Sunday, April 11, 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021
There have been suggestions that the Inishkea islanders were anthropologically different from their brethren on the mainland, almost imbued with heroic, godlike qualities, strength and beauty, unbeatable at Twister, that sort of thing. In the nineteenth century, when there were no English speakers on the islands, they worshipped a stone, said to be the pillow of St. Columba, which was dressed in new flannel every year and which could calm stormy seas or raise a storm whenever a potential shipwreck appeared on the horizon. The stone was eventually broken in two and thrown into the sea by a zealous priest where it waits for Indiana Jones to discover them and slot them together and restore the ancient Eden that was Inishkea.
Friday, April 2, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
It would indeed be very churlish to suggest that Redmond was the Spectator and I certainly wouldn't even broach such a suggestion.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Eagle Island East, Belmullet, county Mayo (IT 15th December 1894)
Dear Kincora, Since I wrote last we had the first of our winter storms. It was a long one, lasting nearly a month and all that time we had no word from the mainland; so we were delighted when we saw the boat coming out this day week and a new neighbour for us in her, so that we will not be lonely now. The weather here for the past week has been lovely, more like spring than winter ... Agnes Gertrude Corish
Eagle Island, Belmullet, county Mayo (IT 12th January 1895)
Cards from Josie and Agnes Corish with subscription on Josie's card for 2s 6d. Will write themselves shortly, when recovered from effects of late storm. J.M. Corish (probably their father)
Eagle Island OS map (1st edition) above, and last edition, below.
Corclough (IT 2nd February 1895)
Dear Kincora ... We had a dreadful storm on Eagle Island on the morning of 29th December. It was my eldest brother's birthday, so he, as well as all of us, will not soon forget it. It was something dreadful. It left us houseless. We (that is, the women and children) are ashore since the 5th January. Dear Kincora, I would like to tell you about the storm that night, but it would be impossible. None of us ever expected to see the morning, we spent such a night of terror. Unless you saw the state of the houses and the outside premises, you would not believe it. The men think it was a tidal wave; it was not one, but several of them. And the large storm-wall that stood so many storms is cracked down near the large lighthouse ... Josie Corish
Well, after our narrow escape on Eagle Island, we are at last settled in Blacksod or rather, in Blackrock Dwellings. I have a little friend here, Sarah Isabel Widdicombe We all go to school every day and that is fine, the four eldest of us, also Isabel. The school is two miles from us and the chapel three ... I hope you have not had the influenza, dear Kincora. I don't hear of it down here at all. ... Josie Corish
Blacksod Point, Belmullet (IT 13th April 1895)
I suppose you have heard we were shifted to Blacksod from Eagle Island. We have five hens, three of them are laying. We see a lot of little lambs when we are going to school; they are lovely little things. It is a lovely place in the summer. I found a lot of buttercups today; the primroses are in bloom now, we find them coming home from school. My father went out to the rock today and another man came in ... There are blackberry bushes growing here. - Agnes Gertrude Corish
Blacksod Point Lighthouse, Belmullet, co. Mayo (IT 18th May 1895)
Josie and Agnes Corish and I are sending you a box of primroses for the sick children in the cots. My examination in the school is to be in June and I am working very hard and I hope I will pass... I get lovely little shells on the beach and I made a box of them, it was very nice. I can see three churches from here but the nearest one is nine miles distant. It is called Binghamstown Church. Josie and I take off our boots every evening and wade in the tide and the water is not very cold so soon we shall bathe. There is a nice castle four miles from here at a place called Kelly Bay and there are lots of nice flowers there. There is a Coastguard Station quite close to us and there is a telephone from it to Belmullet now... Please say what you think of my writing. Sarah Isabel Widdicombe
To which Kincora tactfully replied, Your writing is good but you must be more careful with your grammar, which I had to correct.
