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GREAT RAILWAY DISASTER IN IRELAND., Issue 7972, 30 July 1889
GREAT RAILWAY DISASTER IN IRELAND.
AN EXCURSION TRAIN WRECKED. LOSS OF SEVENTY-TWO LIVES. VIVID DESCRIPTIONS. A railway accident of a most appalling character occurred in the North of Iroland on June 12, the number killed and injured being far beyond the loss in any disaster of the kind in the United Kingdom for many years. An additional element of sadness in connection with the accident is the circumstance that the dead includes a very large portion of children, the excursion being the annual outing in connection with a church in Armagh, The circumstances of the disaster are as follows :—At ten o'clock a long train, heavily laden, left Armagh io? Warren Point, with the children of the Wesleyan Church Sunday school, their teachers, relatives, and friends, Surgeon-major Lynd, the superintendent of the school, being with them. Tho children marched in procession through the streets with bands and banners. Outside the city there is a long rising embankment, and as tho train proceeded—there was only one train at first—the engine-driver and fireman found that the locomotive was unable to pull the weight behind it. The train was consequently stopped and several carriages were unlinked, the idea being for the engine to take on the first part of the train to the next station, and then return for the remaining carriages. Those that were to be left behind were on an incline, but the railway officials placed stones behind the wheels, thinking that this would prevent them from running back. As it started from the no w reduced train tho locomotive gave the entire train a shunt, which knocked away the stones and caused the unlinked carriages to commence rolling down the decline towards Armagh. As the carriages proceeded, the velocity, of course, increased tremendously, and when about a mile and a half from Armagh they met the ordinary passenger train which left that city at 10.35 a.m. The result of the collision was appalling, and cannot be adequately described. The engine of the ordinary train was thrown off the rails, and the driver and fireman had a marvellous escape, but the carriages containing the children were smashed into matchwood, many of tho little ones being killed instantaneously, while others were so Bhockingly injured that death came as a happy release.
THE CRIES AND GROANS WERK FEARICL, while the wrecked carriages with the dead and mutilated bodies formed a heartrending spectacle. A gentleman who was in the ordinary train gives the following account. Ho says: "Our train left Armagh at tho ordinary time, and wo had got about two miles outside Armagh, or about midway between that station and Hamiltonsbawn, when, to our consternation and alarm, we noticed a number of carriages, with ever-increasing velocity, coming down the incline towards us. The driver at once shut off steam, and had barely brought our train to a standstill —the work of a moment or so—when the carriages dashed into our train with tremendous force. Our passengers, of course, received a great shock, but, being to a certain extent prepared for it, no one, strange to say, was seriously injured. On the other hand, the excursion carriages were smashed into pieces, and became simply a mas 3 of debris. The engine of our train, which was thrown off the rails by the force of the collision, now lies on her Bide on the bank. The driver, Pat Murphy, and the fireman, William Herd, had a most miraculous escape. The latter jumped off the engine just as the escaped carriages were on us, and sustained a fracture of the foot. He shouted several times to the driver to jump off also, but the latter got on to the top of the tender, and fortunately escaped being killed, as the tender and all the carriages remained on the rails. Tno passengers then alighted, and found to their horror three of the four carriages immediately in front of our train lying scattered about in fragment?, and children, both boys and girls, lying dead among the debris. All of us at once set to work to extricate the dead and injured, and the scenes which took place I shall never forget. The screams of the injured children were heart-rendiug, and tho moans of the dying something awful. Tho dead were tenderly placed on the bank, and the injured were removed as gently &3 possible to the most comfortable places we could find, and supplied with water. Up to the hour I left fifty-six dead bodies had been recovered and removed to the railway station. Large crowds from Armagh had gathered at the spot, and the scenes wiich occurred as parents identified the remains of their children were among the most painful and pathetic that it is possible to conceive." SUDDEN DEATH OF A HORRIFIED SPECTATOR.
