Carndonagh Hidden History: the Corvish Stone

The inscribed stone at Corvish, Carndonagh was noted in 2019. It is like a standing stone roughly six feet long and one foot wide. It may have originally been a standing stone. There is an illustrated panel on the centre with a carved line running along the entire side.  A beautiful inscribed panel frames the memorial, thus indicating the work of a local stone sculptor and recalling similar panels on the High Crosses. The words IHS are at the top of the panel, and suggests a head stone or perhaps an altar stone that was in use in Penal times in the early 1700s. Similar inscriptions can be seen at Cloncha graveyard, dating from the 1700s. Altar stones were placed on Mass rocks and carried from place to place as priests tried to evade the  Redcoats and their spies. A  local family took care to hide the altar stone. There are several stories about Mass rocks and priest hunters seeking a bounty from this area so the stone is of great interest for these reasons. The main Mass rock of Carn is close by and signposted on the Ballyliffin road. The original date appears to be 1820 but the digits 19 appear to have been added later thus giving  a reading 1918. Thus the stone appears to have had several lives which adds to the mystery.


Mickey McClure and Bernie Logue at the Corvish Stone with the house row in the background which is part of the Corvish Clachan


The Corvish Stone showing the IHS inscription and the OML in the right corner. The stone had several lives – pagan standing stone, Penal Laws altar stone and memorial headstone.


The stone lies at the back of a wall stead owned by McLaughlins and the inscription on the left is OML, suggesting Owen McLaughlin?

The house row at the back of the picture is often found in Inishowen clachans. A similar row of houses stands at Ballyharry and is known as “The Row” and on Ballyliffin golf course. The houses are deserted but belonged to Mclaughlins (James), Dohertys (Nochars) and Kearneys. There was also a McColgan family, the name of the Erenaghs of Donagh (Bell Keepers). There appears to have been another row of houses on the row entering the site. Estimates for population are around 100 persons in 1901 living in the clachan.

Thanks to Mickey McClure, Benie Logue and Stephen Logue, who first alerted us to the stone and assisted with identification.

Armistice Day in Donegal 11/11 1918

This post contains the text of my piece for the RTÉ Sunday Miscellany Armistice Day Special, broadcast on RTÉ Radio One on November 11th, 2018.

Sean Beattie

Listen back to the Sunday Miscellany broadcast: Sunday Miscellany, RTÉ Radio One, November 11th 2018 

thumbnail_1918 US LAS Lough Foyle long dock extending out to channel in otherwise shallow Foyle for picking up supplies from ships.

Air base at Ture 1918/9. Photo courtesy of Meg Carroll, Albany, New York. From the files of her grandfather, Philip Gallagher, who served at the Ture base. The wooden platform was used to provide access from the sea-planes to the concrete apron ashore. There were 7 sea-planes and they were serviced in the hangars shown here. The planes were constructed of wood which was imported from USA and the planes were assembled in Derry. After Armistice Day, the Americans piled the sea-planes on the shore and burned the lot! It was quite  a sight. The poor carrier pigeons were not too concerned as they were happy to return to civilian life. They too had a good time in Ture. (Sean Beattie)

For generations, thousands of emigrants in the north west have set sail from Derry Quay on their way to the New World. Most were heading for America, never to return. But in 1917, the tide turned. Europe was at war, and America came to the rescue.

Under the Draft Law enacted by President Woodrow Wilson, all males between 21 and 30 were enlisted. Most expected to see service on the battlefront, but a small number were dispatched to bases, scattered across the country. One of them was in the townland of Ture in the Inishowen peninsula, Co Donegal, hundreds of miles from the hostilities. They had drawn the lucky straw. So instead of the grime and stench of the trenches, they enjoyed the bracing air and verdant pastures of Lough Foyle, ten miles north of Derry City.