Blackrock Buildings (IT 13th July 1895)
... There was a horse went mad last week, we are afraid of him as he is out on the road when we pass. Thursday (the 1st of July) was more like a day in November than in summer. We had some very heavy showers going to and from school ... Agnes Corish
Blacksod Point Lighthouse, Belmullet, co. Mayo (IT 13th July 1895)
I am going to give you a description of Inniskea Islands. The south is divided from the north by a narrow channel of water. There are a great many inhabitants who live chiefly by fishing and they go out to fish in little boats called canoes in the roughest weather. There is also a school on it and a great many children go to it. The people keep sheep and they spin their wool into yarn and then get it woven into flannel and they dye it blue for the men and magenta for the women. The north island is not so large as the south. There is a school built lately on it but there is no teacher appointed for it yet. There is also a police barrack. The police were sent there to prevent the inhabitants making potheen on the islands. Inniskea Islands are four miles from the mainland and it is very difficult going to and from them in winter time and often there is no communication with the mainland for weeks at a time. You will be glad to know I was successful at my examination at school and passed into a higher class. Sarah Isabell Widdicombe
Blackrock Buildings, Belmullet, co. Mayo (IT 13th July 1895)
I would rather be on Eagle Island than on Blacksod. The Eagle is covered with seapinks after the storm that did such damage. There are seapinks here also but not as nice as they were on Eagle Island. The weather has been lovely here the past three weeks ... I have seven hens and sixteen chickens ... The bishop will be here in three weeks time. He comes every three years. I am preparing to be confirmed and, along with all our other lessons, we must learn the Catechism.The examination is just over and anyone that does not make 100 days in the year will not be examined. The priest gives a tea-party to the children that pass. There is a telephone at the coastguard station about 200 yards from us. We often send telegrams to Belmullet, it is very handy. I got a duck's nest the other day among a lot of rushes and my brother went down next morning to count the eggs and they were gone. The pigs came up and ate every one of the eggs while the duck was away feeding. My mother and father were going on Sunday to see an island called Inniskea but they did not go as it was going to rain ... Mary Josephine Corish
Blacksod, Belmullet (IT 31st August 1895)
...The other day I was upstairs in mother's bedroom; I was sitting on a little box when suddenly a little bird flew in through the window and I ran and shut the window and caught it; it flew in after flies. We got plenty of mushrooms. We have plenty of carnations growing here; they are not very well out yet. My little brother Louie is very mischievous; today he went down to the sea and came up drenched with wet. There was no one to mind him because we were at school. We felt very lonely after Isabella S. Widdicombe went away from here. We are expecting two strangers - one for Blackrock and one for Blacksod Station. At this time, a number of girls are on the shore picking periwinkles off the rocks; they send cargoes of them away to Westport. There was a big fair in town yesterday; it is considered the best fair of the year.
Blackrock Buildings, Blacksod, Belmullet, co. Mayo (IT 21st September 1895)
... Our school was opened yesterday, the 9th of September; we had three weeks vacation; I enjoyed my holidays pretty well. The weather is very disagreeable for the last two weeks. I think it is not very good weather for the harvest, although the people about here are all cutting down their corn... I did not see any letter from Isabel Widdicombe since she went to Carlingford. I miss her very much going to school; we were always together. Josie Corish
Blackrock Buildings, co. Mayo (IT 21st September 1895)
Josie and I were confirmed on the 26th of last month. There was a great iron machine with arms for the purpose of working the semaphore, landed here at Blacksod Pier some months ago; the coastguards have charge of it; I think it is to be erected on a very high hill called Tarmon, a short distance from here where you can see all the country around you for miles. They were removing it today with horse and cart, so I suppose they are going to put it up at once. I am sure when it is up it will about 45 feet high. The 16th of next month will be my little brother Louie's birthday. Agnes Gertrude Corish
Blacksod Point, Belmullet, county Mayo (IT 19th October1895)
I must tell you this week about how suddenly the storms come on about here and what risk the men run who have to be on the sea in boats. The police boat was returning to Inniskea (an island 4 miles from the land) when, just after passing the lighthouses, a thunderstorm broke over the place and it was thought by all who saw the boat passing she was upset. After the storm cleared away, she was seen mounting the waves without mast or sail between this and Achill. The Inspector-General from Dublin and the Inspector, Mr. Wallace, from Belmullet, were returning from Inishkea about the same time. The Inspector-General landed with enough to do at Fallmore, one and a half miles from this. Before Mr. Wallace could land, the boat was blown away from the shore and, with great danger, he landed among the rocks close to us, when he and the Inspector-General drove to Belmullet. The boat they came in from Inishkea was Mr. Philip Lavelle's. When he and his two brothers who were in the boat saw the danger the police in the other boat were in, they went to their assistance and they both, after hard work, got in safe to the pier, when they got a hearty cheer. Mr. Lavelle and the police, (who were Sergeant Hanniffy and Mr. Crowley) shook hands. Mr. Crowley, who had no cap, tunic or boots on, said, "Thank God we are safe and it is the best little boat in Ireland." We were glad to see them safe for we know them well. They then went to the lighthouse where they were treated kindly by Mr. Keenan and were able to return to Inniskea on Saturday after the narrow escape they had... Agnes Corish
Blacksod Lighthouse c. 1905. CIL photo in the NLI collection