Dúchas Thír Chonaill

Donegal Heritage


January 2016

Protected: The Feast of St Brigid

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

The Dark Stranger

A large sperm whale was washed up on a Carrickfinn strand in 1992. It drew a great deal of interest with people who came to see it from many parts of the County and beyond.

Local composer Johnny Forker wrote the following lines.


The Dark Stranger

It was early in the morning I walked round the shore

From the Strand End to Ranamart on to the Parland Hole

I walked another hundred yards perhaps a little more

And behold at the beach a whale lay on the shore

Sperm Whale laying close to Trá na Stacan, Carrickfinn in 1992 ( his tail to the left of the photo)

I stood and looked in wonder, I thought it was a dream

And then I thought it was a German submarine

I felt a little lonely as I was on my own

As that is the time that spirits walk between the dark and dawn


I wished I stayed at home and lay upon my bed

Instead of running around the shore meeting the living and the dead

I often think of the gambler who is always out for more

No man has ever made his fortune running round the shore


I went home and drank a good strong cup of brandy and tea

I phoned up the Sergeant and he told me to call Lifford 2103

The Council called up Hanlon and his gang from Calhame

And sent them down with picks and shovels and fifty yards of chain


The shovels they got broken, the chains blistered a few hands

But the whale it never moved not an inch upon the strand

Stand back says Peter Hudie and leave the job to me

And I will land Sambo on the beach with my JCB

I’ll gut him and skin him and take his teeth for sure

His ribs will be a great attraction

We will send them to the museums on tour


The children had a field day, they came from near and far

From sweet Mayo to Dungloe, from Wexford to Kilcar

Some came in raincoats and wellies, some in fancy suits with big cigars

The Airport bar was crowded from dark until the dawn

It was two weeks or more before they all had gone


They said he was a stranger who came from a foreign shore

In search of a lone female but he will search no more

He meet his death such a lonely death, It makes my heart so sore

To think of him coming to die where no whale ever came before

Composed by Johnny Forker in 1992

The Kincasslagh Disaster (1922)

Manus O’Donnell, aged 60 years, with his sons James and Dominic O’Donnell, aged 25 and 21 years respectively, together with Dan  Sharkey, aged 59 years and brother-in-law to Manus O’Donnell, left Kincasslagh Pier on the hazy evening of the 22nd of June 1922 to sail seven miles to the salmon fishing ground.  When they did not return early next morning with the other fishing boats, these boats immediately went in the search of the missing crew, but only to find a few miles from the shore, floating on the waves the nets of the missing boat, and a cap and a boot belonging to one of the missing crew. The boat, broken in pieces was cast ashore a few days later.

1-kincasslagh salmon yawl 1914
Fishing yawls at Kincasslagh pier (F. Gallagher)

All the vales around the Rosses

There are weary hearts today

Thinking of the four brave seamen

Who so nobly sailed away


To face the raging bellows

As they often done before

The brace O’Donnell’s and

Dan Sharkey from around

Kincasslagh shore


Never more will poor Dan Sharkey

Face again the Keadue strand

With his gallant brother Dimlick

He brought credit to the land


To the dear old land of shamrock

That land for troubles soon will cease

And God be with their wives and families

May their souls now rest in peace

By Bog and Well

There was only one bog in Carrickfinn  island located in the sandy banks between Dunmore and Carnboy.

Carnboy, Carrickfinn Island

This bog was cut by the Richard Óg Boyd family and is cut out now. The turf in this bog was a mixture of bog and sand making it quick burning and very hot. All the other families had to cut their turf elsewhere. Most used bogs at Diaragh Annagry and Mountjoy near Ardcrone while others cut in Gweedore. Carrickfinn being a tidal island with no road into it the only way to transport their crop of turf was by boat. There was more work with this crop than their mainland neighbours had. After the crop was won it was taken by horse and cart to the seashore at Annagry Bridge, Toinacnoic and Bunbeg Harbour. The turf was built into stacks and left there until there were suitable spring tides. In the morning they would leave Carrickfinn and sail their boat called a yawl to Annagry where they would spend the day filling the yawl. This vernacular boat was about 26 feet long and and was equipped with a fishing rig. When filled with seven cart loads, the yawl would sink in the water to the last board about nine inches from the gunwale. They rowed back home with the ebbing tide to their little quays adjacent to their farms, or to the strands at Dunrower or Toberahoney to unload their crop. They would sail if it was calm and wind in a favourable art. At the quay the turf was built into a stack and from there the youths in the family would carry it home in creels. When it was at home another stack was built, so from when the turf was cut to it was on the fire it was handed eleven times. The Dunmore folk took their cargo to Dunrower strand and took it home by the cart load. The Carnboy folk took their turf from Toinacnoic, Annagry West to Toberahoney and put it in a shed until they carted it home. This shed was green in colour and was located close to the present day Duffy home. In 1945 the turf was taken home by lorry on the newly constructed Strand Road, thus ending centuries of tradition. Con Bonner was the first lorry driver to take turf to Carrickfinn road.