The first to arrive in January 1918 was a small group of tradesmen, carpenters, engineers and supervisors who were tasked with constructing a base, with imported American timber from scratch. By July 4th, all buildings had been constructed, just in time to celebrate Independence Day by flying the Stars and Stripes. The recruits were mostly in their late teens or early twenties, so Commanders at the base organised a Sports Day, followed by a dance in the evening. Several musicians were among the recruits, and they hastily organised their own orchestra, which they christened the Troubadours. To get the gender balance right for the big social event of the evening, army cars were ordered to bring local girls from Derry City, and the neighbouring towns of Moville, Carndonagh and Buncrana. With a new generator imported from America, the banks of the Foyle glowed, as darkness fell amid the music and dancing.  It was indeed a fairyland of mirth, sound and happiness.

For the young ladies, it was a night to remember. No more country waltzes and “Shoe the Donkey”, a traditional mazurka, which was a light-hearted, two-hand dance played in every parish hall. Instead, the sounds of Tin Pan Alley may have floated across the Foyle that evening. The customary tea and sandwiches were replaced by minerals and cookies, with no scarcity of American cigarettes. Not unexpectedly, romance blossomed, and there were at least two weddings that could be traced directly to the base, where couples met for the first time.

During the day, recently assembled sea-planes took off from the base in the hunt for enemy U-boats. For the few months that the base was in operation, there were many U-boat sightings but only one may have been destroyed.

And finally, the news that all were waiting for arrived – the cessation of hostilities, and the signing of an Armistice at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the eleventh month in 1918. Instructions came to the base that all hostilities should cease. The Armistice Day Banquet and Dinner organised by the Welfare Committee at the Air Station was a special celebration, and the menu included many delicacies to mark the occasion, such as Roast Stuffed Liberty Chicken, Peace Bread with cider and cigars as extras. Celebrations led by the Troubadours went on into the night. There was a slight touch of sadness, too that friendships, formed along the banks of Lough Foyle, were about to end.

Sea plane

Armistice Day brought a sigh of relief to many Irish families, with sons in the American forces in Europe. The Beattie family in Inishowen had reason to celebrate – their son John, my uncle, who had enlisted in America, had survived the War. There was an added bonus when he turned up at the family home to greet his widowed mother in his Army uniform.  He created quite a stir when he appeared at local dances dressed in his American uniform.

The Americans departed in style, travelling in batches of a hundred, and parading in the streets of Derry on their way home, cheered on by thousands lining the city thoroughfares. Unlike their colleagues on the Western Front, only two recruits who were sent to Donegal did not return home, one being drowned and another who fell victim to the Spanish flu.

Little did anyone guess that the Americans would be back, in another couple of decades when Europe would again be a battlefield. The story of the U-boats would have a different ending, as the city quays became the base where they were berthed, before being sunk to the bottom of the ocean off the north Donegal coast.

Little remains of the American base of a century ago – a redbrick pump house on one side of the Derry to Moville road, and a vast concrete apron on the other side, all now wrapped in the silence of peace.(Sean Beattie)

Thanks to Meg Carroll, Albany, NY, who has provided copies of the letters of her grand-father Philip Gallagher, which were written in Ture and sent to his mother in USA in 1918; Meg also supplied original photos; to the Rankin family, Ture, owners of the site of the original station for their help; to Eamonn Gallagher who provided documentation; to Cassie Beatty, Carrowmena for information about John Beatty; to Richard Doherty, military historian, Derry for his invaluable research on this subject; Derry Journal, Belfast Telegraph and Londonderry Sentinel files in Central Library, Derry and library staff; to Conor Beattie and Mrs Eva Gilmartin for advice on the first draft; Ronan McConnell, Derry Museum; and to Mickey McGuinness, Derry who highlighted this story many years ago; and finally to Sara Binchy, RTE producer, and her staff for advice on the radio script and broadcast and for selecting the story for broadcasting on the national airways on Sunday Miscellany, RTE. Read Meg Carroll’s article on the base in Donegal Annual, 2017. A copy may be obtained from or from the library. 



Launch of Donegal Annual no. 70 2018


See full Table of Contents below with authors. The Annual includes over 60 photographs, diagrams and maps. There is a wide range of contributors from leading professionals and academics to independent scholars with deep knowledge of their own areas. 

The Annual was launched in Ballybofey on 26 July 2018 by Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council (Ireland), whose family have a long association with the county and the founding of the Society in 1947.

At the launch, the editor thanked all the contributors for their research and dedication, the Editorial Board and Una McGarrigle, Hon  Sec for her comprehensive commitment to the delivery of the Annual. 



