Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Archbishop McHale in Árainn in 1868

John McHale’s 1868 tour of Connemara and Árainn and his firebrand preacher, Patrick Lavelle. 
John McHale, who visited Árainn in July 1868

On Sunday the 26th of July, 1868, the 79 year old John McHale (1789-1881), described by the newspapers as “The Illustrious Archbishop of Tuam”, climbed into a boat in Greatmans Bay in Connemara and set sail for the Isles of Arran.

The Archbishop and a large entourage had just completed an inspection of the nearby parish of Killeen and it’s PP, Austin O’Dwyer.




Killeen in those days covered most  of An Cheathrú Rua peninsula including the islands of Gorumna and Lettermullen.

Complete with a travelling correspondent, the tour was more than just a religious occasion and its gravity and ceremony were designed to counteract the proselytising efforts of Alexander Dallas and his ‘Protestant Irish Church Missions To The Roman Catholics’, which operated since the 1840s, in Connemara and parts of Mayo.



Extent of the Protestant Irish Church Missions in 1858. (National Library of Ireland)
First church had been opened just ten years previously, in 1848

John McHale was a complex character and his battles with his Protestant opponents and the Government, were matched and perhaps even surpassed, by his battles with Rome and with his nemesis, Cardinal Paul Cullen (1803-1878), Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.


Paul Cullen, John McHale’s great rival on many issues.

At the time of Archbishop McHale’s visit to Connemara and Árainn in July 1868, the 1st Vatican Council had just started and Archbishop McHale opposed strongly the introduction of the concept of Papal infallibility, with Cardinal Paul Cullen vigorously supporting it. When it was eventually passed in 1870, John McHale accepted the vote and conceded that he had been wrong.

The battle for souls in both Connemara and Árainn would eventually be won by Archbishop McHale, but not before some great controversies, some humorous and some extremely vicious.

Archbishop McHale had been a strong supporter of Daniel O’Connell in his battle for Repeal of the Union and earlier, for Catholic Emancipation from the old Penal laws. 

For his ferocious attitude, Dan had given McHale the title “ Lion of St Jarlath’s” which in later years became “Lion of the West”

John McHale was accompanied that summer day in 1868, by some of the most powerful clerics in his Archdiocese. The most famous of these were his cousin, the Irish scholar and newspaper owner, Ulick Bourke (1829-1887), president of St Jarlath’s College in Tuam and the Archbishop’s nephew, Thomas McHale, of the Irish college in Paris.

In the upcoming nominations for a successor to the elderly McHale, to be forwarded to Rome, about  32 Parish Priests of the Archdiocese would have one vote and the confirmation circuit was in many ways a canvassing exercise.

The list of clerics who sailed from Connemara is extensive and John McHale was determined that his nephew would succeed him as Archbishop. This would give rise to much controversy and scandal as Thomas McHale was eventually to be sidelined in favour of another of his adversaries, Bishop McAvilly of Galway.

This succession battle would cause serious division in ecclesiastical circles, with some denouncing McHale while others inclined to believe that he could walk across the North Sound to Árainn, if he so desired.




At the head of Greatmans Bay, the Archbishop’s boat was met by a flotilla of twenty brightly decorated sailing boats, headed by the Parish Priest of the Aran Islands, Daniel Lydon (1820-1870). These boats fell back and allowed the Archbishop’s boat lead the way to Cill Rónáin.




On board Daniel Lydon’s boat was one of the most famous priests of those times, Patrick Lavelle (1825-1886), parish priest of Partry, Co. Mayo.
Patrick was a firebrand preacher and would preach the sermon at Eochaill chapel next day.

As the Archbishop’s boat approached Cill Éinne Bay, it was met by over sixty currachs, their crews wearing bright white vests as they and the men in the sailing boats gave a massive cheer for the Archbishop.


The descendants of  the currach men of 1868, still  facilitating their priest, many years later.


A vast crowd of islanders thronged the pier and all along the nearby shores, and they too gave another mighty cheer as John McHale stepped ashore.

Archbishop McHale had fond memories of spending time on the island about fifty years earlier. He had enjoyed the peace and quiet of Árainn while writing one of the many pieces he became famous for.

