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The Arranmore Island Boating Tragedy 9 Nov 1935

The information on this page was compiled by Lindel and forms part of the Donegal Genealogy Resources Website

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        At 5:30pm on Saturday the 9th of November 1935, a yawl left Burtonport harbour, for Arranmore Island. In order to avoid being kept at sea too long in the dark, in the heavy swell, it was apparently decided to take a short course between rocks which the sea is studded for a large area between the Island and the mainland. On board the yawl were 15 Islanders, returning from harvesting in Scotland, and at least five others, friends and family. Edward Gallagher was steering and Johnny Rodgers was in the look-out forward. Suddenly Johnny cried out a warning and 4 or 5 of the men tore the sail from the mast, but it was too late. The yawl ran up on a rock, throwing the passengers backwards into the sea, and tearing a hole in the keel. Nine made it on to the keel from the water, but a moment later, the yawl turned over and threw them off again. This time, one made it back to the keel, Patrick Gallagher, helping his father Edward and brother John up with him. A few hours later, Edward lost consciousness and slipped into the water, Patrick unable to hold his father any longer. John died in his brothers arms, but Patrick could not bear to let him go, holding him until they were found about 8 o'clock the next morning.

 

The following are the persons who are stated to have been in the boat:

Edward Gallagher, 61, of Torris, Arranmore;

Edward Gallagher, 24, John Gallagher, 22, Michael Gallagher, 29, Patrick Gallagher, 26 (the survivor), and Charles Gallagher, 20, his sons;

Madge, 28, and Hannah Gallagher, 16, his daughters;

Anthony Gallagher, 17, and Edward Gallagher, 15, Aphort, Arranmore, brothers;

Manus Gallagher, 17, Daniel Gallagher, 27, and Hannah Gallagher, 21, Aphort;

Patrick O'Donnell, 44, and Kate O'Donnell, 45, Leabgarrow, Arranmore, brother and sister;

John Rodgers, 34, of Torris;

John O'Donnell, 50, Aphort;

Edward Ward, 51, Torris;

Peter Leonard, 61, Ballintra;

John Gallagher, 20, son of a Michael Gallagher, of Aphort

 

        This was a terrible tragedy and affected everyone on the Island, none more so than the boatman, Edward Gallagher's, wife - she lost her husband, four sons and two daughters, though she walked about the Island under the impression that she lost her husband and one son only. She went to the post office and sent a telegram to friends in Scotland, believing (or wanting to believe) that her other children were still in Scotland harvesting. The bodies of one son and a daughter were never recovered and their mother continued to believe they had remained in Scotland.

 

        Below you will find genealogical information of the victims, newspaper reports of the tragedy, a video which commemorates the events of this terrible day, and photographs

 

 

The Victims

 

Name Date of Birth, Parents, Townlands, Relationships & Census LInks
   
Edward Gallagher

b Feb 4 1874, a son of Michael Gallagher (Eamon) and Hannah O'Donnell, Rannagh and Toories. Married Anne Gallagher (Edward/Madgie) on Feb 16 1904

Michael Gallagher b 1906, son of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
Madge Gallagher b 1908, dau of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
Patrick Gallagher b 1910, son of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above - the only survivor, he d 25 Jun 1987 aged 78 yrs. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
Edward Gallagher b 1911, son of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
John Gallagher b 1913, son of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
Charles Gallagher b 1915, son of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
Hannah Gallagher b 1919, dau of Edward Gallagher and Anne Gallagher, above. First cousin to John Gallagher, below
  Census - 1911 census Rannagh and Torries
   
Anthony Gallagher b. Aug 24 1918, son of Anthony Gallagher (Patrick/Bridget, Aphort) and Hannah Ward (John/Fanny, Toories). Nephew of Edward Ward, below
Edward Gallagher b. Apr 18 1920, son of Anthony Gallagher (Patrick/Bridget, Aphort) and Hannah Ward (John/Fanny, Toories). Nephew of Edward Ward, below
  Census see 1901 census Aphort
   
Daniel Gallagher b 1908, son of Michael Gallagher (Patrick/Nancy, Aphort) and Winifred O'Donnell (John/Hannah, Plughoge). First cousin to John Rodgers and John Gallagher, below
Hannah Gallagher b 1914, dau of Michael Gallagher (Patrick/Nancy, Aphort) and Winifred O'Donnell (John/Hannah, Plughoge). First cousin to John Rodgers and John Gallagher, below
Manus Gallagher b 1918, son of  Michael Gallagher (Patrick/Nancy, Aphort) and Winifred O'Donnell (John/Hannah, Plughoge). First cousin to John Rodgers and John Gallagher, below
  Census - 1911 census Aphort
   