During the afternoon, says a correspondent, crowds of people visited tho spot, among others being a man named Hughes, a car-driver by profession, who, when he reached the place, waß so overcome by the sight that he died on the spot, and his body was taken back into Armagh by one of the many vehicles requisitioned to convey the dead and wounded into the city. Some touching stories are narrated. One man, who was accompanied by his two little girls, and found lying with a horrid wound on his head, on being propped up and a little brandy being administered, ho pointed in the direction of his two little children, already past aid, whose corpses were lying beside him, and said : " Do what you can for them; don't mind me." They were his last words, for the next moment he dropped dead. MAGISTERIAL EXAMINATION. In the evening, Joseph Elliott (clerk in the traffic manager's oflioe at Armagh), William Moorhead (assistant guard), Thomas Magrath (engine - driver), and Henry Parkinson (fireman of the excursion train) were brought up under ariest before Mr W. Townsend, R.M., at Armagh, charged with having by ncgligenca and misbehaviour caused the death of Samuel Steel, petty sessiom clerk. Formal evidence as to the accident having been given, the prisoners were remanded in custody for three days. ACCOUNTS liY .SI'KVIVOKS. Mr John S. Riggs, merchant, who was one of the excursionists, stated iu an interview with a representative that the whole mistake occurred in starting the train with an engine that was not of sufficient power to draw it. " Before we were two miles out," he said, "we noticed that the engine had begun to labor, and I said in a joking way to some of the passengers: ' We will have to get out and push her.' I put my head out of the carriage window to see what was wrong, and I heard somebody say ' There is no steam.' We then moved very slowly, and after a bit stopped altogether. Before this occurred we saw some porters running back and placing some stones along the line to stop the progress of the carriages back to Armagh. Then was at this time a slight concussion, as if the engine had been used to push the first part of the train back to relieve the couplings. Just then we began to move backwards. A lady remarked to me that wo were going back, and that she was afraid there was something wrong. I told her to keep quiet, and that it would be all right. I then saw a man jump out of the train, and he fell against the embankment and rolled back to the line, the wheels passing within a foot of his head. The velocity of the carriages then began to increase, and we came down the incline at a terrible rate. The people in the fields began to shout that the people would be killed, and the lady again said she would go out. I calmed her as well as I could, but she jumped up and got half-way out of the carriage, when I pulled her back. At that time I Baw a man named Edward Reilly jump out and escape. The train then crashed into something, but what it was I could not 868 at the time. I know now that it was the engine of the other train. The first carriage was completely telescoped, and a great many deaths occurred in that carriage. As soon as I got the people out of the carriage I was in I rushed up to where I saw the people lying in a heap under the debris. I never witnessed such a scene. Tho engineman was afraid that a fire would take place, and he set to and put out the fire. The people I saw were most useless, and they did little or nothing. Until the Solice came up there waa hardly a man to o anything. There must have been eighty killed altogether,"
The Rev. W. S. M'Kee, Methodist minister, who is one of the injured, said : - «' We got on well enough until we got to the incline near Hamiltonsbawn Station. When coming up to that place I noticed that the train was going slowly, and on looking out we saw that tho engine was not ablo to take us over the incline. The moment the train stopped they did not try to work it on. Somebody rushed down to the end and asked the guard to put on the brako and prop the wheels. Tney propped a few of tho wheels with a few pebbles. There wa3 not tho slightest attempt made to brake her, and we tore down the incline at a fearful rate. Some of the parties wanted to jump out, and I advised them to remain where they were, and not knowing the lino well, I said probably something would stop us. Someone cried out 'We will meet the twenty to eleven train,' and the words were hardly out of his mouth when we ran into the other train, and William M'Mullen, son of one of tho superintendents of the excursion party, was killed instantaneously, as were also some four or fivo others in the carriage. I got both my legs crushed, and was scalded with steam, and afterwards I fell down the embankment. There was the most culpable negligence on the part of the railway compauy. The doctors hurried out almost immediately, but it was not by the
act of the railway company that they came. There must be between sixty and eighty people killed " The correspondent adils that the dead bodies have not yet all been brought into the city, and the work of identification goes on in the Market House and the Tontine. An inquest was opened in the Grand Jury room, and was adjourned after the jury had viewed the bodies'. Seventy-two deaths have been reported to the coroner. Five of them took place on Wednesday in the Royal Infirmary. Amongst those who were injured are Mr and Mrs J. P. Validly, of Manchester, who were spending a holiday in Ireland. A THRILLING STORY is told of a private in the Royal Irish Fusileers named Cox, a fine, powerful fellow, who, when he saw that a collision was imminent, got upon the footplate of the carriage in which he had been previously seated, and dropped four children to the side of the railway, where they were afterwards picked up uninjured. Ho appealed to Mr Steel, petty sessions clerk, and to others to climb out and let him drop them, but they refused. He then jumped off himself, just in time to save himself. lie afterwards took part in the work of extricating the dead and wounded.
