Feast of Colmcille

Happy Feast of Colmcille Day! To mark the occasion, I was invited to read a short piece on the saint on RTÉ’s Edgeways series this morning, as part of the ‘Rising Time’ early morning show. The image featured here is the cross slab at Port Cille, Shrove, Inishowen Peninsula, where Colmcille stopped off having sailed down Lough Foyle for the last time on his way to Iona. He came ashore to climb the hill hoping to get one last view…

1918 Flu & The War of Independence

How the 1918 flu changed the course of the War of Independence in Donegal The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect not only on our social life and freedoms but also on our economy. It was no different in the last great pandemic in 1918 known as the Spanish Flu. Largely forgotten until recently, the Spanish Flu had similar consequences for our forebears. In the case of Donegal, it had a dramatic impact on the War of Independence a…

Ballyharry, Carrowmena and Ballymagarraghy

History and Folklore Seán Beattie Recently going through my records, I came across a series of interviews I conducted in the 1990s with the late Johnny O’Donnell of Cruckaveel, Ballyharry. He had a vivid recollection of times past and what follows is a short version of some of our discussions. One hundred years ago, in March 1921, the villages of Carrowmena and Ballymagarraghy became victims of the Black and Tans during the War of Independence. Reports of Volunteer drilling in…

Dance Hall Days

Photo (L-R): Jim Crumlish (accordion), Robert Carey (tenor saxophone), Dan McCann (singer and drums), Charlie O’Kane (trumpet), Margaret Fullerton, Malin (piano). While the late 1950s and early 1960s are recognised as the era of the great showbands, they have their origins in the local bands performing in rural towns and villages in the early 1950s. This was the post-war era with life returning to normal, and people were keen to get out and enjoy themselves (sound familiar?). The Tremone Dance…

Cist Graves of Trabreaga, Malin

Seán Beattie Sixty years ago this September coming (1961), a group of Council workers were working in a quarry set in a dune landscape, 200 yards behind Lagg Presbyterian church. The quarry can still be seen today from the church grounds. Working with shovels, they came across 3 rectangular box-like stone structures covered by a large flagstone. On opening the first, they found a male skeleton lying in a crouched position; a second slab was raised to reveal a female…

The Church of the Sacred Heart, Carndonagh, Co Donegal 1945-2020: 75 Years of Modern Worship

– Seán Beattie Built in the Romanesque style of Wicklow granite, the Church dominates the landscape of the plain of Maghtochair, an ancient sub-kingdom of the peninsula of Inishowen. Some 1,500 years ago, St Patrick founded a monastery here which became part of the town name. Evidence of Christian worship has been continuous since then, with the Donagh Cross, the Marigold Stone, Mass Rock and the pillar stones standing as emblems of the faith. The ClergyIt was against this background…

Culdaff – the Tomb of the Unknown Sailor

Seán Beattie On 9 January 1918, the Beagle class destroyer, the RACOON, went down off Inishtrahull island, having ran foul of rocks off the treacherous Garvan Islands. The minesweeper ventured into Inishtrahull Sound, between the mainland and the island on its way to engage in patrol duties in Lough Swilly, having sailed from Liverpool. She was well armed, with quick firing 12-pounder guns and torpedo tubes. Of the crew of 95, 17 were buried at Rathmullan and others were interred…

Glengad and the White House

It was the great Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill who said that all politics is local. For the population of Wilmington, Delaware, USA, it is a moment of truth, as it was here that the President-elect, Joe Biden took his first steps into the political arena following a Council election in 1970.  A descendant of an Inishowen family also became involved in politics in Wilmington, a town of 70,000 people, about this time. His name was William “Bill” McLaughlin,…

Some Hallowe’en Customs in Inishowen

– Seán Beattie Hallowe’en was an important marker in the year. Adults and children respected the advent of winter and the change in the year was noted in several ways. Children dressed up in over-sized clothes belonging to the parents or grandparents and visited every house in the neighbourhood. As such visits were anticipated, most houses had a good supply of apples, nuts and breads ready for distribution. The apples came from the local orchard and every village had its…

Northburg (Greencastle) and a Family Feud

In 1555/6, Calvagh O’Donnell was engaged in bitter warfare with his father Manus O’Donnell over the Lordship of Donegal. It is often said that no dispute is as bitter as an internal family battle and the consequences of this particular personal squabble had long-lasting consequences. Backed by a team of “enforcers”, Calvagh sailed to Scotland to get assistance form Archibald, Fourth Earl of Argyle. It was known that he had a nice selection of modern artillery which could be acquired…

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