Kate O'Donnell b 1889, dau of Patrick O'Donnell (Owen/Isobel, Leabrannagh) and Mary O'Donnell (John/Ellen, Plughoge)
Patrick O'Donnell b 1892, son of Patrick O'Donnell (Owen/Isobel, Leabrannagh) and Mary O'Donnell (John/Ellen, Plughoge)
  Census - 1901 census Leabrannagh
   
John Rodgers b 1899, son of Patrick Rodgers (Hugh/Ellen, Toories) and Bridget O'Donnell (John/Hannah, Plughoge). First cousin to Daniel, Hannah & Manus Gallagher, above
  Census -1901 census Rannagh and Toories
   
John O'Donnell b 1882, son of son of Patrick O'Donnell (Owen) and Mary McCauley (Shane), Aphort. Married Grace Lyons (John/Sophia, Ballintra) on Feb 22 1909
  Census - 1901 census Aphort
   
Edward Ward b 1885, son of John Ward (John/Grace, Toories) and Fanny Gallagher (Patrick). Married Madge Gallagher (Edward/Mary). Uncle of Anthony and Edward, above
  Census - 1901 census Rannagh and Toories
   
Peter Leonard b Nov 26 1875, Inishkeeragh, son of Denis Leonard and Mary Boyle. Married Madge Gallagher (Hugh/Mary, Inishkeeragh) on Sep 29 1901
  Census - 1911 census Ballintra
   
John Gallagher b Feb 15 1915, son of Michael Gallagher (Edward/Madgie, Aphort) and Ellen Gallagher (Patrick/Nancy, Aphort). First cousin to Daniel, Hannah & Manus Gallagher, and Edward Gallagher's children, above
  Census - 1911 census Rannagh and Torries
   

 

Newspaper Reports

 

Monday 11th November 1935 Tuesday 12th November 1935, page 6 Tuesday 12th November 1935, page 7
Wednesday 13th November 1935, page 6 Wednesday 13th November 1936, page 7

 

Photographs

 

The scene of the tragedy The boat which carried the Islanders
Garda in boat after search for more bodies Patrick Gallagher, the sole survivor of the tragedy
Mourners with coffins, prior to the funerals Mourners at two open coffins
Mourners gathered outside church prior to the funerals Scene inside the church prior to the funerals
Funeral procession from Church to graveside Funeral procession from Church to graveside
Funeral procession from Church to graveside
Scene at the graveside during the burial ceremony Scene at the graveside during the burial ceremony
Edward Ward's family headstone, left of monument Their monument (click to enlarge) Patrick Gallagher's family headstone, right of monument (click to enlarge)

 

Poem

 

The following poem was recorded by a young Michael Kilcoyne (1927 - 2006), in his school jotter, when a schoolboy in Leabgarrow in 1939

(many thanks to his son Michael for this)

 

Good people dear , pray lend an ear , ill tell you one and all ,

 its about a great disaster , that occured off Donegal ,

for the wild Atlantic ocean has added to its toll ,

another 19 victims may the Lord receive each soul .

 

It was in the year of 35 on a bleak November eve ,

this awful tragedy took place it caused us all to grieve ,

those cheerful lads were coming from the Scottish harvest fields ,

and to the stormy oceans their lifes were forced to yield .

 

What cheerful thoughts were in their mind when sailing up Lough Foyle ,

to view the hills of Inishowen , and land on Irish soil .

The little train came slowly on through Creeslough and Gweedore ,

Oh God who would think they would never reach their native Arranmore

 

When they arrived at Burtonport , they were met upon the pier ,

they laughed and chatted with their friends all in the best of cheer .

They set out for the island , but never reached the shore ,

a cloud of grieve and sorrow hangs over lonely Arranmore .

 

The little boat by Gods command across the waves did sail ,

but only one out of a score survived to tell the tale .

He saved two other passengers , but they perished in the cold ,

The highest praise must be his due this hero , true and bold .

 

So now dear friends this one request , I ask from one and all ,

pray for the 19 victims , who were lost off Donegal .

With St Patrick and St Brigid , may they dwell for evermore ,

In a land were hardships are unknown far away from Arranmore

 

(This poem appears to be The Arranmore Disaster)

Video

 

Video by magootv. Arranmore Island Disaster 1935

Music "ColdWater", Damien Rice

 

 

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Lindel Buckley

1998/2009 Donegal Genealogy Resources