William Gillen was Commodore Pilot at the Port over a long period. To him was entrusted the task of taking large steamers over the bar and safely to their moorings. On occasions he went as far as Queenstown or Cobh, to pilot vessels up the West Coast to Sligo. His skill and courage gained him the reputation of being one of the most resourceful pilots of his day. At the time of his death in December, 1907, he had completed a record fifty years service in the employment of the Harbour Board.

Captain Michael Gillen of Crescent Lodge, who died in December, 1917, was another member of this family of Master Mariners. He had been a sea-going Captain for over forty years, most of which he spent on large sailing ships trading worldwide, before his appointment as the first master of the Tartar when she commenced sailings on the Belmullet route in 1899.

Some years previous, as Master of a large sailing vessel, Captain Gillen took his wife on a trip to South America. While berthed in the Port of Santos his spouse took ill with fever and died in a local hospital. It would have been relatively simple if he had buried her there but he decided otherwise. He had the body embalmed and placed in a sealed casket which both he and the ship’s carpenter, Andrew Gillen, of Green Lodge, Rosses Point, smuggled aboard late at night while the remainder of the crew were ashore. It was concealed in a compartment under the cabin aft, a secret shared only by the Gillens from Rosses Point. When the ship eventually berthed at Falmouth, the remains were taken ashore and transported to Sligo for burial in Drumcliffe.

Captain Michael Gillen re-married and had three sons: Gerald, William and Gustie, all of whom went to sea at an early age. Gerald became a Master in the foreign trade; Gustie lost his life when his ship the Pearlmore was torpedoed in the Atlantic in 1940, and William, after some years at sea, retired to Rosses Point. His son, Andrew Gillen, still maintains the family tradition and serves as an officer in the foreign trade.

Captain Owen Gillen, brother of Michael, died in December, 1937. In an obituary he was described as "the last survivor of the old family of "Gillens at Rosses Point". When Moore McCormacks large sailing vessels traded into Sligo Port he was appointed Commodore Pilot of the so-called Sea Monsters and afterwards Master Pilot to Sligo Harbour Board.

Captain David Gillen, son of John Gillen of Green Lodge, Rosses Point, a River Pilot, sailed with the Limerick Steamship Company, Irish Shipping and Irish Lights before becoming Master of B&I Line passenger vessels. He now lives in retirement in Dublin.

Peter Gillen of Erin Cottage, Rosses Point, seaman, retired from the SS Tartar early this century. His son was Tommy Joe Gillen who was lost on the SS Stanleigh in 1941. Peter Gillen’s grandson, who is also called Peter, carried on the family tradition and spent almost three years at sea, sailing on the Duke of Rothesay, the Aragon and the Hastula. He now lives in Los Angeles. His uncle, Eugene, retired from the Irish Lights some years ago and lives in Kinsale.

Captain Thomas Gillen of Upper Rosses was Commodore Master with the Lamport and Holt Line and Master with the Limerick Steamship Company. His nephew, Eamonn McGee, served as Master with Irish Shipping on the North Atlantic Route.

Thomas James Gillen, and his brother, Martin, were both seamen. The former was an AB on the Sligo owned SS Carrickfergus.

The one that didn't get away!Austie Gillen in the 1930'sPatrick Austin Gillen, proprietor of the Elsinore Bar, better known as Austies, son of Joseph Gillen of Springfield, went to sea as a boy and sailed on many large vessels in the foreign trade before becoming a River Pilot. He married Gabrielle, daughter of Redmond John Bruen of Elsinore, and their son, Redmond Gillen, is currently in the Sligo Harbour Master.

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