Below are words of a sibling of the lost, retelling the events of a Thursday night in December, 1951. Roskeda, County Galway.
Saint Stephen´s night had always been a great one for dancing and having a great time, this one in particular also brought with it fierce wind and rain. Undeterred by the weather and wearing the brand new suit that he had just got for Christmas, my eighteen year old brother brother Micko along with his best friend Michael (Nellog) Pateen (Conroy) had just left home on their bicycles to break the back of the `twenty eight kilometre´ journey to the dance in Carna, but the wind was so strong and the rain so heavy that they were only gone a few kilometres when they had to turn back, though they did stop to visit with Michael Cole Newell and his wife Kate before returning home. In great spirits, Micko was a world away from what fate had destined for him, just a few hours away now.
I don’t remember much about that night until my mother woke me up at six in the morning and wanted me to go with her to look for Dad and Micko, she said they went out a few hours earlier to pull the boat up onto the pier after the prior evenings work, they couldn’t do it at the time as the tide had been out. I remember she had a great fire going so they could warm themselves when they got home…. I was surprised to see our dog Rex, because he went everywhere with Micko, he did that night too, but that night he came back alone, he followed Mom and I back to the pier.
With the Dawn just breaking the dark night we headed for the pier, it was so cold and windy, though the rain had let up a little the wind had not, making it very difficult to walk. We couldn’t get near the pier because the tide was so high, I had never seen the tide that high, before or since. There was no sign of Dad, Micko, or the boat. We went to a nearby house in the area of where the boat was supposed to be and asked the people there if they had seen anything, they hadn’t. They had children including a baby in a cradle, the cradle was on the table because the tide had come into the house, there was water everywhere. We went to another house and asked again, same reply, we returned home.
By then word had got around the area that they were missing and everyone started to look for them. The tide had now gone out enough so that people could search farther out. It wasn’t long before they found the first body, shortly after that they found the second not far away. Somebody went to get the priest Fr. Moran and to inform the Gaurds. Telegrams were sent to America and England to let the rest of the family know.
I was fifteen years old at the time, the next few days were just a blur for me, all I remember was the constant crying and sadness. I had three younger sisters at home then, the youngest of whom was five. My brother Patrick was in England working at the time, when he received the telegram saying that his father had died it didn’t say anything about his brother. When he was in Galway waiting for a taxi to take him the rest of the way home he heard people talking about the two men that had drowned in Rosmuc, when he asked what their names were and heard his own brothers name he passed out, it was just too much, even for the toughest man that I ever knew. Patrick said some time later that when he heard his father had died it was bad enough, but when he heard that his brother had also died it nearly killed him.
We had the wake for two nights, it was a terribly sad time. My mother was so broken hearted as were the rest of us. The day of the funeral was the worst day of our lives, when they were putting the coffins in the grave my mother nearly fell in, somebody grabbed a hold of her to pull her back up, it was so hard leaving them there in the cold damp dirt. I started writing about this tragic event in October 2005, it is now December 2006, it was a very hard thing to do but I did it so that future generations would know what had happened, and never forget about two very important members of the Newell family.