CARNAGE ON THE LOUGH SWILLY RAILWAY REMEMBERED 90 YEARS ON

first_imgThe viaduct which was the scene of the tragedy. Pic by Brian McDaid of the Christeph Gallery.On the evening of Friday, 30 Jan 1925, an engine pulling two carriages, one wagon, and a combined van, was travelling on the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway (Burtonport Extension), which had been opened in 1903.In the 20 years the line had been open, there had been no serious accidents and only two mishaps which resulted fatally. However, the crossing over the Owencarrow viaduct was known to be dangerous in bad weather, which what was being experienced that evening.The train approached the viaduct, which was from 400 to 440 yards in length, at a speed of about 10 miles per hour. The 14 passengers had been enjoying the journey, having left Kilmacrenan Station at 7:52pm, running only 5 minutes late. The driver had observed nothing unusual as he approached the viaduct – only that it was a very stormy night. When the train was a little more than 60 yards onto the viaduct, there was a great gust of wind, which lifted the carriage next to the engine off the rails.The driver applied the vacuum brake and stopped the train. When the train came to a halt, the back carriage, which had been lifted off, had carried the wagons halfway over the wall of the bridge. The other carriage was lying over the embankment, the covered wagon was lying over the coping, and the six-wheeled passenger carriage was tumbled upside down.The gust of wind had lifted two of the big coaches from the rail and flung them top downwards on the parapet. Their roofs were smashed and by the violence of the impact, passengers were hurled from the carriages into the valley below. The masonry of the parapet gave way beneath the shock and stress, and masses of it thundered down upon the injured passengers.Despite all this, the engine kept the rails and the couplings held, suspending the upturned coaches across the parapet. Of the 14 passengers, only one was unhurt – a Miss Campbell was flung from the upturned carriage, then deflected from the course followed by the other falling passengers, landing on soft and boggy soil, sinking knee-deep into it. Those killed:Mr Philip Boyle, Leabgarrow, ArranmoreMrs Sarah Boyle, Leabgarrow, Arranmore (wife of Philip)Neil Duggan, MeenabunoneMrs Una Mulligan, Falcarragh Injured Passengers:Unnamed Boyle boy, son of Philip and Sarah – shockMrs Brennan, Dungloe – severe injuries to her headMrs McFadden, sister-in-law of Mrs Brennan – shock Mrs Bella McFadden, Gweedore – shockEdward McFadden, Magheraroarty – shock and wounded handDenis McFadden, Cashel, Creeslough – severe concussionCrew:Neil Boyle, train guardBob McGuinness, engine driver, 13 years experience on the Burtonport Extension lineCon Hannigan, firemanOthers:James McFadden, Kilfad & Pat McFadden, Terlin – their bravery was recognized at the inquest, for rescuing two women from a carriage hanging over the edge of the viaductRev Father Burns, CC Doe and the Rev J Doherty, Letterkenny – were early to the scene and attended to the woundedThe inquest on Philip Boyle and Una Mulligan was opened Saturday, 31 January, by the Coroner, Dr JP McGinley, at the licensed premises of Mr Bradley, Falcarragh. Dr McGinley also opened an inquest on Neil Duggan at his residence in Meenbunone. The inquest on Mrs Boyle was held by the Deputy Coroner for East Donegal, Dr Walker, at Letterkenny Workhouse. The proceedings consisted of the formal identification of those killed in the train crash. The inquest was then adjourned until the following Friday, 6 February, at Creeslough.At the conclusion of the inquest, the jury found that death in every case was due to the injuries received. They added, as a rider, their unanimous opinion that if a properly constructed rail had been carried along the whole length of the viaduct, from cutting to cutting, and without an intervening gap, no lives would have been lost. They were also of the opinion that the driver, fireman, and guard were not in any way to blame.CARNAGE ON THE LOUGH SWILLY RAILWAY REMEMBERED 90 YEARS ON was last modified: January 31st, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Lough Swilly Railwaylast_img read more