Few would be unaware of the hazards of the sea, especially in challenging storms, although most of us will have avoided ever being confronted by them.
Among the Irish newspapers on Find My Past I found some stories which attested to the toughness and determination of my ancestor, David Callaghan. In particular six fishermen were pivotal in rescuing five men (although only four survived) from the wreck of the Sir Allan McNab…in conditions which defeated a brave swimmer who attempted it and the Arklow Coast Guard. They were recognised locally for their bravery and interestingly the history of the event appears in the news over 130 years later…quite remarkable.
“After pulling three miles, and after a most severe and determined struggle, they succeeded in reaching the wreck and taking off the crew in a most exhausted state – one poor fellow died soon after he reached the land.” The men were “Davy Callaghan, Michael Kelly, Any Kelly, John Massey, John Hudson and Edward Nolan”. Can you imagine the sheer physical strength needed to do that in churning seas?
A subscription was raised to reward the men which I gather was not typical at the time.
I was very proud to read this story of my ancestor and his colleagues. Thirty years later, David would lose his own boat in a storm and a year later his son would be lost in a shipping accident in Dublin. These men lived difficult lives – no wonder they got “done” for drunkenness occasionally – and their wives and daughters would have to have been emotionally strong as well. Perhaps this is why I’ve always loved fishing harbours, but had a cautious view of the ocean. This song, Home from the Sea, by Celtic Thunder could have been written for my Callaghan ancestors…it actually gives me goosebumps.