First Boat trip to Aran Islands from Doolin – almost 100 years ago!

The Garrihy family has long been associated with the sea, fishing at the Cliffs of Moher and trading with the Aran Islands. PJ Garrihy first took payment for bringing a passenger to Inis Oirr in 1968, on board a 20ft currach.  But there is an even earlier story of a Garrihy sailing to the Aran Islands – going back almost a century! That honour goes to an amazing lady called Nellie (Eileen) Jude Garrihy who celebrated her 106th birthday on January 29th, 2021.  Nellie is a sister of the late Jack Garrihy, and aunt of Eugene, Donie, Joe and PJ Garrihy who run our business – Garrihy’s Doolin2Aran Ferries.

Sadly, Nellie passed away on February 14, 2021 rom Covid 19, 2 weeks after her 106th birthday – but what a life she led…

Auntie Nellie Jude Garrihy

Nellie  was born in 1915 and grew up in her home on the square in Ennistymon, which was a thriving market town.  She survived the Spanish flu but lost 3 brothers to it in Christmas 1918. She also lost her mum to cancer when she was just 14 in 1930. Her mum was Eileen Vaughan from St Brigid’s well. She told a story, with a glint in her eye, that her father Mick (a blacksmith) made bayonets for the “volunteers” in 1920.

Nellie went to school to the nuns in Ennistymon and went on to qualify as a nurse in London where she practised and lived. She nursed many of the WW2 survivers, experiencing life in many of its contradictions.

With her husband, Ernie Jude, they had 2 children. Jennifer (RIP) and Philip. Following her husband’s death, Nellie returned to Ireland and built a lovely home at the Flaggy Shore on the north Clare coast. She retired and lived there for 30 years.

Nellie’s Boat Trip to Inis Oirr in 1930

Growing up in Ennistymon, Nellie had an infamous neighbour in those days, a lady called Caitlin McNamara. Caitlin went on to marry the welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, and there are many colourful stories of their tempestuous relationship and famous friends who came to stay at their family residence, which is now the Falls Hotel.

Dylan and Caitlin Thomas


Nellie tells a story of when she was 15 or maybe 16 years of age, so around 1930,  and Caitlin  invited her to join her in a trip to the Aran Islands. She got permission and the next day she was picked up in style by horse and carriage and away to Doolin.  What excitement that must have been for a young girl! 

Galway Hooker

Caitlin’s father had a boat called the Mary Anne, which was a converted Galway Hooker and this was waiting for them at Doolin pier.  Nellie remembers it was a lovely day and it took a long time to get to the Island (not the 15 minutes it takes now on the Star of Doolin!) They spent a few hours on the beach and she remembers she got a present on the Island of a pair of Pampooties, which are shoes made on the island from leather hide. It was almost dark when they returned to Doolin and Nellie still recalls the comfort and the warmth inside the horse drawn carriage on their way back home to Ennistymon. 

Little did she know that day that the connections being made between Doolin and the Aran Islands at that time would be built on and strengthened by the generations that followed, and that almost a century later, her nephews would run ferries between Doolin and the Aran Islands. 

In 2018, Nellie moved to the wonderful St Dominic Savio Nursing Home in Liscannor where she got amazing love and care. Sadly Covid got into the nursing home and found Nellie. She did not suffer and continued to get amazing love and care from its staff. She would have no qualms with being called Home. We were very proud to have her as our Aunt. Rest in peace, our beautiful Nellie.