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Commemoration recalls tragic 1895 Beara drowning

October 15th, 2020 11:45 AM

By Jackie Keogh

The craft has been restored and put on public display at Glengarriff Road as part of the 125 anniversary commemorations honouring the five fishermen who lost their lives in Direeney Harbour.

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THE lives of five young fishermen who died in a tragic fishing accident in Direeney Harbour in Adrigole in 1895 have been commemorated through the recreation of their craft.

A few pieces of the original vessel were used to recreate the craft, which stands in honour of their memory at Glengarriff Road.

The monument marks the fateful day when – on Friday, October 11th 1895 – the five young men, John O’Sullivan, Timothy O’Sullivan, Michael O’Sullivan, Maurice Abbott and Timothy O’Shea, left Direeney Harbour to shoot their nets.

Locals recalled seeing them set out on their journey, under a small sail. Later, people standing on the shore, witnessed them rowing, however, as night fell there was no sign of them returning.

The following morning, Peter Downey opened the front door of his home and saw a boat stranded under Blue Hill. He called his sons and when they made their way to the boat they found the bodies of John O’Sullivan and Michael O’Sullivan on board.

With waves still breaking over the boat, the Downeys contacted the gardaí and it was determined that the five men had either drowned or died from exposure. The bodies of the three other men – Timothy O’Shea, Maurice Abbott and Timothy O’Sullivan – were never found.

The recovered boat was, in later life, used for the transport of goods during the construction of the buildings on Garnish Island and, for a time, it went into storage in Ballylickey.

The boat was reconstructed by a local youth group, but it was Bantry Tidy Towns who ultimately decided to dust it down and use it to commemorate the lives of these young men.Volunteers halted any further deterioration and the finished vessel was adorned with flowers and fishing paraphernalia.

Like many seafaring vessels, this boat has its own sad tale, so the relatives of the deceased decided to mark the 125th anniversary on October 11th anniversary in a more permanent way with the writing of the men’s names in stone.

A plaque has been erected in the Garden of Remembrance at the Abbey in Bantry, and another memorial plaque has been erected at the Direeney lay-by in Adrigole, which overlooks the site of the tragedy.

Bantry Tidy Towns, Cork County Council, Heritage Ireland, and relatives of the five fishermen have been involved in the commemoration. They will gather at a socially distanced blessing on October 11th, as well as a mass in Adrigole Church afterwards.

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