“The Gweedore Relief Fund” set up in January 1924 - Gallagher & Doogan families of Thorr, Gweedore
Having obtained newspaper reports for this time-period (December 1923 to March 1924) the newspapers state my paternal grandmother “starved to death” – numerous editions of the Derry Journal and Irish Independent newspapers reported on my paternal grandmother's death and the death of Patrick Doogan (accidental death by drowning). These two deaths and the plight of the surviving members of both of these families resulted in “The Gweedore Relief Fund” being set up in January 1924.
A Pitable Struggle – Things seen in Gweedore.
The Gallagher family residing in the Thorr part of Gweedore, and one has got to see that place to have even the faintest idea of the wild and barren nature of the country thereabouts.
Here, far up on the side of a bleak and dismal mountain side, battered by all the fury of the Atlantic gales, lived a husband, wife, and six children, the eldest of whom was 13 years of age.
This District is perhaps the poorest, as it certainly is the wildest, in the area. The scene comprised of a one-bedroom hovel, and like practically all the houses in the locality, performed all the functions of bedroom, Livingroom etc..
The produce from a miserable plot of potatoes is utterly dismal, the amount of turf they are able to save was small, and there was no work and no earnings to be had by the breadwinner.
With eight mouths to fill, and eight bodies to keep warm, the potatoes and the turf even with the most efficient economy, soon exhausted.
There came a time when there was neither food nor fuel, and then began that terrible fight with hunger and death.
The fight would not last long. The neighbours around gave what they could, but their conditions were little better. In a short time, the mother collapsed, then some of the children and the father was stricken down. Within a week of Christmas, the mother died, and the evening she passed away there was no trace of a fire nor food in the house.
The father and the children were in such a weak condition that they were unable to help themselves, and on the day following their mother's death they were removed in an ambulance to the Country Home at Stranolar, where they still remain. The family was not, I was informed, in receipt of any outdoor relief. I was brought to the scene of this terrible tragedy, and there I saw the place as it was at the time when the father and six children were removed. The very thought that eight human beings were obliged to live in the place I saw saddens me. It was a small one-roomed house.
The Doogan Case.
The other case, the Doogan case is an especially sad one, and indirectly, may be accustomed to the existing conditions.
Patrick Doogan, the father of eight children, the youngest of whom is less than a year old, was drowned and washed ashore at Manorcunninghan, within five days of Christmas.
He and his family lived only about a hundred yards from the Gallagher’s.
He left home on 11th November for the purpose of seeing his two boys, whom he had hired out to farmers, and to get their wages at the next “hiring” which was to take place about that time.
He saw one boy, and having got his money, was on his way to see the other. He lost his way on a dark and stormy night and nothing more was heard of him until 20th of December when his body was washed ashore some miles away.
I visited that house, too, and had that dreadful tale told in all its poignant detail, told by that young widow in sobbing tears. She looked a tragic figure, indeed.
The stamp of poverty was everywhere, even in her young, pinched face. Poorly and scantily clad, she had neither shoes nor stockings, and there was not a sack to protect her feet
from the cold flag-stones of the floor. She had eight children, she told me the oldest of whom was 13 years. The two oldest boys were “hired” out to farmers, but their combined wages for the
coming year and other help she had received had been spent in the search for and burial of their father.
The oldest boy at home was “away trying to gather a few sticks for the fire”, four others were at school, and she carried the last-born in her arms. The latter, a delightfully winsome and pretty little girl, totally innocent of the story of what had been recited, cooed and wiggled and found enjoyment in the sport of chasing the tears that coursed down her mother’s cheeks.
The whole scene and tale of this terrible tragedy that I should like to blot the image out of my mind – Special representative of Irish Independent, 19th January 1924.
The Relief Fund.
For the benefit of the above- named two families a Relief Fund has been opened.
Subscriptions may be sent to Mr John McMonagale. N.T, Thorr, Gweedore,
Mr Charles Coyle, Postmaster Crolly, Gweedore,
MrMichael Doogan, Merchant, Derryamph, Gweedore,
or to the Editor “Derry Journal” Derry.
The Munster and Leinster Bank Ltd, (Derry Branch) has been appointed treasurer of the Relief Fund.
The Manager Mr Liston, has kindly consented to receive subscriptions to the Fund, and Sympathizers
who desire to send their donations direct to the Bank will have the amounts included on the list for acknowledgment in due.
The following subscriptions have been received:
Mr Liam Devlin (Wholesale Grocer and Wine Merchant, 81 Lower Gloucester Street, Dublin.
Mr Carieten Draperstown, Co. Derry.
Mr SH&T. McAlinden OrchardCo. Derry (per Tom Murray, Manager.
Mr Sean O’Hanrahan, District-Justice, Magherabeg House, Donegal.
Mr Wall & Co Ltd, Letterkenny.
Mrs Catherine M. Pollock, Rathcorn, Bray.
Mrs Patrick McGill, St Margaret’s, Queens Road, London.
Mr James Foley, 14 Lower Cecil St, Limerick.
Mr Joseph McMonagle, Proprietor Imperial Hotel, Billina.
Mr Robert Whiteside, Edenreagh, Co.Derry.
Mr R.S Verschoyle, Cashleondoo House, Portstewart, Co Derry (Per Mr White T.D).
Mr Laurence Hogan, Merchant, Great James St, Derry.
District Justice L.J Walsh.
Girl workers of the shirt machine room, Hogg & M? Factory, Derry (per Mr R. Cummen).
B.F & R.C Collage green, Dublin.
Mrs E.J Dowling, 30 Crosvenor St, Dublin.
Mr Thomas Diamond, Egg Merchant, St Wellington St, Derry.
Mr Wiliam Brady, Clothier, Waterloo St Derry.
Mr J.J Ryan, National Bank, Killybegs.
Colonel Frank Martin, Kildare Barracks, Co.Kildare.
Mr Thomas Mulhern, Spirit Merchant, Letterkenny.
Mr john Gallagher, Store, Letterkenny.
Mr J Murray, Templederry, Thurles.
Mr John White, T.D Carndonagh.
Mr A. Johnson, Creggan Road, Derry
More to be added…
Shared on IrelandXO by: Anne Gallagher
- My father James and his five siblings were the Gallagher children recorded in the newspapers as was their father, Manus Gallagher, Thorr, Gweedore – my paternal grandfather.
Click the Link below to the Newspaper Clipping from 1923 and 1924 - The Gweedore Relief Fund set up as a result of harrowing events - Gallagher & Doogan families