St Johnston - Carrigans     ~ Co Donegal.


1917 Drowning Tragedy

Brothers William, David, James and George Quigley.  James died at the Somme while a year later George drowned in the Foyle.

Tom Hamilton 2017 with the copybook that belonged to George Quigley.  Inset depicts the death penny awarded to the family of soldier James Quigley.


From Donegal News May 2017

A children's copy book is the last link to a tragedy that stunned a Donegal village and devastated four families.

The book belonged to George Quigley - 13 - from St Johnston and is dated 1913/14 when George was ten.

Three years later George S Quigley as he signed the cover was dead.

Marina Hamilton, Tom's daughter, stumbled across the copy book in April this year.

Two of the boys that drowned has lost brothers in the First World War at the Somme.  They too died side by side.  In the space of 12 months, the Quigley and Dowds families lost two children each.

Tom Hamilton says, "It was a terrible time for the families.  I knew the Quigley family well and they often talked about losing the two boys.  I have the death penny which was sent to the family after James died but they were so heartbroken they couldn't take it out of the case.  Then within a year the two families were burying two other sons.  More than forty young men from around St Johnston died in the First and Second World Wars.  The Quigleys who used to own the shop in St Johnston have mostly died out or left the area.   There is no one left.  There was no one even to put up a headstone.  It is sad when you read George's copy which is all about plants and you see how clever he was.  Little did he know then he would be dead in three years and so would his older brother."

Local Tradition

Local tradition says James Burnside was from the North.  He would have been related to the McGirrs who lived where the forecourt is now in St Johnston.  Mary Jane had a family in Belfast and in her confusion in her later years looked for them by candlelight at the time Ard Baithin was being built in the 1950s.  Her sister Maggie retired and lived with her.  Robert John McGirr their brother worked on the Titanic.  Carrie McGirr? married Lecky and lived near where Craigavon Bridge is now in Derry.