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Leinster Leader March 14 1908

Terrible Occurrence At Maynooth

Mail Train Wrecked

Guard Loses His life

On yesterday (Friday) morning the police at Naas were apprised by wire, of a sensational and tragic occurrence at Maynooth. It would appear from the meagre particulars contained in the telegraphic message that a night-up mail train was wrecked at or near Maynooth Station as a result of which the guard, whose name is not mentioned, was killed. The disaster, the telegram further states, is believed to have been the result of an accident.

Leinster Leader March 21 1908

A Night Mail Wrecked

Midland Line Smash

Train Dashes Into A Cattle Waggon At Maynooth

Story Told At The Inquest

As briefly announced in our last issue, in the darkness of the early hours of Friday morning, the time of the accident being given at 4.27 o’clock, the night mail train from Galway for Dublin on the Midland Great Western line dashed into a cattle wagon standing on the line at Maynooth station. The impact was terrific. The five end carriages of the train were thrown off the line, and smashed into an inextricable heap. The guard’s van was completely squashed, and Guard Edward Murphy, belonging to Dublin and living at 5, Great Western Square, who has been in the Company’s Service for well over a quarter of a century was killed. He was aged about 50 years, and leaves a wife and family. Fortunately “all the passengers escaped” without injury. Driver James Wilson, of the mail train, states that at the time of the collision it was perfectly dark, and that the shock was awful. The engine held on to the rails, and by a speedy application of the brakes he was able to bring it to a standstill, thus averting what must otherwise have proved a sickening calamity.

Story at the Inquest

The story of the occurrence was vividly told at the inquest which was held in the afternoon by Dr. Cosgrave of Kilcock, on the remains of Guard Murphy.
Mr. R. Blair White, solicitor, appeared for the Midland Railway Co. Mr. Joseph Gleeson, solicitor, appeared on behalf of the A.S.R.S. and also for Engine Driver Wilson and Signalman Madden. Head Constable Smiths, Naas, represented the police.
Sergeant Finnerty examined the witnesses.
Mr. White stated that he had been directed to attend the inquest, and facilitate the inquiry by the production of witnesses and the giving of any assistance that lay in his power. He had also been directed on behalf of the directors, to express their sympathy for the relatives of the deceased guard, and their sense of the loss they had sustained by the death of a worthy servant.
Thos. Griffiths goods guard 3, Royal Canal Bank, Dublin, said he travelled by the night mail from Athlone to Maynooth. He was in charge of the rear (or Mayo) portion of the train, which consisted of two passenger carriages and a guard’s brake van. On approaching Maynooth platform he heard a crash, and then he was knocked down. He was stunned by the fall, and was unconscious for a short time. When he recovered his position the train was at a stand, and he got out of the van. He heard a moan, and recognised it as the voice of Guard Murphy. He found Murphy lying between the up and down line mixed up with the wreckage. He tried to extricate him , but did not succeed until some of the passengers and post office officials came to his aid. He then released the deceased. Murphy was alive, and witness asked him how he felt, and if his legs were broken. He replied, “No, they are not.” Murphy said he could not breathe. Dr. Moore arrived in a few minutes, and attended to the injured man, but he died about twenty minutes after.

Driver Wilson’s Story

Jas. Wilson, driver of the ill-fated train said they reached Maynooth about six minutes behind scheduled time. At the siding at the cattle bank close to the platform the engine struck something, and there was a flash of fire. He did not know what it was at the time. Immediately the engine struck the object he applied the brake, and he stopped the train about 250 yards from the middle of the platform. He got his lamp and went back to see what was wrong, and found his train had parted. On going back to the platform he saw that the rear end of the Galway portion of the train was derailed. Rear Guard Griffiths was then attending to Guard Murphy. Witness could give no opinion as to the cause of the accident.
Sergeant Finnerty. Could you have seen the object you struck if you had been looking out? Both the fireman and I were looking out, and the foreman had a better chance of seeing anything than I had, as it was on his side. And you could see nothing? No. Mr. White: Where the signals right for you to go through the station? They were. What speed was your train running at? The usual speed about 30 miles an hour. Patrick Henihan, the fireman, gave corroborative evidence.

