5.3 Life on the Island:
Emigration, Tragedy and Intermarriage
Emigration from the Island
While occupations associated with the sea gave employment to the men from
the island a significant number of the women that did not remain to get
married or find work on the mainland emigrated to the United States of
America, Great Britain and some to Australia. The following is an example
from the early twentieth century for the Moran first family and as can
be seen three of these were met by two aunts who were already in the USA.
Mary Moran born 09/03/1896 arrived in New York on 05/06/1914
on the ship SS Adriatic and the manifest record for Mary, the
first to emigrate, states that she was to be met by her aunt Mrs M Sherman
of 326 East 723 St , New York. Her aunt Mrs M Sherman was probably either
Mary born 01/19/1869 or Margaret Griffin born 23/07/1876. Catherine
Moran born 26/03/1898 arrived in New York on board the SS Philadelphia
and was met by an Aunt Mrs A O'Neill of 213 Willow Avenue, Hoboken, New
Jersey. Mrs A O'Neill was probably Miss Anne Griffin born 03/11/1884 and
who also arrived on Ellis Island on 27th May 1901.
Patrick Joseph Moran born 16/03/1894 seaman eventually based
in Newcastle in UK (In USA in 1918 &1920) arrived on 27th December
1918 as a member of the crew of the SS Baygowan and was also
met by Mrs O'Neill from the same address.
Elizabeth Moran born 22/05/1900 arrived in New York on board
the SS Celtic on 17/07/1920
and was met by her brother Patrick now living at 129 Willow Avenue, Hoboken,
New Jersey. Thomas Moran born 02/09/1904 arrived in New York
on board the SS Scythia on 17/06/1922
and was met by his brother Patrick who had now moved to 808 Park Avenue,
Hoboken, New Jersey. Anna Moran born 01/09/1910 emigrated to
New York c 1928.
Ita Moran born 25/01/1916 emigrated to London. Nora Moran born
27/01/1919 immigrated to Wales. In addition the remaining men also moved
from the island, John Moran born 19/05/1903 seaman based in Limerick
lost at sea 15/01/1938. David Moran born 01/01/1907 seaman in
lightships based in Knock. Kilrush, Co Clare. James Moran born
13/08/1908 seaman in lightship tenders based in West Cork. Delia
Moran was the only one of the twelve from this family to remain on the
island. She got married in 1942 and moved to the mainland in 1950.
Scattery Islanders who died tragically
The following islanders died tragically the majority were drowned while
working as seamen or carrying goods from the mainland to the island:
Gerard Brennan born c1928 was lost at sea when the schooner
Ellie Park sank near the Isle of Man on 11/11/1947. His brother
Felix born c 1918 was lost overboard from the SS Kyleclare (ON 152256)
in the Shannon Estuary near Limerick on 17/09/1940.
(See below Irish Independent 14/11/1947 and 19/09/1940) Stephen
McMahon born c1911 and his first cousin Michael McMahon
were both killed when the Kerry Head (ON 128881) was sunk by
a German bomber off the Cork coast on 22/10/1940 (See Irish Press report
below) and Siney McMahon a brother of Stephen was drowned in Goole off
MV Adaptity (ON 180579) on 07/07/1948
and is buried in England. Michael John Melican born 20/09/1849
his wife Bridget Melican born c 1850 and his eldest son Michael born 10/09/1880
all drowned on the 20/02/1897 from a canoe on a journey between Kilrush,
Cappa and Scattery Island. This was a devastating event for the close
knit island community, see newspaper reports below, their bodies were
recovered later from the river and grave number 24 has inscriptions containing
the names of all three. Another son John Michael Melican born 04/11/1881
was also drowned between Kilrush and Scattery on 21/11/1913 and his son
Peter Melican born c 1913 was drowned when the MV Pacific Grove (ON
160412) was torpedoed by U boat on 12/04/1943
in the North Atlantic. Peter’s sister Christina born c 1912 drowned
in the blessed well on the island c 1922. John Moran
born 19/05/1903 was drowned when the Glanrhyd (ON 147638) sank
in the Bristol Channel on the 15/01/1938.