From Malin to the Middle East: Inishowen High Crosses

Dr Michelle Brown

Donaghmore Parish, Barony of Raphoe                                                                     Belinda Mahaffy

Amateur Drama in Donegal 1952-61                                                                          Siofra Sloyan

“Open Air Mass in the Donegal Mountains”, 1867

Aidan O’Hara

Aspects of the History of Clann tSuibhne                                                                   Tomás G. Ó  Canann

Anglican Churches in Inishowen 1622-1733

Dr William Roulston

John McGettigan 1882-1958: Migrant, Minstrel, Entrepreneur

Marcas Ó  Murchú

By the Banks of the Eanymore                                                                                     Helen Meehan

The role of the P.S. Cynthia and the S.S. California in the development of Donegal Tourism.

Mervyn Watson

John W. Nixon and a Derry Libel Case

Dr Desmond Murphy

The Cenél nEogháin of Inishowen:

Aldfrith of Northumbria’a Donegal Cousins?

Dr. Brian Lacey

The Deliverance of Donegal

A Political Ballad and the Donegal Election 1874

Rev Raymond Blair

Néillí Boyle, Seamus Ennis and “The Moving Cloud”

Seán Boner

Upper Lough Foyle                                                                                                         Ross Cooper

Ballintra Map 1773 and Associated Families

Dr Sam Hanna

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in Donegal 1904-1927

Dr Seán Beattie

Ulster Plantation Leases, Manor of Castlefin 1680-1827

Terry Dolan


The Three Patriots of Carndonagh



One hundred and fifty years ago, Michael Harkin, the great Carn historian described Carn as a town with 4 intersecting thoroughfares. One of them was Pound Street. Today, Carn a new super highway, the Painter’s Way thanks to Margaret Teresa Doherty and her family, located on the site of Philip Fintan’s shoe shop and Miss Doherty’s dress-making business. So who were the Painters? Margaret Teresa Doherty and her family have made a generous donation of this site to the church and community and for generations they have been known as “the painters”. There were 4 in Margaret’s family, her brother John, who was once played a trumpet in the Carn Brass Band. He donated his trumpet to the band before he passed away and it is in use today. Margaret had two sisters, one of whom was Minnie Weeks. Minnie lived away all her life but her final wish was to be buried in Carn and so we remember her today. Her other sister was Annalene who lived in Largs in Ayreshire – Robbie Burn’s country where she is buried.

Their parents were John and Maggie Doherty.

Margaret’s grandparents came from Moville parish and hence the nickname the “Bunaphobails”. He lived in the same street near the courthouse. Her grandfather, Willie was from Glencrow, Terryroane near Ballinacrae church and her grand- mother was Maggie McFeely, Carrowmena.  Other families included Catherwoods, Dohertys (hatters), Merricks (cattledealers) and Mullins (butchers). The first ice cream in Carn was sold in this street. In others words. It was truly a street full of crafts’ people and artisans.

Margaret had a distinguished connection in the church on her grandfather’s side. He was an uncle of the Bishop of Dromore, who died in 1979 and his name was Bishop Eugene O’Doherty, for whom I once served Mass in Ballinacrae. His family came from Terryroane.

The “Bunaphobails”

Her grandfather was a painter by trade and he came to Carn to paint the Colgan hall in 1914, the year it opened. He always said that he got married in 1916 with the money he made painting the hall. Her uncle Pakie Bunaphobail was involved in helping to paint the new church in Carn in 1945. He had a habit of singing aloud as he painted. The PP Fr Bonner was not impressed and suggested he would do better if he concentrated on the painting. His answer to Fr Bonner was to stop the singing but he also slowed down the painting. Fr Bonner got the message.

Margaret has a little-known connection with the history of education in Carn, as Conal Byrne, Margaret Harkin and Sheila McCarroll have noted.

