Local History by Seán Beattie


The Doegen Collection and Clonmany 1931

Wilheim Doegen recorded 18 Irish speakers in Donegal in 1931 for a collection of folklore. All the speakers were male except four. Two speakers came from Clonmany and had attended Tiernasligo NS around 1850. In 1851, there were 73,258 Irish speakers in the county but by 1911 the number had declined to 59,313. The Clonmany storytellers are Jeremiah Kerr and Phil Kerr of Leitir, Urris. Both were in their 80s when recorded.  Jeremiah could not read or write Irish and had little English. Below is one of stories of Jeremiah Kerr. 

The Upturned Cups – Well there was once  a townland and they were very poor. A girl came to them or a lady came one evening and asked them if they would keep her for a  few months. He said they would and she stopped there with them and she got a  new boat built for them and when she had, she went away then and they were doing really well, keeping the herring.

They were selling them as soon as they were catching them and as they were, they left then and when they were out fishing for a  good while, she went then and she asked them to leave a tub of water down in the room. They left a tub of water down in the room and when they had they left then. She asked them not to go out fishing that night. They didn’t go. She asked them to go down then and look at the tub to see how the tub was and they went down. The cup was slapping from side to side in the tub. She asked them to go down the third night and when they went the cup was turned face down in the tub. She went out the door and when she was going out, she asked that none of them ever go fishing again. 

Roise Ni Bhaoill, who published this story, is one of over 60 academics and other writers who contribute to the ninety chapters of A CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL ATLAS OF DONEGAL to be published by Cork University Press in November 2012, edited by S. Beattie and J. MacLaughlin. 


  1. Jennifer Doherty

    Sean, thanks for this….Jeremiah Kerr of Leitir, Urris was my Great Great Grandfather and was born in July 1852. He married my Great Grandmother, Maggie Diver (born Nov 1880) on 26 Jan 1902. They had seven children.

    Another of Jeremiah’s stories was Ashey Pet.

    Jennifer Doherty
    Clonmany Genealogy

    • Comment by post author


      Thanks for identifying this for me which is very important for Inishowen history and the role of the Irish language.
      The collection did great work especially for Clonmany. Note age differences at marriage. Sean

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