20 August 2020

A photograph illustrates
a full-page feature in this
week’s ‘Limerick Leader’

Tom Aherne’s feature in the ‘Limerick Leader’ this week

Patrick Comerford

In previous years I have taken part in the annual commemoration in Tarbert of the Shannon Boating Tragedy, when 17 people were drowned on 15 August 1893 on their way back to Tarbert from Kilkee.

However, the restrictions that are part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic mean the commemorations that should have taken place last Saturday were cancelled this year.

The commemorations have been poignant each year, and have included song, poetry and prayer with a truly ecumenical dimension. Many of the 17 people were Church of Ireland parishioners. The names of all 17 are listed on a memorial erected in Tarbert in 1988.

Although the annual commemorations did not take place this year, it is interesting that the tragedy is recalled in a full-page feature in this week’s edition of the Limerick Leader [22 August 2020], where Tom Aherne says mystery still surrounds the disaster.

His ‘Then & Now’ feature on page 14 in the feature section is also illustrated with one of my photographs of the memorial in Tarbert.

The 17 who died were: Maurice Murphy, Patrick Murphy, Michael Scanlon, Mary Scanlon, Kate Scanlon, Bridget Scanlon, Mary Lyndon, Patrick Lyndon, John Holly, Michael Bovenizer, Thomas Bovenizer, Nora Fitzgerald, Hannah O’Sullivan, Thomas Glazier, Johanna McGrath, William Naughton and Richard Allen.

The 15 August 1893 boating tragedy remains the biggest loss of life on the lower River Shannon, and the memorial to the 17 who died was erected by the people of Tarbert in 1988. In his feature Tom Aherne names all 17 people who died in the tragedy, and quotes from one of the many songs the tragedy inspired. The poem was written by a man named Bovenizer, probably from the same family as two parishioners who drowned that day, the brothers Michael Bovenizer and Thomas Bovenizer.

The Shannon Boating Tragedy memorial in Tarbert, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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