HUGH Dougherty's article on the Derry Boat brought back vivid memories of annual journeys aboard the Burns & Laird Line's ''cattle boats'' to Derry and onwards to Donegal, the birthplace of both my parents.

Every year at the start of the school holidays, my mother took us to Ireland on the Derry Boat. What memories I have! Mothers opening suitcases and placing their babies on top of the clothes to sleep, children lying sleeping on the floor and irate mothers trying to prevent the drunks lurching about from falling on top of them, toilet basins blocked with vomit which sloshed from side to side with the boat's movement, women on their knees saying the Rosary out loud in Gaelic and English as the boat heaved (usually around midnight passing Paddy's Milestone - Ailsa Craig) and oh the smell! Diesel and the strong smell of cattle permeated every corner of the ship (another reason for the vomit!)

Passenger comfort would appear to have been an alien concept to Burns & Laird who crammed passengers on board just like the cattle. The seats were either canvas or hard wooden slots and the limited food available invariably added to the stomach upsets.

My last trip on the Derry Boat was at the end of the Glasgow Fair in July 1962. I was now grown up and working but still returned to Donegal every year for my holidays. As usual the boat was completely overcrowded. We could not even find standing room far less a seat and had to spend the entire 12-hour journey on the open deck - even in July the night air at sea is extremely cold! The next day I collapsed in the street and spent five weeks in hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy. I vowed never to go on that boat again!

Since then my frequent trips to Donegal have been made via Cairnryan or Stranraer or by airline companies. However, if the ''Derry Boat'' were to rise from the ashes, albeit a modern, comfortable version, then I know that I, along with thousands of other Scots with their roots in Donegal, would welcome the chance to travel direct from Glasgow to Derry again.

I can imagine that those passengers, like myself, who have so many stories to tell about journeys on the old Derry Boat would keep the younger generation enthralled (not to mention disbelieving) with the tales of ''journeys from hell'' on the Burns & Laird Line Derry Boat.

Bridie Stevenson,

17 Crosslees Road, Thornliebank,

Glasgow. February 6.