The Grave of the Yellow Men

‘There is near Kilbaha Bay (some thirty-four kilometres west of Kilrush), in the lower Shannon, a spot believed to be haunted. The crew of a Portuguese vessel was here savagely murdered: and their spirits are believed by the peasantry to glide at midnight about the place where this deep damnation was perpetrated.’

Thomas Steele, Graves of the Yellow Men Practical Suggestions on the General Improvement of the Navigation of the Shannon, etc. (London, 1828).

Location of Kilbaha Bay, County Clare

Yelloe Men map OSI.jpg

Dublin Morning Register, 30 October 1833:
‘the spot near Kilbaha haunted by the murdered Portuguese’. According to Steele, the tale goes as follows:


(Additional excerpt below):


The same article appeared in The Pilot, 30 October 1833

The Schools’ Scheme’ of 1937-1938

The scheme recorded Stephen Hanrahan speaking of Beala’Loca Bridge near Kilcloher: ‘Near here is the grave of the ‘Yellow Men’ where nine shipwrecked Frenchmen were buried about sixty years ago. Their ship was in difficulties and they threw a rope ashore by which nine were saved. One of the local young men however cut part of this fine rope (which was considerably too long at first) so that when the ship drifted a little away from the shore, the cut rope was too short and useless to save the others who were drowned in that spot’.

Lynda O’Keeffe has noted:

The nine or eleven ‘yellow men’ are buried in a mass grave looking over the Atlantic. It was originally thought that they were oriental, possibly from China or Japan (only because of the phrase, ‘yellow men’). However, it should not be forgotten that when the Spanish Armada landed in Ireland – the Spanish too, were referred to as Yellow Men. The foregoing research would suggest that anywhere from Spain, Portugal to Morocco and Tunisia to Egypt would more likely be their point of departure. These men either drowned or were smashed to pieces on the Kilcloher Rocks, one kilometre from Kilbaha in the late 1800s.

In terms of the origins of the Irish people, O’Keeffe also noted that:

It’s said that the blood that flows in all of us here, everyone of us in the county is blood that came from across the sea. Our identity is best understood from a maritime perspective. For the past eight hundred years Ireland has been a haven for explorers, settlers, colonialists, navigators, pirates and traders absorbing goods and people from all points of the world. Our culture has been shaped by Middle Eastern as well as Northern and Southern European civilizations, by an Islamic heritage as well as a Christian one. Over the centuries, there was a vast traffic in ships up and down the Atlantic coast, from the Mediterranean Sea up to the Baltic Sea. Ireland at that time was not seen as a remote island but a halfway house, a trading post.

On 28 December 2015, Paul Cullen noted in the Irish Times:

Ancient Irish had Middle Eastern ancestry, study reveals

Genetic researchers find evidence of mass migration to Ireland thousands of years ago

Article here:

More to follow…
My thanks to Dr Paddy Waldron for alerting me to the additional information above.


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