Tag Archives: drown

Leisure industries in Mullingar

From the Waterford Chronicle 21 October 1843 quoting the Athlone Sentinel:

An unfortunate female was thrown over the bridge at Mullingar into the canal, on Friday night, by some of her unfortunate companions, and was drowned. An inquest was held on the body, when a verdict of wilful murder was returned against six females, three of whom have been taken.

From the BNA

Mark Twain and the Cammoge drownings of 1849

Mark Twain wrote:

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

I have indulged in just such conjecture about the design of the ferry boat in use at Cammoge in 1849, crossing the outlet from Poulnasherry Bay, west of Kilrush on the Shannon estuary. The news reports of the time give very little information about the design of the boat, and the reliability of that information is questionable, which makes my speculation even more dangerous. Nonetheless, I thought it might be useful to set out some thoughts on the subject in the hope that other folk, who know more about the background, the location or naval architecture than I do, might be able to help to clarify the design.

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

Deaths at Portlaw

On 7 April 2010 two canoeists were drowned at a weir in Portlaw, on the River Clodiagh. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board report on the matter has just been published. It says inter alia:

  • This weir cannot be run.
  • The design of this weir made it impassable regardless of the waterflow over it.
  • The weir at Portlaw is, by design, next to impossible to escape
    from without the use of lifebuoys and or an access ladder.

The report does not say who designed and built this weir or when it
was done. I have asked Waterford County Council for information.

According to the Irish Independent, the families of the canoeists are considering legal action.

Some news stories about weirs at Portlaw here, here and here.