Tag Archives: death


The inhabitants of this city [Dublin] were greatly alarmed yesterday evening, between the hours of four and five, by a most violent concussion of the air, which broke several panes of glass, cracked others, and shook houses to the foundation in an unusual manner, accompanied by a very loud explosion. In the country parts adjacent to the city, the fears of the people led them to imagine that there had been a shock of an earthquake — but the cause proves to have been the explosion of two boats, that were coming down the Grand Canal, freighted with gunpowder from Counsellor Caldbeck’s powder-mills at Clondalklin.

Many lives it was reported were lost; but we can assure the public, from the best authority, that no more than two men were killed, and five or six slightly wounded. The loss from the gunpowder is not estimated to be very great.

It is not as yet ascertained through what manner the fire was suffered to communicate to the powder. It was said that it was from one of the hands having dropped some blazing tobacco from a pipe which he was smoking, but for that there appears no foundation.

Dublin Evening Post 24 April 1787

The whistling postman of Inishturk

When Hugh Malet[1] visited Lough Erne, he met a whistling postman, William Rooney, who lived on Inishturk. Rooney delivered post to the islanders on three days a week and to the mainland farms and houses on the other three. His father had had the job before him, and had used a sailing boat, but he himself had a little outboard motor on his pillarbox-red skiff.

Two years later, staying in Gibraltar over Christmas, Malet read of William Rooney’s death. He had finished his delivery round for Friday 29 December 1961 and was on his way home to his wife and family when his boat got caught in the ice.

His sixty-year-old brother James went to his assistance, but he too got caught. The two brothers were found next day, frozen to death, only a short distance apart[2].


[1] Malet, Hugh In the Wake of the Gods: On the waterways of Ireland Chatto & Windus 1970.

[2] Malet, op cit; Rogers, Mary, Prospect of Erne Watergate Press 2nd ed 1971; Irish Times 2 January 1962; British Postal Museum Archive.