Princess Victoria Disaster Memorial in Larne   Photo: Michael Fisher

Travelling recently through Larne (where the Granuaile was working on servicing buoys and harbour lights) I noticed the memorial at Chaine Memorial Road on the shoreline. It was erected to commemorate the victims of the Princess Victoria disaster. This weekend, 63 years on from the tragedy on January 31st 1953, they were remembered at a ceremony led by the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim. The annual event is organised by Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. The Belfast Telegraph carried a report on the event.


Princess Victoria Disaster Memorial in Larne Photo: Michael Fisher

A total of 133 lives were lost in the tragedy, which at the time was the UK’s worst peacetime disaster at sea. The Princess Victoria ferry was crossing from Stranraer to Larne and sank after being battered by monstrous waves in the North Channel. Only 33 passengers and crew survived. The loss of so many lives sent shockwaves through Northern Ireland. It had a particularly strong impact on County Antrim and the Port of Larne with 27 of the victims coming from the town.

On Saturday, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Billy Ashe led tributes to those who perished in Larne with William McAllister who is the only living survivor of the of disaster, when he was 17 he was a galley boy on the ship.

DSC_4214 (2)

Plaque on Memorial at Larne (edited) Photo: Michael Fisher

Allan Preston report: The courageous story of a forgotten hero from the Princess Victoria disaster has been revealed more than 60 years after his death.

A total of 133 lives were lost in the tragedy, which at the time was the UK’s worst peacetime disaster at sea.  It happened after a ferry crossing from Stranraer to Larne sank after being battered by monstrous waves in the North Channel. Now it has emerged that Len White, the ship’s second officer, who lived in Ballygally with his family, sacrificed his life while trying to put women and children on a lifeboat.

On the morning of January 31, 1953, the Princess Victoria set off at 7.45am despite warnings of gale force winds. When conditions at sea grew unbearable and it became clear the ferry would sink, Mr White was placed in charge of getting women and children to safety. As he lowered a lifeboat, he was swept to his death when a huge wave dashed the small vessel back against the Princess Victoria’s hull.

Mr White, a war veteran originally from Portsmouth, settled his family in Ballygally near Larne after the war to work in the Merchant Navy. He normally served on the HMS Margaret, but he volunteered as relief on the Princess Victoria that day because another officer was unable to sail. His body was later recovered by the crew of the Sir Samuel Kelly lifeboat, which was based in Donaghadee.

Mr White’s daughter Susan Crampton was nine years old on the day of the tragedy. “After all these years, I remember him as a quiet man and a loving father who seemed happiest when he had his family around him,” she said. “I can remember the bewilderment I felt as a nine-year-old and the impossibility of receiving satisfactory answers to my questions. My mother was very brave and she worked hard to restore a normal family life, but we all missed him terribly.”

Susan’s husband Fred, who also grew up on the Ballygally coast, remembers hearing when news of the maritime disaster broke. “I would have been 13 on the day of the tragedy, so I remember him very well,” he said. “(He was) not a very tall man, smoked a pipe, very family-orientated. He loved that area – he loved the Antrim coast. I looked out from the window straight at the sea. I remember going down to the shop and it was an awful job even walking home because of the terrible gales.”

Fred recalled how, when the devastating news came through, the community rallied around the family. “Sue’s mum and her sister had great support from everyone in the locality,” he said. “But it wasn’t just them, there was so many people in the locality who lost that weekend.”



Sinn Fein candidates Sen. Kathryn Reilly & Caoimhghin O Caolain TD

Sinn Fein launched their general election campaign for Cavan-Monaghan in Cootehill. The election has not yet been announced but deputies are widely expecting to get their marching orders next week when the Taoiseach will probably set a date. The Sinn Fein duo of Senator Kathryn Reilly seeking #1 votes in Cavan and Caoimhghin O Caolain looking for first preferences in Monaghan seem confident they can take two of what will now be four seats up for grabs.


