US professor makes start on story

Professor Meg Carroll with historian Richard Doherty at the base at Ture.
Professor Meg Carroll with historian Richard Doherty at the base at Ture.

A US professor who visited Derry last week to find stories from relatives of people who may have visited the World War I naval base at Ture, has told the ‘Journal’ she has been inundated with help.

Professor Meg Carroll who has been given a grant by the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to write a book, said that thanks to a story in the “Derry Journal” two weeks ago, she has been able to make a real start on her book researching the period that her grandfather, Philip J. Gallagher, was stationed in County Donegal.

The McNally family assisted Meg in her search.

The McNally family assisted Meg in her search.

“I have so many people to thank,” she added.

She revealed how military historian Richard Doherty had personally taken her to the base at Ture where he introduced her to Sean Beattie.

“There’s not a lot left on the base,” she noted. “Most of it was dismantled in 1919, but I noticed a concrete slab still there. In my grandfather’s letters he mentions how one of the jobs he was given during the construction of the base was to pour concrete, I just looked at it and thought - wow grandad, you did a great job.”

Meg said that she had been contacted by Brian McNally who explained that his parents had read the article in the newspaper and wanted to show her a copy of an auction book they had from 1918-1919. In the auction book there is a list of items that were sold off when the base was closed.

An auction book from the base.

An auction book from the base.

“I had a wonderful visit with the McNally family,” explained Meg. “Michael McNally was able to share with me stories he had heard about the base.

“Michael then drove me to his brother-in-law, Pat McDonald, who showed me a tobacco tin he had in his possession that had come from the base.

“He too was able to pass on stories about the base, stories that his father had told him.”

Meg also revealed that he had met Seamus Bovaird at the Inishowen Maritime Museum who expressed an interest in her grandfather’s letters which were written back in 1918.

“Charles Doherty who I met at the Maritime Museum was able to show me some amazing pictures from a Naval Association in Florida.

“And I have to thank Ronan O’Connell from the Tower Museum.”

Meg said that her visit was tinged with a little sadness because of the absence of local historian, Mickey McGuinness, who had written to her over the years offering advice. Sadly Mickey, who had planned to take Meg to the Ture base himself, passed away in 2014.

“I think in a way Mickey was guiding me,” said Meg. “I have had a lot of help and a lot of luck.

“I would like to thank everyone who helped me during my trip to Derry. It was a fantastic trip.”