Cleggan Bay disaster of 1927 to be marked this weekend

Deaths of 45 fishermen in storm 90 years ago to be remembered in Galway and Mayo

A Mass will take place at 1pm on Inishbofin, Co Galway. Photograph: Frank Miller

A Mass will take place at 1pm on Inishbofin, Co Galway. Photograph: Frank Miller


One of the west coast’s worst marine accidents in the past century is due to be commemorated in Connemara and north Mayo at the weekend, when the loss of 45 fishermen in a storm 90 years ago is remembered.

Although the Irish Sea took a greater toll on several occasions, the Cleggan Bay disaster of October 1927 was the worst 20th-century marine accident of its type in terms of individual boats and people.

A total of 16 fishermen from the village of Rossadilisk, Cleggan, died, along with 10 from Inishbofin, 10 from Lacken Bay and nine from Inishkea in Co Mayo.

Up to 200 relatives of the 45 men have been invited to several events on Saturday, including a commemoration Mass in Claddaghduff church at 6pm, a Mass at 1pm on Inishbofin, and a parallel event with Mass at noon and ceremony afterwards at Lacken pier in north Mayo.

The north Mayo event will also remember diver Michael Heffernan of Gráinne Uáile Sub Aqua Club in Ballina, who died while involved in the rescue of a family from a cave off north Mayo in October 25th, 1997. The State’s marine meritorious awards are named after Mr Heffernan, who was posthumously recognised for his valour, and the role of local fishermen, RNLI volunteers and several gardaí involved in the rescue was also acknowledged.

Historian Marie Feeney, who is granddaughter of one of the Cleggan Bay storm survivors, Festy Feeney, will speak after the Connemara Mass in Claddaghduff hall on Saturday evening. Ms Feeney is author of The Cleggan Bay Disaster, which was published in 2002; some of the proceeds went to the RNLI.

In Kerry, the Dingle Maritime Weekend will open on Saturday with talks by State Underwater Archaeology Unit archaeologist Dr Connie Kelleher and sailor Paddy Barry, while Dr Conor Brosnan will speak on Sunday on smuggling in Dingle in the 18th century. All talks at the Mara Beo Dingle Aquarium are free to attend.