Dúchas Thír Chonaill

Donegal Heritage



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

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

Johnny Tom’s Bazaar

I’m going to sing a simple song just listen to the same

It’s all about a big bizarre that started in Calhame

T’is run by one called Johnny Tom who travel from afar

And soon upon the signboard be Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Johnny puts the spindle round and Tom conducts the gun

McFadden minds the bagatelle until the match is won

Doogan is the bandmaster and Byrne runs the bar

We  all enjoy the merriment at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Now Johnny leads a pleasant live and goes from place to place

Whatever his tent is pitched he finds a jolly face

But no jollier lads can be found from here to Zanzibar

Than the lads who assemble in Calhame at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Now Johnny’s games are fair and free from fault no method has he

You may win a prize by posting a small fee

the beggar can chance his luck just like the Russians mighty Tsar

a penny often wins a pound at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Eoin Antáin as we all admit is a crack shot at the gun

and when he enters for a match the boys all know he’ll win

for the others might as well try to hit the polar star

as to try to beat our sniper Eoin at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


McGee took up the gun this night he found it wouldn’t go

Tom shouted mind your eyes my boys and then he called for Joe

Joe came in and asked what’s wrong? And Tom did get his jar

This gun requires oiling at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


The gun went accidently off and hit poor Johnny John

He raised his hands unto his face and shouted “boys I’m done”

The doctor came and dressed the wound but still there was a scar

All caused by an accidental shot at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


When Jamesty heard that Johnnie John had got a damaged face

He feared upon Calhame it would bring disgrace

he drew his coat upon the floor and he began to spar

and swore he was the champion at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


The fun was going on gaily when Master George came in

He forced his way up through the crowd with many a laugh and grin

But Jamesty hit him on the eye and made it as black as tar

and Seoirse rolled upon the floor at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Frank Braighnidh went there on the night some prized for to win

But when he saw his red haired girl his heart it was struck dumb

And when he went to leave her home a call came from the bar

Won’t you join in the merriment at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.




Con Bonner’s got the pandy clock t’was won by Paddy Eoin Bhig

And when he won it he danced an Irish jig

But if he put on a khaki rig it would suit him better far

than posting pence on pandy clocks at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


The boys a disappointment got and felt it too full well

The night the lever watch was put upon the bagatelle

T’was won by a young sportsman who came all the way from Kilcar

To speculate a pound or two at Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Jimmy Bride has got some cash on hand since Christmas night

He means to buy some booze and put the boys all tight

But I suggest we collect it by motorcar

And drive the boys the country round with Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.


Now Johnny’s left the town the boys will miss the game

Some other sport will have to be found around about Calhame

So we’ll drink a health to John and Tom and short life to the war

And we may soon again see young Johnny Tom’s Bazaar.

                                                                             By Hugh J. Maguire


The Turf Drawing

Bringing home the turf to Carrickfinn c1920

‘Twas me an’ Dennis rose this morn or ever it was day,

For we had to take the boat up wi’ the tide to Annagrey,

The way we’d bring the winter’s turf across to Carrickfin-

Oh! Early in the mornin’ as the flood was comin’ in,

The grey an’ early mornin’, as the flood was comin’ in.


An’ all the island boats were out, for the spring tides would be high,

An’ that’s the only time they’d get to where the turf was dry

An’ waitin’ by the lough, for sure ‘tis shallow water there-

Oh! Sweet the Autumn mornin’ wi’ the first chill in the air,

Aye! Fair an’ sweet the morning’, though a chill was in the air.


We tacked the narrow water all across from shore to shore,

Till round the bend, where the lough is wide, ye could hear the breakers roar,

Where the sea broke through o’er the ridge o’ sand that mostly does be dry,

Oh! The white-topped, tumblin’ water, ‘neath a misty mornin’ sky-

The silver, shinin’ water wi’ its white crests ‘neath the sky.


Along the edge o’ the land we tied the white boats in a row,

Where the bank was piled wi’ turf down from the bog a week ago,

An’ all day long the girls an’ men were workin’ wi’ a will,

For the turf is aisy handled, yet a boat takes long to fill-

Oh! The turf, the brown, sweet-scented turf, each boat must have its fill.


An’ all the day the little waves were dancing’ in the sun,

An’ some boats made two journeys, an’ some could do wi’ one,

Oh! The lough was gay wi’ brown sails as they would come an’ go-

Grey herons were about the rocks an’ the seagulls circled low-

Och! The owld grey herons on the rocks while the gulls were sweeping low.


An’ if the work was hard, sure there was fun and laughin’ too,

For the day’d be long to an island man if his work was all he’d do;

An’ the ones that got their loadin’ done would help them that were last,

Oh! Quickly up at Annagrey the golden hours passed-

‘Twas sweet an’ fair Annagrey as the golden hours passed


turfboat 2
A turf laden yawl leaving Annagry with McCloskeys Pub and Forker’s Shop in the background c1934


An’ now the day is wearin’ through, an’ the tide is past the turn,

An’ the boats put out from the bank, wi’ turf piled high from bow to stern,

Till there’s hardly room to work the sails, but the breeze has dropped away,

An’ it’s driftin’, driftin’ wi’ the tide we come from Annagrey-

Oh! Driftin’ down wi’ the fallin’ tide we come from Annagrey.

by Elizabeth Shane


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