Thursday, February 17, 2011

Story Details Anyone?

I need your help. I've spent the past few days reading about Irish fishing villages. I ran across a story I recognize, but I need more details. These are the facts I've found.

On January 13, 1843 boats from two neighboring villages, Newcastle and Annalong, set out for their usual fishing stations. The fishermen headed for an area of rocky ground about seven miles offshore. Suddenly the ocean was churning with mountainous waves and the fleet was caught in a furious snowstorm.

The people of Portaferry joined the effort to save their friends. Wives and children waited on the shore, watching for the men to return, but only two boats survived. Fourteen boats were lost in the heavy seas including a boat which had gone to the rescue. Seventy-six men perished leaving twenty-seven widows and 118 children.

What I remember about this story is a mother from Portaferry, Ireland who was waiting on the shore for her son, Pete. It was reported that his boat had gone down. She fell on the ground in grief. Her other son was preparing his own boat to go out to rescue other fishermen on the dangerous sea. She begged him not to go. "I already lost one boy tonight. I can't bare to lose another." He told her he might be able to save someone else's son and off he went into the gale.

She was beside herself with sorrow and worry for hours. Suddenly a body was spotted floating in the ocean. Men rushed out to pull him onto the shore, and the mother saw that it was her son they were rescuing. As he came out of the water she realized he had another man in tow. "I'm all right, Mother," he called. "And I've saved my brother, Pete."

Does anybody remember hearing or reading this story? I'd really like to know if the story about the mother and Pete is true, and if it's part of the Irish account. I remember it from an LDS conference talk many years ago, but I think it was originally a Reader's Digest story. (I know I've used this story and I can picture which file it was in two houses ago.)



Diane said...

I vaguely remember the story also, but don't recall when or where. Good luck finding out. Let us know if/when you find out the rest of the story.

Christie said...

No idea. But an awesome story.

Grammy T. said...

I was hunting up the story for you and didn't find it but did find this article on a frog that jumped into a fishermens net.

kenju said...

Sorry, I can't help - but I can send your link to an Irish blogger I know and maybe she can help you.

Grannymar said...

Hi, I am that Irish blogger that Kenju mentioned. I live in Northern Ireland, but was born in the Southof Ireland. I never heard the story above but I found this link (scroll down to History):,_County_Down

Annalong The link gives a very brief mention to the same story.

VickiC said...

I, too, tried to find a link to the specific story but with no luck. I even tried Skopes to see if it might be a myth evolving from the events. (Kinda think it may be, but couldn't determine.)
I did find a reference to the disaster at html/kilkeel18.htm
You need to scroll down to the heading, "Annalong Fishing disaster 1814", and then continue down several paragraphs to the January 13th, 1843 disaster.

Having researched my family genealogy, I am always amazed and moved by what dates, names, a few simple facts can tell you. The loss of these brave men was a great tragedy ("Newcastle town is one long street entirely stripped of men..."), but sad, too, is the fact that most of their families were left destitute as a result of their sacrifice.

Broc C. Hiatt said...

“You Never Know Who You May Save” by Elder JACOB DE JAGER, General Conference, October 1976