These are the memories of Neil McFeely of boating and shipping along the eastern coast of the Inishowen peninsula, county Donegal, taken from his memoirs. Neil was born in 1869 in the village of Carrowmenagh, eventually joining the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The boat port he refers to was at Tremone bay, although it is no longer in existence.
In the spring of 1879 my eldest brother Charles went to sea. He joined a Derry owned barque named the “Harvest Home” of which our cousin Michael McCann was first mate. This vessel was in the timber trade between Derry and Canadian and Nova Scotia parts, and Charles made two voyages in her. Some years later she was wrecked and totally lost on Anticosti Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence.
At this time there was a fleet of Derry owned ships sailing regularly between that city and Canadian and United States ports. Wm. McCorkell & Co., owned many vessels, employed as grain carriers principally from Baltimore. Some of their names I remember viz:- “Village Belle”, “Countess of Dufferin”, “Wenonah”, Oweenee” and “Osseo”. Of the nine on three “Nakomis”, “Osseo” & “Oweenee” were built of iron. The others were wooden vessels. There were other vessels belonging to different owners in the Atlantic timber trade such as “Harvest Home” already named “Twilight” “Maam” “Rava” later iron vessels were built in Derry Ship Yard such as – “Maiden City”, “John Coake”, “William Mitchell”, “Alexander Bleack” and “Fayledale”. Some of the last named five may still be in existence (now 1934), but the others are all gone the way of sailing ships.
These vessels occupied from two to three months on the round voyage out of Derry and we used to be constantly on the lookout for their return. Dan McCann and his brother Laughlin McCann were Foyle Pilots residing in Ballyharry, and one or other of these men generally got aboard at Termone (i.e. Tremone bay) to pilot the vessel to Derry. When one of these ships, homeward bound, appeared, as we used to call it, coming down the Sound of Inishtrahull, we made a race for the boat port to get out in the pilot boat. We considered ourselves lucky to get alongside the big ship, but it was a marvelous achievement to get on board. We often got a card of sweet tobacco from some of the officers or seamen who knew us. There was often some of the surplus stores, such as sea biscuits, or junks of salt pork or salt beef, thrown down into the pilot boat.