Saturday, 14 April 2018

The Mystery of the Tunnels in Munday's G.A.A. Field in Ballyshannon



Munday's field on left of Famine Orphan Girls' Memoriala nd the workhouse.
Fr. Tierney Park and Brothers' field on right


Over thirty years ago the Aodh Ruadh club in Ballyshannon purchased Munday’s field in 1987 from a local shop- keeper and farmer, John Munday of West Rock. The field has been transformed into a centre of excellence for Gaelic games. When the local G.A.A club was founded in 1909 their teams played their first hurling and football matches in what was known as the Workhouse Meadow and is today known as Munday's field. The presence of a series of tunnels in the field has given rise to much speculation as to their use. The former owner John Munday, operated market gardening from the field and on occasions part of the tunnels collapsed. His opinion was that the tunnels of brick may have been sewers of some type which probably originated in the nearby workhouse. Some speculation that the tunnels travelled to the Erne at Portnason and were used to bring bodies from the workhouse can be discounted. Records indicate that the remains of Famine victims were brought through the centre of the town, on handcarts, to the Pauper’s grave, for burial in the field next to St. Anne’s Church on Mullaghnashee which has been recently opened to the public.  In later years the coffins were brought by horse and cart. It is possible that the suggestion of tunnels leading from Munday’s field to the Erne is linked in some peoples mind with Portnamara. Portnamara dates to a much earlier period than the Famine and was used to carry remains to the Abbey cemetery in the days before bridges were built. John Munday, at one time, was ploughing and uncovered the outline of tennis courts, near the West Rock gate, which indicated the field being used as a recreation park.
The Tunnels in Munday's field.
An interesting speculation as to the purpose of the tunnels was raised in a survey in 1942. The survey refers to a souterrain in a field at the rear of Dr. Gordon’s house (now Conor Carneys) on West Rock in what is now Munday’s field: Remarkable series of underground passages running in various directions thro’ field covering a couple of acres. Entrance now closed up, but many evidences of subsidence. Dr. Gordon has had several caved-in parts filled up, owing to grazing cattle. We raised sod and stones at one of these holes and saw part of passage, about 6 foot deep and 6 foot wide, roofed by large flat hewn stones. Roof few inches below the sod. Dr. Gordon says passages are built of these stones and also partly with bricks,with timber baulks. No account of origin available. Possibly used by smugglers.Two high mounds, built, one at each end of field, may have been look-outs. (In 1662 Ballyshannon was made landing port for customed goods.) 
The mention of two high mounds recalls that these mounds were visible in the field up to about twenty five years ago when they were levelled. In former times Munday’s field was formerly known as Mc Clelland’s field, as the Mc Clelland family lived in the residence at the entrance to the field, from West Rock.   There is a ghost story connected with a tree in Mc Clelland’s field: It is said that a soldier hung himself on this tree. Every night at 12 o’ clock he rides around the field on a white horse. He stands on the horses back, takes the reins and ties on to a branch. Then he puts the rope around his neck and then he hits the horse a kick. The horse goes to the gate and onto the road. Then the horse goes out the Finner road. Mc Clelland’s Field was also known as the Rock Enclosure and a folklore story of about a hundred years ago tells of a discovery in the field. This story told by Mickie Rooney Bundoran whose family came from the Rock.
"In Mc Clelland’s field, now known as the Rock Enclosure, my father tells me a story when he was a boy thirty years ago. He and some other boys from the West Rock where he was born used to go up to the field to play and they found this cave. They got some candles, lit them and went into the cave and found some old English swords and brought them to their homes. They were told by the aged people who lived on the Rock who owned the swords and that the caves were a place of hiding for our priests and people of long ago from the English soldiers."
1909 Notice of Aodh Ruadh A.G. M. 


Munday’s field will witness generations of football, hurling and camogie players carrying on a proud sporting tradition as they train and play on the ground where Aodh Ruadh played their first match in 1909. Munday's field was officially opened on 29th May 2009 and provides new state of the art  flood lit playing fields. So this field was known in the past  as the Workhouse Meadow, The Rock Enclosure, McClelland's field and for well into the future will be known as Munday's Field.