Paddy Moran a first cousin of John’s, born c1911 was killed in dry
dock on 23/06/1948
off Shelbrit 6 (ON 180360) and is buried in Ayr in Scotland his
brother Thomas born c1919 drowned in Kilrush Creek on the 06/11/1954.
David Moran born 02/04/1870 was lost in Mid-Atlantic from SS Martello
(ON 88199) on the 30/01/1899.
William Moran born 23/02/1876 was accidentally drowned from HMS Majestic
in the Western Approaches on the 6th October 1914 and John Moran born
27/01/1885 (brother of William) died on board SS Empire Mallory (ON
168684) in the Indian Ocean on the 5th May 1945 and Siney Moran born
c 1912 (Son of William) was lost when HMS Orchis was mined in
the English Channel on the 21st August 1944.
Sinon Scanlan born c1913 drowned off the pier thirty
yards from his home on the 21/07/1925, his second cousin also Sinon Scanlan
born 07/08/1886 was lost at sea near Newfoundland from the SS Derville
(ON 146348) missing since 15th October 1925.
Patrick Scanlan born 23/09/1892 brother of Sinon was killed when a mine
struck the Tuskar Rock Lighthouse on the 03/12/1941.
1897 Monday 22nd February: (Times
A boating accident, involving the loss of three
lives occurred on Saturday night in Kilrush harbour, on the North side
of Scattery Island. A pilot named Michael Melican aged 50, his wife, and
their eldest son aged 17, was returning home in their boat from Kilrush
market, and was bringing with them about 90? stone of provisions. A heavy
sea was running and a light gale blew from the south west. Several seamen
tried to dissuade Melican from attempting the journey. He persisted however
in his intention, but had to put in at Cappa pier, about a mile from the
starting point. Here he remained some hours, but being anxious essayed
to reach Scattery Island. Nothing more was heard from the party until
yesterday morning, when it was reported by some Scattery islanders that
the Melicans had not arrived and that screams were heard about 11 o’clock.
A little later in the morning the boat was seen floating near Hog Island.
The four oars were in the boat, and one of them was broken. The Melicans
leave eight children. None of the bodies had been recovered up to last
evening. Search parties from the Island have gone out.
1897 Monday 22nd February (Clare
Sad Drowning Fatality on the Shannon, Loss of three lives, Kilrush, Sunday
Last night between nine and ten o'clock
Michael Melican, a pilot from Scattery Island, his wife and one of his
sons, a grown up young lad, lost their lives endeavouring to make the
island in a canoe. A strong gale of wind had been blowing all the evening,
but it had consequently abated when poor Melican against the advice of
some of his friends started from Cappa pier though a heavy sea was running
at the time. This morning the canoe was found drifting between Islevaroo
and Hog Island and it was then quickly realised that the Melicans had
met a watery grave in their attempt to reach the island the previous night.---------
Indeed the fatality has created quite a powerful shock in the town where
the Melicans were well known and respected.
1897 Saturday 27th February (Southern
The body of Mrs Melican one of the victims of the Shannon fatality
was recovered on Monday evening.
(The body of Michael junior born 10/09/1880 was found floating near
the shore in front of the corcas by Honor Scanlan)
1947 Friday 14th November (Irish Independent)
Irish victims of sea tragedy.
The two men drowned when the schooner Ellie Park capsized
and broke up midway between the Isle of Man and Liverpool on Tuesday are
officially, reported to be Gerald (Gerard) Brennan (19), Scattery
Island, Co Clare, and John Quinn, Bride St, Wexford.
1940 Thursday 19th September
Ten minutes after leaving Limerick in a steamer (Kyleclare)
Mr Felix Brennan (22), seaman a native of Scattery was lost overboard.
He was apparently closing the hatches when he fell into the water and
disappeared before help could reach him. The accident occurred in the
vicinity of Spillane's Tower and the steamer put back to Barrington's
Pier, where the tragedy was reported.
