In Issue Number 9 of ‘Old Blarney’, the Journal of the Blarney and District Historical Society (2013), the present author reported on two tragic accidents in 1912 and 1919 involving trains of the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway Company or, as it was popularly known, the ‘Muskerry Tram’. It should be noted that the line’s rails ran, unseparated from road traffic, from the terminus on the site of the present River Lee Hotel, along the Western Road and the Straight Road, turning right at Carrigrohane Castle and over Leemount Bridge to where it entered its own separate track at Leemount Station. This was further complicated by the Cork Electric Tramway tracks running parallel to the train tracks along Western Road and, with the normal road traffic in the early days being horse-driven, it was, despite being perfectly legal, a recipe for accidents with possibly-disastrous consequences.
The 2013 article related that in 1912, a farmer from near Dripsey was killed on his way home from Cork when his horse-and-cart collided sideways-on with the Tram almost opposite the Angler’s Rest public house. In 1919, a British army Captain/brevet Major was fatally injured when his chauffeur-driven car was hit broadside-on by the Tram as it entered its own track at Leemount Station. He was also the heir to a very large Westmeath estate, who had served in the Mesopotamian campaign in the First World War and was on his way to work at Victoria (now Collins) barracks in Cork. There is only a few hundred metres between the sites of these two tragedies.
Subsequent research has revealed that at least ten other fatal accidents had taken place involving the Tram. Six of these occurred before the end of the 19th century in 1889 (two), 1892 (two separate fatal accidents on one day), 1895 and 1897 and are covered in this article. Of these victims, two were railway passengers, one was a trespasser on the railway line and another was a pedestrian on the Straight Road. In the other two cases, the fatalities involved a horse-and-cart, one victim being the passenger in the cart while, in the second, it was the driver.
1889 – Mrs Margaret Connor – aged c75
Cork Examiner, Tuesday, June 25th, 1889
THE FATAL ACCIDENT AT CARRIGR0HANE.
Yesterday afternoon at three o’clock Mr Coroner Murphy and a jury held an inquest at the South Infirmary on the body of Margaret Connor who died in the house the previous evening. Deceased was about seventy-five years of age and in company with her husband was proceeding home to Boherbee on a cart on Saturday evening last. Just at Moxley’s the Cork and Muskerry tram came along and the horse becoming restive backed against one of the carriages with the result that Connor and his wife were thrown on the road. Connor escaped without injury, but his wife died some hours later at the Infirmary, whither she had been conveyed, from the shock which she had received.
The first witness called was Denis Connor, husband of the deceased. He lived, he said, at Boherbee, and was a carrier. On Saturday evening he was driving home with his wife along the Western-road. They were sitting on front of the car on an egg-box, and had gone as far as Moxley’s public-house at Carrigrohane when the tram came along. The horse became restive, and witness did his best to keep the animal in the centre of the road. The horse, however, backed and one of the carriages caught the heel of the car, and, spinning it round, hurled himself and his wife to the ground. He had often driven past the tram before, and his horse had never shied.
Mr Mullins (a juror) – Did the tram stop after the occurrence? It did; but I don’t know what happened after, for I became senseless. I heard the people say though that the train was waiting to bring my wife on to Cork.
George M’Closkey, 85, Grattan Street, engine driver on the Cork and Muskerry Tramway, stated that he was driving the five o’clock tram from Blarney to Cork on the occasion in question. They stopped at Pratt’s Cross (Leemount Station), and had gone on again about 150 or 160 yards, when they saw the horse and car backing towards the tram. The engine and a number of carriages had passed when the occurrence took place. When he saw the horse coming close to the tram he reversed his engine and put on the brakes. The occurrence took place just opposite Moxley’s door, where the road is about twice as wide as other parts of the thoroughfare. He did his best to prevent the accident. The horse did not appear to be under control when he saw him backing. There was no unusual noise made by the tram, which was a heavy one – twelve carriages, two engines, and two vans. When he first saw the horse he was about fifteen yards ahead, and was coming out of the recess at Moxley’s.
Patrick Keegan, 85, Grattan street, driver of the second engine, gave similar evidence.
Thomas M’Guinness, 105, Friar-street, guard of the tram at the time in question, stated that he was in the van four carriages away from the engine and did not see the accident. The first thing he knew of it was the sudden stopping of the tram, and on looking out he saw the deceased and her husband on the road. He went immediately to their assistance; carried the woman into Moxley’s, where she was attended by Drs Crowley and Ryan. She was conscious then and moaned a little, but the doctors did not seem to think she was very much injured at the time. They advised, and so did he, that she should go to hospital at once, and placing her in a carriage he brought her on to Cork, and took her in a covered car to the infirmary. He got the names of several persons who saw the occurrence, and who could tell that Connor was told to mind his horse as the tram was passing by.
Dr Runciman, house surgeon, South Infirmary, said that the deceased was brought to the infirmary at a quarter to seven on Saturday evening, and he saw her a quarter of an hour later. She was quite conscious and remained so until her death shortly before twelve o’clock. He examined her thoroughly, and found that she had a slight scratch on her thigh and dislocated collar bone. She died from shock. Her collar bone was dislocated, but whether it was the result of the accident or not, he could not tell.
The Coroner – It was the shock she died from at all events? Yes.
Questioned as to whether his wife had at any time suffered dislocation of the shoulder, Connor said not.
A juror expressed a wish to have some independent witness of the occurrence examined.
The Coroner said he thought the old man’s story did away with any necessity for further evidence, but it was entirely for the jury to say whether they would examine others. This, the jury, after some consultation, decided to do, and the inquest was then adjourned to Thursday, at four o’clock.
