At 5.30pm on Saturday the 9 of November 1935, a yawl left Burtonport harbour, for Arranmore Island. In order to avoid being kept at sea too long in the dark, in the heavy swell, it was apparently decided to take a short course between rocks which the sea is studded for a large area between the Island and the mainland. On board the yawl were 15 islanders, returning from harvesting in Scotland, and at least five others, friends and family. Edward Gallagher was steering and Johnny Rodgers was in the look-out forward. Suddenly Johnny cried out a warning and 4 or 5 of the men tore the sail from the mast, but it was too late. The yawl ran up on a rock, throwing the passengers backwards into the sea, and tearing a hole in the keel. Nine made it on to the keel from the water, but a moment later, the yawl turned over and threw them off again. This time, one made it back to the keel, Patrick Gallagher, helping his father Edward and brother John up with him. A few hours later, Edward lost consciousness and slipped into the water, Patrick unable to hold his father any longer. John died in his brothers arms, but Patrick could not bear to let him go, holding him until they were found about 8 o’clock the next morning.
The following are the persons who are stated to have been in the boat:
Edward Gallagher, 61, of Torris, Arranmore;
Edward Gallagher, 24, John Gallagher, 22, Michael Gallagher, 29, Patrick Gallagher, 26 (the survivor), and Charles Gallagher, 20, his sons;
Madge, 28, and Hannah Gallagher, 16, his daughters;
Anthony Gallagher, 17, and Edward Gallagher, 15, Aphort, Arranmore, brothers;
Manus Gallagher, 17, Daniel Gallagher, 27, and Hannah Gallagher, 21, Aphort;
Patrick O’Donnell, 44, and Kate O’Donnell, 45, Leabgarrow, Arranmore, brother and sister;
John Rodgers, 34, of Torris;
John O’Donnell, 50, Aphort;
Edward Ward, 51, Torris;
Peter Leonard, 61, Ballintra;
John Gallagher, 20, son of a Michael Gallagher, of Aphort
This was a terrible tragedy and affected everyone on the Island, none more so than the boatman, Edward Gallagher’s, wife, she lost her husband, four sons and two daughters, though she walked about the Island under the impression that she lost her husband and one son only. She went to the post office and sent a telegram to friends in Scotland, believing (or wanting to believe) that her other children were still in Scotland harvesting. The bodies of one son and a daughter were never recovered and their mother continued to believe they had remained in Scotland.