170 houses and apartments offered in Galway to acquire for social housing – Connacht Tribune – Galway City Tribune:

The descendants of two Bearna fishermen who drowned 100 years ago will unveil a stone this weekend to commemorate the tragedy.

William ‘Liam’ Gill (75) and Peter Faherty (54) both drowned when their overloaded herring currach sank 80 meters from shore near the jetty.

Cáit Fagan, a descendant of the two men, is a member of a parents’ committee that commissioned a stone memorial to be unveiled at Céibh Bhearna in a ceremony at 3 p.m. on Saturday October 22.

The stone was carved by Dennis Goggin and Ray Flaherty and was recovered from Bearna Pier.

Father Michael Brennan will bless the stone and historian Cormac Ó Comhraí will recall the story of the tragedy. They will then visit the tomb.

“Michil Frank always said that Peter [Faherty] was a hero because he saved him. . . they were found on Friday the 13th,” Cáit Fagan said.

“It would give you a better understanding of the kind of house my father (Seán Fagan) came out of. My grandfather never saw his father, then my grandmother’s [Kathleen Faherty, who married John Fagan] dad [Peter Faherty] drowned around the age of ten.

“So that would give you a better understanding of the kind of horrors they were raised in. It was very sad,” Ms Fagan added.

On October 12, 1922, three men; Michael ‘Michil Frank’ Coyne (40), William ‘Liam’ Gill (75) and Peter Faherty (54) went herring fishing off Bearna Pier in a canvas currach.

Mr. Coyne, who could not swim, survived, but the two swimmers, Mr. Gill and Mr. Faherty, both drowned according to stories passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and a report from the Connacht Tribune on their investigation.

The trio left at 4 p.m. and returned with a boat loaded with herring at 10:30 p.m., which they unloaded.

They had tea and changed clothes at Gill’s house in Ahaglugger and left for another fishing trip at 11:30 p.m.

Because they caught such a large cargo of herring on the second trip, they decided to bring it ashore on the beach below Bearna Pier known as Poll Mór.

About 80 yards from shore, their currach sank and was face up in the water; a southerly breeze kept them from floating out to sea.

The three men remained in the water for more than 45 minutes, holding on to the boat.

Peter Faherty and Liam Gill had learned to swim in the Royal Navy. Michael Coyne (sometimes spelled Kyne) couldn’t swim, so Peter put an oar under him and brought him ashore.

When they reached the beach, they could hear Liam Gill shouting that the boat had overturned, and Peter came out to help him.

The two men became entangled in herring nets less than 80 meters from shore and drowned.

Michael Frank said he could hear screaming, but suddenly it all went quiet. According to locals, Michael Frank suffered as a result of this extremely traumatic experience and ended up with a handshake for the rest of his life.

The next day, George Mór Conneely, who lived at 5 Pier Road, found their currach at Lena Riabach, about a mile from Bearna Village between Mags Boreen and Silver Strand. He pushed the currach aside and found the body of William Gill.

Michael Lynskey, a cousin of the two deceased men, identified the bodies.

An inquest took place the following day in Bearna, which was a traumatic experience for Julia Gill (muddy) who lost her father and husband, the family’s two breadwinners, and had to raise six daughters and a son with no income. .

According to the Connacht Tribune report on the inquest, a jury returned a verdict of accidental drowning.

“The evidence revealed the fact that the two men could have been easily saved if they thought there was danger,” it read.

The tragedy left scars on the community and on the Gill family at large. Of this Gill household there are three well known Bearna families – the Fagans, the Greaneys and the Fahertys.

Lots of Greaneys; Peter and Eugene in Lacklea, Tommy and Mary and Detta in Derby are still alive.

Seán Fagan is in Freeport and his sisters, Patricia and Nancy are in the UK; and those still living from the Faherty family or the Ó Fáthartas are Seán in An Sp Idéal, Dedo (Peadar) in Indreabhán, Peig (Margaret) in Oughterard, and Jude in Gort.

Cáit Fagan, whose great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather died 100 years ago, said it was a “very sad” story, but she was proud that the three families came together to commemorate the tragedy of the drowning.

■ All are welcome at Bearna Pier on October 22 at 3:00 p.m.

(Photo Kathleen Faherty (1912-1991) who was married to John Fagan and lived at Barna Pier, is pictured here (seated with a cross in her mouth) with her sisters Mollie, Eileen and Bridie. Their father Peter Faherty and their grand- father William Gill drowned on October 12, 1922).