Scene of the disaster

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Ballindrait Disaster

Sean Boyle and Maurice Ferry a 23 year old son of Owen Uí Fhearraigh of Meenaduff was drowned. Brothers Charlie, Hughie and Jimmy Sweeney from Ballindrait, near Bunbeg Bridge were saved.

The rescue party included teenager James Diver was from Coshclady, twenty four year old Edward Curran (Eoghan) from Dunmore,  twenty three year old Braidhnigh Hudaí Devenney from Ranafast also known as Devine, and my grandfather Jimmy Duffy (Seimí Eoin) from Carrickfin then aged 22 year and his brother. In the report in the Derry Journal on following Wednesday it stated It is reported in a contemporary that a boating accident off the coast near Gweedore recently, involving the loss of two lives. Maurice Ferry and Shan Boyle were drowned, and James Sweeney had a narrow escape. The bodies have been recovered. There was also a report of the tragedy recorded in the Parlimentary Papers which stated Bunbeg Fishermen Drowned from the Mary; The spritsail fishing boat, Mary, 1 ton, 7 crewmen; C. Sweeney; Master; M. Boyle, owner; out of Bunbeg; Wind west force 7; capsized and sank; subsequently recovered at Carrickfin Island on May 2nd 1897. Two men were drowned. According to local knowledge of the events, one of the boys standing on the Magheralosk shoreline seventeen year old Timlín Doherty (Hudie Eoghan) shouted to the ill fated crew to “Slack away your main sail” just seconds before the boat capsized.

Seo leagan eile de’n sceál ó Franc Sheain ‘ac Ghrianna as Rann na Feirste.

Bád Mhuiris Bhraidhnigh

Tháinid Cit….Bháin anoir anseo an chead Domhnach i ndiaidh a bpósta, agus d’imigh scaifte síos ‘na Phoinnte. Bhí Braidhnigh Hughdie ann ar scor ar bith. D’fheistigh siad an bád thíos ar thaobh an Phoinnte agus d’imigh siad siar ach sheasaigh Braidhnigh ag caint le beirt chlann Shéimí Eóin. Seo aníos bád ag tarraingt orthu as an Bhun Bheag. “Bhfeiceann tú an fear aníos?” arsa Braidhnigh, ” muna n-athraíonn siad a gcúrsa cuirfidh sé thar a corp í.” Cupla bomaite ina dhiaidh sin chuaigh. Ansin amach le Braidhnigh, beirt mhac Shéimí Eóin agus fear a raibh Curran air. Shábháil siad tríúr ach baitheadh beirt.


In Ballindrait one evening, on the second day of May

With minds so free and easy, we carelessly did stray

We joined in conversation along you riverside

And we all walked on together, till we came to the silvery tide

It was there we stood conversing while the tides came rolling in

Beside a little fishing boat with sails and all within


Our youthful passion tempted us as the rage grew in

Our minds for to take this boat out for a sail while dreary blew the wind

By sweet Bunbeg we hoist our sails with hearts so light and gay

And steered our course by Rosses shore amid the dashing spray


The sea did roar tremendously with the wind from the southwest

At five o clock that evening our small boat was upset

A fateful dream we did complete it proved our sad downfall

It cast a gloom all through the place in the County Donegal


It left Fathers and poor Mothers in sorrow grief and woe

To morn for their beloved sons that were suddenly laid low

We were cast into the raging deep about one mile from shore

When two of our brave young boys went down to rise no more

Their names were Ferry and John Boyle their loss we do deplore

For they lost their lives that evening on the waters of Gweedore


Long live to Edward Curran to Duffy and Devine

Likewise to young James Diver their deeds we ever mind

They rowed to our assistance with speed beyond complete

And saved the lives of five brave boys from their deep and watery grave

So now to conclude and finish with grief I’ll say no more

Beware of Sunday sailing on the waters of Gweedore

Written by Eoin Liam Mc Garvey Magheralosk & Gola (born 1877) and Paddy Shemi Mc Bride Knockastoller