History of Carrickfinn Island
Carrickfinn was originally an island before a neck of a peninsula emerged and grasses stared to grow on this. The word Braade itself means neck in Irish and the neck of this peninsula became a valuable resource for local people.
It provided grazing for their cattle and bent for their thatched cottages.
In addition to thatching for their cottages and grazing for their cattle, the enclosed bay also provided from the sea. This was a natural breeding ground for mussels and other shell fish, flat fish and other food sources. It was vital nourishment for the local people in Braade, Ranafast and Annagry.
Local people also followed methods allocating the customary right to harvest seaweed. The right to grow and
take rack from the Braade Strand as fertiliser for their land.
Braade strand itself and the lime grass adjoining it also provided an important feeding ground for wildlife. In particular the site attracts emigrating geese and swans travelling to and from Iceland and Greenland and other regions.
The beauty of Carrickfinn has oft been celebrated in music and art. Here’s a piece from Tales of the Donegal Coast and Islands(1921) by Elizabeth Shane (Gertrude Elizabeth Heron Hind) (addendum/warning by David Dunlop)
Who has seen the sand-el fishers at the low ebb tide,
Speeding out across the shallows where the bay is wide,
When the level sands are shining and the banks have dried?
With the little eel-hooks, ready men and women stand
Knee-deep in rippling water, far out from the land,
When the silver fish are hiding in the soft wet sand.
Wet their arms are to the shoulder as with backs bent low,
Swinging, swinging like the reapers at the corn they go,
And the work is hard and hurried ere he tide shall flow.
Oh! ‘Tis I have seen them busy, on a summer day,
Where the shallow waters glisten and the soft winds play,
And the low, wet sands are shining out in Gweedore Bay…
But now we cannot see them, oyster beds are in the way!