Séimidh Eoin na Bráid Duffy born 1839 in Braade to Mary McGinley and Eoin Mhicheál Phadaí, died in Carrickfinn in 10th February 1898, he married Nablá Phadraig Óig Duffy from Annagry East in St Mary’s Belcruit in 1864. They lived in Braade where their first two children died. Séimidh went to Pennsylvania USA and earned the price of a farm in Carrickfinn which he bought from a Hugh Duffy, possibly a relation in 1872.
Family 1. John Shéimidh Eoin 2. Grace Shéimidh Eoin, 3. Mary Shéimidh Eoin, 4. Jimmy Shéimidh Eoin, 5. Donnchadh Shéimidh Eoin, 6. Micí Sheimidh Eoin.
- John Shéimidh Eoin born 13th October 1866, died 1866 in Braade.
- John Shéimidh Eoin (2) born 1868, died 13th June 1893 from Tuberculosis .
- Grace Shéimidh Eoin born 18th February 1869, died 28th June 1870 in Braade.
- Mary Shéimidh Eoin born 4th May 1873, died 16th May 1959. She wasn’t married.
- Jimmy Shéimidh Eoin born 6th February 1876, died 21st March 1954 married Annie Mhicí Frainc Mc Ginley from Mullaghduff on 17th March 1918 in Letterkenny.
- Donnchadh Shéimidh Eoin born 14th May 1879, died tragically in Crucakeehan 11th January 1917. He wasn’t married.
- Micí Shéimidh Eoin born 1881, died 25 August 1971 married Mary Mhicí Eoghainín Rodgers from Mullaghduff on April 1918 in Letterkenny.
Biography of Jimmy Shéimidh Eoin Duffy 1876-1954
My grandfather Jimmy Duffy was born on the 6th of February 1876 to James and Nablá Duffy (née Duffy), in the townland of Carrickfin, which was then in the parish of Lower Templecrone, West Donegal. Jimmy was the second child to be born on the new three-acre holding bought by his father upon his return from America where he worked for the previous three years in the Pennsylvanian coal mines. His parents moved to Carrickfinn from the nearby townland of Braade after the deaths of their first two children in 1866 and 1870.
Somewhat surprisingly for a Gaeltacht Catholic child, Jimmy attended the local Church of Ireland school where he received a sound grounding in the ʻthree Rsʼ and achieved a good command of English.
After his father had returned to work in the USA the young Jimmy assisted his mother about the farm and supplemented the family income by acting as ferryman across the treacherous sea-channel which separates Gweedore from Carrickfin. Folk from Lower Rosses often used this ferry to reach Lord Hillʼs General Stores in Bunbeg, thus saving a dayʼs journey by road.
A tragic incident will illustrate the dangers of this particular crossing. On Sunday afternoon May 2nd 1897 a sailing vessel overturned in the strait in full view of the twenty-one year Jimmy, his brothers and friends. The five young men aboard were thrown into the waters and were drowning. Without hesitation, Jimmy and his companions swam to the rescue and saved three of the crew. Their heroism was recorded in a lament composed at the time.
Earlier in that same year Jimmyʼs father had returned from the USA, his health undermined by his years toiling at the coal-face. He died in the following February, 1898, aged only fifty-eight.
Jimmy became a fisherman and together with his brothers Denis and Mickey and a cousin, Paddy Duffy, they operated a twenty-five foot yawl in the lucrative herring fishery of the time, sometimes having to row up to thirty miles to reach the shoals. When the herring season passed the four switched to fishing for lobster and white fish. Jimmy also fished for salmon in the Gweedore estuary from his currach. In 1910 the brothers and some neighbours formed the crew to operate a powerful forty-nine foot ʻZuluʼ fishing boat, the ʻSt Augustineʼ. This was a distinct improvement and lasted for three years until 1913 when as first mate, Jimmy joined the crew of an even larger vessel, the newly-launched sixty- nine foot motorised fishing boat, named the ʻSummer Starʼ. The range and capacity of this new boat was much greater than that of a sailing vessel and gave them a command of extensive fishing grounds and an ability to follow the shoals further than ever. Unfortunately the good times were not to last.
The outbreak of war in 1914 effectively destroyed the industry. Many steam vessels were commandeered by the English navy and when minefields were laid around the coasts it was only certain parts of the west coast that were safe to fish in. For those fortunate enough to escape government requisitioning the home market provided a very lucrative alternative to the pre-war export market and Jimmy and the ʻSummer Starʼ were lucky. Jimmy leased the boat from the Congested Districts Board in 1915 and was so successful that he then went on to buy the ʻSummer Starʼ outright in 1916. He paid the sum of £962 sterling for it. The good times continued until the end of the war. Competition and the inflated price of fishing gear after the war made it near impossible to keep his venture going.
His mother Nablá had died from cancer in October 1914 and so Jimmy had no woman to look after him. So, with commendable determination, the forty-one year old set about acquiring a wife. He and his brother Mickey, armed with a bottle of whiskey approached Mickey McGinley in nearby Mullaghduff to ask for his daughter Annie’s hand in marriage. The proposal was successful and with a naggin of the cratúr left, he accompanied his brother to the neighbouring house where another successful arrangement was sealed. Jimmy married Annie McGinley in St Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny on St Patrick’s Day 1918. The couple were married by the Bishop because they were second cousins. The new couple set up home on a four acre farm that Jimmy bought in 1907 adjacent to his homeplace. On April Fool’s Day the following year they were blessed by the arrival of a child that they christened Annabella and sixteen months later twins Mary and Kitty were born. Over the next seventeen years Annie bore another eleven children, four of whom died in infancy. My father Joe born in 1932 was the only male in the family.
Jimmy continued to fish the Summer Star throughout the War of Independence. In the final months of the troubles the British Army on the advice of the Unionist merchants in Derry refused to trade with West Donegal. The local shopkeepers pooled their money together and boarded the Summer Star and sailed for Derry. When the Derry merchants saw the colour of their money they had no hesitation to exchange their products thus saving the people from possible starvation. Fishing suffered greatly with the foundation of the Free State due mainly to the ending of the successful CDB and the absence of trade agreements. In 1931 after several lean seasons the Summer Star seized fishing and Jimmy retired to inshore fishing with his small punt.
While building a turf stack close to the shore in the autumn of 1928, Jimmy was again called upon to rescue someone from drowning. Fifteen year old Jack Boyd a ferryman from Bunbeg got into difficulties after falling overboard. Being a strong swimmer Jimmy plucked the teenager from certain death and resuscitated him.
Jimmy eventually hung up his boots and his seafaring days continued only in the tales he had to share. He died at home on 21 November 1954 after a short illness.