Melancholy loss of life on the River Shannon

Last Wednesday we were witness to a most melancholy spectacle. We saw three bodies floating on that part of the river Shannon which lies opposite to Castle Lough, in this county. Having rowed in to shore, we gave notice to some persons there, who, without hesitation, prepared themselves, and joined in the sad task of snatching from the watery element the livid bodies of three unfortunate fellow creatures. When we stretched them on the bank they were recognised by one of the Steam Packet Company to be the bodies of Thomas Minshoe, George Halbert, and Robert Williams, three of the unfortunate five that were drowned some few days ago, while on a party of pleasure. The bodies were far advanced in a state of putrefaction and were a revolting spectacle to look on.

A messenger being despatched to Nenagh for the coroner, James Carroll, Esq, that officer, with his usual promptness, reached here in a short time; and having empanelled a jury, “Accidentally drowned during a squall” was the verdict.

It appeared from evidence that the deceased, with others, left Killaloe on Sunday, the 20th ult, for the purpose of having a day’s amusement on the Upper Shannon. They put in at Castle Lough to take refreshment; during the time they were on shore, the wind freshened and blew a gale, upon which they determined to leave the boat at anchor, and proceed home by land, which they accordingly did. On the following morning they returned and found that the ropes, which were for the purpose of lowering the sails, had been stolen. The day being fine and the weather not likely to change, they made light of the inconvenience, and ventured homeward.

After hoisting sails and reaching the centre of the river (which, at this point, is not two miles broad), a squall came on. Having endeavoured in vain to lower sails, which was completely impracticable, on account of the loss of the ropes, the boat suddenly ducked beneath the weight of canvass, and consigned the poor fellows to an early grave. Thomas Minshoe and George Halbert are natives of Liverpool, and Williams from Wales.

No coffins being convenient, three fishermen were appointed to watch the bodies on the shore until the next day. When we saw them coffined, we observed that the ear had been eaten off Williams by, we suppose, a dog, and a part of Minshoe’s left leg. They were interred at Killaloe on the afternoon of Thursday.

1 September 1837

One response to “Melancholy loss of life on the River Shannon

  1. Very well written. It struck a chord with me as we spent yesterday (New Years Day) on the final leg of our trip from Kilrush to Belleek. We left Enniskillen at 08.00 and arrived at Belleek at 13.00. Our charts showed that we could enter the old marina……………but on the last 100 meters of our travel, we went aground. How embarrassing! The local civil defense team threw us a line which they tied to a tree. We winched ourselves off the obstruction and moored in the new and excellent marina. My point is that in crossing the inland sea of Lough Erne, I know how the misfortunate men in the article felt.

    Regards

    Robert Bennett

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