500 pages of local history for Ballyshannon and surrounding areas plus lots of  photos available in Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, Local Hands and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. For postal queries contact anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com


Friday, 16 March 2018

Images of St. Patrick's Well in Ballyshannon for St. Patrick's Day and how the station worked



St. Patrick's grotto at the Abbey Well
One of the stations that pilgrims prayed at









    Gathering water from the well






Tying rags  in an ancient custom
Catsby Cave near St. Patrick's Well  at Ballyshannon

Listening to the history of the Abbey Well with Anthony Begley 
local historian













The station involved reciting set prayers and moving around beds in a similar manner to Lough Derg at the present time. According to folklore the station at the Abbey Well went as follows: Fifteen pebbles were picked from the river bed or station bed and pilgrims began by saying, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Creed while kneeling at the well. Then going sun wise they knelt at each bed, saying one Our Father, ten Hail Marys and one Creed. A pebble was tossed into each bed. The round of five beds was completed three times and the station was concluded by taking three sips of water from the well and saying a rosary at the grotto. A rag or a medal was left on the bushes near the well


Rag Tree with the Abbey bay in the background















Happy St. Patrick's Day from Ballyshannon 

The photographs above were taken by Pauline Kilfeather, Coláiste Cholmcille, on a history walk/talk to the Abbey, which  I gave to students  from the local community school .


A  Local History Book suitable for those at Home and Away

"Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene. It contains the full story of  The Green Lady which  was  performed in Ballyshannon  to great acclaim. The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before. Available in Novel Idea, Museum and Local Hands in Ballyshannon and 4 Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

Also available from Anthony Begley for postal enquiries email anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com






Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Great Snow of 1947 in Ballyshannon







Ballyshannon in the snow 2010. (Andrew Fenton)

The Great Snow of 1947 in Ballyshannon

                                                                             Anthony Begley “Ballyshannon Genealogy and History”
The current snow blizzards gripping the country are well reported in the media and local people look back to previous spells of Arctic weather to compare how people coped with the situation in the Ballyshannon area. Folk memory of the big snow which fell all over Ireland in February 1947 and which resulted in 20-30 days of snowfall between February and March is readily recalled by those who lived through this phenomenon. The snow which fell was of a dry powdery type and driven by an east wind it rapidly covered the landscape and enveloped ditches and electricity poles. Farmers had the added difficulty of foddering cattle and sheep and transport ground to a halt which resulted in continued shortages which followed on from the World War. The cold spell continued into March with Arctic conditions  and snowdrifts causing chaos to people’s lives. The snow was still visible on the mountains near Ballyshannon in the month of May.

The Year of the Big Snow in Ballyshannon 1947- A Lost Car
 Local people can still recall the Big Snow of 1947 when there were immense drifts of snow obliterating pathways, roads and significant landmarks.  In Ballyshannon heavy snow fell for 24 hours commencing on Tuesday 25th of February 1947.On Tuesday transport was able to run  during the day but by nightfall an easterly gale piled the snow into drifts and filled roads and lanes  to hedge-top level. The last bus from Ennniskillen to Ballyshannon was snowbound on Tuesday. The G.N.R. train due in the town at 9 p.m. did not arrive as the line was blocked at Irvinestown. Mr. William Carson, the station master, and his crew, brewed tea for the 20 passengers who were bound for Kesh, Pettigo, Ballyshannon and Bundoran. A coach was specially heated and  the passengers were made comfortable for the night. On Wednesday they got meals in an hotel in Irvinestown and the train then ploughed its way through the drifts reaching Ballyshannon at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. By Wednesday the streets of Ballyshannon were deep in snow and all movement of vehicular traffic ceased.  The only bus to reach Ballyshannon  was the workers bus fromTullaghan driven by Jack McAllister which took four hours and twenty minutes for the short journey. All other traffic into the town from the Sligo direction was hampered when a G.N.R. lorry got stuck in a snow drift near Castegal Post Office. This road remained closed until Friday of that week. Evidence of how deep the snow drifts were revealed in an incident on the Sligo road where a motorist got stuck and went for assistance. On his return he was unable to find the car as it was buried in a snowdrift.
Power failure and a novel way to deliver milk
Bread vans were unable to travel but townspeople were fortunate as The Ballyshannon Bakery supplied their needs. Rural milk sellers braved the elements to deliver milk in the town and Mr. Ward of Higginstown had a novel delivery method as he delivered milk with a horse-drawn sleigh. Secondary roads were completely impassible and those who worked in the town  had to pick tracks through the fields. Ballyshannon ground to a halt with the G.N.R. station closed and all work on the Erne Hydro-Electric Scheme ceased. Curiously enough “The Wee Train” as the C.D.R train was called, only lost one hour off its full schedule and was the only lifeline with the outside world. An electrical breakdown at Shannon blacked out the Erne and Abbey Cinema, the Convent and the Sheil Hospital. The old Blackstone generator of the Myles Electrical Works provided the rest of the town with electricity until the E.S.B. resumed service on Thursday. News from the papers and letter communication were hampered by the snow drifts.
Town Shutdown
One bright spot was that schools were closed and the young and not so young had great fun with snowball fights and sleighing on the peaceful streets of the town. A funeral in the town on Wednesday required six men to carry the coffin with hand slings as it was impossible for the hearse to travel. A local turf lorry had an adventurous journey from Gweedore on Wednesday afternoon as it set out for Ballyshannon at 3 p.m. They dug their way through snow drifts at Doochary and Glenties and eventually made it as far as Ballintra in the early hours of Thursday morning. They encountered their deepest drifts there but eventually made it to Ballyshannon, sleepless,foodless and exhausted at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Train services resumed on Thursday with outstanding mail arriving in town but only the Belfast and Derry newspapers arrived. No bus had arrived from Sligo by Friday. It was hoped to use an Erne bulldozer to clear the streets and gangs of council men were employed to clear the station and the Beleek, Bundoran and Donegal approaches into the town.

