliant job , I’m sure my granny Gracie Sharkey from Mullaghduff will be happy in heaven that you have done this for me.”

Agnes Taylor Connelly

Ayrshire, Scotland


“I came to County Donegal, to the area called the Rosses, to seek some connection with my Harley ancestors, though I knew it would be a long shot. Taking the advice of my husband’s cousin I spoke with lots of local people about my search. Everyone was friendly and tried to help and nearly everyone suggested I should talk to Jimmy Duffy. So I did. He clearly knows his sources – more than I knew existed – and he is full of local knowledge being from the area. He was a wealth of information spanning practically a millennium and though he could tell a number of stories, when it came to genealogy he stuck to facts, which made me trust him. Though we weren’t able to crack my particular question, I think we will get there in the end thanks to DNA tests being increasingly popular with family researchers. And who knows, we may learn that 200 years ago our two families were next door neighbors.”

Shelley Lanser
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma                                                                                                                 14/5/2016

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