Wednesday, January 02, 2019

One of the most historic private residences in Ballina owes its name to an anchor that has its origins in the French fleet that invaded Ireland in 1798.

Located in the centre of The Quay village, The Anchorage is the final resting place of an anchor lifted from Killala Bay in the 19th century.

Current long-term residents of The Anchorage, David and Harriett Dwane, along with their sons Stephen and Simon (pictured), have erected a new plaque to commemorate the historical significance of the anchor in this year, the 220th anniversary of the ill-fated French invasion in support of the Irish rebellion.

According to well-known historian Steve Dunford, following the defeat of the invading group by the English, one of the three warships carrying the thousand French soldiers who were commanded by the legendary General Humbert had difficulty in hauling in the anchor as they fled Killala Bay.

During his research Steve, an acknowledged expert on the French invasion, came across an article published in the Western People 80 years ago which quoted, what appears to be, an eyewitness account from 1798 as saying ‘They couldn’t haul in the anchor. It was caught in a ledge, and they couldn’t free it, so they had to cut it away.’ 

Regarding the anchor, the Western People article from 1948 – the 150thanniversary of Humbert’s arrival – went on to say ‘It was found by the late Mr Hately and his son William, the latter of whom died at Ballina Quay Cottage some years ago at the age of 93, and presented to the then Harbour Master, Capt, Wright, who lived at The Anchorage.

‘There it has rested ever since, too heavy and too awkward to be made an exhibit at the local display of souvenirs of ’98 during the present celebrations.’ 

The plot on which the anchor is displayed is on a property that dates back to the first half of the 18th century. 

The Anchorage was around two acres in size in the early years, before it was broken up into separate sites in the 20th century.

It was part of the Lindsay Estate, with Reverend Samuel Lindsay as the first recorded  Immediate Lessor. 

The original core of the house has been preserved, though the portholes which underlined the maritime theme of this historic building have long since gone. Various extensions have been added over the years.

The freehold was purchased by David and Harriett Dwane from the American-based Lindsay Estate in 1984, and the couple and their two sons, have occupied The Anchorage ever since.

David Dwane, who has worked in the Western People for over four decades, is not the only connection between this property and the newspaper. Former editor of the Western People, Frederick De Vere, also lived in The Anchorage from 1926, though his name was registered as Frederick Devers at that time. 

The house was purchased by Fred Morrow in 1958 and the Morrow family then lived there for the next 26 years.

Other occupiers over the last two centuries are listed as Capt. William Wright and The Lindsays (the mid-1800s), Frederic H. Reed (1887), H. A. Quaid (1893), Arthur Browne (1908) and Adam R. Browne (1912).

The Anchorage is one of only a few properties named on an ordinance survey map of the area from the 19th century. 

The Dwane family say they are proud to display the anchor on their property and to be the custodians of a small but significant part of local history.

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