Tragedy down the decades

This article is from page 3 of the 2005-11-08 edition of The Clare People. OCR mistakes are to be expected so download the original SWF or the rendered page 3 JPG

DOOLIN is no stranger to tragedy – the vul- lage made famous by the Russell brothers and known the world over has made the headlines for the saddest of reasons down the decades.

As the pall of gloom and depression descend- ed on Doolin over the past week, memories of similar tragedies in the popular tourist resort were revived. All of these drowning tragedies took place on the notorious Tra Leathan.

A priest named Fr. O’Keeffe drowned there

in 1923, while in 1959 two German tourists perished.

However, it was the horror story that un- folded on July 31, 1983 that sent shock waves all over Ireland and beyond. Eight young men lost their lives when they were swept out to sea while bathing at Tra Leathan.

Events began to unfold at 4.30pm when a large number of swimmers, having ignored the danger signs posted by Clare County Council in the area, got into difficulties. The combina- tion of the tide going out, rough seas, strong

undercurrents and shifting sands made condi- tions treacherous. Screams for help were heard as a number of people were swept out to sea. Those who managed to scramble ashore, and a watching crowd of about 70, could only look on helplessly as Tra Leathan claimed eight more lives. All of the dead were from outside the county and in the area for the weekend. A mas- sive operation involving the Army, Navy, Air Corps, Gardai, Civil Defence and volunteers was mounted to retrieve the bodies.

The dead included three brothers, James (25),

John (21) and Edward (19) Doran from Borris in Carlow; James Murphy (17) from Borris; Michael Murphy (22) and Colm Keyes (21) from Portlaoise; Denis O’Sullivan (30) from Sneem, Co Kerry and John Paul Leahy (19) from Kilmallock.

A veil of depression descended on north Clare and beyond after the tragedy. It was the worst maritime disaster in the county since nine lives were lost when the

2 replies on “Tragedy down the decades”

it’s forty years since I lost 3 brothers 💔 and a neighbour and 5 others lost there life’s in doolan co clare .

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