1940 Report of the Kerry Head
sinking. (The Irish Press, Saturday June 21st 1952)
They were taking in the hay around Kinsale, on
the fine August evening (1940), when the first sign of war glinted in
the sun over the old historic town. A bombing plane roared over the bay
of Ballymacous and circled the Sovereign Islands. John Hurley is a small
farmer, seafarer and pilot at Kinsale, and he was making up a rick of
hay in his haggard. He looked at the sky when the bomber's roar ripped
the silence and he watched the dark wings of it rushing to the sea. John
scanned the bay. There was a ship out there. A three masted ship with
derricks forard. He knew her well, Kerry Head of the Limerick
firm of Mullocks. Out near the Old Head of Kinsale he saw the plane dive
– just where the ship was. Two explosions rumbled from the sea.
John called two of the men who were making the rick and with him (his
brother Pat and Tim O'Donovan, since dead) and ran to the shore even as
the plaintive siren of Kerry Head moaned on. The three men rushed
the boat into the water, pulled at the oars. They were fast oarsmen, those
men of Kinsale; half a mile outside the Bullman Rock they saw Kerry
Head. She was stopped but seemed undamaged. John pulled alongside,
clambered aboard. He saw Captain Charles Drummond and asked him what was
wrong. The Wexford man answered: “The plane bombed us.” They
inspected the damage. No direct hit had been made on the ship. Captain
Drummond explained: Two light bombs had been dropped forard, missed the
bridge and hit the sea right beside the vessel. A heavier bomb had fallen
about five yards to the starboard side of the engine room. The concussion
had stopped the engines; the impact of the sea had crushed in the vessel's
side. Ship Saved For Awhile.
The cabin quarters were a shambles, the
forard winch had been cracked on both sides by the concussion alone; doors
had been wrenched from their hinges; the compass was smashed; the glass
from the wheelhouse windows was all over the place; cooking pots, tinned
foods and crockery were spattered on the decks. One of the lifeboats had
got locked and entangled in the davits. The other lifeboat had been lowered
but was filling with water and, after all that, nobody was hurt. The crew
stood by in life jackets, some were disentangling the locked lifeboat.
John Hurley's boat took the captain ashore to make the report to Limerick,
where he was bound from Britain with coal and tin-plate for that city's
factories. The engineers and crew stowed everything, rushed the ship to
Garley Cove, to ground her on a sandbank, so that repairs could be carried
The Kerry Head was saved - for three months.
In October (22/10/1940) of that same
year, the 1,000-ton ship was passing Castletownbere, travelling light.
Local people at Blackhall Head recognized the familiar outlines of the
vessel. She passed out of sight. A bomber again swept over the coast,
dipped down at the horizon, where the Kerry Head had gone hull
down. Nobody could say, for certain, whether the plane had bombed the
ship. Local boats searched the area when the signal went along the coast
but Kerry Head had passed Kinsale for the last time.
The following were the crew of the Kerry Head: - Capt. Charles
First Officer Dick Byrne, of Wicklow; Second Officer Stephen MacMahon,
Scattery Island, Co. Clare; Will Davidson, chief engineer
Tom Begley, Hartstonge St., Limerick; George Naughton, Windmill St., Limerick;
his brother James Naughton, Windmill St., Limerick; Patrick O'Neill, 4
St., Limerick; John Tobin, Distillery Houses, Limerick; Michael
Scattery (cousin of Stephen); James Wilson, Carrickfergus.
Visitors to the Island
Charles S Parnell was welcomed to the Island on
Monday 1st September 1879 as per the following report:
1879 Thursday 4th September.
Mr Parnell in Scattery.
