A Look Back on 80 years of the Donegal Association
As we enter into 2016, we reflect on a significant milestone for the Donegal Association in the year gone past. 2015 marked the 80th Anniversary of the Arranmore Disaster and the subsequent founding of the Donegal Association – an anniversary which we celebrated and remembered at our Annual Mass and Lecture back in November.
One of the largest crowds of recent years gathered in the Regency Hotel on an unusually mild Sunday in November. After a mass concelebrated by Fr. Michael Mc Cullagh and Fr. Charlie Cunningham, the Fr. McDyer Memorial Lecture was delivered by historian, Sean Boner from Dungloe. It was fitting this year that the lecture was based on the Arranmore Disaster as it was as a result of this tragedy that the Donegal Association was founded 80 years ago.
At the lecture, Sean gave an insight into the tragedy which ‘struck a chord with the emerging Irish state at the time.’ The drowning took place on the 9th of November 1935 and four days later a meeting was held in the Gresham Hotel which marked the foundation of the Donegal Association in Dublin. At around 6pm, a yawl left Burtonport with 20 passengers many of whom had been returning from the potato harvesting in Scotland. Sean spoke of how the speed the boat was making caused confusion to the passengers as to their exact location when the yawl hit a rock. All but one of twenty people on the boat drowned with Patrick Gallagher being the sole survivor. Sean spoke of the fact that Patrick watched the lights going out in Arranmore on the night of the tragedy and sang to his brother during the night.
Our President, Hugh Harkin, arranged a fantastic exhibition of old photographs from Donegal Association events over the years. There was plenty on show as an exhibition also displayed old photographs from the Arranmore Disaster and artwork from the children of the Arranmore Schools based on the tragedy.
It was a fitting tribute on the 80th anniversary of the association that long standing members Kathleen Sheerin and Charlie Mc Ginley were recognised and presented with a token of appreciation for their hard work and commitment to the association down through the years. Kathleen has been a member of the committee since 1973 and was the first lady chairperson and the second lady president. Charlie first joined the committee in 1956 and held the position of joint treasurer from the late 1980s through to 2015. It is through committed individuals like Kathleen and Charlie that the association continues to grow from strength to strength. It was with great sadness that we heard the news of the passing of Charlie this December gone past – Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.