The Fatal Obstruction

Signalman John Madden, Maynooth, stated that he was at the station when the accident occurred. When he received the signal from Kilcock that the train was on he replied that the road was clear and then lowered the signals, but he could not see the place where the waggon was. Witness then described the scene, and said he at once went to the assistance of the guard. At the time it was very dark, and one could only see a few yards in advance.
To Mr. Gleeson: Witness said he could not at the time account for the accident, and his first impression was that the train had jumped the rails. There was a fog or haze at the time.
In reply to Sergeant Finnerty, the witness said wagons should be left inside the catch: points for safety. A luggage train arrived the previous night at 3.35 a.m. and five wagons were put off. Four of these were put in the goods siding and one in the cattle siding. There were several other wagons in the cattle siding at the time. The guard of the luggage train, first took a wagon from the cattle siding to the main line, and then he put on the goods wagons from his train and shoved the other wagons in front of it. After that the guard told witness to shut off the points. The guard of the goods train was responsible for the safe position of the waggons on the side line, the witness proceeded, and he had no doubt at the time that all was right. The siding would hold 39 waggons, and there were only 10 or 12 in it that morning, but, if one of them were not sufficiently in it would impede the up train. There were no lights about the station at the time, except head lamps, and there was no staff in attendance except witness. The guard has to superintend all the shunting, and the practice was going on for years.
In the opinion of witness, the guard in question was an experienced and capable man, and the catch points were in order. The catch points were worked from the signal cabins, and once they were closed no waggon could get out, but if a waggon were not inside the points it might get outside the main line of its own accord.
Pressed further, the witness could not say if one of the waggons was left outside the points.
A Guard’s Theory

Guard Patrick Lennon, who was in charge of the goods train, then hold his story. He said he had 5 waggons on the train for Maynooth, and when he arrived he found he could put four in the store siding. He told the signal man this, and was directed to put one in the cattle siding. He did this, and declared he saw the waggon in clear of the catch points, at the same time directing the signal man to shut up the points. The witness then said he resumed his journey and heard no more until he reached Mullingar at 7.30
In further evidence Lennon said he had been ten years in the service of the Company, and for eight years he had been guard. He reiterated his statement as to his satisfaction that all was right before he left Maynooth with his train.
Asked for a theory, witness said he could only account for the disaster by believing that the last waggon ran down the small incline to the other waggons which were there, and rebounded backwards to the points before the signalman could close them. Witness in conclusion said he had been working the train in question for about a year, and had always done all the shunting except at Liffey Junction.
Dr. Stanley Moore, Maynooth, stated that death was due to shock caused by laceration of the abdominal region and consequent hemorrhage. There was no wounds of any account on the body.

The Jury’s Verdict

Mr. Glesson having addressed the jury, a verdict was returned to the effect:
“That death was in accordance with the medical testimony; that the injuries were accidentally received; that they exonerated from blame all the officials who were on the train, and also the Signalman Madden; and they further added the opinion that there should be more help and more light at the station, while shunting operations were being carried out. They also expressed their sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.

Guard Murray’s Funeral

The funeral of the late Mr. Edward Murphy, the victim of the railway smash at Maynooth Station on Friday morning, was strikingly eloquent of the widespread sympathy which has been aroused by the sad occurence.

We learn that a brother of Guard Murphy who was also employed on the Midland line, met his death a few years ago in a railway accident near Athenry Station, while a second brother met his death by drowning near Mulhuddart, their native place. Guard Murphy leaves two children, aged about ten and twelve years respectively.

Two articles from the Leinster Leader of March 1908 on the story of the crash of the Maynooth mail train which left one man dead

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