St. Michaels Church Creeslough

Creeslough (Irish: An Craoslach, meaning 'The Gorge' or 'Throat Lake') is a village in County Donegal, Ireland. It lies 12 km south of Dunfanaghy overlooking an arm of Sheephaven Bay. It is a small village, with the population of the surrounding area engaged mainly in agriculture. Creeslough takes its name from the lake situates in a deep valley below the village. The lake is apparently of enormous depth, as is signified by its name in Irish – Craos-loch.

The famous songwriter Percy French became a constant visitor to Creeslough –one of many artists, poets and authors of the day who spent holidays there, often together. There was G.K. Chesterton, George Russel (A.E.), Stephen Gwynn, W.B. Yeats, Standish O’ Grady, James H. Cousins, and many more, a unique gathering og literato in a wild, country parish in north Donegal. They were attracted by the beautiful, rugged landscape of mountain, bog, forest, lake, river, sea and strand and were the pioneers of a tourist industry in the area that had grown over the years.

The branch of Lough Swilly railways that linked Letterkenny with Burtonport from 1903 until 1941, ran through Creeslough. A viaduct was built to carry the train over the broad valley of the Owencarrow river. The worst accident in the history of the Lough Swilly Railway happened on this viaduct on Friday 31st January, 1925. The Lough Swilly Train left Derry as usual at 5:30 p.m. on this fateful day with 13 passengers, 8 goods wagons and 2 bread vans. The driver was Mr. Robert Mc Guinness, the fireman was John Hannigan and the guard was Neily Boyle. It left Letterkenny at 7:05 p.m. with about 36 passengers on board. As the Train approached the Owencarrow Viaduct a strong gale was blowing, the train driver slowed down to 10m.p.h. but the gale was so strong that it blew the carriage nearest to the engine off the rails. The roof was ripped off and four passengers dropped forty feet to their death. They were Philip and Sarah Boyle from Arranmore Inland, Una Mulligan from Falcarragh and Neil Duggan from Meenbunowen Creeslough. The fireman John Hannigan ran three miles to Creeslough to raise the alarm. The local doctor Dr. Charley Coll and newly ordained priest Fr. Barney Gallagher attended the dead and injured. Lots of local people helped out. Six of the injured were taken to Letterkenny Hospital. At the inquest the Jury recorded the bravery of two men James "The Post" Mc Fadden Kilfad and Pat "Paddy Rua" Mc Fadden Terlin who rescued two women from a carriage hanging by it's chains.

The last passenger train journey from Letterkenny to Burtonport took place on June 1941. A permanent record of this journey, in the form of a colour film, was made by Fr. Thomas Doherty (later Archdeacon Doherty P.P., Donegal Man of the Year, 1985). Excerpts from the film were included in the Archdeacon’s television programme shown on RTÉ in 1985. The film reveals what a wealth of scenic beauty was to be viewed by passengers on the old railway.

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