The Big Storm Friday, October 28th 1927

It was a fine clear day with calm conditions at sea. Along the coast in counties Mayo and Galway, fishermen were at work, preparing their boats and nets, for the evenings fishing. Huge shoals of herring were along the shores and the catches were good. As the men set out on what appeared to be an idyllic day, storm and death were far from their minds . One man commented ‘ the water was like a sheet of glass with hardly a ripple on it’. A man at Lacken, in north Mayo, was not happy, he had a barometer, a rare enough instrument in fishing villages at that time. He warned that the glass was falling rapid, and that a storm was imminent; his warnings went unheeded.

It was about 5.30 in the evening when the boats left Lacken, as they had done so many times before. The fishing grounds were just about 800 yards off shore, and within sight of the men’s homes. At about 7.30 pm the wind struck suddenly and caught the boatmen unaware. As the winds intensified and the skies darkened the men began to realise the gravity of their situation, they were caught in a deluge in a Force 10 storm. Soon, the roaring of the storm made conversation impossible and in the blinding rain the fishermen could not see where they were headed. Some of the crews cut their nets, and literally blundered their way to shore. Seamanship had little to do with it, they were in the lap of the Gods, ‘we were blown about like a feather in the wind’ said one man. The storm blew for over two hours and whipped the sea into a churning mass of white water , and then, at 9.30 pm, as suddenly as it had come, the storm passed . It was time to count the cost.

Many fishermen’s families were bereaved; fathers and sons, brothers and cousins were lost. . At Lacken, 9 men were drowned, and in the Inishkea Islands, off the Mullet peninsula 10 people were lost, many of them brothers in their teens, the youngest being a 14 year old boy

Galway county suffered even worse calamity, at Inish Bofin 9 people were lost, and in Cleggan Bay 26 men met their deaths.

Today, monuments commemorating the tragedy are to be seen along the coast, the one pictured is at Lacken and bears the names of the victims. It does not however, tell the human story, the devastation, sadness and hardship caused to the men’s families in the aftermath of the tragic events of eighty years ago.

Below are some of the details of the Lacken people who were lost:

Tom Goldrick, aged 40, a naval pensioner, lived with his brother Pat. Tom’s navy pension was the main source of income.

Anthony Goldrick, aged 19, Tom’s cousin. Lived with his mother and six younger siblings, he was their sole support.

Patrick Goldrick, aged 18 and Michael Goldrick aged 34, two brothers, lived with their parents and six other children. They were the main family support and were cousins of Tom and Anthony.

Martin Kearney, aged 35, lived with two sisters who were ill and unable to maintain themselves.

Pat Kearney, aged 45, Martin’s brother, lived with his wife, they had no children.

Anthony Coolican, aged 22, single, lived with his two brothers and two sisters. Another sister had died shortly before the drowning.

Thomas Lynott, aged 50, married, left a widow and two young children.

All the above were lost from the boat “Rose of Rathlacken”.

Anthony Kearney, aged 36, cousin of the other Kearneys , was lost off the “St. Patrick”