The whistling postman of Inishturk

When Hugh Malet[1] visited Lough Erne, he met a whistling postman, William Rooney, who lived on Inishturk. Rooney delivered post to the islanders on three days a week and to the mainland farms and houses on the other three. His father had had the job before him, and had used a sailing boat, but he himself had a little outboard motor on his pillarbox-red skiff.

Two years later, staying in Gibraltar over Christmas, Malet read of William Rooney’s death. He had finished his delivery round for Friday 29 December 1961 and was on his way home to his wife and family when his boat got caught in the ice.

His sixty-year-old brother James went to his assistance, but he too got caught. The two brothers were found next day, frozen to death, only a short distance apart[2].


[1] Malet, Hugh In the Wake of the Gods: On the waterways of Ireland Chatto & Windus 1970.

[2] Malet, op cit; Rogers, Mary, Prospect of Erne Watergate Press 2nd ed 1971; Irish Times 2 January 1962; British Postal Museum Archive.

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