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CULTURAL HERITAGE - Boating Accidents and Disasters

Annaghdown Natives Drown in Boating Tragedy, September 1828

On the 4th of September, 1828 a boat called Caisleán Nua left Annaghdown Pier filled with people and animals and sailed downstream. The passengers intended to attend a fair at Fairhill in Galway City. Lore tells us that a sheep put its hoof through a board and instead of plugging the hole a whole board was damaged when someone used a coat to stem the inward flow of water. Panic set in resulting in the boat sinking quickly near Bushypark.

Twelve of the thirty-one passangers were rescued by a passing boat.

An article in the Galway Advertiser (1828) described the vessel as an 'old row boat' that was in 'a rotten and leaky condition'. The article stated that 'the boat and passengers proceeded without obstruction until they arrived opposite Glenlo Abbey in Bushypark, within two miles of the town, when she suddenly went down and all on board perished except twelve persons who were fortunately rescued from their perilous situation by another boat.'

An article in An Curad Connachtach, Friday September 22 1978 (see relevant links) outlines how at that time members of the Galway Sub-Aqua Diving Club believed that they had discovered artefacts of the boat. The article mentions that they were unable to recover the boat due to lack of funds. Interestingly the article stated that the anchor of the boat was being utilised at that time on a boat in the Clarinbridge area.

One of the last wandering Bards, Antoine Ó Raifteirí wrote the poem Eanach Dhúin about the tragedy.

Additional resource material:

Booklet:'Fair Day Disaster' written by Ger Geraghty from Ballisnahina and illustrated by Chloe Biggins from Glencorrib

Drownings near Golden Bay in July 1884

 On the morning of Sunday 20th july 1884 Thomas Kinneavy age 18 yrs ofInchogoill Island, son of Micheal and Julia Kinneavy[nee Varley] set off in his fathers sailing boat to attend an annual sports day in Cong parish at Carrowbawn sports field a popular location in the1880s-1890s. On his way home that evening at Golden Bay pier he met with four young people; Bridget Farmer 20yrs, Anne Sarsfield 19yrs,  David Luskin 16 yrs and Mary Varley 6yrs all from nearby Ardnageeha town-land. They decided to take a boat trip around the bay. During the trip a young man jumped up onto the boat’s mast and overturned the boat and all five people fell into the water. Bridget Farmer and David Luskin swam to safety. Thomas Kinneavy, Anne Sarsfield and Mary Varley drowned while trying to save each other leaving behind  three families to share a sorrowful tragedy.

Communicated by Mary Kinneavy

Drowning at Steamer’s Quay January 1934

Over the years, the River Corrib has seen many tragic moments because of drowning accidents. While the Anach Chuain disaster of 1828, was terrible, with the loss of 19 people, one of the saddest must be the tragedy that occurred during the cold winter’s night of 19 January 1934.

What makes this accident so haunting is the fact that the people who lost their lives were neither boating nor swimming; they were occupants of a motor car who should not have been in that particular area on that night

Historian Patrick Henry has written a detailed account of this accident in the Galway Independent of 7th September 2011. Click here to read it. Many of our boating colleagues will already know that Martin Keane was the father of Joe and Marcus Keane who ran Keane’s pub on Maam Bridge for many years. Joe also owned the shop and petrol station at Maam Bridge.

Double Drowning Tragedy on Lough Corrib, August 1961

According to newspaper reports featured in the Connacht Tribune (12 August 1961) a striking public tribute was paid to two 17-year old boys who drowned on Lough Corrib. Denis Kennedy and Patrick Delaney, both of Newcastle, Galway were Artillerymen in the F.C.A. and were active G.A.A. players. Their coffins were draped in the Tricolour and guards of honour were provided by the F.C.A. Businesses were closed as the funeral cortege passed through Galway City to the New Cemetery. The report outlined that the route was 'lined with people' and that the scene was 'reminiscent of the public tribute paid on the occasion of the K.L.M air disaster victims some years ago'.

Source: Connacht Tribune, page 24, 12 August 1961.

Bill Forde and Shane McNally drown in Corrib boating accident - Joe Togher survives

Bill Forde, owner of the Skeffington Arms Hotel and Shane McNally were drowned in a boating accident during a fishing trip off Ourhterard on (date to be researched). Joe Togher a famous republican who fought in the war of Independence was the sole surviver.

Boat Collision with Submerged Rock Causes Death of Galway Man, September 1991.

A fishing trip with three Galway men ended in sadness when their boat the Lily Joe struck a submerged rock at Moycullen Bay according to a report carried in an edition of The City Tribune (13 September 1991). The deceased man was 20-year old Ronan Duignan of Elm Park, Newcastle. Reports of the death led to calls by local Councillor Paddy Lally for people to wear lifejackets while going out on the lake.

Source: The City Tribune, page 16, 13 September 1991.

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More will be added to this page when the accidents are researched.