**The placename Toberahoney is used here in its English form.

Tobair a’ Shonnaigh is an interesting name, the first part of the name means well in English. It’s the second part of the name that is not so easy to ascertain. There are at least three explanations for this name,one meaning was the fox’s well from the gaelige for fox shonnagh. It’s the others that is more interesting, could it be the name of a previous landowner? The Cunningham family lived in the adjoining field and their Gaelige name is Ó Cuinneagáin. The third explanation is the most interesting, just below this seaside well small pieces of wood are washed ashore even to this day and the gaelige for this type of wood is cionnlaigh or kindling.

©Jimmy Duffy 2016

The Celtic

On a wild and stormy evening,

as the fishing fleet let go,

From the harbours of the Rosses

and the ports around by Doe;

They came from Magheraroarty

and the islands “round Gweedore”

One small boat among the number,

with a crew well known and famed,

Sailed across the ocean billow

and “The Celtic” was her name


Little thought those fearless heroes,

as they sailed away in style,

The would never see their mothers

or their friends on Gola Isle.

Machaire Gallen
Boats at Gweedore coast (Peter McGinley)

Never now on Sunday morning,

will those bold lads sail ashore,

To pray down at the chapel

where they often went before.


Oft I bought their silvery herring

from those lads so bright and gay,

They will l never say good morning

or you’re welcome Davey Hay.

never will l they cross the sand banks,

never see those scenes so fair,

Never hear the Angelus ringing,

calling all to silent prayer.


Written by Davey Hay (1931)


IMG_4294Slán, slán ag achan ard,achan cnocán, achan ghleann

Ó Loch an Iúir go Bun na mBeann, ón Mhullachdubh go Mín na Leice.

Rann na Feirste ‘san Charn Buí, Doire na Mainséar go Calchéim,

Cul a Choic is Mín na Craoibhe.

Slán, Slán aghaibh go léir.

Slan, slán ag achan sliabh, achan sruthrún, achan bheann,

Ó Anagaire suas an glean, Ailt an Eidhinn go Loch na nDeorán is,

Ó Croithlí siar go Braid, Mín Doire na Slua thuas go h-ard

Cnoc a Caochan sa taobh thiar.

Slán slán aghaibh go léir.

Slan, Slán ag achan tonn, achan oiléan, achan chuan

Ó Árainn Mhór go Inis Meáin,

Ón Chruit go hÍnis Óirthear, Inis Bó Finne, Inis Fraoich,

Oileán Ghabhla, Uaigh taobh amuigh, oileáin i bhfad siar,

Slan, Slán ag agaibh go léir.

Slan, Slán ag achan fhear agus slán ag achan bhean,

Achan stócach is cailín óg, achan pháiste beag is mór

Nó ní fheicfear sibh níos mó nó mó bhaile dhúchas féin

Tá deireadh leis an cheol

Slan, Slán agaibh go deo.

le Patrick Ó Domhnaill (Johnny Sheain) Beál na Cruite

Protected: Every Picture has a Story

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Pre War Seasonal Migration

The following is taken from an manuscript documenting the memories of the late Johnny “Susan” Forker from Dunmore, Carrickfinn in his own words. It was compiled just before his death in 1993.

I think I have a very good memory for a man of my years- 87 years (1993).

My longest memory is of seeing the men from all around the Rosses coming down the strand and around Carnbuoy with bundles on their backs, going to a place called Poll Dubh (down below my house) where there is always deep water and a long granite spink that served as a slip. The men then were ferried out in yawls to the big ship called the Gráinne Mhaol. Two men from Inis Shionnaigh and a man from Ballymanus called Charles O’Donnell rowed them out.

Charles O’Donnell Ballymanus pictured here with his brothers, unbeaten oarsmen of the 1890s

Charles spent a lot of time in Inis Shionnaigh  with John Mulligan and his brother Paddy both carpenters, and often away repairing boats with them.