Launch of SF election campaign in Cavan and Monaghan

A large chunk of West Cavan with 36 DEDs centred around Ballyconnell and Swanlinbar has been chopped off and added to Sligo/Leitrm which also takes in a small part of south Donegal including Ballyshannon and Bundoran.

The troops were rallied by MEP and national director of elections Matt Carthy from Carrickmacross.


SF supporters at the campaign launch

See next week’s Northern Standard for a full report.

Speaking at the launch, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly said:

“In 2016, we have an opportunity to take a further step towards achieving the vision of 1916.

“There is a lot of positivity, energy and enthusiasm around this campaign.

“We have been out knocking on doors for months now and I have been getting a very warm response, which is encouraging. Ordinary people are genuinely angry and fed-up at the way they have been treated by this government. They are looking for a Government who will stand up for them. They are crying out for effective representation in the Dáil.

“Sinn Féin is confident of winning two seats in Cavan/Monaghan. We will be running a positive campaign, offering solutions to the chaos of the Fine Gael/Labour Party government.

“Sinn Féin will be offering the people of Cavan/Monaghan a real alternative to the crisis in housing & health care caused by this government and its Fianna Fáil led predecessor.

“By electing a strong team of Sinn Féin TDs to the Dáil, you are sending a clear message to those politicians who have for too long had the reins of power in this state and presided over failure. You will also send a message that the people of Ireland do not want a situation where the people serve the economy, but a situation where the economy that serves the people.

“Sinn Féin has clearly set out a range of progressive, fully costed proposals, which would bring about a fairer, more equal and inclusive society. Our message is resonating. A Sinn Féin government will deliver a fairer recovery, with decent jobs. We would defend and invest in our critical public services. We want a fair and progressive tax system. We would scrap both water charges and the property tax.

“It is up to ordinary workers, communities and families across this constituency, who have suffered as a result of this Government’s policies, to join with us in the campaign and help us to make history in 2016 by returning two Sinn Féin TDs for Cavan/ Monaghan. I am inviting everybody who believes in that vision to come along to my launch on Friday night to show your support.”


IMG_20160129_132808Interesting to see a leaflet issued on behalf of Alan Shatter T.D. seeking his re-election. He is getting in ahead of the posse in Dublin Rathdown. Interesting because it is a personalised leaflet with no Fine Gael logo or picture of the man himself, who is currently on the FG back bench, having served as Minister for Justice. On the reverse side there is a direct attack on Sinn Fein policies and a stout defence of a government led by Fine Gael. It calls for a vote #2 for FG constituency colleague Cllr Josepha Madigan, whose face has already appeared on dozens of election-type posters advertising public meetings in the past year. Finally it calls for a supporting vote for Energy Minister Alex White TD of Labour. As I reported in these columns recently Alex White was the subject of a no-vote protest by anti- wind farm and anti-pylon  Campaigners.


Reverse Side of Leaflet




Northern Standard Thursday 28th January p.1

The EirGrid application for a second North/South electricity interconnector using a high voltage 400kV overhead power line with over 400 pylons from Meath through Cavan and Monaghan to Armagh and Tyrone is to go to an oral hearing in early March. Two senior inspectors have been appointed by An Bord Pleanala to hear submissions concerning the chosen route in the Republic. Planning authorities in Northern Ireland have still to announce whether a hearing will take place in NI. The County Monaghan Anti-Pylon committee is one of the groups that will be represented at the hearing, due to commence before Easter. It has asked An Bord Pleanala for an extension of one week to February 11th to submit its reply concerning the agenda and organisation of the oral hearing, in order to comply with the Board’s suggestions about how the hearing should proceed. The Board says the hearing could last twelve weeks


EirGrid CEO Fintan Slye  Photo: Michael Fisher 



Duel at Wimbledon Common: Merton Memories Photographic  Archive


This article is from The Spectator 8th February 1832 p.7

I am reproducing it here because I purchased at a book fair in Dublin today an old book about London co-authored by William Carleton’s biographer DJ O’Donoghue. It contained a few paragraphs about Wimbledon Common as a spot famous for duels. Putney Heath was also used for duels.

