Contribution to History Leaflet
Railway Road, nicknamed the Boat-Hole, was where boats were loaded and where cargo was delivered to. During WW2, turf was despatched to the Boat-Hole from within Donegal. It was then taken to other places in Ireland eg Phoenix Park, Dublin. Other examples of merchandise are: sugar beet, turf, cars from Cork, cattle. Coal could not be imported during the war.
The Boat-Hole was also home to the Train Station. St Johnston Railway Station is a private house now. The railway was closed in 1965. The express from Derry to Dublin went through on a daily basis six days a week.
St Johnston Cricket Club, the only one in Donegal, has used the Cricket Field since the 1930s.
An inscription reading Erected by the Bishop of Raphoe, 1626 can be found along the Main Street. The bishop was Andrew Knox.
The Presbyterian Church was built 1849. In December 1982, the tower was struck by lightning during the night.
The Old Graveyard is a mixed graveyard. Records go back to 1815. A Church was partly built there in the 1620’s but never completed as it was decided to renovate and use Taughboyne Church. There is a memorial there for Ernest Robinson who died in the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
Notes for History Trail
I like this spot here for in the past it was really the jugular vein of the town. This is where produce and items for sale came by boat and by rail. The Road here is called Railway Road.
Railway Road is nicknamed the Boat-Hole. Why? Simply because there was a remarkably high volume of boats coming here. They could be seen here all the time. And fishing boats made up the biggest percentage. The Boat-Hole was much used by passengers and workers and merchants who loaded and disembarked from the trains. The Summer months were particularly busy with people simply coming to visit the area.
If you look over there, you can see the St Johnston Railway Station is still there. It is a private house now. We lost the Great Northern Railway with its closure on 15th February 1965. This sparked off a dramatic economic decline for the town. St Johnston was very self-sufficient and self-contained up until the railway line closed.
Now you see the Cricket Field used by St Johnston Cricket Club. The club is thought to have been founded in 1898. The Club has used this field for about eighty years.
If you look over there you see Binnion Hill. There is a Massrock on the hill. I visited the site last year.
There used to be an egg store that belonged to Corcoran's from Derry down at the boathole until it was burned down in the early seventies. The eggs came in from local and foreign sources and they were packed in the store.
Matthew O'Donnell lived down the Boathole. Sand was delivered to the Pier years ago. He worked the sand with a shovel. He died in October 1970 and is buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery. You can see the eggstore and the pier in the picture below from 1949.
The Main Street has not changed hugely since it was first mapped in 1835 by Ordnance Survey Ireland.
We see here over the arch that there is an inscription . It says Erected by the Bishop of Raphoe, 1626. It is very hard to make out now but the inscription takes shape better when viewed at a distance. The bishop at the time was Andrew Knox, a Scotsman. In 1857 during the Griffith's Valuation, this property was unoccupied. I think it was one of the bishop's houses.
The Corrs grandmother Elizabeth Blee - later Elizabeth Bell of Dundalk was born in St Johnston soon after the 1911 census. Her parents were Daniel and Mary Blee who were buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery, St Johnston in the sixties.
The St Johnston congregation of Presbyterians was officially founded in 1726.
They used a meeting house equipped with stables built alongside the Main Street, St Johnston, which was de-consecrated in 1849 and converted into one storey houses.
They built the Church in 1849 and ten years later they built the Church tower. On the 19th December 1982, the tower was struck by lightning during the night. The tower was restored using the same stone and the same design. The Church was reopened on 4th March 1984.
This is the Old Graveyard. It was and is a mixed graveyard. Catholics and Protestants and Dissenters were buried side by side. Records go back to 1815, but I suspect it was a graveyard long before that. You can see the ruins of a Church over there. This Church was never completed or used. Taughboyne Parish Church, Church of Ireland, had fallen into bad repair. It was decided to build a new Church here. It was partly built when the decision was made to restore Taughboyne Church. At the time it was hoped to have the new Church finished at Midsummer 1622.
This is the memorial of Ernest Robinson. His inscription on the gravestone tells us that he "was lost with H.M.S. Indefatigable In the Jutland battle 31st May 1916 aged 24 years
The battle of Jutland was fought in Denmark. This young man died on the first day of the battle. it was a naval battle.
Here is a picture of the battleship.