 The Winter of 1947 is frequently cited as a landmark event by those who lived through the arctic conditions and hardships of the time.

500 pages of local history plus lots of  photos available in Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, Local Hands and Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town. For postal queries contact anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com



Saturday, 20 January 2018

On This Day. The Largest Rally ever in Ballyshannon

This man drew the largest crowd ever in Ballyshannon

On this Day 20th-21st January. The largest gathering of people ever to assemble for an event in Ballyshannon. Thousands travelled from neighbouring towns and areas, from Bundoran, from Kinlough, from Pettigo, from Ballintra,  from Rossnowlagh, from Donegal Town, from Belleek and thousands from the Ballyshannon area. What was happening to draw over 20,000 people to town?

The reason for the gathering was to hear the famous Fr. Mathew speak and most importantly to give the people the pledge to stay off alcoholic drink. Fr. Mathew, a Capuchin priest, was invited to give a charity sermon in St. Patrick's church on Wednesday 20th January 1841. He was a household name throughout Ireland, as the great Temperance crusader, and drew large crowds both to the church (a ticket only event) and to the Big Meadow, a short distance away the following day.  Fr. Mathew tackled the great social ill of people drinking too much and travelled the country giving people the pledge to stay off alcohol.

Huge crowds in the Big Meadow and the Church

 It is estimated that upwards of 20,000 people heard Fr. Mathew speak in the church and at the outdoor rally in 'The Big Meadow.' This today is the location of Coláiste Cholmcille the community school.The town band played “See the Conquering Hero Come” and Ballyshannon never witnessed such an influx of people in the days when most people would have walked to the event. The event was also a fundraiser for the building of the new St. Patrick’s Church which had been badly damaged in The Night of the Big Wind in 1839. A well-known Dublin architect, J. B. Kean, prepared the plans and specifications for parish priest, Fr. Cummins, and the building contract for St. Patrick’s Church was granted to Daniel Campbell, Pettigo, who commenced work in 1842. The foundation stone was laid in May 1842 by Rt. Rev. Dr. Mc Gettigan.
Sheil House adjoined St. Patrick’s Church and today is the property of Kilbarron parish and is occupied by the Health Service Executive. The church car park was at one time the beautiful garden of the Sheil family who are still remembered because Simon Sheil left money for the building of the Sheil Hospital. An unusual entry in the diary of Mary Anne Sheil who lived in Sheil House is recorded on the 27th January 1844: “I saw the altar going to the chapel this day. It has been here for nearly two years but now that the windows are in they can bring it home. If we live a short time I dare suppose, we shall see a glorious new one in it”.

Fr. Mathew rally at St. Patrick's Church and The Big Meadow 1841

Those were the days

The Temperance movement was very strong at that time when Fr. Mathew visited Ballyshannon on this day, 20th January and on the following day. On  Easter Monday there was another  great procession of tee-totallers, followed by a mass and later in the year a collection was taken up for Fr. Matthew’s Temperance Crusade. In October 1841 a Temperance gathering in St. Patrick's Church saw around 1,000 people taking the pledge.The promise to stay off drink led to less crime being committed, less poverty and helped to put an end to the savage faction fights which were widespread in this and other parts of the country.


