Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Poignant monument to worst rail disaster unveiled in Armagh

The Armagh Rail disaster memorial unveiled yesterday

A permanent memorial to the victims of Ireland's worst rail disaster has been unveiled in Armagh city.

The specially commissioned sculpture of a little girl carrying a bucket and spade commemorates the 89 people, many of them children, who died in the Armagh rail disaster on Wednesday, June 12, 1889. Tragedy struck 125 years ago during the Armagh Methodist Church Sunday School excursion to Warrenpoint.

Hundreds were injured after the train stalled while climbing a steep hill. In an ill-fated attempt to complete the climb in sections, the crew unattached the rear carriages of the train, but their brakes failed and the unsecured cars subsequently ran back down the hill, crashing into another train.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy unveiled the statue yesterday on The Mall in a ceremony which is part of a series of events taking place to mark the 125th anniversary of the rail crash. Mr Kennedy spoke of the safety measures introduced following the deaths that day.

"The great tragedy of the Armagh railway disaster led directly to various safety measures becoming legal requirements for railways in the United Kingdom, and encouraged a move towards direct State intervention in such matters," he said.

Earlier this week Armagh Methodist Church held two special services at Abbey Street. An opening service was conducted by former Methodist president, Rev Ken Todd and the closing service, featuring a school choir and the Armagh Old Boys Band, took place on Sunday, with the current president, Dr Heather Morris, presiding.

Sunday school outing to seaside in 1889 ended in horror with loss of 89 lives 

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