Local History by Seán Beattie


Lough Swilly Steamboat Company

Ferry to Rathmullan

The Lough Swilly Steamboat Company provided services between Rathmullan and the pier at Fahan. It was owned by the Lough Swilly Railway Company and was designed as a support service for the Derry-Buncrana line. In the 1900s potatoes formed the bulk of the goods carried, together with agricultural produce, poultry, eggs and textiles. Farm produce was carried further to the English markets particularly Liverpool. John McFarland was the business brain behind the operation but he ran into difficulties in the early 1900s. First, the occupation of Lough Swilly by the British fleet seriously disrupted trade and destroyed his dream of building up the Buncrana pier to rival Greencastle. Second, a long drawn out High Court case over a relatively small amount of money (£233) taken by Messrs. Russell of Ballyare, Fanad also damaged the business. Russell accused the ferry service of not delivering their goods and mixing up invoices so that other companies received the payment due to Russel. 

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