The Mulligan home on Inis Shoinnaigh (James Barr Collection)

The ship stopped in a place called Gola Roads where today there’s a black buoy is to be seen. The fare was six pence on the yawl to Gola Roads and from there to Glasgow it was six shillings. The men carried their own food. The food the men brought with them was later cooked on the ship.

The women came down with them and when the ship weighed anchor, they could be heard crying on Gola Island. The womenfolk then went back up the white strand and home. They cut the harvest, took home the turf, dug the potatoes and had the bent in the garden ready for thatching when the men came home at Christmas.

I would have been about four years at the time, when my mother took me down with the other Carrickfinn women to watch. The hill we stood on is called the Watch Hill. It was a look out place for the Coast Guards who served as Coast Watchers at the time. No carcases then, be it a duck or bird was lying on the shore.

The ship I spoke of came down from the coast of Mayo to Burtonport, Kincasslagh and anchored at the Gola Roads


picking up passengers all along the coast. From there it set sail to Glasgow. Three Sundays in the month it came-1st, 2nd and 3rd Sundays in June. All the men in the area would leave. I hope the young generation read this. There are not many alive today who remember that- may they rest in peace. Johnny can be seen here telling a similar story


Copyright of content on this site remain with the owners and use without the express written permission of the owners is a breach of copyright and actionable in law. 



A Trip to Sea

The following is taken from an manuscript that documented the memories of Johnny “Susan” Forker from Dunmore, Carrickfinn in his own words. It was compiled just before his death in 1993 aged 88 years.

In 1912 a motorboat called the Summer Star came to Bunbeg. She was built in Botan’s boatyard in Mulroy, by a man called George Botan. The Summer Star was manned by a crew mainly from Carrickfinn. The names of the crew were Big Frank the Sailor, Jimmy Duffy and his brother Mickey,

Jimmy Duffy at the helm of the Summer Star's lifeboat c1950
Jimmy Duffy at the helm of the Summer Star’s lifeboat c1950

Paddy Duffy (Paddy John Owen) from Braade, a cousin of the Duffy’s, Charlie Gallagher the engine driver and two men from Gola-Joe and Dan McBride. The Summer Star fished for herring all along the Irish Coast.

CDB Fishing grounds map

In Ardglass in County Down, Howth in Dublin, in the Isle of Man and in Stornaway, a place on the coast of Scotland.

Orient Star
Orient Star LY 917 at Bunbeg Harbour,  the wheelhouse of the Summer Star LY 930 can also be seen 

The Orient Star came to Bunbeg a year earlier. She was manned by a crew from Gweedore and skippered by Owen Doherty.

The Spring Star belonged to Gola men-the McGinleys.

The Twilight Star was manned by the O’Donnell’s of Inismeain. The engine driver was John Bán Gallagher from Carrickfinn and his brother Owen . He also drove the motor boat for Archie Dunlop called the Little Flower. This boat was also owned by Charlie Friel and his brother Joe.

I must recall how these motor boats played a part in the lives of the Donegal people.

At that time there was trouble between this Country and Britain. There was a war being fought. The roads were all cut and blocked and big boulders of stone were put on them to block the British lorries. The train was derailed and ambushed at Crolly Station and parts of the railway lifted.


Because of this no food stuffs could come in from Derry. Food stuffs were in short supply so the motor boats came to the rescue of the people of the Rosses and Gweedore and the rest of Donegal. The Donegal people should never forget the motor boats- The Summer Star, The Twilight Star, The Orient Star, The Spring Star and the Little Flower. Also the ? (name missing) from Kincasslagh, the Gweedore skippered by Ned Sharkey, and the boat owned by Big Anthony McGettigan from Downings. All these boats brought two cargoes a week from Derry. Men like Muiris O’Donnell from Mullaghduff, Charles Dunleavy from Calhame, Anthony Sharkey from Annagry, Charlie McBride from Annagry, Paddy Óg from Crolly Bridge and Donie Coll from Gweedore all went on these boats. They had plenty money and the merchants in Derry welcomed them and they got all the goods they wanted.

These boats and their crew ran a big risk for submarines and mines were all around our coast, but thankfully nothing happened to them.

Most of these motor boats are now lying useless down in Mulroy Bay and parts of the Summer Star are to be found in fences in Carrickfinn; a sad end, and the crew are buried in graveyards in Annagry, Kincasslagh and Magheragallon. May they rest in peace. The Scotch men said of them- “They were iron men on wooden boats”.

I would say I am the last surviving crew member of the old Summer Star.

Copyright of content on this site remain with the owners and use without the express written permission of the owners is a breach of copyright and actionable in law. 


Blog at

Up ↑