Buttevant rail disaster anniversary marked 41 years on

Buttevant rail disaster anniversary marked 41 years on

At the site of the Buttevant Rail Disaster memorial on the 41st anniversary of the August 1, 1980, tragedy were: Memorial committee chairman, Tom Sheehan and spokesperson, Terri O’Gorman, along with family members of train driver, Bertie Walsh. Included are Brendan, Ann, Kevin, Eimear, Mia and Olivia Cummins; Áine, Kate and Jack Cauldwell and Mary-Claire, Alice and baby Billy O’Keeffe.

THE BUTTEVANT rail disaster was remembered today over four decades since the devastating event.

At a simple but dignified ceremony at Buttevant the local Rail Disaster Commemorative Committee marked the 41st anniversary of the August 1980 weekend tragedy that resulted in 18 people being killed and more than 70 others being injured in the country’s worst rail disaster.

It was intended that the ceremony would have taken place last year, the 40th anniversary of the accident, but Covid-19 restrictions resulted in the ceremony being postponed to this year. 

The ceremony was hosted by committee chairman, Tom Sheehan, and spokesperson, Terri O’Gorman, both of whom have been active in the upkeep of the site memorial and have organised regular commemorative events at the location of the accident over the years.

The event was a very special occasion for the great-grandnephew and nieces of train driver, Bertie Walsh, who were dedicating a bench at the site of the memorial in memory of their great granduncle who was singled out for special mention for his heroism by the subsequent Buttevant Rail Inquiry.

Albert Reynolds, the then Transport Minister, was flown to the scene some hours after the crash where he promised a full public enquiry.

This was held between September 17 and October 3 at the Hibernian Hotel that year in Mallow under J. V. Feehan, Inspecting Officer.

Submissions from 56 witnesses were heard and when transcribed totalled 13 volumes, with almost 5,000 folios.

The following April, its findings were published, with the immediate cause of the accident put down to the incorrect making of the points for the siding, while also citing poor communication between CIE staff, and inadequate safety procedures rather than negligence.

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