On Monday the Archbishop administered confirmation to over 100 islanders in the thatched parish chapel at Eochaill. Many had travelled from the two smaller islands.

Built in 1830s and thatched until 1900s.


The man chosen to deliver the ceremony, Patrick Lavelle is worthy of a long article but for now, a few pieces of background will have to do.


Eochaill Chapel today. Built by Fr Gibbons in 1833, it had a thatched roof until the early 1900s. Updated again in the 1920s by the PP, Stephen Walsh.




A controversial figure, who had battled with authority, both civil and religious, Fr Lavelle had been sent by McHale to Partry to do battle with Bishop Plunkett’s agent Proudfoot, on the Bishop’s estate.


One of John McHale’s many opponents, the Anglican Bishop of Tuam, Thomas Plunkett.

Fr Lavelle was a small man but quick to get exited and his combative style would see Bishop Plunkett and his land agent, eventually concede defeat and sell off their estate.

The reports of the many court cases during this dispute, paint a very colourful picture of Patrick Lavelle and his unorthodox ways. 

Patrick ruled his own flock in Partry, with an iron fist and was once brought to court for assaulting a parishioner named Horan, in the man’s own house. Horan had lifted the tongs when his brother told him not to allow the priest strike him again.

We wonder if this parishioner could be a relation of one of Partry’s most famous sons, Canon James Horan (1911-1986), who is credited by many with bringing the Pope to Knock in 1979 and the devil to Tooreen Ballroom, in 1954.

As is often the case, it’s a silly and unimportant piece of evidence from one of  Fr Lavelle’s many court cases, that remains forever in our minds.

In the course of her evidence during an action by Fr Lavelle against land agent Proudfoot, Mary Gibbons felt her rent was too high and claimed that her land was so boggy and badly drained that when her dying husband needed the last rites, she had to carry the priest on her back in order to get him to and from the house.

Just as well that Patrick was a small man but it’s an image that will stay with us for many a year. A tribute to the strength and determination of Mary Gibbons and the women of Mayo. A whole new meaning to the old Protestant claim that Ireland was a priest ridden country.

We wonder if Mary could be a relation of the famous American Cardinal, James Gibbons (1834-1921) whose people also came from Partry in Co. Mayo.

Rev Patrick Lavell and his greyhound at Cong Abbey.


Patrick would end up in Cong and many felt that he had compromised his radicalism when he accepted assistance from Lord Ardilaun at Ashfort Castle. Unlike many of his fellow priests, he became much less radical in his later years and less than supportive of the Land League.




Patrick Lavelle was a master publicist and he promoted a slightly dubious story about trying in 1870, to rescue the cross of Cong from the Museum at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. This was accompanied by an unfair implication of dishonesty against the previous parish priest of Cong


Cross of Cong at the National Museum of Ireland

At the time of McHale’s visit, there must have been much discussion about the growing sectarian  tension on the island. 
This involved the placing in Protestant foster care, of four children of an Aran widow, Catherine Clancy, who had come back to Aran after her second husband, a Claddagh fisherman, had been drowned in Ardfry Bay.


Episcopalian church of St Thomas in Cill Rónáin. The opposition in bygone days. Built in 1846

Catherine had gone to America to try and set up a new home for her family. However, her two brothers in Cill Éinne, found they couldn’t manage, after their father died and their mother was too feeble to care for the young children. 

This would in turn lead to a shop boycott and bread war, which we will return to at a later date. The arrival of Fr. James Corbett, uncle to the great “Gentleman Jim”, as curate in 1868 would be the key moment in the escalation of this inter church  dispute with the local Protestant rector, antiquarian and Irish scholar, William Kilbride.

The disestablishment of the Episcopalian Church in 1869 as the State Church in Ireland, would herald the end of the massive state support, which it had enjoyed for decades. Opposed by many Protestant clergymen but welcomed by some.


Rev Kilbride with his niece, Ethel Emma Kilbride, (later Mrs Steele) in 1890s  from the Jane Shackleton book of photos by Christiaan Corlett. (Collins Press)

The Archbishop and his entourage would remain exploring the many religious sites on Árainn until the evening of Wednesday July 29th 1868, when they sailed to their next engagement with Fr Patrick Lyons at An Spidéil (Spiddal) for another inspection and confirmation ceremony.




