Armagh rail disaster

12th June 1899
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A personal account of Armagh rail disaster on June 12, 1899 by Samuel Frederick Gibson McKimm Also documented in "The Fateful Day" by the Armagh District Council (BT604EL) 12th June 1989

There were two trains fully packed with excursionists to go from Armagh to Warren Point. Father (Samuel McKimm), Mother (Margaret (Maggie) McKinlay) and I (Fred) were in the first train. Uncle David (David McKinlay), Mima (Jemima Sinclair McKinlay) and Gordon (Thomas Gordon McKimm) saw us off. Then David found a place in the Guard's van behind and offered to take Gordon with him but Aunt Mima refused and took Gordon home. A mile or two out of Armagh the first train failed to climb the steep gradient, someone released some of the carriages which then rolled back down the line and collided with the engine of the train behind. Father had tucked me between his knees to save injury. Our carriage left the rails but was not overturned and we got out through the windows. Mother took me to a bank on Watson's farm overlooking the scene and she and Father went to rescue the injured. They found Uncle David badly burned and brought him on a stretcher to Watson's Farm kitchen and thence to Armagh Infirmary.

I saw the killed and injured being taken from the carriage which had fallen down the embankment. There were 80 killed on the spot including children and many hundred injured but I was only six years of age and did not understand the full horror. Uncle David had a long illness but made a good recovery. He received a thousand pounds injury compensation and went to Chicago, U.S.A. and joined his brother Alexander and his cousin David Murphy in a Hardware business.

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