Arthur Gormley- hedge school master

Margaret’s great-grandfather was Arthur Gormley who came to Carn from Bellaghy, Co Derry as a hedge-school teacher as the Penal Laws were coming to an end. He taught in a slated barn in Hillhead donated by the Presbyterian church. and his small headstone can be seen beside the graveyard gate on the right, with his name clearly inscribed. Children brought a penny a week to school to pay his wages and used slates for writing on. Latin and Maths were taught. Hedge school masters travelled from town to town, but Arthur settled in Carn and became quite wealthy. He probably knew Seamus Heaney’s ancestors who came from Bellaghy also. Several Gormley families still live close to Bellaghy but not in the village itself.

Margaret Teresa herself attended the Convent School in Buncrana as a boarder. When I asked Margaret why she became a chemist, she said she had two friends at school and they decided on their careers after they did their Leaving Cert. One of the girls was Rita Quigley, who became a nun and joined the Medical Missionaries of Mary in Drogheda. Another friend was Margaret Bonner who became a nurse. Margaret Teresa decided to become a chemist and went to Dublin to serve her 6 year apprenticeship with a well-known group of Dublin chemists called Hayes, Cunningham and Robinson. She worked in the Dun Laoghaire branch and cycled nightly from Dun Laoghaire to the College of Pharmacy in Mount Street in the city.


To go back to Sister Rita Quigley. Rita worked in a hospice and one night she was in charge of a woman who was on her death bed and declared incurable. That night Rita said 3 rosaries for her to Blessed Oliver Plunkett and next morning the woman had recovered and returned to good health fully cured. Her cure was considered miraculous and the Vatican accepted the cure as a miracle. It so happened that this was recognised as the third official miracle required for the canonisation of Blessed Oliver Plunkett. On the occasion of his canonisation, the Sisters of Mercy in Buncrana were invited to Rome and Margaret Teresa and her other friend were invited also. Sadly Rita, the nun, was not present. She died in a swimming accident in Italy trying to save a young postulant from drowning. At the canonisation, Fr. Donal McKeown, now Bishop of Derry, did a reading in Rome. He was present when Margaret Teresa cut the tape to open the new road on Sunday, 3 June 2018, following Mass in the church. The Carn Brass Band and Donagh Choir were in attendance.

Finally, we come to the THREE PATRIOTS OF CARN. The house beside the Painter’s Way has three sculpted heads. Before Home Rule, there was great veneration in Carn for the famous patriots of Irish history. The beardless head, with pointed chin, in the centre is Robert Emmet, who died in a Rebellion in 1803. On the Co-op side is Henry Grattan, who led an independent Irish Parliament at College Green in Dublin before it was abolished by the Act of Union in 1800. The other head is that of Wolfe Tone, who was arrested at Buncrana and died in 1798. All the heads bear a true likeness of the leaders, based on drawings and prints of the period.

The sculptor was a cousin of her grandfathers. He emigrated to America and made a career for himself as a sculptor in the States. Before he left, he sculpted the LION OF CARN. You can still see it today in Reid’s yard behind the grill.  The new emigrant was refused work in America with a sculptor at first. The owner of the business went away and Margaret’s cousin took the opportunity to sculpt the head of the owner who had refused him work. When the owner came back, he was astonished to see himself in stone and enquired who did the work. When he heard who was the artist, he gave him a job, even though he had refused him at first.

Like Michael Harkin, we can be proud of this beautiful, historic thoroughfare and our sincere thanks are due to Margaret Teresa and her family, Fr Con McLaughlin, PP and also the team of workmen who completed it.

For more information on Carn history, see CARNDONAGH by Maura Harkin and Sheila McCarroll, which is available from bookshops. A photo of the Hillhead hedge school can be seen in the book with pictures of Margaret Teresa and her family at various stages of their lives. Thanks to all who helped with this history – Margaret Teresa Doherty, Mrs Mary McLaughlin, Mickey McClure, Colgan Heritage Committee, Maura Harkin and the late Conal Byrne who wrote about hedge schools in DONEGAL ANNUAL.

Seán Beattie – 3 June 2018


Colgan Heritage Weekend, Carndonagh, Co Donegal 17-19 August 2018

The annual Colgan event will take place in August from Friday 17th to Sunday 19th 2018. Note the change of month which has come about due to the Irish Open being held in Ballyliffin. We are delighted that the Colgan weekend will be Carndonagh’s input to National Heritage Week.

