The following is taken from an manuscript documenting the memories of the late Johnny “Susan” Forker from Dunmore, Carrickfinn in his own words. It was compiled just before his death in 1993.

I think I have a very good memory for a man of my years- 87 years (1993).

My longest memory is of seeing the men from all around the Rosses coming down the strand and around Carnbuoy with bundles on their backs, going to a place called Poll Dubh (down below my house) where there is always deep water and a long granite spink that served as a slip. The men then were ferried out in yawls to the big ship called the Gráinne Mhaol. Two men from Inis Shionnaigh and a man from Ballymanus called Charles O’Donnell rowed them out.

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Charles O’Donnell Ballymanus pictured here with his brothers, unbeaten oarsmen of the 1890s

Charles spent a lot of time in Inis Shionnaigh  with John Mulligan and his brother Paddy both carpenters, and often away repairing boats with them.

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The Mulligan home on Inis Shoinnaigh (James Barr Collection)

The ship stopped in a place called Gola Roads where today there’s a black buoy is to be seen. The fare was six pence on the yawl to Gola Roads and from there to Glasgow it was six shillings. The men carried their own food. The food the men brought with them was later cooked on the ship.

The women came down with them and when the ship weighed anchor, they could be heard crying on Gola Island. The womenfolk then went back up the white strand and home. They cut the harvest, took home the turf, dug the potatoes and had the bent in the garden ready for thatching when the men came home at Christmas.

I would have been about four years at the time, when my mother took me down with the other Carrickfinn women to watch. The hill we stood on is called the Watch Hill. It was a look out place for the Coast Guards who served as Coast Watchers at the time. No carcases then, be it a duck or bird was lying on the shore.

The ship I spoke of came down from the coast of Mayo to Burtonport, Kincasslagh and anchored at the Gola Roads

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picking up passengers all along the coast. From there it set sail to Glasgow. Three Sundays in the month it came-1st, 2nd and 3rd Sundays in June. All the men in the area would leave. I hope the young generation read this. There are not many alive today who remember that- may they rest in peace. Johnny can be seen here telling a similar story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLG-AZgxlIo

 

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