The Kilrush Nationalists are ever alive to their duty. This was fully
proved on Monday on the arrangements made by a committee from that body
to meet Mr Parnell in Scattery Island, who were accompanied by a Brass
band. The number of visitors that accompanied the deputation was very
large. The undaunted Mr P J Haren as delegate and secretary of the committee
presented the following address which speaks for itself, and who is entitled
to the credit of organising the proceedings of what may be termed the
Kilrush Parnell Committee. We are not of those who have endorsed the views
of the members of the Kilrush Brass band during the last years, but we
must certainly regard their action on Monday as patriotic.
To Mr Charles S Parnell M.P.
We the Nationalists and trades of Kilrush do tender you a cead mille failthe
to our western shores. Beloved Sir, being fully alive to the great National
Service you have rendered Ireland and Irishmen all over the world we could
not allow this opportunity pass without meeting you on Scattery’s
Saintly island to tender our heartfelt thanks.
Whereas the United Kingdom is on the eve of a great political struggle
to be contested by Whigs and Tories, and believing that the future welfare
of Ireland is at stake and also believing that the only remedy now is
to support Mr Parnell policy - so sickening to John Bull - consequently
we are resolved at next General Election to give our united support to
Erin’s noblest son and England’s bitterest enemy - C S Parnell.
On Behalf of the committee,
Patrick O’Meara, Peter McMahon, James McSweeney, John M Nagle, Andrew
Ryan, Joseph Kett, Thomas Nolan, James F Walton, Michael Meade, William
Ryan, Michael Tubridy, John Henchy, John McMahon, Michael Howard, P J
In 1946 Éamon de Valera visited
the Island and Paddy Hillery also visited in a private capacity.
1956 Saturday 17th March (Irish
The Shannon has an Admiral again
With a throw of silver dart which spanned
350 years of history in its flight, the Mayor of Limerick, Ald J.F.Russell:
yesterday became the first Admiral of the Shannon for 45 years.
Earlier the Mayor who performed the ceremony
from the bridge of the corvette Cliona was brought to Scattery
Island, where he was received by the king, John Brennan.
Following ancient custom, a stone from the grave of St Senan was presented
The Mayor was then piped aboard the corvette, which moved off to the site
of the ceremony-between two forts Scattery Island and Carrig Island.
On the way up the river again the new
Admiral of the Shannon was saluted by shipping on the river and in the
harbour, and after disembarking drove in state to the Town Hall where
he addressed the welcoming citizens from the windows of his mayoral office.
Intermarriage between Island
The table below is an outline only and the second
families are only included where there are a number of marriages. However
the table shows with the exception of the Hehirs, Brennans (second) and
to a lesser extent the Fauls all the main families are either blood related
through marriage or indirectly through connecting marriage. The following
is an example for the Scanlan family who are directly related through
marriage to those families highlighted in italics:
Bridget Scanlan married Michael McMahon
Sinon Scanlan (brother of Bridget) married Ellen McMahon
(sister of Michael) on 31/01/1873 Patrick Scanlan (brother of Sinon) married
Honora Faul on 13/10/1880
Johanna Scanlan (daughter of Sinon) married William Moran
(Second) c 1906
Michael P Scanlan (son of Patrick) married Ellen Moran
(Second) (Sister of William) on 20/10/1909 Maria Scanlan (daughter
of Patrick) married John (Jack) Brennan (First)
Moira Scanlan (Grand daughter of Patrick) married Michael Griffin
Sinon Scanlan (son of Michael P) married Delia Moran
(First) on 05/04/1942.
In addition the Scanlans are indirectly related to the following families
through connecting marriages, via the McMahons to the Brennans
(First) 1909, the Morans (First) 1910 and
Griffins 1920, via the Morans (Second) to the
Hanrahans 1868 and via Brennans (First)
to the Melicans c1845.
It is evident the Scanlans were related to most of the other main families
and in turn all these families were inter related. The only exceptions
are the Hehirs and Brennans (Second) who married girls born on
the mainland from Kilrush or West Clare. It is unlikely that intermarrying
on such a scale could continue without breaching Catholic Church rules
and new blood would be needed from the mainland. It should also be remembered
that those families that initially came to the island in the 1840s were
also probably related as they all came from closely knit communities in