From there they crossed the mountain to Killanin for another confirmation Ceremony and it’s interesting that in 1868, as they waited for a boat at Knockferry, to get them back to the east side of the lake and their next engagement with Fr Peter Conway at St Mary’s near Headford, there was much talk about the dire need of a bridge across Lough Corrib, linking east and west Connacht.

 A bridge that never came to be built. Another example of the old adage that when all is said and done, there is usually a lot more said than done. It was recorded also, that the lake level was the lowest in living memory.


Following in the footsteps of John McHale, Archbishop Walsh  visiting Árainn in the 1940s


We hope to do a piece sometime, on the Aran bread war and boycott, which lasted from November 1868 until January 1869. The mother of the four children eventually returned from America and brought her children back to Portland with her. Any information on this incident, is more than welcome.

Michael Muldoon June 2020





Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Looking for bold Fenian men in 1867.

       The invasion of the Aran Islands in 1867.

At about four O’Clock, on the afternoon of Thursday, April 11th 1867, the inhabitants of The Aran Islands spotted the black smoke, of a magnificent ship, as it approached Cill Rónáin.

They had seen it earlier that day as it steamed past Ceann Boirne and headed down through the South Sound. They assumed it was heading off on one of its regular patrols.

They would have been well used to ships making a passage past the islands, as they made their way, into and out of Galway Bay.

Soon it became obvious that the twin funneled steamer was heading for Cill Rónáin. Eventually the ship dropped anchor in Cill Éinne bay and the islanders quickly realised that this was no ordinary visit.
Where some of the policemen got lodgings.


The islanders noted a large group of armed, uniformed men, gathered on deck. There was speculation as to whether they were military or police. The local coastguard galley along with five of the ships own boats, proceeded to land fifty of the finest of the Galway Constabulary, at the little village of Cill Rónáin. 

They were commanded by the Constabulary Inspector for Galway, Francis Nesbitt Cullen (1830-1889) Francis was a native of Armagh and would rise to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of the R.I.C.

A force divided in rank on sectarian grounds, the vast majority of officers to the rank of Sergeant being Roman Catholic, with officers of a higher rank, being overwhelmingly Protestant. 


According to a later account in national newspapers, the purpose of the invasion was a hunt for the leaders of the abortive Fenian uprising of early March 1867. It was suspected that a number of Fenians had escaped to the islands from County Clare.

The background to this Irish/American organised and funded uprising, was action in different parts of the country, the most significant being in Tallagh, just outside Dublin. After a couple of skirmishes, the Irish Constabulary had suppressed the revolt and in the process, earning for their force the added title of Royal.
The abortive rising of 1867. A small band of police confronted the rebels as they headed for Tallagh Hill.

The American Fenians had the year previously invaded Canada and the home revolt was led by men, many of whom, had seen action on the Union side, in the bloody American civil war.

While most Fenians were from the Union side, it must be recorded that the great hero of our schooldays, John Mitchel of Jail Journal fame,  was a fervent  supporter of the South and lost two sons fighting with the Confederates.

John Mitchel. A pro slavery Fenian
Mitchel, a Young Irelander and later a Fenian leader in America, was a very committed and outspoken supporter of slavery and felt also that giving rights to Jews was against the wishes of God. The mental conflict of supporting Irish freedom and African slavery, is difficult to fathom.

The account of the landing at Cill Rónáin was provided by somebody on the island but as the writer only identified himself as “Fact”, we can only speculate as to who it was.

We would hazard a guess that the author was the local medical officer, Dr. James Johnston Stoney (1811-1869) but there are other possibilities. Dr Stoney was known as a man who put his patients first and was not afraid to cross his fellow co-religionists, who owned and administered the islands.

There is a slight possibility that the letter writer was the Parish priest Daniel Lydon or his curate.


James Stoney was the grandfather of the late American filmmaker, George Stoney, who many of us remember for his time on the island in the 1970s. George was making his ‘Man of Aran’ film critique, How the Myth was Made.

Dr Stoney was twice married and his son and seventeenth child, all living, had been born on Arran the year before in 1866.


James Stoney came to Aran from Borrisokane around 1859, and was to die of a laudanum overdose in June 1869, as he battled to fight a fever outbreak on the islands, while in an exhausted state.

