A Dream Shared

Many years ago a man named James Quinn (Jimmy your great grandfather) was rearing
his family in the countryside and had the mains water supply flowing past his house, the only
problem was the water was not filtered and had to be boiled for ten minutes before you could
drink it. Jimmy together with his neighbours got together and formed a group water scheme
which he worked on until his death, sadly without success.
Another man returned to his home in Buncrana, from England with his wife and young
family and he also had a dream to build a dam at the top of the Illies to provide clean water to
all in the local areas. This man was Eddie Fullerton and when he menitoned the dam at ifrst he
was laughed at. Eddie became a member of Donegal County Council and kept working on his
dream as he could see the benefits’ it would provide.
Finally, the dam was approved to Eddies delight but his delight was short lived as he was
murdered in his home a few days later on the 25 May 1991. Construction of the dam began in
1995. Jimmy also died before his dream was fulfilled but the neighbours kept it alive and when
the dam was approved people were delighted as they expected clean water for everyone.
Pipes from the dam had to flow through the local farms and they were all promised a
free connection when the job was complete if they allowed the pipes through their land. One
lady Mary Grant got the promise in writing and when the Company tried to look for payment
when the job was complete for the connections, she had her piece of paper.
Both men were now dead and the dam was complete holding three and a half million
litres of water neither of them getting to see it.
Breaking news; “it was reported water from the dam was going to be piped to
Letterkenny thirty miles away” and the locals bypassed. The group water scheme called a
meeting and decided to protest the following morning at the place where the interconnector
was being put on the water mains. Not having much experience of protests they got legal
advice and arrived with their placards to find a lone digger and driver at the scene. He enquired
what was happening and was told why they were protesting, so he said “if there is a protest I
have to stop work.” This was great news and having the local journalist there plus the radio
station great coverage was had the following week. The following week they tried again and the
head engineer came with the local guards but as the protesters were not breaking the law they
could do nothing. There followed three months of fierce activity and every politician that put
their foot in Inishowen was picketed including the then Taoiseach Berite Ahern. There were
reports in the local papers every week and on the local radio, and finally an article in the Irish
The people who gave their land got their water connections free of charge and the
people of the group water scheme had emergency pipes laid to provide them with clean water,
while it took another six years to do the planned job for the area.
People stood up to the authorities and had the dreams of two wonderful men fuliflled in
the process, “The Fullerton Dam” proudly stands at the head of the Illies providing clean water
to thousands of people every day.