independent

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Clogh railway disaster victims remembered forty years on

The victims of the Clogh road bridge railway accident were remembered 40 years on with a commemoration and ecumenical prayer service on New Year's Eve: Eugene O'Neill, Amy O'Neill, Tony Nolan, Noel Rodley, Marie O'Brien Hore and Pauline O'Brien
The victims of the Clogh road bridge railway accident were remembered 40 years on with a commemoration and ecumenical prayer service on New Year's Eve: Eugene O'Neill, Amy O'Neill, Tony Nolan, Noel Rodley, Marie O'Brien Hore and Pauline O'Brien

Fintan Lambe

On a wet New Year's Eve, over 100 people gathered for a special ecumenical service at the Clogh road bridge, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Clogh Railway Bridge accident.

Families of the five people who lost their lives in the disaster were represented at the ceremony which saw a plaque unveiled to remember them.

It was one of the worst accidents in the history of CIÉ. On the morning of New Year's Eve 1975, an excavator on the back of a lorry hit the Clogh road bridge at 9.40 a.m., causing the rail to dislodge. Despite frantic efforts to stop the train, the 08.05 a.m. service from Rosslare was approaching the bridge, and as a result four carriages derailed. Passengers William Hayes, (80), Philomena Moss, (50), Anthony O'Brien, (42), Peter Roche, (16) and CIÉ employee Richard O'Neill, (24), all died in the accident and 30 people were injured.

The emergency services and those living near to the bridge were quickly at the scene and the death toll could have been a lot worse were it not for the quick action of the emergency services. Many of those living near to the bridge who remembered the accident attended the commemoration service.

Each family was represented, as well as the family of the train driver, and the driver of the road vehicle. A specially commissioned bronze plaque was erected to remember those who lost their lives.

Prayers were said at the ceremony by local clergy including Fr Orr, Canon Hayden, and Rev Foster. Speakers included Jim Rowley, cousin of Peter Roche. Jim was on the train with his cousin on the day. Fran O'Neill, brother of Richard O'Neill also spoke, as did Albert Willoughby, who was on the Gorey fire crew responded to the disaster.

Cllr Malcolm Byrne spoke on behalf of Wexford County Council while Jane Cregan spoke on behalf of Iarnród Éireann. Roy Hill, whose brother Christy tried to stop the train, was also there. Catherine O'Neill represented her father Joe, the train driver, who was too elderly to attend.

A spokesperson for Iarnród Éireann said that 40 years on since Clogh road bridge accident, 'it is fitting to remember the five people who lost their lives in this tragic accident and we hope that the families will obtain solace by their loved ones being remembered.'

'Safety is our number one priority at Iarnród Éireann and we work very hard to maintain a safe railway for all, but we would stress the importance to those travelling with high vehicles to be aware of their height when travelling under any bridges,' she added.

Gorey Guardian

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