Read about local events in the 1918 Election, the War of Independence,  the Civil War and the Boundary Commission which established the border in "Ballyshannon Genealogy and History". Also includes lots of local history on Kilbarron and Magh Ene areas. Also lots on how to trace your ancestors.



Local History book available in Local Shops. . "Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available to purchase in The Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, and Local Hands in Ballyshannon. Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com

Saturday, 30 December 2017

“Farewell to Ballyshannon” and the Great Northern Railway 1867-1957

Emigrants leaving Ballyshannon railway station
This story of emigration from Ballyshannon GNR railway station was written over 100 years ago and deserves to be remembered as the only known story of emigration from this railway station. The railway opened 150 years ago in 1867 and closed 60 years ago in 1957.




“Farewell to Ballyshannon”




In 1894 Katherine Tynan, well known novelist and poet, wrote an original story, “Farewell to Ballyshannon” about a young boy’s departure from Ballyshannon. She had a great appreciation for the works of William Allingham, the poet, and based her story around his famous poem “The Winding Banks of Erne” also known as “Adieu to Ballyshanny”.  

“Farewell to Ballyshannon” is a story which tells of a young local boy called Johnny, being accompanied to the Great Northern Railway station in Ballyshannon, by his mother and his sister Susy, on the first stage of his emigration to America. The following is an extract from the story which reveals a continuous process of emigration from the Ballyshannon area and the sadness of those leaving, and those left behind. The narrator and a friend were also on the cart to the railway station. Johnny aged twelve years of age, with his innocent blue eyes under a thatch of fair hair, was dressed in hand-made clothes for the journey.  He had scarlet hand-knitted stockings and a muffler around his neck. His mother fussed nervously over him, about whether he had put spare socks in his bag and the sandwiches for the train journey. As the horse and cart pulled away from the hotel on Main Street for the railway on Station Road, a crowd of ragged onlookers gathered around the cart and the narrator reflected that Johnny might be as well away from this poverty.



 “He’s but a little chap to take the green fields to Amerikay alone. Ay surely!” said our carman, musingly. By this time we were rattling down the street, and over the bridge, from which we could see the silver spray of the falls below and hear the dull thunder. The other car was close behind, all the ragged retainers trotting cheerfully in its wake. “Is there much emigration from here?” one of us asked. “Ay surely”, said the man, “what else is there for them? Sure there isn’t enough to keep the life in the old bodies, unless the young goes away to Amerikay, and sends home the money. Och, sure, it’s the sorrowful place. If you was here last Wednesday you’d have seen a train full starting for Derry. An’ the same every Wednesday since March. I don’t like to be about the station myself them times. It’s terrible hard for them to go.



We asked one or two sympathetic questions. The carman answered us flicking his whip. “There’s some,” he said, “that’ll hold up strong and silent; and there’s others again, keenin’ worse than the old women at the wakes. There’s a girl now,” he broke off, pointing at a straight, handsome creature, who was just stepping across the street. “There’s a girl started for Amerikay, an’ kem home the next day. Ay, faith, it was the shortest voyage yet known in the town. She turned back from Derry. She said she didn’t give a thraneen for the passage money. She’d work her fingers to the bone to earn enough to keep the oul’ woman out of the workhouse, without lavin’ her childless.” He said it with a certain admiration and added immediately afterwards, “There’s not a handsomer nor cleverer girl than Nancy Goligher in the three baronies.”



Then he planted his feet firmly, as if he had talked enough, and began to sing in a deep baritone:



                                       Farewell to Ballyshanny! where I was bred and born;

                                       Go where I may, I’ll think of you, as sure as night or morn.

    The kindly spot, the friendly town, where every one is known,

                                      And not a face in all the place but partly seems my own;

There’s not a house or window, there’s not a field or hill,

But, east or west, in foreign lands, I’ll recollect them still.

                  I’ll leave my warm heart with you, Tho’ my back I’m forced to turn-

So adieu to Ballyshanny, and the winding banks of Erne!



It was the song of a townsman, William Allingham, who had won the delightful immortality of being the ballad maker to his birthplace. Under the circumstances the song sounded curiously mournful.



