Danny Robinson – 106 Year Old Lough Neagh Fisherman

Danny Robinson pictured outside his Maghery home in 1928

Mid-Ulster Mail – Saturday 16 July 1927

Boat Race at Maghery

The postponed boat race for the Shillington Challenge Cup, presented by Major DG Shillington MP, took place at Maghery on Saturday week. The weather was on its best behaviour and a large crowd of spectators, which included visitors from counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Derry and Tyrone, enjoyed an exciting race. The course was twice round Coney Island and back to the starting point, a distance of about 12 miles. There were four competitors, and a fine southerly breeze blew throughout the race, which was fast and interesting. Willie Teague of Ardboe was the winner, only a boat’s length separating the first three boats. Results:

1. W Teague, Ardboe, in Rosaline

2. F Fox, Derryard, in Annie

3. J McGeoghegan, Maghery, in Flying Mist

Unfortunately Mr Hugh McGarry, Crumlin, who won the last boat race at Maghery in June, was unable to take part in the race. He left Antrim for Maghery at 10 oclock on Saturday morning, but owing to the stiff heading breeze he made slow progress and did not arrive at Maghery until 6 oclock in the evening.

One of the most interested spectators of the race was Danny Robinson, the patriarch of Maghery, who is 103 years of age, and who followed the progress of the boats in Mr Thomas Mackle’s motor launch, Wild Wave. At the conclusion of the race the prizes were presented in Maghery Hotel by Miss Cowdy, Greenhall.

Belfast Telegraph 1928

An Interview with Danny Robinson

He Rowed From Maghery To Toome

A wonderful old man is Danny Robinson, who lives in a humble little whitewashed cottage on the shores of Lough Neagh. He is 105 years of age, is still healthy and contented and looking forward optimistically to many more days in which to enjoy life.

When a Telegraph representative paid him a visit he found the old man walking out in front of his cottage. He posed for his photograph and then, as he sat in a chair at the door, he related some interesting facts about his life.

Old Danny, a fisherman all his days, stands the heavy burden of years well, and although somewhat deaf his eyesight and mentality are sound. His old wrinkled face too betrays intelligence, just as his blood-shot eyes peeping out from shaggy brows glint with humour.

He could not say what his longevity was attributable to.

“Nothing ever came amiss to me,” he went on, “I was always ready for it (food) and plenty of it, but not so much now. What I was always very fond of was warm soda bread just off the griddle.”

He does not smoke and never smoked in his life and although not a teetotaller he was never fond of intoxicants.

“If you give me a bowl of porter and a bowl of buttermilk I would take the buttermilk every time. That’s the sort of me. Up to about a year ago I never knew what it was to take medicine and was never a day sick in my life. God has been good to me: He must be fond of me or He wouldn’t have let me live so long.”

All his life, from boyhood when he worked in his father’s boat, Danny has made his living on Lough Neagh, and he remembers many dark and stormy days. He was an eyewitness to a terrible tragedy many years ago when nine men were drowned in a storm in Toome Bay.

Pollan were much more plentiful in his early days than now, and cheaper too, and the lot of the fisherman was not an enviable one, the work hard and laborious, and the income scarcely enough on which to subsist.

Yet there is Danny today, still blessed with the same health, though not as strong as he used to be, and probably one of the oldest men in the United Kingdom at the moment. The seven sons and five daughters that he reared are married with the exception of a son and daughter dead, as is also his wife. He lives with a son who is seventy-five and who, like his father, is drawing the old age pension. In the house next to him lives a married granddaughter who has a baby, so that Danny is a great grandfather and proud of the fact.

“As long as I can mind,” he told our representative, “I went to the Chapel every Sunday and Holiday. I go yet, and not the last either. This day week I hope to be in Lurgan to buy nets. I get on the bus. Mebbe I’ll not live to wear them out but there will always be somebody.”

He cannot tear himself away from his boat and still goes out with a grandson to fish a little. On the previous day he had a catch of upwards of a score of pike.

Danny’s hair is quite white and he told me he cut it himself and he gets shaved when he goes to Portadown occasionally.

“The barber makes nothing out of me except what he gets for shaving me,” he said with a roguish smile. As I took my leave of him and wished him many happy days he said, “I haven’t any notion of dying yet awhile.”

And certainly his appearance and buoyancy of spirits did not belie his words.

Mid-Ulster Mail – Saturday 31 August 1929

Danny Robinson Dead

Lough Neagh Centenarian

Danny Robinson, County Armagh’s Grand Old Man, who celebrated his 106thbirthday last Christmas, has died at his cottage in Maghery. On 14 October last he was presented to Princess Mary, the Viscountess Lascelles, when she passed through Portadown on her way to Belfast.

Danny was probably the oldest man in the United Kingdom and since boyhood until a few months ago he earned his living as a fisherman on Lough Neagh. He enjoyed good health all his days and never tasted medicine until two years ago.

His interview with Princess Mary was regarded by Danny as the greatest event of his life. He enjoyed the prominence that it gave him and his one regret was that her Royal Highness could not accept the invitation that he extended to her to visit Maghery and see the lough.

He married early in life and had eleven children – seven boys and four girls – and it was his boast that he and his wife never quarrelled. In an interview some time ago Danny said that he could give no recipe for longevity. He attributed his own splendid health to the fact that “food never came amiss to me”.

“What I like well,” he said, “is plenty of good tea and good oaten bread. Oaten porridge doesn’t answer me at all. I never smoked, and when I chewed a leaf of tobacco it made me sick. I don’t care for many potatoes and fish makes me too dry. I love butter and sweet milk.”

As for drink he confessed that rum “wasn’t too bad.”

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