Vincent Browne, broadcaster and journalist, has confirmed that he will open the event on Friday 17th August and we are delighted to welcome him to Inishowen. Have your questions ready!

The programme  is being compiled and includes a wide range of events – lectures, guided walking tours, a writing workshop, panel discussions, schools’ competitions and a cultural diversity event. The Heritage Hunters – involving the local library – will take part this year also. Other attractions include exhibitions, and a special bi-lingual session to celebrate Bliain na Gaeilge. Join us on Sunday evening for a variety concert featuring some of our most talented performers.

The theme is linked to the National Heritage Weekend theme of “Carving a Future from Our Past”. We have so much to celebrate.


Further details will be announced on our Facebook page and website.

The Notorious WASP and Moville


queen castle maritime musem.PNG

Greencastle Maritime Museum


The Wasp has gone down in history as one of the most infamous British gunboats that ever entered Irish waters. It was lost off the coast of Tory in September 1884 on a mission to collect a few pounds of arrears in rent from islanders on Inistrahull. It was the era of the Land War, when the Land League was in control and led a campaign of non-payment of rent. It was also a decade which saw the beginnings of a land revolution in Ireland with the passing of a series of Land Acts which would lead to tenant proprietorship. The Wasp on this occasion was en route to Moville, where a contingent of troops was on standby to enforce the rent collection order. It was the first time in Irish history that a British gunboat was employed for this purpose.

Several myths have surrounded the loss of the gunboat. The light keepers on Tory were wrongly accused of shutting down the light and were blamed for the loss of life. Tory islanders were accused of turning a blind eye to the plight of the ship-wrecked sailors. In fact, the islanders took to the seas in an attempt to carry out a rescue mission. The sinking of the ship was due to poor seamanship in bad weather conditions, as a public enquiry later concluded.

The town of Moville has another connection with the gunboat. In the summer of 1884, 96 islanders from Arranmore off Burtonport were taken on board the gunboat. On this occasion, it was a mission of mercy, one of many carried out by the gunboat. The islanders were emigrants from Arranmore who were offered farms in Canada and America and it was considered the land and sea journey from the island to Moville was too difficult. Instead, they were taken on board the Wasp and ferried to a liner in Lough Foyle on a regular voyage from Moville to America. All landed safely and 86 were settled on Beaver Island, while ten others travelled on to Canada. In America, heads of families were offered 40 acres of land to begin a new life and their descendants still live there. This was part of an assisted emigration scheme organised by a Yorkshire Quaker philanthropist, James Hack Tuke. He was one of the founders of Barclay’s Bank.

There is another connection with Greencastle. You can see part of the ship standing outside Greencastle Maritime Museum. Pictures of some of the crew can be seen in my book DONEGAL IN OLD PHOTOGRAPHS (2004). The crew members had called to a studio in Derry to have their photos taken when they visited the Foyle on another occasion.

The captain of the ship, Captain Nicholls is buried in an unmarked grave in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Malin Town, but his name is on the Register of Deaths for the parish.  His body was washed ashore off Inishowen and taken to Malin for burial. A fictional account of the loss of the WASP can be read in MEMOIR FOR THE WASP by Enda McLaughlin.

For more information on Donegal history, see DONEGAL ANNUAL 2018 which will be available in July 2018.

Like many aspects of our history, there are two sides to every story!


Seán Beattie 2018.

Montgomery Bible 1845

Montgomery Bible

Rev Samuel Montgomery was an uncle of Field Marshal Montgomery of Alamein. The family lived at New Park, Moville and the house is still standing beside the Protestant Church but the short path linking church and rectory no longer exists. Generations of the Montgomerys carved their names on the tree outside the main door and this tree was felled to make way for a small housing development. The tree-lined road leading to the rectory has been widened while the former Montgomery homestead  is undergoing repairs. Bishop Montgomery, father of the Field Marshal, prayed in an upstairs oratory, overlooking Lough Foyle. He took a daily stroll from the house to the Square in Moville and visited his neighbours on occasions. Much of the furniture in New Park found its way into homes in Inishowen following an auction of the house contents after Mrs Montgomery died. A black carved cabinet once stood in the hallway of Falmore House, Gleneely and I recall seeing it before the latter was destroyed by fire. Many of the books  in the library found their way to a house in Ballyharry in Culdaff parish. They were taken there by donkey and cart after the auction.

