I read, with interest, the very sad account of the ‘Disaster in Carlingford Lough’ on the collision between SS Connemara and the steam collier Retriever in the November 2017 issue of Sea Breezes.
Recently, I met a gentleman from County Down and he was telling me there was a local story going around that the sole survivor, James Boyle, who could not swim, was saved by hanging on to the tail of one of the cattle that came ashore. However, a report in the Weekly Freeman’s Journal of Saturday 11 November 1916, describes how he survived:
“James Boyle was below deck at the time of the collision, and on coming on deck found the ship sinking. He jumped into one of the ship’s lifeboats and cut it away from the Retriever. It was immediately capsized, and he was submerged. Rising to the surface, he found the boat had righted itself and, again, succeeded in getting into it. Again it was capsized and he was thrown into the water. Coming to the surface, he grasped the keel of the upturned boat and threw himself on it. For over half an hour, he was buffeted to and fro by the waves – at the time running at an enormous height.
The wind and tide drifted him toward Cranfield; and he was dashed on the rocks and swept away again. At the time, scores of people has assembled on the shore and as he was washed back again towards the beach, a number of men rushed into the surf. Mr P Kearney succeeded in grasping the exhausted man and brought him to shore where, after time, he revived. As events proved, he was the sole survivor out of a total of 95 souls consigned to the mercy of the waves.”
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Limerick, V94 WFWO, Ireland.