On arrival at the railway station some of Johnny’s friends came to see him off and Johnny was putting on a brave face.He swaggered up and down with his hands in his pockets and we could hear him committing rash promises of letter writing. Sometimes he blinked uneasily as if a little salt-water drop troubled his eyesigh.  His mother, dressed in black like a widow, explained that he was setting out for Florida to join his father who had been there eleven years. He had been unable to secure work in Ballyshannon due to the decaying trade of the town. Each year one of the children emigrated to join him in America. Only herself and Susy remained and Susy would follow on next year, when they could get the fare together. Susy was a sober-looking girl with glasses, who was the eldest child and was a great support to her mother.  Her mother would accompany Johnny as far as Derry, where he would go on alone on the ship to America. They shared the railway carriage with an American.The American looked out at the exquisite country and shook his head. It puzzled him that there should be such poverty to override God’s precept, that husband and wife shall not be parted, and here in a land covered with tiny green spears of corn, dappled with the gold and white of the pastures, under such a sky, by such a river full of rosy salmon.The story concluded with the train pulling out and the strains of Allingham’s famous emigrant ballad, “Adieu to Ballyshanny”, were whistled by the young boy who was joining the many people from the locality forced to emigrate by economic necessity.




Ballyshannon GNR station  in 1956, one year before it closed






Auld Lang Syne and the End of the Line




Hush! ‘tis Music! Sweetly stealing

Oh! How thrilling is the strain.

Cold the heart-devoid of feeling

If not touched with love, and pain.



Hush! ‘tis Music! Softly playing

Auld Lang Synes, heart stirring lay.

“Tho’ seas between us roar” `tis saying

“Forget not Auld Lang Synes blithe day.

“The Parting Hour” Mary Anne Allingham



Mary Anne Allingham was an aunt of the poet William Allingham, and she also wrote poetry, and was a major influence on encouraging her nephew to write poetry. In the verse above she is describing how she witnessed emigrants leaving by ship from the Mall Quay, to the musical  strains of  “Auld lang Syne” in the 1820s.  Forty years later the railway station replaced the Mall Quay in Ballyshannon as the place where families saw off their emigrant children, as they began their journey to Great Britain or America. Local shops and the railway company sold tickets which included all transfers to the emigrant’s final destination.  Ballyshannon Brass and Reed Band were at the G.N.R station in 1910 to see off one of their comrades. William Mc Cartney resided in the Diamond in the town and had played a major role in the development of the  Band as a player, instructor and officer. The spirit of  comradeship in the band was reflected in the tremendous send off he was given on his departure for Canada, on Wednesday the 2nd of March1910.. On Wednesday 2nd March a large number of his friends accompanied him to the Railway station and as the train steamed in the Band played “Auld Lang Syne”. A similar tribute was paid to bandsman Joe Keown prior to his departure for America. It is interesting to recall that in earlier generations families had gathered at the Mall Quay  and “Auld Lang Syne” was  played for the emigrants, leaving by sea,  who might never have returned. No doubt the railway station was to be a scene of sadness for many, but with more modern transport the likelihood of seeing the emigrant return  was much higher.



Sadly both railways that served Ballyshannon closed in the 1950s, due to changes in modes of  transport, with increasing use of lorries and motor cars which resulted in less use of the railways . The upkeep of the railway lines would have required major investment and political commitment.  The Great Northern Railway was first to close, sixty years ago, on 30th September 1957. Two years later on 30th December  1959 the C.D.R. in Ballyshannon closed. The Great Northern Railway had provided a link for local people to get rail connections to locations in Northern Ireland and to Dublin. It also allowed the sporting public to attend Ulster finals in Clones and  All-Ireland finals in  Croke Park. The railway had opened up this region for tourism and business and provided a service to the community. The withdrawal of the railways was a major blow to the local economy and for a long period led to  increased isolation from the rest of the country.

