Drowning tragedy of 1897 recalled at Dinish Island victims' memorial

July 19th, 2019 11:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

Families of the victims at the memorial: Joe O'Connor, Losoilde Dromey, Seamus Ó Droma, Muireann McGrath, Franco Marteddu, Ita Martin, Teresa O'Connell, Angela O'Connor, Tony O'Connor, Grace O'Connor. Cooper Fitzgerald, placed a wreath at the memorial to those lost as sea in Dinish.

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By Helen Riddell


A MEMORIAL service was held in Castletownbere to commemorate the victims of a drowning tragedy, which took place in the area over 120 years ago.   

On May 29th 1897 three members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were stationed in Castletownbere had travelled to Bere Island to investigate the suspicious death of an elderly lady.  

As they left the island to return to Castletownbere, their boat started taking on water when a gale blew up. Sgt John Hickey (45), Constable Patrick Martin (31) and Constable Robert Frizelle (38) all drowned.

Descendants of the three men, along with their families, travelled to Castletownbere recently to attend mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart before heading to Dinish Island for the unveiling of the men’s names on the plaque beside the Twilight Haul memorial sculpture.  

Ita Martin, a grand-niece of Constable Martin, placed a wreath in the sea as Declan McGrath sang Farewell Shanty.  

Declan’s wife Muireann is a grand-niece of Sgt Hickey. The names have also been written into the Mna na Mara remembrance book which is on display in the church. An anonymous donor arranged for the calligraphy for the book and a display case for it.

Retired garda sergeant Fachtna O’Donovan and member of the Beara Historical Society said a few words at the event, and later took the families to visit Castletownbere Garda Station which was previously the RIC barracks and where the men were stationed, and where the families would have lived. 

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