Lurgan Coat of Arms The Armagh Guardian

25 March, 1876  


Colonel Rich has presented a report to the Board of Trade upon a shocking accident which occurred near Lisburn on the Ulster Railway. While the night mail train from Dublin to Portadown was approaching Lisburn Station at about 2.45 a.m., the third wagon of the train, which contained six hogs heads of whisky, caught fire, and the fireman of the train, Thomas Lennon from Lurgan was killed. If the statements of the engine driver and that of the watchman at Moira are to be believed, the fireman received the injuries which caused his death after the train was stopped within half a mile of Lisburn, but the circumstance are, in Colonel Rich's opinion, very suspicious, and rather tend to show that the fireman got into the wagon while the train was stopped at Lurgan Station in order, to steal some of the whisky, and that while doing so, he accidentally set fire to the spirit and was suffocated. If this supposition is correct, he mast have been shut into the wagon by some person, probably by his engine-driver, and when the spirit caught fire, he first attempted to put it out and burnt his hands, then finding that he could not extinguish the fire, and feeling suffocation coming over him, he probably lay down at the opposite end of the wagon with his head close to the door. A knife which is supposed to have belonged to the fireman, and the burner which was missing from one of the hand lamps on the engine, were found on the ballast under the wagon, both having been very much burnt. The guard mast have been at the burning wagon immediately after the driver, and he found the fireman apparently dead, with his hand so much burnt that the flesh came away from it, although there was no fire at the time on the fireman's body and clothes, or near the spot where he was lying.

The company had previously suffered continually by whisky being stolen during transit, and two of their men were in gaol at the time this accident occurred, having been convicted of the offence. There is no probability that the spirit could have taken fire, except from the lamp or the lighted match of some person who was tampering with it, and, considering all the circumstance of this case, Colonel Rich is of the opinion that the fireman had been shut into the wagon (which was a closed wagon, with a boarded roof) by the engine-driver, and that the unfortunate man had tapped the hogshead for the purpose of stealing the whisky.


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