Willie Bruen of the GreenlandsThe Bruens were an old seafaring family closely connected with the trade of the Port. John Bruen of Undine Cottage, who was born around 1820, went to sea on sailing ships. He later became a River Pilot. His four sons: John, Patrick, Redmond and William were also seafarers.

John Bruen was master of the screw steamer Galgorm Castle. He was washed overboard in March, 1888, when the vessel foundered in a storm in Luce Bay. He left a young family behind him. Two of his sons, Redmond and John, later went to sea. The former sailed the world on different steamers, while John, a ship’s engineer, worked for a time on the SS Kirkcaldy.

Patrick Bruen was also on the crew of the ill-fated Galgorm Castle but survived and later became a River Pilot. His only son, John Patrick Bruen sailed for a number of years with the Blue Funnel Line trading to the Far East. He, too, became a River Pilot and was Captain of the SS Tartar in her latter days on the Sligo to Ballina route. His daughter, Fionnoula, married Brendan Herity, son of Raughley Sea Pilot, Jack Herity.

Redmond Bruen lived at Arbutus Cottage, Rosses Point, and became a River Pilot. His three sons, Redmond, John and Martin, all went to sea. The two elder brothers lived into retirement, but Martin was lost when the SS Castlehill of Belfast was sunk off the South of Ireland in 1941.

William Bruen sailed the seven seas. In 1882 he was the hero in the rescue of passengers when the Laird steamer Iris was wrecked on Innishtrahull Island. He was later Captain on the dredger Garavogue and the Tug Cartron. His eldest son, William Bruen Jun, was Captain of the SS Moss Rose during World War II. He was decorated by the British Government afterwards and had a street in the Liverpool Dockland named after him. His younger brother, Eddie Bruen, spent a number of years at sea but retired early.

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