 His grandson George did an interview in 1978 with the late Michaelín Gill (Patcheen), which can be viewed in this preview of the film. Here
A still from the film HOW THE MYTH WAS MADE

The policemen were billeted around the village and more evidence that the letter writer was the doctor, is that he bemoaned the fact that this fine body of men, were put into unaired beds and that they were not accompanied by a medical officer.

A glowing account of the good behaviour of the islanders followed and the writer noted that the good humour of all reflected on how peaceful the Province of Connacht was in recent times.

The uprising had been confined to skirmishes near Dublin and some large assemblies in Cork, Limerick and Drogheda. 

One reason as to why the authorities suspected the islands of harbouring felons, would have been  fairly obvious. 

After the failed 1848 uprising in Tipperary, the Young Irelander and co-founder of the Nation newspaper, John Blake Dillon (1814-1866) and some friends, had been given refuge on the middle island, Inis Meáin.
John was from the border town of Ballaghaderreen, which makes him either a Roscommon or a Mayo man. 
John Blake Dillon, founder of the Nation newspaper with Charles Gavin Duffy and Thomas Davis


Not having any Government agents like, police, coastguard or light-keeps, the middle island was a perfect spot for John B Dillon to hide out in.

We can recall an Inis Meáin man once declaring with pride, that his was the only Aran Island, over which the Union Jack had never flown.

Even though he had a large bounty on his head, Dillon was never betrayed by the islanders and managed to escape, first to France and then to America, where he practised law in New York.
And he wasn’t the last person to hide out on the middle island, as J.M. Synge would discover.

 He returned in 1855 after an amnesty, and was elected M.P. for Tipperary.  John Blake Dillon was the father of the last leader of The Irish Party, John Dillon (1851-1927) and grandfather to the great talker and leader of both the Centre Party and Fine Gael, James Dillon (1902-1986)
1848 Skirmish in Tipperary
Another possible reason for the invasion of 1867, is that it’s likely the authorities had intelligence about an American ship, Erin’s Hope, and a plan by American based Fenians, to land 1,500 modern rifles and over 1.5 million rounds of ammunition, somewhere on the west coast of Ireland.


A typical American anti Irish cartoon, depicting the Irish as an ape like bunch of terrorists.

This ship, formerly called the Jacknell, had been used as a privateer during the recently concluded American civil war. The whole project failed, even though they did manage to reach Sligo and later, Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

 While most of the men landed in Ireland were captured, the vastly experienced Captain and crew, managed to outrun the Royal Navy and make it back to New York. 

The Queenstown based, HMS Helicon would spend much of 1867, intercepting and searching south and west coast shipping, in an effort to intercept arms shipments from America.

An added incentive for the authorities in Galway wanting to visit the island, was the failure of the steamer, “Pennsylvania”, two weeks previously, to get any assistance as it struggled into the North Sound. It had signalled repeatedly for a pilot but neither a pilot nor a coast guard responded.

The American captain had remarked later that it was strange that he hadn’t encountered any Royal Navy ships, keeping watch to the approaches to the west coast.

The Philadelphia was making a passage from New York to Liverpool when it encountered engine trouble and shortage of coal, and managed to avoid the infamous rocks of Galway Bay, before anchoring off Spiddal. 


It’s 54 passengers were taken off and brought by train to Kingstown. There was much speculation as to how, in different circumstances, an enemy ship could have come so far without notice.

A humorous story was told of a ships captain berating his  pilot after his ship got stuck on a rock. The captain roared  “I thought you said you  knew every rock in Galway Bay”, to which his pilot responded, “indeed an I do Captain, an that’s one of them”

The Arran invasion force of 1867, divided up the next morning with half of the force going back on board the HMS Helicon, in order to carry out a raid on the middle island.

The other half commenced a search of the big island and it would appear that they didn’t expect to find much, going by the good humour and  party atmosphere of the group. 

They found nothing and even if there were Fenians hiding out on the islands, there was little chance they would have found them, as the islanders were experts at concealing unlicensed dogs, wrack and other illegal goods, from the six local police and the occasional revenue man.


The letter writer remarks how there is very little serious crime on the island and pointed out how few children are born outside marriage.

