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Agnes Groat Drowned
(20th May 1880)
Both the Orcadian (1st June 1880) and the Orkney Herald (5th June 1880) reported the drowning of Agnes Groat, the daughter of Robert Groat and Elizabeth Harcus from Lakequoy, on Wednesday 26th May 1880.
She had been across to the Pharay Holm with others cutting peats. The peats were either carried back in “cassies” when the channel had ebbed dry or taken back by boat. When crossing, a heavy sea swept her off her feet with the cassie on her back. The Orcadian states that the tide was beginning to flow and a heavy sea was running in the Westray Firth as a result of a gale.
Some on the Holm had been persuading her to wait for a boat, after the tide had flowed. Agnes thought that there should be no problem and was about half way across when those watching saw a heavy sea roll in with the rising tide. This came up to her waist but she managed to keep her footing.
Unfortunately a second wave swept her off her feet into deep water. The heavy land sea filled a boat that was launched and Agnes was lost. The cassie was recovered. According to the report at that time, the body hadn’t been recovered.
Agnes was unmarried and aged thirty three. Her older brothers John Groat drowned in Fersness Bay, Eday in 1857 and Stewart Groat off Rusk Holm in 1865.