The Wreck of The Algores

The top of the mast of the wreck of the Algores is still visible in Dunfanaghy Bar.  The Algores was a cargo boat owned and operated by Samuel Grey, owner of the Grey Line Shipping Company in Belfast. In 1925 she left Clare bound for Anterpt in Belgium with a load of flagstones. Unfortunately neither the ship nor its cargo reached their destination. 

Whilst steaming down the Tory Sound, the Algores sprung a leak. The crew proceeded round the tip of Hornhead where they anchored the Algores on the sinking sands of the Dunfanaghy Bar for repairs before Captain Jones and his crew of nine abandoned the Algores to her fate. The boat quickly became stuck in the sinking sands of the Bar and over the years she began to sink into them, becoming a total wreck. The events were summed up by a local Balladeer who wrote “Whilst coming round the Tory Sound, the boat she sprang a leak and now she lies in Dunfanaghy Bar a total wreck”.  

The wreck of the Algores, coupled with another wreck, the Honora Evelyn, and the silting stands, marked the end of Dunfanaghy as a major trading destination as ships were unable to safely pass through the wreckages. Local fishermen take great care not to hit ‘The Old Boat’ when crossing the Bar. At the time of the sinking, locals risked life and limb but managed to salvage items from the wreck as she remained intact for a long time. In fact, locals on Horn Head at the time described hearing the eerie sound of the cargo doors on her and the Honora Evelyn flapping open and closed during storms. 

Among the items salvaged was the Captain’s Table which went on to be cut in two and graced two houses in Horn Head. Even the Captain’s Chamber Pot was salvaged.  Flagstones from the ship were used as flooring in local houses and then in later years there was more salvage work done on  lifting some of  the  remaining Flagstones which are highly prized in modern houses.  

The Wreck of the Dinas

Walkers on the beach at Killahoey in Dunfanaghy can sometimes see a shipwreck visible on the beach close to the car park at Catherine’s Island, especially after a period of easterly Gales. This wreck is the Dinas FD63, a steam trawler originally built in Milford Haven in Wales. At the time of her loss, she was based in Fleetwood and was stranded on the beach on the 4th of December, 1936. It is believed locally that the Dinas, which comes from the Welsh word for “Fort of Refuge”, was trying to reach shelter in Dunfanaghy but was using outdated charts which showed the channel in a different position than it was. The trawler ran aground and despite salvage attempts could not be refloated.

This was not the first time that the Dinas, which had been built in 1909, had got into trouble off the Irish coast. In 1910, the trawler had got into trouble along with other boats in Bantry Bay for illegal fishing, a report on which reads as follows: “Thomas Salter, Starbuck Road, Milford Haven, skipper of the steam trawler Dinas, owned by Thomas George Hancock, and John Davies Harris, both of Milford Haven, was prosecuted for a like offence. ………….. The defendant was fined £75 and £5 5s. costs”.

At that time, Fleetwood trawlers were common sights around the Irish Coast and unfortunately some were lost. There was no loss of life when the Dinas ran aground. The steel from the Dinas was cut up as far as the Keel and taken to the yard of the Stewart Arms Hotel (Now the Carrig Rua). It was then to be taken to boats at Hornhead by horse and cart to be taken away but unfortunately things didn’t quite go as planned.

Another Fleetwood boat, the SD/H Honora Evelyn which had been built in 1918 as the Silhouette, had been converted for salvage work. It was owned by J. Bier and Son Iron and Steel scrap merchants in London and was dispatched to Dunfanaghy to work on the salvage of the Dinas. Unfortunately, the Honora Evelyn also ran aground in Dunfanaghy on the 23rd of September 1937 where she was driven on to the rocks in a storm and has remained since. Her magnificent steam engines are still to be seen in the channel on the Hornhead side of Dunfanaghy Bay.  She was declared a complete loss in October 1937.

Over the years, the sand has silted up the wreck of the Dinas and it is only rarely visible, whilst the Honora Evelyn has now disappeared save for her two engines which continue to defy the sands of time. So, next time you are at Killahoey beach, keep an eye out. You may see evidence of that frenetic activity that took place in the area in 1936 and 1937.

“The Maid of Marble Hill”

“Beyond Sheephaven’s foaming tide three dreary miles away

Unto a maid who there resides a visit I must pay.

For there a thousand times a day my thoughts against my will

Cross o’er, and bid me follow them to the Maid of Marblehill.

My love’s a young and handsome maid the sunlight’s in her hair

The spring dwells in her breath so sweet and on her cheeks so fair.

Her whispers sound like far-off streams, when the Autumn eves are still

And her eyes keep Winter distant from the groves of Marblehill.

When mellow evening lights the west I wander by the shore

And think had men been made with wings how quickly I’d fly o’er!

For then my wings against my thoughts would strive to show their skill,

But I’d clip them when I’d reach the side of the Maid of Marblehill.

