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…

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…

Culdaff Village 100 years ago

Download a PDF of Culdaff Census 1901-1911 I have uploaded the 1901 and 1911 Census for Culdaff village which shows how life in the village has changed over 100 years ago. Many names are still there. Following the very popular Facebook page OUR CULDAFF, set up by Jennifer Doherty, would readers please upload any old photos of family, friends or relations who lived in the village in 1911? Here is a summary of the occupations in 1911 – 3 shoemakers,…

Mass Rock at Tremone Bay – a silent sentinel in the landscape

The Mass Rock at Tremone Bay, Inishowen,  is a typical example of a hidden gem of our heritage that the tourist never sees. This was a sacred place for our ancestors: they came here to worship in secret and to bury their dead unbaptised children in the Reiligi on the headland above (reilig – a cemetery). Situated 200 m west of Boat Port, it is encased by a weather-beaten, gaunt arch, which has a close resemblance to the entrance of…

A Malin Head Link to the White House

As they look across the great blue waters of the Atlantic, tour guides visiting Malin Head are often heard to remark that the next parish is America. For hundreds of Malin Head folk that comment became a reality, as they boarded the ships of Cooke and McCorkell and the great liners for a new life. One Malin man who made that journey was David A. Doyle who left Malin Head in his childhood. His family settled in Brooklyn and as…

Destination Buncrana 1914

On 21 October 1914, the White Star liner Olympic left New York but was directed to lie at anchor in Lough Swilly. The Captain was warned about the dangers of German mines off the mouth of the Swilly and successfully sailed his ship into the Lough. Europe was at war and questions were raised in Buncrana about the purpose of the visit as the ship lay at anchor for four days. There was no communication of any kind with the…

St. Patrick in Inishowen

We are unable to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in our normal fashion in 2020, so here are some of my thoughts from my isolated base in Culdaff A page from the Book of Armagh,which has notes about the Saint’s journey.  The hagiography (biography of a saint ) of St. Patrick is considered the best guide to the political geography of Ireland in the pre-Viking Age in relation to the location of kingdoms, dynasties and churches. The principal text was written by…

Article on Seán Ó’hEochaidh’s Field Diaries by Lillis Ó Laoire

Seán Ó’hEochaidh was one of Ireland’s greatest folklore collectors and he worked for the Irish Folklore Commission in Donegal. Dr. Lillis Ó Laoire, professor in Irish in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, NUIG, has carried out extensive research on his diaries. In this article, he highlights references to women and how they impacted on Ó hEochaidh’s work. The diaries offer a unique insight into rural life in south Donegal; there are references to local customs and interesting personalities…

Christmas Rhymers in Inishowen

As a child growing up in Carrowmena, Inishowen, I recall the visits of the Rhymers as they went from house to house in the village. They were a noisy, scary lot if you met them on the road in total darkness. To gain entry to each house, they hammered on the door with a walking stick and performed their play in the kitchen. The play ended with a collection. At the end of Christmas, they had a Rhymers’ Ball. I…

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