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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

12 February 1813

OK Folks - I'm back

A little known but terrible sea tragedy struck the tiny community of Bruckless Bay in County Donegal on this day 200 years ago

Very few precise details are known about the exact details of the tragedy which still remains as one of Ireland’s worst fishing disasters.

Local legend has it that an old woman in the area used to run a “shebeen” where many of the fishermen used to drink but she fell out with them and then put a curse on them.

Later that evening on Feb. 12th. 1813 more than 200 small open boats, capsized in a sudden, violent storm with a tragic loss of lives.

No formal commemoration of the disaster, now called the Bruckless Bay drownings, has ever been held before but local records still indicate that between 46 and 80 people drowned.

TC McGinley, a noted school headmaster in south-west Donegal, recounted in 1867 a folk tale that the Bruckless Bay storm was brewed up by a witch performing incantations over a basin. In the tale, the woman was wreaking revenge for being scorned by the fishermen. Such was the lack of communications two centuries ago it took four days for news of the disaster to reach Dublin.

Historians have noted that Armagh observatory recorded freak weather over adjoining St John’s Point and Bruckless Bay, and a sudden change of wind direction, 200 years ago.

Between 45 and 80 local men lost their lives in this terrible Storm two centuries ago, their terrible fate forgotten until now.