Timmy Carey with Great Southern Sign


With sea conditions deteriorating last weekend with Force 4 to 7 winds, Blackwater diver Timmy Carey decided to examine previous year’s river dives and organised a trip to one of the three sisters, the River Suir, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.  

Divers Timmy Carey, Gearoid O Looney, Alex Brown and Catrina Mathews headed off early Sunday morning to investigate the current underwater conditions under the Viaduct adjacent to Cahir Bridge.  With safety checks completed, dive plan discussed, divers began a forty minute dive in three metres of water with 17 degrees temperature.

It was apparent from the beginning; the river bed had plenty of life from crayfish,   brown trout, mussels and a keen-eyed kingfisher keeping an eye on Alex Brown as he surfaced.  It was soon discovered while under the Viaduct (opened in 1852), Timmy Carey discovered a complete Great Southern and Western Railway sign in perfect condition.  Examining the sign, a group of locals began to remember the unfortunate train disaster which occurred on 21st December, 1955.

The train concerned was a 32-wagon laden beet special from Waterford to Thurles via Limerick Junction.  At the time of the accident, the Up platform (the station building side) was occupied by a mail train. The beet train was routed into the loop, but as the rear of the mail train was fouling the crossover at the Limerick end of the station, it was not possible to let the beet back out on to the main line. Instead, the points were set for the short siding which ended just before the bridge. The beet train ran through the buffers at the end of the siding at about 30-35mph causing the locomotive and 22 wagons to crash through the floor of the first span of the bridge into the River Suir below.  Sadly, the driver and a fireman died in the accident.

                                L/R Gearoid O Looney, Timmy Carey, Alex Brown, Catrina Mathews

Also discovered during the dive, was a Doulton Lambeth ceramic ink bottle and unfortunately a damaged old cast iron CIE sign.  Many thanks to Timmy Carey for organising an unexpected dive full of discovery, history and meeting the locals in Cahir.