Béal Beo

Recordings from the National Folklore Collection

Famine Times

Festus Wickham (aged 86), of Derrygimlagh, Co. Galway.
Proinnsias de Búrca, Irish Folkore Commission, 5 May 1953.
0:02" to 2:16"
Ediphone_022, NFC 1322:84 (Cylinder 113)

Account of an incident from the Great Famine concerning a shipload of oats in Mannin Bay, Conamara, told by Festus Wickham, Derrygimlagh, Co. Galway, in 1953.


In the famine time there was a man called.... [ah] he was sent with a long range gun, he was from Ballylean, Coneys. He was the eldest man. And he got a long range gun for any man that wouldn't return with two cargoes to the beach, to down him to shoot him. So he, a ship load of oats came to Mannin. Now, I don't know from where, some foreign country the oats came. And when it did Coneys was sent over to take stock of all the men that'd land the oats on the beach.

There was a man from Errislannan called Dowd. It's only across the bay there. And when he did, this Dowd put in the helm, put in the rudder, and he rose the sail and he thought he could make off. It was only about two miles for him to go. And as he was, was, he couldn't steer, and he couldn't steer the boat by sitting down low, and it was what he did he stood on the sheet of the boat, and he had the helm under his oxter. And she blew off. And Coneys took a fair aim and he struck him between the two shoulders. 'Let ye stoop, men,' he says to the other two men, 'I'm hurted!'

And they stooped and the bullet was 'shh, shh' past their...past their heads. But he only killed this one man, Dowd. And the rest of them with the fear that they'd be getting shot every boat of them was coming to the land.

Famine questionnaire reply, Conamara, by Séamus Ennis, 1945.

Famine questionnaire reply, Conamara, by Séamus Ennis, 1945.