25 November 2015 will be the 170th anniversary of the sinking of the Royal Canal passage-boat Longford and the deaths of fifteen people.
This was not (pace Ruth Delany in Ireland’s Royal Canal 1789–2009 Lilliput Press, Dublin 2010) “the worst accident ever to happen on the Irish waterways”: that melancholy distinction belongs to the drowning at Carrick-on-Suir of about 111 people in 1799 [see “The cries at the bridge” on this page], while the second-worst was the drowning of twenty people on Lough Corrib in 1828, the event commemorated by Antoine Ó Raifteiri in his poem Eanach Dhúin.
But the 1845 accident, between Porterstown and Clonsilla Bridges, was the worst to occur on an Irish canal. Evidence at the inquest and subsequent trial suggests great laxity in the management of the Royal Canal Company’s affairs, even if the immediate cause was an act of insane irresponsibility on the part of the boat’s temporary steerer.
I do not know whether any plaque or other artefact commemorates the event.
There is indeed a plaque at the bridge – I took a photo of it as far back as 1997 (will send to you by email).
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