His anti landlord position is made clear when he mentions that this good living state of affairs “exists without the much boasted influence of a resident Landlord, or even his agent, the latter functionary only making his appearance twice in the year, with his saddlebag of books and leather purse for gold

The reference to the saddlebag of books is an obvious dig at the proselytising attempts of the land agent, Thomas Thompson. This would come to a head soon, after the four children of an Aran widow, ended up in Protestant foster care and a bread war and boycott, which became very bitter. A long story we may return to again.





What the island women made of the fine body of young men in uniform, with shiny buttons, boots and belts, topped with impressive headwear, was not recorded. 
We can only assume the policemen got a better reception from the women of Árainn in 1867, than their comrades got twenty years later. And that wouldn’t be difficult.

After a fruitless search of the islands, on Friday evening, all got back aboard the Helicon with the intention of heading back to Galway. However, a squall got up and the Helicon Captain, Edward Field, decided to stay on anchor for another night.

This resulted in the policemen having to disembark in the rain and spend another damp night on the island. A few more pounds for the island economy.

The writer speculated as to what the authorities in Galway would think, when their invasion force failed to return at the time arranged. Perhaps another Lord Franklin mystery was about to unfold.


The Steam wharf in Galway where the policemen disembarked.

It was noted that this was the greatest influx of visitors since the great gathering of antiquarians, ten years earlier, in 1857, an event we covered in some detail recently.

The antiquarians of 1857 had the good manners to inform the islanders well in advance, so that they could have beds ready for them.
The 1857 visit can be viewed Here
 
H.M.S Helicon. Launched in 1865,  later converted to Admiralty yacht and renamed Enchantress. Saw action in Egypt .
220 feet long with a beam of 28 feet and top speed of 14 knots. Broken up in 1889.


The raid of April 1867 was of much less importance to the islands than a series of evictions the same year, on both Árainn and Inis Oirr. This caused much hardship. Eviction notices were issued for seventeen families although only seven were eventually evicted. Most of these were later reinstalled as caretakers.

One Islander in Eoghanacht named Berry, was driven from the island. He had brought a destitute family into the island from Connemara and Thompson felt this family should return to where they came from.

Twenty years later, in 1887, The Royal Irish Constabulary suffered a humiliating defeat at Cath an Chaircir Mhóir, when accompanying a process server as he tried to serve his notices of eviction. We covered that great victory by the women of Cill Éinne, many years ago Here

There would be other raids on the islands by armed officers, the second last being an invasion by the infamous Black ‘n Tans in 1920, when the innocent and unarmed, Lawrence McDonagh, was shot on the Low road, as he made his way to mass. He would die from his wounds, a few days later.


The last armed invasion was the arrival of Free State soldiers during the Irish civil war, as they occupied the old RIC barracks and Coast Guard station. The barracks was later occupied by Ireland’s unarmed police force, An Garda Síochána.

Other than the occasional raid by Revenue officers, hunting down green diesel or patrolling the coast for smugglers, Irish naval personnel on patrol or helicopter crews on humanitarian missions, the Islands have been spared uniformed invasions in recent times. 

We look forward to tourist invasions returning, when the danger of Covid-19 has passed



Ml Muldoon, May 2020



Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Nobody left behind, neither man nor dog.

The Mutton Island rescue of January 1962.
Boxer dog just  like ‘Dutch’ , who was rescued in 1962.


In the days when accurate forecasting was difficult, many seafarers were caught out by sudden changes in the weather.

Such was the case during storms that struck Ireland and the U.K. during mid January, 1962.
Photo from a film by Pádraig A Ó Síocháin (1905–1995) 


Many lifeboats around the coast, were called to assist boats in trouble and among those who ventured out, was the Cill Rónáin based Galway Bay Lifeboat, under the command of Coxswain Colm Ó hIarnáin. (Coley Hernon)

The 400 ton Dutch coaster MV June, under the command of Captain Dantuna, had been battling the South West Gales on Monday the 15th, when she got into difficulties near the tiny Mutton Island, which lies at the entrance to Galway port.
Second mechanic Bartley Maoláin on the radio and Coxswain Coley Hernon standing on the right. 





This was on the Monday afternoon of the 15th and it was hoped that the situation could be retrieved when the storm abated. 

