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