The majority of the deaths in the excursion train are confined to the last carriage, which contained about 100 people. INCIDENTS AND ESCAI'KS. Never was there an accident embracing so many miraculous escapes. These escapes are now being recounted on every hand, and he or she who camo through without injury is reckoned something fortunate or heroic, Tho case of the Rev. W. S. M'Kee, a Methodist minister in Armagh, of which particulars are given above, illustrates the almost miraculous manner in which some lived to see all their neighbors die and then bo pulled from among their dead bodies to safety. But there were other escapes quite as miraculous as that of Mr M'Kee, as, for instance, tho case of a young fellow who got pitched below the engine, and came out hugely scared, but quite unhurt. If many escaped, however, many did not, and particularly sad reading is this, that a man named Clelland, his wifo, and three children were all crushed to death in a heap. Robert John Irwin, a young mechanic, was with his sweetheart, Annie Bell, and the two were bent upjn a day's outing at Warrenpoint, which place neither will ever see. No mention, again, has ever been made of the fact that Charles Neal, a keeper in a lunatic asylum, and his wife, who were lulled simultaneously, have left a young family practically dependent on charity. The saddest facts of the accident are only becoming known, for it is only when all the bodies have been identified that it has come to be known how very many girls bordering upon or just entering into womanhood have met their deaths. Two sisters, Rountiee, farmer's daughters from the country, are numbered with tho dead; so are the MUsea M'Farline, resideuts in the town of Armagh, and a M 133 Simpson, who is Baid to have been very pretty. A curious thing about tho fatality which has overtaken a man named William Burke is that his elder brother was also killed in a railway accident net very long ago, while his father was drowned. Instances could be multiplied to convey, if the whole meaning could bo conveyed in words, the true ghastliness of a scene in which human life counted as nothing; but only those who were actual witnesses know the gruesome reality. THE TOTAL DEATH-ROLL. An Armagh correspondent telegraphs:— "A boy ramid Clil'and, whose father, mother, and two brothers were killed in the disaster on Wednesday, died at the County Infirmary here on Thursday, his death bringing the list of killed up to seventy-four, Several others are not expected to recover. The County Infirmary presented a saddening spectacle yesterday, being surrounded by anxious friends of tho injured persons within, and inquirers for missing children who cannot be found. NAMES OK THE KILLED. A later telegram says there have been sixty-four bodies identified, of which the following is a complete list, and eight not identified :—Samuel M. Steel, Mina Rountree, W. 11. M'Mullen, W. Walker, Bella Rountree, Mary Jcnkinson, John Mallow, Margaret Clelland, Robert' John Jewin, Ann Bell, Minnie Boyd, Joseph Johnston, Betsy Wilkin, Agnes Hall, Eliza Johnston, Margaret M'Clure, Catherine Murray, Jane Thompson, John Hughes, Thomas Henderson, Charlas Neal, Minnie Edwards, David Edwards, Samuel Cielland, Margaret Patterson, Mary Conway, Margaret Stevenson, J. M'Cann, Mr and Mrs Mitchell (Scotch street) and their son, John Eager, Sarah Isabella Steel, W. W. Holland, Margaret Gibson, Mary Orr, Jane Orr, Minnie Murdoch, Henry Jenkinson and his wife Mary, Mrs Joseph M'Cann, Mrs Neill, Mary Anderson, Sarah Carroll, James Clelland, Robert Clelland, Wilhelmina Reilly, Margaret M'Veigh, Ellen Watt, Mary Johnston, William Burke, Albert K Robinson, Cathlcen Irwin, Eugene Simpson, Krncst Loguo, Isabella M'Farlane, Martha M'Farlane, Eliza Sloanc, Matilda Robinson, Laura Scott Latimer, Agnes Parkcs, and W. Cro/.icr, besides eight not identified,
GREAT RAILWAY DISASTER IN IRELAND., Issue 7972, 30 July 1889
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