The two memorials erected here at the V road junction commemorate the tragic loss of young Life.
Shannon Boating Tragedy of 1893
On 15th August 1893, a party of young people from Tarbert, ten men and seven women, with an average age of twenty four years decided they would spend the Church holiday in West Clare. They would cross the river Shannon in two boats sailing from Tarbert to Kilrush, spend the day in Kilkee and return later that evening on the same three mile boat journey. When they arrived at their embarkation point at Coolnanoonagh there was no second boat for the crossing. There and then on a beautiful fine morning the seventeen excursionists decided to crowd into Maurice Murphy’s 17 foot long fishing boat. When they arrived at Moyne quay in Clare concern was expressed that the boat was overloaded and in an unseaworthy condition. The women had complained that the hems of their skirts were getting wet and the men were bailing out water.
Spirits were high and they spent the afternoon in Kilrush and Kilkee where they enjoyed themselves. Towards evening they returned to Moyne quay for the journey back. Despite pleas and warnings the whole party decided to make the return boat trip. There was a strong current running and only two oars to steer the ill-fated boat. Luck was with them and they appeared to have crossed the Tarbert Race, a strong choppy bit of current running down the middle of the estuary. About three hundred yards from the Tarbert shoreline and with darkness falling, disaster struck. Some of the party may have stood up in the boat looking out for their landing place causing the boat overturn plunging them into the sea. Despite frantic searches the next day, there was no sign of boat or bodies. By the end of September a total of twelve bodies were recovered and buried in family graves but five bodies were never recovered – the river Shannon was their grave. The Scanlon family of Kilpadogue incurred the biggest loss with the death of four of the eldest of a family of fourteen. Two inquests subsequently found ‘that the boat was overcrowded and not in a seaworthy condition’. The 15th August 1893 boating tragedy remains as the biggest loss of life on the lower Shannon.
The War Memorial.
This limestone memorial in scroll format at the same location was erected in remembrance of fourteen young men from the parish of Tarbert who fought and died in two World Wars.
Ten of the First World War (1914 – 1918) fatalities fought with Irish based regiments and British Commonwealth forces. The last two men named on the memorial fought with the United States army. Seven of those who died were under thirty years of age including two who enrolled with the Tralee based Royal Munster Fusiliers. Stephen Cregan who served with the 308th United States infantry regiment was possibly the last Kerry fatality of the war having been killed on 9th November 1918, two days before the Armistice was signed at 11.00 a.m. on 11thNovember 1918.
The two fatalities of the Second World War (1939-1945) were Maurice (Mossie) Langan and Eamon Brandon both killed while serving with the British Royal Navy.
The lines of poetry at the base of the memorial were written by local poet, Thomas MacGreevy of Tarbert who was himself twice wounded during the 1916 Somme offensive.
( A more comprehensive history of the events detailed on both memorials is available in the book ‘Tarbert – An Unfinished Biography’ written by Patrick Lynch and available from firstname.lastname@example.org. )