May 10th 1943 – the Ballymanus Mining Disaster

I previously posted this poem on the Ballymanus Mine Disaster, which happened on this date in 1943. My great-uncle died in this disaster, one of the neglected tragedies of World War II in Ireland (growing up, it was always referred to as happening in Mullaghduff in my family)

At the Dúchas Thír Chonaill website, there is a detailed account of the tragedy . This has the value of placing it in the context of the geography and poverty of the area and how what came from the sea brought opportunity in a time of hardship:

Living in west Donegal where very little trees grow owing to blowing sand and salt from the wild Atlantic Ocean, anything yielded by the sea was highly sought after. Over the years many prizes were yielded from the incoming tide; mostly coming from shipwrecks or having been washed overboard on ocean going ships that plied their trade along a transatlantic shipping lane close to Donegal’s northwest coast. All sorts of treasured flotsam was washed ashore ranging from candle wax, pitch resin to prime timber; material essential to the coastal communities. The biggest “prize” of all came in 1856 when the sailing barque Salaia ran aground in Keadue Bar carrying enough timber to reroof the parish church of Lower Templecrone at Kincasslagh

On this occasion, the sea brought death. Re-reading the post, it is stark just how young so many victims were. The youngest, John Sharkey, being 13 years and 8  months old. It is reasonable to suppose that some over those who died that day could still be alive today.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha 

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