I located the Bible in the archives of Foyle College, Derry with the assistance of the Archivist, Dr. Robert Montgomery of Castlerock, Co Derry and Sean McMahon, a noted Derry author who wrote the history of the college. Members of the Montgomery family attended Foyle College in Derry.

Rev. Samuel Montgomery (1805-1874) was the uncle of Field Marshal Montgomery. At the time of Samuel’s birth, Irish was an everyday language  in Moville and English was rarely heard. Rev Montgomery was fluent in Irish and his Gaelic Bible shows signs that it was constantly in use and not locked away in a library.  He went to Co Derry as a young clergyman; he served as rector of Ballinascreen for 30 years and died at the age of 69. His loyal servant and coachman, John Wilson, is buried at the foot of his grave. Samuel never married and lived with his two sisters. The date of the Bible is significant. In 1845, Rev Montgomery wrote, referring to Co Derry: “The whole atmosphere in September was tainted with the odour of decaying potatoes.” (See John Withington, DISASTERS – A HISTORY OF EARTHQUAKES AND OTHER CATASTROPHES, USA, 1947). He did not forget his former neighbours in Moville at this desperate time. He contributed £10 to the Moville Relief Committee, of which Rev Charles Galwey was secretary. (See DONEGAL ANNUAL  1980, “Workhouse and Famine : Inishowen 1845-1849”, by Sean Beattie). Referring to cottiers and fishermen, Rev Galwey wrote – “Destitution to an alarming extent exists”.

The descendants of Field Marshal Montgomery visited Inishowen recently for a short holiday. They stayed in Culdaff and visited Moville and New Park, which was undergoing renovations. A plaque on Moville Green states that Bishop Montgomery donated the lands that now form the Green to Donegal County Council for public use. Montgomery Terrace is a reminder of the family association with the town. (See Brian Montgomery, A FIELD MARSHAL IN THE FAMILY, London, 1973).



Inishowen 1918 – flu, sea planes and sugar cards.

One hundred years ago, life was very different in Donegal. There was great sorrow in March over the death of John Redmond – who worked tirelessly to bring Home Rule to Ireland but failed. He urged Irishmen to join the British Army in 1914 in the belief that this gesture would be rewarded by the granting of independence! Culdaff Ancient Order of Hibernians passed a vote of sympathy at his passing.

Conscription? No thanks

The war was now four years running and a Military Service Act was passed which was intended to permit conscription in Ireland. There were violent protests. An All-Ireland Pledge was drawn up and people were encouraged to sign in protest at the threat of conscription. Fr. Maguire of Clonmany organised signatures outside the church gate. No conscription took place in Ireland.

Sugar Cards

Food supplies were low so a form of rationing was introduced. Sugar was the first commodity to be rationed. Shops had to keep records on a Sugar Card of amounts sold to customers. RIC members called to check if the cards were up to date. Later, meat was rationed. Emily Little of the Fort Hotel in Greencastle was fined in court for serving meat on “meatless” days and for failing to keep a proper register of meals served.

Killer flu epidemic

Meanwhile, the Spanish flu was taking its toll. In the first week of July 1918, there were 50 funerals of flu victims in Derry with 14 dying of flu on average per day. Horse hearses queued at the gates of the cemetery for burial and extra gravediggers were employed.

Sinn Fein rock the boat

In December, there were elections and a new party called Sinn Fein won 3 of the 4 seats in Donegal and brought the Irish Party at Westminster to its knees. SF refused to take their seats at Westminster and decided to set up their own government in Dublin. Sinn Fein clubs were in operation in every parish, named after 1916 leaders. Eamonn de Valera visited Donegal in 1918 as part of the election campaign. He spoke in the Colgan Hall, Carndonagh,  and the crowds were so large that the seats had to be removed. Two bands, one from Clonmany and the other from Carndonagh led a parade from the railway station to the hall to give him a rousing welcome.