She had been making a passage from Sligo, in order to pick up a cargo of pyrite cinders for Glasgow. This was part of the long gone Tynagh mines operation.

Radio contact with the June had been made with another Dutch coaster, the MV Patricia, which was safely tied up in Galway Dock.
The June captain had declined to leave his boat until after he had assessed the situation at low tide on Tuesday evening. The lull in the storm during Tuesday morning was the cause of this misjudged optimism.


However, the harbourmaster at Galway, Lt Commander James Whyte, formerly of the Irish Navy, had alerted the lifeboat in Cill Rónáin, in the correct belief that they might well be needed. The June had lowered her lifeboats in order to be ready to leave at short notice but their situation became critical when these boats were washed away as the storm increased in strength.

Captain Whyte had also requested the lifeboat to be prepared to have to use their “breeches buoy” in the course of the rescue.

Sure enough, as the storm increased, it was realised that the June was being driven further on to the rocks and it became obvious that a rescue would definitely need to be undertaken, in order to save the men aboard and, as it turned out, the ships dog “Dutch”

On arrival in Galway , Coley Hernon and his seven companions, realised that the exposed position the June had settled on, would make a rescue extremely difficult. It was obvious too that the lifeboat would not be able to go alongside and that a small boat and volunteers to row it, would be needed.

Continuing into Galway Dock, the lifeboat returned to the scene, towing a small rowing boat from the Patricia. Also aboard the lifeboat was the Captain of the Patricia and the Dutch owner of the June, Mr J Klugist from Dalkey.

It was dark as the lifeboat arrived back and as the June had lost all power, it was only with the lifeboat searchlight and intermittent flashes from the nearby lighthouse, that Coley and his crew could assess the situation.

Sheltering on the leeward side of Mutton Island, the small boat was landed on the pitch black shore and then manually hauled across the island to the exposed spot where the stricken June was being battered. Coley had the benefit of local knowledge from Harbour staff member, Claddaghman Michael Carrick, who was also aboard the lifeboat and had volunteered his assistance.

Leaving their companions, who had helped drag the small boat across Mutton Island, the 12 ft boat was then manned by lifeboatmen, the late Thomás Joyce and the late Bartley Maoláin, who battled really atrocious conditions as they managed to get the six members of the Dutch/Spanish crew, safely aboard the lifeboat.The Captain and engineer of the June had stayed aboard their stricken ship.
Coxswain Coley Hernon on the left with regular lifeboat crewman, Brian Fitzpatrick. (Taken in 1966)

Crewman Thomás Joyce, who made two trips in the small boat.

Crewman Bartley Maoláin , taken a few years ago at the launching of a new lifeboat.

Crewman Paddy Quinn, fishing for sceanna mara (razor fish), a few years ago.


It was only after the intervention of the ships owner that Captain Dantuna agreed to leave his ship. After their great feat of seamanship and with only the light of the lifeboat searchlight, Thomás and Bartley were prepared to return again. At this stage it was decided that crewman Paddy Quinn would replace his neighbour, Bartley and he and Thomás set off for the second rescue. 

At this stage a problem arose with regard to the ship’s dog, a boxer named ”Dutch”, as a Department of Agriculture official was of the opinion that under rabies protection protocols, poor “Dutch” would have to remain on board and be rescued later.
Ships dog “Dutch” after being rescued.
“Leave no man behind, nor dog either.”


The crew of the June naturally objected to this and when the Lifeboat men said they weren’t leaving without the dog, a compromise was agreed. This involved “Dutch” being taken aboard the lifeboat, but on reaching the dock, transferring immediately to the other Dutch boat, the Patricia. Thus “Dutch” would not be setting foot (or paw) on rabies free Ireland.

The manager of the Railway Hotel offered food and accommodation to both the rescued and the rescuers and one of the R.N.L.I patrons, Michael Morris (Lord Kilannin) of An Spidéal, arrived to offer his congratulations. 
The Great Southern Hotel in Galway which provided food and accommodation for all involved in the Mutton Island rescue.

All this was done in the dark and while a fierce gale raged and conditions were so rough that the lifeboat rode out the storm in the shelter of Galway Dock and didn’t return to base until later on Wednesday afternoon.

