Lough Derg tragedy recalled: Some of those who gathered in Garrykennedy on the shores of Lough Derg on Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of the drowning of three barge crew members off Castlelough
A moving tribute was paid last Sunday to three men who lost their lives on Lough Derg 75 years ago when their barge carrying a cargo of Guinness sank off Parker’s Point, Castlelough, in about 80-feet of water.
Relatives, friends and local residents of Garrykennedy gathered in the village’s harbour to honour Edward "Red Ned" Gleeson, 40, from Derrymullan, Roberstown, Kildare; Jack Boland, 48, a father of six, also from Derrymullan, and Jimmy McGrath, 35, from Derrymullan.
A fourth man Tony Ennis, 23, from Kilmeogue, Kildare, survived after making it to shore by putting two planks under his arms.
Jack Boland’s body was recovered the next day on the shore, Ned’s body was found about three months later in Killaloe and Jimmy McGrath’s remains were never recovered.
Local man Matt Shinnors welcomed 10 relatives of those involved in the tragedy to Garrykennedy last Sunday morning where they were joined by two barges from Whitegate crewed by Gerry and Colm Burke.
He described what happened on December 1, 1946 as a “terrible tragedy”
Recalling the event, he said the 45M had hit turbulent water off Kilgarvan in the northern end of Lough Derg and the crew had decided to put into Garrykennedy.
They later set out for Kallaloe but hit more turbulent water at Parker’s Point and the 45M went down in a heavy gale.
He recalled that Mr O’Brien was found exhusted by members of the Hynes family from Castlelough.
Frank Moran, a relative of Jack Boland, described Sunday’s commemoration as a day of mixed emotion.
“We are both saddened and delighted to be here,” he said.
Harry Doyle, whose grandfather, Andy “Copper” Cross was the skipper on 45M recalled how his grandfather had left the barge early as his father was sick and he wanted to be near home. He gave his place to Ned Gleeson.
“Had he come here, he would have been part of the tragedy,” he said.
And in a twist of fate, he said his great-grandfather actually died on the day of the tragedy.
In a further twist, Mr Doyle told the gathering his father met his wife at the subsequent funeral wake.
He said that he once overheard Tony Ennis recall the night and he recounted that the crew had observed a barge that had been with the 45M - the St James - was having its propeller lifted out of the water by the turbulence and a shout went up that everybody should “grab a timber or they would all be drowned”
Lorraine Molloy recited a poem she wrote about the event before Colm and Gerry Burke took relatives and other members of the gathering to Parker’s Point on board their barges where a wreath was cat into the water in memory of those who lost their lives.
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