Plaque commemorates victims of shipping tragedy
The Dundalk victims of the worst shipping tragedy to happen in Carlingford Lough were remembered when a plaque was unveiled in memory of those who lost their lives when the SS Retriever and SS Connemara collided and sank in 1916.
The plaque was erected by The Newry Maritime Association and forms part of a heritage trail dedicated to remembering the 94 people who drowned when the vessels collided and sank on a stormy winter’s night, just half a mile off the Cranfield coast, about two and a half miles from Greenore.
On November 3 1916, the S.S. Connemara, a passenger cargo vessel on route from Greenore to Holyhead was in collision with the incoming coal collier the S.S. Retriever at the entrance to Carlingford Lough, resulting in heavy loss of life and only one survivor, 21 year old James Boyle from Warrenpoint.
Among the victims were 21-year-old Patrick Conlon, a railway man from Hill Street, who was on his way to a wedding with his two cousins, Miss Maggie Glassbrook and Mrs Lillie Fillingham, in Wigan. Mrs Fillingham was accompanied by her son Robert, aged 2, and daughter Jane, aged 4. They were passengers on the ill fated Connemara, which they had boarded in Greenore.
Patrick’s brother Tom was to accompany him but at the last moment had been asked to drive his employer Tom Russell to drive to Cobh. Patrick’s body was initially misidentified as he was wearing the jacket of his brother Tommy.
James McAlreavey, PRO of the Newry Maritime Association said the victims also included a Mrs Keelan from Ladywell Tce and her son.
It was, he said, decided to erect the plaque at the Greenore Railway Salon in Quay Street as it is close to the old Quay Street railway station, where they passengers would have got the train to Greenore.
He praised the pub’s owners, Declan and Jane Tinnelly for their enthusiasm about the project,
The plaque is one of a number erected by the group along the south Down and north Louth coast from Kilkeel to Dundalk as part of their on-going maritime conservation project, which included the launch of the SS Connemara and SS Retriever Heritage Trail, comprising 22 sites associated with the shipping disaster.
The heritage trail recalls the terrible night when the two ships collided and sank, resulting in the loss of the 86 crewmen, passengers and cattlemen who were on board the Connemara. The eight crew members of the Retriever also perished.
Accounts from the sole survivor described how the boilers of both ships exploded following the collision.
Other events planned by the Association this summer include the illumination of the Haulbowline Lighthouse on Friday night and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in Newry on Saturday afternoon.