Owencarrow Viaduct Disaster

The Lough Swilly Train left Derry as usual at 5:30 PM on this fateful day 31st January 1925 with 13 passengers, 8 goods wagons and 2 bread vans. The driver was Mr. Robert Mc Guinness. The fireman was John Hannigan ( father of John Hannigan Donegal and Letterkenny Footballer now Golfer.) and the guard was Neillie Boyle. It left Letterkenny at 7:05PM with about 36 passengers on board.

Strong Winds

As the Train approached the Owencarrow Viaduct a strong gale was blowing. The train driver slowed down to 10m.p.h. but the gale was so strong that it blew the carriage nearest to the engine off the rails. The roof was ripped off and four passengers tragically dropped forty feet to their death. They were Philip and Sarah Boyle from Arranmore Island, Una Mulligan from Falcarragh, Neil Duggan from Meenbunowen Creeslough, Duggan home was only a stone’s throw from the crash.

The fireman John Hannigan walked (ran) three miles to Creeslough to raise the alarm. The local doctor Dr. Charley Coll and newly ordained priest Fr. Barney Gallagher attended the dead and injured.

Lots of local people helped out. Six of the injured were taken to Letterkenny Hospital. At the inquest the Jury recorded the bravery of two men James “The Post” Mc Fadden Kilfad Grand-Uncle of Colm McFadden and Pat “Paddy Rua” Mc Fadden Terlin who rescued two women from a carriage hanging by it’s chains.

The last passenger train journey from Letterkenny to Burtonport took place on June 1941.

Recalling the Letterkenny to Burtonport Railway in a new film.

In 2020, Rathmullan man Arthur Lynch compiled a 40 minute film about the railway line from Letterkenny to Burtonport (better known as the Burtonport Extension).

The film includes drone footage of the line, information on the people who worked on the construction of the line, people who operated the stations and gatehouses. The film was first showing in the Station House Hotel on Friday, February 21 2020. It was an interesting reminiscing for people in the town especially those who lived in the Creeslough Station house.

Published by mairead collett

Living the rural Life in Donegal, raising children and writing about my local area.

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