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Inhabitants of Scattery Island, Shannon Estuary, Co. Clare by Senan Scanlan

5.1 Life on the Island: Occupations

The inhabitants of Scattery Island appear to have escaped the deaths and emigration, associated with nearby Kilrush, during the famine period. The total population[70] of the island, including the soldiers, actually increased from 65 in 1841 to 99 in 1851 and to 139 in1861, the numbers of houses in this period increased from 9 in 1841 to 24 in1861.The memorial inscriptions on the gravestones do not show any deaths of islanders during the period 1845 to 1850. Perhaps a combination of fishing and additional shipping, due to famine imports and emigration, provided good employment for the pilots at this time and helped them to survive. Annual ship numbers to Limerick increased from 585 in 1845 (76658 tons) to peak at 1013 in 1847 (149867 tons)[71]. The families who settled on the island no doubt had some salvage money left out of the £110 to £163 , paid to the pilots in late 1843, to purchase expensive supplies such as Indian corn from Kilrush and perhaps some smuggled goods from passing ships would also have helped to sustain them.

Farming and fishing would have been the main sources of sustenance during the early period. Fishing which began in February with net fishing for salmon continued until July, and mackerel and pollack were the main catches done in summer and late autumn, herring were also caught and each house salted a barrel for the winter. The diet could be varied with shellfish such as periwinkles and limpets known locally as báirneachs[72]. An important aspect in the life of the island was the fact that the women inhabitants had to be expert in the art of farming and especially adept in using the canoes to travel to and from the mainland as the men were often away from the island. The following which include some miscellaneous newspaper reports gives an outline of some aspects of life on the island.

1879/80 Commissioners of Public Works[73]
The work of conservation of the Seven Churches at Scattery Island has been completed.

1891 Saturday 5th December (Kilrush Herald)
The Memorial Altar: The following contributions to the Kilrush Memorial Altar are gratefully acknowledged.

Sinon Griffin: 12s-6d, Patt Brennan: 8s-6d, Sinon Scanlan: 7s-6d, Felix Brennan: 7s-6d, John Williams Lightkeeper: 7s-6d, Michael McMahon: 6s-6d, Patt Moran: 5s-6d, Mrs Hehir: 5s, Thomas Moran: 4s-6d, John Melican: 3s-6d, Stephen Hanrahan: 2s-6d, Patt Scanlan: 2s-6d, Pat McCarthy: 1s-6d.

1936 17th June (Irish Independent)
Residents in Scattery Island, off the Clare coast, and other islands in the Shannon are stated not to have paid any rates since 1931, and the accumulated arrears are now almost £5,000.
When a committee of the Co. Council discussed the matter with representatives of the islanders, Mr John Brennan, for the latter, pointed out the disadvantages the islanders were labouring under as compared with people on the mainland and definitely stated that the islanders would not pay any arrears of rates. They were prepared in future to pay a rate equivalent to the benefits they derived from county services. They would not pay for maintenance of roads as the sea was their road and boats their only means of transport.
When the committee offered to recommend the acceptance of one year's rates to March last in discharge of all arrears. The offer was rejected.

The committee reported to the County Council Finance Committee, and the Co. Council, adopted the Finance Committee's recommendations as follows:

  1. That the arrears of rates to March 31st 1935, in respect of the islands adjoining the county be struck off as irrecoverable.
  2. That one year's rate, in respect of the year ended March 31st 1936, is carried into the warrants for 1936-37 against all rated islanders.
Occupations of the Islanders
The principal occupations as listed in the censuses of 1901 and 1911[74] are Pilot, Pilot/Farmer, and Seaman/Sailor with 20 involved in these in 1901 and 13 in 1911 and the following is a brief outline of these occupations.

Piloting was the primary occupation of the islanders and a separate section six contains more detailed information on the pilots taken mainly from newspaper reports of the Limerick Harbour Board’s minutes and Pilot Account Books. After piloting the next most popular occupation was sailor/seaman it is likely that a significant number of sailors and pilots were away on both censuses nights Sailors and Seamen were divided into two categories those that served in the Merchant Navy and those that served in the Royal Navy as detailed below. Usually after some years service in the Merchant Navy some seamen found employment in the Lightships and Lighthouses.

Royal Navy
The following inhabitants served in the Royal Navy during their careers as seamen:

Sinon Scanlan born 07/08/1886 served from 29th May 1902 to 17th March 1919 Reference 221118[75]. After leaving the Royal Navy he joined the Merchant Navy and was lost at sea near Newfoundland from the SS Derville (Official Number 146348) stated to be missing since 15th October 1925.
William Moran born 23/02/1876 served from 29th September 1894 to 8th December 1902 Reference 181311
[76]. He re-enrolled 4th December 1911 and was accidentally drowned from HMS Majestic on the 6th October 1914.
Stephen Moran born 03/01/1883 (brother of William above) served from 19th January 1903 to 5th May 1910 Reference 225316
John Moran born 27/01/1885 (brother of William) served from 5th June 1902 to 1st March 1919 Reference 221121
[78] died on board SS Empire Mallory 5th May 1945.
Siney Moran born c 1912 (son of William) lost when HMS Orchis was mined in the English Channel on 21st August 1944.
Edward Moran born c 1910 and his brother
Siney Moran born c 1918 both served in the Royal Navy. Siney survived the sinking of the battleship HMS Prince of Wales in the South China Sea on the 10th December 1941.