A GNR railway bridge survives on the Ballyshannon-Bundoran By-Pass


Friday, 22 December 2017

A letter to a mother in Ballyshannon, on Christmas Eve, from the trenches in World War One

Letter sent from the trenches in World War One to Erne Street
This is the third in a series of Christmas memories from Ballyshannon. This third local history blog records a letter sent home in from the trenches in World War One to a mother in Ballyshannon. Places named in this blog are Rossnowlagh, Belleek, East Port, Finner, Main Street, Kilbarron, Rathmore, Enniskillen and Finner Camp.
Over 2,000 people worldwide, so far, viewed the Famine blog in which food was taken from a ship in the Channel at Ballyshannon on Christmas Eve. The previous week we heard about what Christmas shopping was like 125 years ago in Ballyshannon. Over 1,700 people worldwide, so far, viewed that blog.
There are lots of other local stories, and lots of rare photographs, in my local history book available in local shops for Christmas.  See details below.


At the outbreak of World War One in 1914, hundreds of local men had enlisted in the British Army at places like Finner Camp, Enniskillen and different places in Ireland. Many who had emigrated to Great Britain, Australia, U.S.A. and Canada joined in their adopted countries. They joined for a variety of reasons including the opportunity to earn a wage, for a sense of adventure and following the advice of political leaders like John Redmond and James Craig. One hundred years later we have an opportunity to read and hear, for the first time, about what life was like in the trenches, how they felt about the war and tragically reports of how some of them died. Over 60 local men died in the First World
Soldiers joining up at Finner Camp 1914


Letter from Patrick McDonagh to his mother on Christmas Eve

Before World War One began, Patrick McDonagh was an instructor in the Irish National Volunteers in his native Ballyshannon and also in the Belleek district. He would have enlisted in the army, on the advice of the Volunteer leader John Redmond. On the outbreak of war  in 1914 he served in the 2nd Division of the 4th Guards Brigade, British Expeditionary Force. He spent Christmas Eve in the trenches on the Western Front from where he wrote a letter home to his mother Bridget McDonagh 94 Erne Street, Ballyshannon.

I received your last letter all right. We spent our Christmas in the trenches, arriving at the firing line on Xmas Eve. I am sure that you all spent a good Xmas. It is hard on us out here, but these things cannot be helped. Hugh Moan is out here and in my Company. He was wounded early in the war and is out again. Paddy Fleming is here too, he came out from London and joined us while we were having the rest. The country is in a terrible state from heavy traffic. Thank God I am living and well and I shall hope to come out safe. I don’t think that the Germans will last much longer, let us hope so anyway. You can send me a tidy little parcel and make it as secure as possible and put my full address on it. Tell Tommy Moan that Hugh is doing fine and that he and I are together. Let me know how you all spent Christmas and tell me all the news. I had a narrow escape on Christmas Day. A German bullet struck the top of my rifle breaking the top off clean and wounding a sergeant behind me in the trench. I am more than lucky when I was not killed at different times. I am writing this letter in the firing line and hope that you will receive it safe. Tell all the people I am asking for them and hope to see them soon again. We have our priest and doctor with us and the wounded are well looked after, every man receiving the Last Rites of the Church. Isn’t that a great blessing? Good-bye and God bless you all and pray for us out here suffering terribly to save our country from ruin.

                                                                                                P. Mc Donagh


World War One postcard sent to Ballyshannon 

Eight Ballyshannon men who died are named on the Thiepval Memorial in France

Patrick’s brother, John McDonagh, was in the 7th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusilliers and was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial along with seven other Ballyshannon men, as their bodies were not located. Those named on the Memorial  include; Corporal Patrick Melly, Finner, Sergeant Christopher Laird, Main Street, Private Robert Kearney, Rossnowlagh, Private Patrick Gallagher, Kilbarron, Private Frederick Armstrong, Private John Joseph McShea, Rathmore, and Private Hugh Moan.

Eight Ballyshannon men  remembered on Thiepval Memorial

Hugh Moan who later died at the Somme, is mentioned in the letter from Patrick McDonagh, above, He was also in the Irish Guards and, as indicated above, he was wounded and returned home for a time. During his recuperation in Ballyshannon, he visited his former workplace at “The Donegal Vindicator” newspaper on East Port, where he indicated to the editor that he didn’t think he would be killed by the Germans.
On the 23rd December 1916 Private Hugh Moan was killed in an accidental explosion in the trenches on the Somme -2 days before Christmas.

Ideal Christmas Gift


Local History book available in Local Shops. . "Ballyshannon Genealogy and History" available to purchase in The Novel Idea, Ballyshannon Museum, O'Neills, Clearys and Local Hands in Ballyshannon. Available also in Four Master's Bookshop in Donegal Town. For postal details contact anthonyrbegley@hotmail.com