When I met Pat Rua Reilly (then last living survivor of the 1927 Iniskea fishing tragedy that took the lives of 10 men) this month 10 years ago, I started by asking him why it was that the islanders left Iniskea.
BM : Why did ye decide to come out ? What was the story ?
PRR : The story was that they wanted them to go out. The priest went at it, do you know ? And he wanted them to come out. They didn’t like to leave them on the island. And another thing then, the land was going against them, do you know ? It wasn’t growing anything for them. It was burned up.
What happened the land was, they never put fertiliser on the land. It was the seaweed, come to land, they used put on it, do you know ? And it burned the land.
It started bad about after the drowning, after big drowning. It started burning up. It wasn’t growing right.
BM : And what had it been growing ? Spuds ?
PRR : There were spuds and grain. Oats and barley. It was growing everything.
BM : So ye did not come out against your will ?
PRR : No, we did not. There was land vacancy out on The Mullet and it was divided between them and each family got about 4 or 5 acres, or 6.
BM : And was there any disagreement ?
PRR : No, no disagreement in the world. Everyone wanted to go. They weren’t bothered. They were all agreed to go.
BM : And they left bit by bit, one by one ?
PRR : Some of them left in 1932. As the houses were completed abroad. That’s why we had to wait on the island until 1934.
BM : And what difference did it make to ye to be on the mainland after ?
PRR : Not a bit. Not a bit.