Merchant Navy
A significant number of seamen from Scattery sailed with the Limerick Steamship Steampacket Company which started operations in 1893
[79] and continued until 1970 when as part of Hibernian Transport it went into liquidation. The home and continental trade was the main focus of the company with regular cargo services between Limerick, Galway, Tralee, Ballina and Liverpool, Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam. The Company also had deep-sea interests which were served by three steamers, the Innisbofin, Knockfierna and the Kilcredaun up until 1935, a full list of their ships is detailed below. In addition seamen from Scattery served with many other Shipping Companies including Irish Shipping (Dublin), Bulk Oil Steamship Company (United Kingdom), Kelly's Ships (Belfast), Shell Tankers (London), and Mullocks (Limerick).

Name Gross tons Service Period Notes
Ardnamult 1123 1893-1904 Collision loss 1904
Kincora 944 1895-1901 Collision loss with Oceanic 1901
Gypsy 634 1899-1910 Sold Stewart & Fulton,Glasgow
Newport 64 1900-1914 Sold Ensor Cobh,Broken up 1929
Thomond 127 1900-11 Sold Milford 1911
Sinainn 971 1901-14 Detained Hamburg 1914,Lost 1916
Wylam 844 1903-11 Ex-Zorriza sold Italy 1911
Doonass 903 1907-15 Ex-Whimbrel,sold Edinburgh 1915
Shannon(1) 267 1907-18 Paddle steamer,sold Greece 1918
Tervoe 1400 1911-16 Ex Jabiru sold London 1916
Flying Huntsman 521 1911-12 Paddle tug passenger,sold France
Adare 890 1913-15 Ex Taff sold Edinburgh 1915
Flesk(m/v) 118 1913-30s Ex Hollandia Tralee trade.
Cratloe 992 1915-16 Ex Wellpark sold Edinburgh 1916
Aylevarroo 908 1915-17 Ex Lillie war loss 1917
Oola 2494 1915-16 Ex Highlander war loss 1916
Coonagh 1412 1915-17 Ex Almagro war loss 1917
Kinvarra 1424 1915-16 Ex Lady Wolseley sold Newcastle
Islandmore 3046 1916-17 Ex Kylemhor war loss 1917.
Inishbofin 3042 1919-23 Ex Traveller sold Germany
Foynes 803 1919-39 Ex Q-Ship Privet war loss
Knockfierna 5285 1919-35 Sold Greece War loss 1941
Maigue 456 1919-40 Ex Lady Anstruther stranded Cape Clear 1940
Glenstall 3078 1920-20 Sold Australia lost As Natal Coast 1954
Cahiracon 1871 1920-24 Ex Cid sold Glasgow
Kilcloher 670 1920-28 Ex Channel Queen sold London
Kilcredaun 6180 1922-31 Ex Mogileff sold Norway
Luimneach 1074 1922-40 Ex Fairfield war loss
Dingle(m/v) 129 1922-48 Government X barge sold to Kilrush
Connemara 452 1924-28 Ex Udny Castle sold France
Clounanna 976 1924-29 Ed Rotterdam broken up Alloa
Clonlara 1203 1926-41 War loss August 1941
Moyalla 642 1927-46 Wrecked Galway Bay February 1946
Lanahrone 1221 1928-59 Broken up Holland
Kyleclare 700 1932-43 War loss Feb 1943
Rynanna 1299 1937-40 List on Goodwins Jan 1940
Monaleen 633 1943-59 Broken up Dublin 1950
Kilfenora 979 1946-53 Ex Sussexbrook sold Bombay
Clarina 1135 1949-56 Ex Aranmore broken up Holland
Kylemore 905 1950-57 Ex Felixstowe broken up Holland
Plassy(m/v) 585 1951-60 Ex Peterjon wrecked Inisheer March 1960
Galtee(m/v) 369 1952-61 Ex Marton sold Italy 1961
Derrynane(m/v) 486 1956-68 Ex Rhetais sold Greece
Mulcair(m/v) 500 1958-70 Sold 1971 to Greenore Ferries
Dromineer(m/v) 857 1959-64 Ex Knebworth sold Canada
Oranmore(m/v) 472 1962-70 Sold 1970 renamed Redthorn
Roscrea(m/v) 443 1963-64 Sold Aberdeen renamed Torquay
Shannon(m/v) 596 1964-70 Sold renamed Lady Sophia
Table 11: Limerick Steamship Company Fleet List[80]

The following is a list of Scattery seamen together with the names of some of the lightships that they served on: Stephen Brennan born 13/09/1923 Codling, Sinon Griffin born16/11/1931 South Rock, Sinon Scanlan born 13/08/1911 Arklow, John P Scanlan born 23/06/1923 Coningbeg, and John Scanlan born 30/05/1925 Daunt. Cornelius Brennan born c 1932, Patrick Brennan born c 1920, John Melican born c 1925, David Moran born 01/01/1907, James Moran born13/08/1908, Thomas Moran born c 1919, Patrick Scanlan born c 1910, Michael Griffin, Daunt, born 31/08/1898 and Sinon Scanlan born 15/03/1887.

Scattery islanders that served on the lighthouses around the coast were, Thomas Scanlan born 22/12/1892,Thomas Scanlan born 06/12/1896, Patrick Scanlan born 23/09/1892, Thomas Scanlan born c 1920, Kevin Brennan born 12/04/1934, John Brennan born c 1925, Stephen McMahon born 24/02/1882, Patrick McMahon born c 1920, Donatus Scanlan born c 1920.

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