“The Armagh Railway Disaster” Causeway

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Imagine the excitement at the Railway Station in Armagh that sunny morning on 12th June 1889 when around 800 children, parents and grandparents boarded the train for the annual Sunday School excursion to Warrenpoint.

It was organised by the Methodist Church but it also included families of all denominations and by the end of that fateful day, practically every family in Armagh was affected by what was to happen.

This was the topic of the February talk for Causeway U3A which was given by Canon John Mc Kegney, a member of the group. It is still Ireland’s worst rail disaster with 80 people killed and over 260 injured. The crowded train had to negotiate a steep incline just outside Armagh. The steam locomotive was unable to complete the climb and the train stalled. The crew decided to divide the train, taking the front portion up the hill while leaving the rear carriages on the line. The rear portion was inadequately braked and it rolled back down the line and collided with a following train. Utter devastation followed.

The speaker explored the catalogue of errors that led to the disaster. These included using an engine that was too low powered to pull so many carriages, an inexperienced driver who did not know the route, a poor brake system and poor train management with following train too close. If you would like to find out more, please refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armagh_rail_disaster

The findings led to the introduction of a wide range of safety measures becoming legal requirements in the UK and Ireland.

Each Month Causeway U3A organises a talk and these are very well attended with up to 200 members coming along. The next monthly talk will be on Thursday 2nd March at 11am at Portstewart Golf Club. The speaker will be Tony McCauley, writer and broadcaster, who will talk about “70’s Memories”. If you are retired or semi-retired and are interested in joining U3A please come along.

In addition to monthly talks by speakers such as Canon McKegney, Causeway U3A runs around 35 different activities for older people. Examples include table tennis, tai chi, yoga, dancing, bridge, crafts, art and computing classes, astronomy and current affairs, The ethos of the organisation is to promote lifelong learning, social interactions and active ageing. There are almost 1000 members in the Causeway branch and they welcome applications from older people – there are no entry qualifications required and fees are minimal. Anyone interested should contact the Membership Secretary at 075 4163 5839 or by e-mail at membership@causewayu3a.co.uk