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125 Years On…Sculpture unveiling tomorrow to 88 killed in Armagh Railway Disaster

It will be exactly 125 years to the day tomorrow (Thursday) since the Armagh Rail Disaster, which claimed 88 lives and left several hundred more injured.

And, to mark the occasion, a permanent memorial will be unveiled on the Mall, at the Gaol end, to commemorate those who died.

The ceremony, to which members of the public are invited, will be officially performed by Transport Minister Danny Kennedy and Lord Mayor of Armagh Robert Turner.

It gets underway at 10.30am.

At 10.45am, there will be a minute’s silence and the bells of St Mark’s Church will toll.

The new sculpture has been created following a public commission that resulted in the appointment of Mayo-based artist Rory Breslin.

He has created a spectacular and intricate life-sized bronze figure of a girl, barefoot and carrying a bucket and spade, representing the Methodist Church Sunday School excursion train to Warrenpoint, which collided with another train a short distance from the city centre.

The work has been mounted on a limestone plinth and it is on it that the names of all those who died as a result of the June 12, 1889, disaster will feature.

As previously reported by Armagh I, the accident remains the worst ever rail disaster in Ireland and resulted in the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, which is accepted as the beginning of the modern era in UK rail safety.

But the true significance of the disaster which took place that morning was the shocking loss of human life, and the tragic circumstances in which those lives were lost.

Speaking about the new memorial, Lord Mayor of Armagh, Councillor Robert Turner, said: “The sudden removal of 88 loved ones, young and old, tore the heart out of the Armagh community, then and for generations to come. The new sculpture is intended as a memorial and acknowledgement of that unforgettable day and the tragic human loss, especially the unrealised potential of the many young who died.”

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