History of the KFO HQ
History of Bruach na Mara, KFO Headquarters, Killybegs, Co. Donegal
Now approaching its 100th birthday, Bruach na Mara, the KFO Headquarters, is one of the finest buildings in Killybegs. It was built with American money by the Sinnots, a wealthy emigrant family from Killybegs, originally from Wexford. John Sinnot was a Coastguard based in Killybegs, and most of his family emigrated to North America where one son, Joe, made his fortune as a whiskey distiller. Probably with retirement in mind, he had Bruach na Mara built in his hometown of Killybegs.
The materials were shipped by sea from the USA for this purpose. The roof tombers and interior features are made with the finest American pitch pine, and the building has American oak floors throughout. Sinnot’s wife had the house designed by Philidelphia architects Savery & Scheetz. It is a typical US East-Coast townhouse.
The Sinnots never returned to Killybegs, and Joe’s sister, Maggie, who married Thomas Colin MacGinley, a local schoolmaster, inherited the house. The MacGinleys were very religious, and three of their sons and a daughter entered the Catholic Church. The best known of these was John Bernard MacGinley, who became Bishop of Nueva Caceres in the Philippines, and later Bishop of Monterey-Fresno in California. On his retirement, he was accorded the nominal title of Bishop of Croe, Albania.
Bishop John Bernard retired to Killybegs in 1932, and lived in Bruach Na Mara until his death in 1969. The Medical Missionaries of Mary, to whom the Bishop bequeathed his residence, cared for him during his last years. Following his death these nursing sisters sold the premises to the Killybegs Fishermen’s Association for a nominal sum, in a gesture of goodwill and assistance to the fishermen of the port.
Today Bruach Na Mara stands as one of the finest buildings in Killybegs, and although much altered externally, it still maintains its impressive appearance, and adds considerably to the Killybegs waterfront. Even the encroachment of modern industrial facilities does not diminish its presence. It is a priceless asset to the infrastructure of the fishing town.
When erected, Bruach Na Mara was a symbol of those who did well in a far off land, never to return. Now it stands as the Flagship of the Fleet, confirmation of the success of Killybegs and its fishermen who gave their town its place in the world economy. Long may it last.