And oft when winds and waves are calm beneath the moonbeams clear

I then unmoor my little boat and o’er the waters steer.

I know my steamship is small, but true love gives me skill,

For at the voyage-end I meet the Maid of Marblehill.”

An extract from “The Maid of Marble Hill” by Andrew MacIntyre, who was also the final Master of the Dunfanaghy Workhouse between 1914 to 1917.

A Short History of the Dunfanaghy Schools

These days, the children of the Dunfanaghy area have their education needs looked after by the National Schools in the community; Holy Cross, Holy Trinity, Faugher, Ballymore and Murroe which in recent years have undergone refurbishments to bring them into the digital age. It has not always been like this and schools have come a long way since the days of the Hedge Schools when teachers would teach in the open air and in private homes to give children a chance of an education.  The Hedge Schools were set up in response to the 1695 Stuart Monarchs Act which prohibited Catholics from getting an education.  This remained in force until 1782 but Hedge Schools were still running until the 1880s.  Despite the circumstances around them, most Hedge Schools provided a high-level of schooling for around 400,000 students in 9000 schools, by the mid-1820s. In the early 1800’s Ignatius Rice established formal education for Catholics in Ireland and then in 1831 saw the establishment of the Board of National Education and the National School System. The British Government appointed a commissioner of national education whose task was to assist in funding primary school construction, teacher training, the producing of textbooks, and funding of teachers. The Free Secondary Education was introduced in the Republic of Ireland in 1967 which opened up secondary education for all.

Just over 100 years ago in Dunfanaghy, there were different National Schools to what we know now but unfortunately some of these buildings are no longer standing. 

For the children of Hornhead, their school was located in a building in what is now Wilson’s farm in Lurgabrack.  This was the school that my grandmother would have attended. She often spoke of having to run the gauntlet of passing Stewart, the landlord’s Bull, which was in the field on the way to the school morning and evening in the late 1800 and early 1900’s.  In those days children walked to school Summer and Winter often in the bare feet. 

When the landlord’s left, this school was moved to the Gate Lodge at Hornhead House at The Bridge.It features on old pictures of when the sand blew in Hornhead,  and back then the teacher and pupils would have to dig themselves out of the sand in the evening. Even their Lunches would be filled with blowing sand!

In the late 1930s, a decision was taken to close this school and move the pupils to the Robertson School Board School, located where the car park beside the Holy Trinity Parish Hall is now. Parents were unhappy with this decision to move the school and there was a strike for a few months before the children eventually went to the Robinson School. It became known as Dunfanaghy’s Number 1 National School. This meant a long walk for the children of Horn Head. There was no clock in the school and the Master would send the children over across the road to the Garda Barrack to get the time and often the Guard on Duty would give them the wrong time which meant the children would get sent home early!

The headmaster here was Master Barlow and he went on to teach in Holy Trinity School when it was opened. Eventually, the original Robertson School was knocked down to build the car park. 

In the 20th century, the Catholic Children of Dunfanaghy and the surrounding area would have been receiving their education in a school which is now also demolished at the entrance to the present day Holy Cross Cemetery. The school then moved to the Old Fever Hospital in Dunfanaghy which is now the Gallery.  The teacher here was Eamon Cannon who moved to Dunfanaghy from the south of the county and was to be instrumental in the Educational, Sporting and Musical life of Dunfanaghy for decades afterwards. Like their neighbours, Cannon and his pupils moved to a new school with the opening of Holy Cross NS which is still educating children today.

The Old Murroe School was also in operation and would have been providing education to the children in its area in the early 1900’s, with the new school being built and opened in the 1960s.  and like all schools at the time pupils would be absent from school when the hard work had to be done on the farm.  

Among the other schools in the area were at Roshine which has closed and Kildarragh which only closed in the 1980’s when its pupils moved to Creeslough.

Around this same time, the Ballymore School would have been providing education to all the children in the area and among those who would have attended in the early 1920’s would have been the late Bridget McBride from Knocknafaugher who only passed away recently. The School at Ballymore continued to educate the children of the area until Faugher NS was opened. 

Like Ballymore, Faugher NS continues to provide education for the children of the area and this is due in no small way to the campaign led by the parents in the 1980’s to keep the school open when plans were made to close the school and move their pupils elsewhere.

Ireland was largely a rural economy back then and the horses and carts were the driving force on the farms and the hiring fairs were still a fact of life which saw many children take the train to Letterkenny to be hired in the agricultural heartland of the Laggan and elsewhere.  The impact on this is that a lot of children would be absent from these schools to help with the farmwork. 

This is just a small history of some of the schools in the area and things have certainly changed in the past 100 years. Those at school back then just at the start of the Irish Free State could hardly have thought that in a few short months a Civil War would have broken out and only seventeen years later would find themselves in ‘The Emergency’ as the Second World War was known here would break out and they would certainly not have known about the technological advances which would take place during their lifetime and change their lives forever.