For their efforts, all eight members of the Aran Lifeboat received Bravery Certificates, with four of them, Coxswain Coley Hernon, assistant mechanic Bartley Maoláin, and crewmen Thomás Joyce and Paddy Quinn receiving the institute’s bronze medal for bravery.
All dead now with Bartley being the last to go. May they rest easy.

As a small boy, I can remember seeing the June as it lay on the rocks at Mutton Island. Can also remember seeing it slowly disappear as it was broken up for scrap. Today, there is a causeway to the island to facilitate a water treatment plant. A causeway that would have saved a lot of bother if it were there in 1962.
The MV June as some of us remember her in 1962. As can be guessed from this photo,
her back was broken and she was scrapped where she lay.



The lifeboat institute also sent letters of thanks to Michael Carrick for his help that stormy night and to Commander Whyte for coordinating the onshore rescue efforts and for a brave but unsuccessful attempt to rescue the crew, using the harbour launch, before the arrival of the Cill Rónáin lifeboat.


Michael Morris, Lord Killanin (1914-1999) who presented the bravery certificates to eight crew members.


In July 1962, the entire crew were presented with bravery awards by Lord Killanin at Galway and later in April 1963, four crew members, Coxswain Coley Hernon, Bartley Maoláin, Thomás Joyce and Paddy Quinn, travelled to London where they were presented with bronze medals by the very popular Princess Marina. 
The Greek /Danish, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent


Coley had brought a model of an Aran currach with him to London and spent some time explaining to the Princess, how it was constructed and how well adapted this type of boat was, to West coast conditions.

This was not the first time that Aran lifeboat men had gone to London to be presented with awards for bravery. 
Steam Trawler Nogi in 1938 ( Fr Browne)

Coxswain in 1938, John Gill and Fr Keane. (Photo Fr. Browne)
1939 award ceremony in London.


In 1939, Coxswain John Gill and his crew had been similarly honoured for a rescue not unlike the 1962 effort. In 1938 they had succeeded in rescuing the crew of  the Welsh Steam Trawler Nogi, after it was driven ashore on Oileán na Tuí (Straw Island) in Cill Éinne bay. We did a F.B. post on this a few years ago, in August 2016 Here


 By a strange twist of fate, the man who presented the medals in 1939, was the husband of the woman who presented the medals in 1963.

Prince George, Duke of Kent was an uncle to the present Queen Elizabeth. He was an extremely colourful and sometimes scandalous member of the Royal family and it was a great public occasion when he married the beautiful Greek/Danish Princess Marina in 1934. They were deemed the golden couple by an admiring British public.
Prince George (1902-1940) & Princess Marina (1906-1968)
Both presented bravery medals to Aran crews in 1939 and 1963


George was to die in a flying boat crash, just three years later in 1942, at the age of 39, while flying from Scotland to Iceland. His wife Marina would continue to be a supporter of the R..N.L.I and this is how she came to present the medals in 1963.

In another coincidence, 1963 and 1939 were years in which the lifeboat family suffered huge losses. Two lifeboat crews were lost in 1939, at Cullercoats station near Tyneside Castle and another at St Ives in Cornwall. 

In November 1963, the Seaham station in Durham lost all  five crew members when their boat, George Elmo, was overturned just 30 yards from shore as they approached the mouth of the harbour. They had rescued four men and a nine year old boy from the sinking fishing boat MFV Economy. Nine were lost that day, with only the 32 year old father of the boy, surviving.


Above.....A lifeboat crew from the early 50s

A lifeboat crew from 1967. A different rescue. All gone now.


The rescue of the boxer dog “Dutch” in 1962, brings to mind another rescue in 2014. This involved two horses which had been stranded on a small island on the Carra lake near Cill Rónáin, after the winter storms caused a massive inundation  of the sea.
Two marooned horses after the January  2014 storms.



 Lifeboat crew, helping with the horse rescue of January 2014


Safe at last with the marooned island in the background

As we get ready to battle the Covid-19 virus, it’s important that we remember to try and help one another and refrain from selfish  behaviour that can so easily become widespread.

It’s no harm to remember that helping others, with no expectation of reward, has brought great benefit to humanity and those who went before us, would expect this generation to do now, as they so selflessly did, in the past.

Ml. Muldoon March 2020