No report on the adjourned inquest was located.
It may be noted that the death of Patrick O’Mahony in 1912, detailed in the article referred to above, occurred at the same location outside the Angler’s Rest (Moxley’s) and involved a horse-and-cart in an almost exact re-run of this 1889 tragedy.
1889 – Edward Forde – aged 23
Cork Examiner, Monday, November 4th, 1889
TERRIBLE DEATH ON A CORK RAILWAY
Shortly after twelve o’clock on Friday night, Edward Forde, Homeville-place, Western-road, aged 23, and unmarried, met with a terrible death on the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway, between Carrigrohane and Healy’s Bridge. Deceased was a drapers’ assistant in the employment of Messrs T Lyons & Co, South Main-street. It had been occasionally his practice to go out on the evening trams to Blarney, and on Friday night he left the city on a special journey out at eleven o’clock. He was the only passenger on the return journey, and the guard, knowing this, did not go through the carriages to collect his ticket. The tram, which was composed of three carriages, made only one stop on the way back, namely, at the Junction, and here it was that the unfortunate young man was last seen alive. At that time he was observed standing on the platform of one of the cars, with his back against the iron bars. Six hours later he was picked up a mangled corpse. When the tram reached Cork the solitary passenger was looked for, but could not be found, and, fearing something had happened, search was made as far as Carrigrohane on the track, and to the Junction by car, but no trace could be found until half-past six o’clock on Saturday morning, when one of the milesmen going his rounds came across the body lying stark in a pool of blood right between the rails. From the appearance which the track in the vicinity presented it would appear as if the body had been dragged along the line for nearly three hundred yards. The remains were terribly mutilated……. Deceased’s hat was discovered a considerable distance away, and while no positive statement can be made as to how the accident occurred, it is surmised that he must have got jerked off the platform in some way, and fell between the coupling chains. In these he must have become entangled, otherwise the distance he was borne along could hardly be accounted for. Curious to relate, a copy of the current week’s Tit Bits was found by a policeman in his pocket, and under the terms of what is known as a “Free accident insurance policy for £100”, issued by the proprietors of that journal, it would seem as if the next-of-kin of the deceased are, under the circumstances, fairly entitled to the amount.
Shortly after three o’clock Mr M J Horgan, coroner, opened an inquest on the remains, at the “Angler’s Rest”, Carrigrohane.
Constable Connell, Bannow Bridge station, presented the evidence on behalf of the police.
John Long, Leemount, milesman on the railway, was the first witness sworn. He stated that at about half-past six that morning, when walking the track between Healy’s Bridge and Moxley’s, he found the body of the deceased lying on his side between the rails. His right leg was broken and his face disfigured. He was quite dead at that time. With the assistance of some men who were working nearby, he had the body removed off the line, and he then reported the matter to the constabulary and also to Mr Wilson, the manager of the railway. Deceased’s hat lay about 220 yards from where his body was found.
John J Forde, a younger brother of the deceased, identified the body as that of his brother. He stated that at half-past one o’clock that morning two men came to his house – one of them a stoker on the tramway – and enquired if his (witness’s) brother was in. They were told not, and then Manley, the stoker, said that he had gone to Blarney on the tram. Mrs Forde asked if they were going out to look for him, and he said “Certainly”. They both then left, and it was only at ten o’clock that morning that he heard of the occurrence.
Thomas M’Guinness, guard of the train in question, said that he knew the deceased, whom be saw get out of the tram at Blarney, and was speaking to him on the platform, He afterwards saw him get into a third class carriage when the tram was about to start. The train only stopped at the Junction on the way back, and when witness went to look for deceased’s ticket on the platform in Cork he missed him. He was the only passenger in the tram, and only for that he would have gone through the carriages to collect the tickets……. As the tram slowed up passing the Gaol Cross, witness thought that perhaps he might have jumped off there as it was near his residence.
Dr Adrian H Taylor said he had examined the body of the deceased, and detailed his injuries, which, coupled with shock, were sufficient to cause immediate death
Mr M’Guinness attested that, in his opinion, when he saw the deceased on the platform at Blarney, he was perfectly well able to take care of himself. He added that the sergeant of police, who was on the platform at the time, would say the same thing.
The Coroner, in summing up, end it was quite evident that the occurrence which happened the deceased was an unfortunate and unforeseen accident, and, as far as he could see, no blame could be attached to the railway officials, except running the tramway on the road at such a late hour at night. Of course they were not to blame for that as they had got the privilege of doing so, and had the right by law. An accident of the kind might occur to the most sober man in the world, if he chose to place himself in a dangerous position by standing on those platforms.
Mr M’Guinness said that the officials of the line found some difficulty in keeping people off the platforms, notwithstanding that notices were posted up cautioning passengers not to stand on them.
The jury then returned the following verdict:- “That the deceased was found dead on the railway, near Carrigrohane, on the 2nd inst., and that death resulted from shock to the nervous system, from injuries caused by his accidentally falling off a carriage on the Muskerry Railway”.
The investigation then closed.
Death notice – Cork Examiner – same date.
Forde – Nov. 2, accidently killed on the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway, Edward J. Forde, 5, Homeville, Western Road – R.I.P. Funeral at 10 o’clock this (Monday) morning for Dunbullogue.
The above excerpt was taken from a much larger article titled ‘Six Further Fatal Accidents in the late 19th Century Involving the Muskerry Tram’ by Chris Synnott, which appeared in Issue 11 of the ‘Old Blarney’ Journal. A limited number of ‘Old Blarney’ back issues are still available.