Jazz Dances at Ture Naval Station

At Ture, Americans were at work building a naval air station where 500 men would be accommodated. They held dances in 1918 and “motor vehicles” took dancers – mainly female – to the hall at Ture from Moville and Derry for all-night dancing. Sea-planes landed at the base in mid-summer to hunt U-boats which were attacking ships carrying food and troops. Only one officer died of flu at Ture base and there were at least 4 marriages.

An emigrant returns

My uncle, John, who emigrated to America, joined the US army and fought in France, came home on holidays from the trenches wearing his military uniform. He attended a dance in Ballyharry school. He survived the war and is buried in Brooklyn in the family grave.

Read more about life in Donegal in 1918 in the Centenary edition of Ireland’s Own, to be published shortly, for which I have written 3 articles. Donegal Annual will be available in mid-summer. See my article on the AOH in Donegal.

Three Book Launches

I have been involved in a number of book launches recently. Last month, DONEGAL’S WILD ATLANTIC COAST  was launched by television producer and presenter Joe Mahon (LESSER SPOTTED ULSTER) at Inishowen Maritime Museum. The book is published by well-known publisher Tim Johnston with Ros Harvey, Ballagh Studios and myself as writer. It is available in Donegal bookshops or via Amazon or the publisher, cottage-publications. com.


The video below features the launch of the DONEGAL ANNUAL COLLECTION VOLUME 2 1954-59 some years ago. Proceedings are in Irish as the event took place in Gweedore and I used the occasion to resurrect my knowledge of Irish which I had at UCD in former days. My opening remarks are about some of the former editors. The second speaker was President of Donegal Historical Society at the time, Dr O’Baoighill, and he spoke about some of the writers in the collection. The third speaker was Col Declan O’Carroll. He befriended Hugh Friel of Fanad on the football fields of Donegal many years ago and Hugh kindly offered to fund the project. Dr Lillis O’Laoire, NUIG, launched the book and spoke about some writers such as Margaret Dobbs who feature in the collection. For more details see or contact Una McGarrigle, Hon Sec of DHS.




The third launch took place in Culdaff before Christmas 2017. The book is based on proceedings of two conferences organised by the Lands of Eoghain committee in Inishowen in 2017, one in Malin and the other in Culdaff. The editor is Rosemary Doherty, an archaeologist based in Carndonagh. Contributors include Rosemary Doherty and Denise Henry, a young archaeologist who has been active in promoting the work of Mabel Colhoun and who was involved in setting up an exhibition about Mabel in Derry Museum. Mabel was born in 1905 in Derry and worked as a teacher. She was the aunt of David Trimble, now in the House of Lords, who participated in the peace process in N. Ireland. I met David Trimble at the launch of Mabel’s book, THE HERITAGE OF INISHOWEN some years ago. He told me he often drove her around Inishowen to visit the sites in the book. He also said she would get angry when she found sites had been damaged.

Brian Lacey is an archaeologist who has worked on the DISCOVERY  programme. He befriended Mabel when he lectured in Magee College, Derry. Brian told me he is now planning to move to Donegal when family circumstances permit.

John McCarron is involved in preparing a catalogue of Mabel’s work in Derry.

Amy Young was born in Canada in 1885 and married Robert Young of Culdaff. She wrote the history of the Young family in 1929 in which she described the burning of Culdaff House on 22 May 1922. Only 100 copies were printed so the book is very rare.

Rachel Magowan is related to Amy and has access to her papers. Rachel describes a ball Amy attended in New Park, Moville organised by Bishop Henry Montgomery and his wife Maud in 1908, The ball was to celebrate the completion of training of the Bishop’s son, Bernard, later Field Mashal and a World War 2 hero.

My own modest contribution details life in Culdaff during Amy’s lifetime. For example, the Ancient Order of Hibernians was very active and Unionists were very busy in 1912 with the signing of the Covenant.

John McGrory designed the book and Neil managed sound and organised the launch with Rosemary and with Trish Murphy, secretary of the committee. Music was supplied by Roisin McGrory and her musicians. George Mills, grandson of Amy, attended the launch. He also kindly acted as guide to Culdaff House during the seminar earlier in the year. The Heritage Council financed the publication. Anne Doherty provided catering for the launch.

For more details about the book, see

Thanks for reading this and may I wish my fellow historians and archaeologists every best wish for 2018.