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The Hooker and the Hurricane – 1877

Galway Hookers
Galway Hookers

The Old Dominion, of the Old Dominion Steamship Company, arrived at New York recently, having on board seventeen men, fourteen of whom were Italians and three, natives of Ireland, who have strange stones, to tell of the recent storms at sea. The. Irishmen have a strange story to relate. One, of the three, Michael Moran, a well-built and hearty-looking man, made the following statement :

‘We are fishermen of a little village named Claddagh, near Galway, and but a short distance from where Father Burke resides. We are in the habit of going out to catch fish, which we sell in Galway. In this way we support our families. That young man there (pointing to one of his companions) is Michael Smith, who has been married but a few months. The older man is my fathor, Patrick Moran. Se is eighty-six years old. I am the father of a family of five. We are all most anxious to return to Ireland.

Hurricane Isabel - 2003 Photo: Astronaut Ed Lu via Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.
Hurricane Isabel – 2003
Photo: Astronaut Ed Lu via Mike Trenchard, Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory , Johnson Space Center.
I was the captain of a fishing smack, or hooker, named the St. Patrick. Thinking that we might make a good haul of herring, with Michael Smith, Patrick Moran and my uncle, John Moran, I set sail in our nine ton hooker on Monday, the 4th of November, and made for Sline Head about sixty miles from Galway, where we thought the fishing would be good. We had no extra good fortune, and at night foggy weather overtook us.

The wind sprang up, blowing a perfect hurricane. My post was at the helm, where my hands became frozen. On Tuesday night the boat was half filled with water. It is our custom to light turf on setting out and keep the fire going. The water put it out. Although we had potatoes and fresh fish, we had no means to cook them. We were four days and four nights without eating. In order to break the speed with which we were driven we lowered a basket filled with stones and endeavoured to heave to, but the cable broke on Friday morning. We could not, previous to this, reach any sounding. About this time my uncle, John Moran, aged ninety- six, while we were asleep towards morning, must have been drowned by the lurching of the ship throwing him into the water. At any rate, we could discover no trace of him.
When one hundred and fifty miles out we were picked up by a Swedish bark, the Gorgian, Captain P. Olsen, bound for Hampton Roads. The ice drove the vessel into Norfolk, where we arrived on the 6th instant.

I am not a stranger to America, having been here about thirteen years ago. I have served on the Shenandoah. My father was also here twenty -five years ago, being engaged in shad fishing at Fort Lee. We are totally destitute of clothing, and have no means. We intend to see the British Consul to-morrow. We have acquaintances here, but we do not know where they live.’