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Turbot Islanders Life in Lockdown off the Coast of Galway (Podcast)

15th April 2021
Hanneke Frenkel making her

Turbot Island's main claim to fame has been its sighting by trans-Atlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown before they crash-landed at Derrygimlagh bog in north Connemara on June 15th, 1919.

Turbot or “Inishturbot” is a few miles west of Clifden and south of Omey. One very sad and memorable event in its history was the loss of islanders Patrick O’Toole (58), Patrick Stuffle (48) and Michael Wallace (62) in September 1974.

The three men were on their way home to Turbot from watching the All Ireland football final in Clifden when their currach capsized.

Trans-Atlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown sighted Turbot Island shortly before they crash-landed   Transatlantic aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown say they sighted Turbot Island shortly before they crash-landed in Connemara over one hundred years ago

Four years later, the population of about 60 was relocated to the mainland.

The ruin of the old schoolhouse on Turbot IslandThe ruin of the old schoolhouse on Turbot Island

That event was remembered last year with the release of a video, accompanied by music by Peter Knox. It was based on a poem called Turbot Men which was written by a mainland resident Joseph O’Toole after the fishermen drowned.

Peter Knox (left) and Turbot islander John O'ToolePeter Knox (left) and Turbot islander John O'Toole

Dutch couple and Turbot “new islanders” Stefan and Hanneke Frenkel who financed the video weathered last year’s first pandemic wave out there. Brian Hughes of the Abbeyglen Hotel in Clifden, who hosted the video’s launch, also has a house there.

Hanneke Frenkel collecting "sea rope" to make carpets last year on Turbot islandHanneke Frenkel (above and below) collecting "sea rope" to make carpets last year on Turbot islandHanneke Frenkel collecting "sea rope" to make carpets last year on Turbot island

This week’s Wavelengths podcast also has an interview with John O’Toole, whose house the Frenkel's purchased all those years ago. O’Toole was reared on Turbot, left at the age of ten, but maintains a strong connection with the island.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

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