NEWS

A Gola man who travelled the world but always kept Ireland close to his heart

Eddie Sweeney, San Francisco and Gola Island

Tommy Curran

Reporter:

Tommy Curran

Email:

news@donegaldemocrat.com

Deaths in Dundalk, July 13, 2017

The death occurred in San Francisco on April 6 of Eddie Sweeney.
He was born on Gola Island on June 25, 1922 and was the tenth of eleven children born to Hugh and Maeve Sweeney.
These fellow islanders including his siblings Darby, Sally, Hughie, Peggy, Mary, Brigid, Nellie, Annabella, Nancy, Bridie and other family, neighbours and friends became the focal point of his often told stories of adventure, kindness, generosity and mutual reliance needed for their survival and social connections.

Wonderful nights
The islanders worked as commercial deep sea fishermen in sailing ships. Neddie, as he was called as a child, joined in the business at age 12. They visited each other nightly, in different houses to play cards, listen to professional boxing matches on a short wave radio, dance accompanied by a concertina or to sit and listen at their mother’s knee as she knitted and chatted by the fireside with her friends. Life was lived without either electricity or running water.

At 14, Neddie left Gola Island to live with his sister Nellie and her family in Glasgow. He worked at his brother-in-law's bar in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. He learned to dance very well, and enjoyed life thoroughly, attending dances and joining his friends for little parties, playing cards and storytelling.
At the age of 19, he went to Aberdeen and signed on as a deckhand for a commercial fishing trawler. After six months, he returned to Glasgow and managed the bar for his brother-in-law.

America

At the end of the War he emigrated to America. He worked in Brooklyn and in Chicago as a merchant marine on the Great Lakes before following a friend's recommendation to join him in San Francisco.
It was here he met his future wife, Eileen where he was playing Gaelic football. They loved to dance together and often attended many of the Irish dance halls in the city.
They were married in 1951, at Corpus Christi Church. He found another family with Eileen’s large extended family.

The McCarthys and other friends from the Irish community shared his love of Gaelic football, hurling, cards, house parties and dancing. They welcomed immigrating friends and family from Ireland who needed a home, often for extended periods of time until they found their own way in the United States.
Eileen preceded him in death in 1985.

Loving family

He returned to Ireland each summer to visit his brothers and sisters. He played golf regularly at Golden Gate and Harding.
He is survived by his children, Nancy Yalon (Vince), Dennis (Mary), Eddie (Joanne) and Kevin (Diane) Sweeney and his seven grandchildren: Annie (Shawn Woznicki), Patrick Yalon, Caitlín, Michael, Brian, Ashleen and Eric Sweeney, and his beloved great-granddaughter, Leona Woznicki who brought him much joy.
He will be missed by numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
His Requiem Mass was celebrated at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 1555 39th Ave., on Saturday, April 13.