On Monday, a duel was fought at Wimbledon Common, by Major- General L. Moore and Mr. Miles Stapylton. General Moore was brought in the course of the evening to rnion Hall, in custody; wheu a gentleman named Harris gave the following account of the duel. “As he was proceeding to Godalming on the outside of the stage- coach, about four o’clock on Monday afternoon, in passing the road which crosses Wimbledon Common, he beard the report of a pistol ; and on looking towards the spot from whence it proceeded, he observed a gentleman fall. The coachman, who also heard the report, imme- diately pulled up ; when lie and a Mr. Self, who was sitting next him, alighted, and mu to the place, which was a short distance from the road- . side. Seeing the gentleman lying on the ground, and blood upon the breast of his shirt, he went towards the General, who had a pistol in his hand, and told him that he must consider himself in custody. The General offered not the slightest resistance, and immediately gave up his fire-arms. During time period that elapsed from the time that the wounded gentleman fell, until Mr. Harris spoke to the General on the subject of his apprehension, the seconds and some other persons as- sisted the wounded man off the ground, and placed him in a carriage which was in waiting, and immediately drove off towards town. – dr. Harris and Mr. Self conducted General Moore to Kingston’ and gave him into the custody of Walters, the constable there.” Mr. Self men- tioned, that on approaching Mr. Stapylton, that gentleman exclaimed, ” I am mortally wounded.” A certificate was read from Mr. Surgeon Guthrie, which simply stated that Mr. Stapylton was in great danger. The prisoner was remanded until Tuesday next. – The Daily Papers give a history of the causes of the duel, which we subjoin, without vouching for its accuracy. ” The hostile meeting,” they say, “between General Moore and Mr. Stapylton, took place, in consequence of a letter which the General addressed to his antagonist on the subject of a young lady of great beauty and accomplishments, a near connexion of the gallant officer, and to whom Mr. S. devoted much of his attention during a recent sojourn of the parties in Italy. Mr. Stapylton, we are told, on the receipt of the General’s communication, whilst he was staying at his seat near Richmond, in Yorkshire, ordered post-horses and travelled with all possible expedition to the metropolis, and called on General Moore for an explanation, which demand, it would appear, not being complied with, the meeting took place.” Mr. Stapylton was conveyed in a carriage to Long’s Hotel in New Bond Street, where he still is. The ball is not extracted. ‘He passed a restless night on Monday; but on Tuesday was pronounepd a • little better, and was enabled to converse with his second, Major Fan, court. The accounts yesterday Were rather more favourable. raffair of honour took place on Saturday morning at Wormwood Scrubs between Mr. F. Banvis, a gentleman of fortune residing at Bayswater, and a Captain in the Army. The Meeting, it seems, arose “from an apprehension in Mr. B. ‘s mind that the Captain was guilty of a violation of courtesy towards himself and daughter on re- tiring from Covent Garden Theatre.” The parties fired’ together, , and the Captain received Mr. Barwis’s ball in the pistol-arm ; when a reconciliation ensued, and they shook bands.



Electricity Pylons beside a SONI/NIE sub-station in County Antrim  Photo: Michael Fisher

The controversial plan by EirGrid for a North/South high voltage 400 kV electricity interconnector with overhead lines on 400 pylons from Meath to Tyrone is to be the subject of an oral hearing by two inspectors from An Bord Pleanála in early March.

Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne confirmed that the Board is set to begin public hearing sessions from next March. The hearing is likely to be held over a twelve weeks period in Carrickmacross, where a previous oral hearing took place in May 2010.

Senator Byrne is one of a number of public representatives who are  strongly opposed to the project. He says he will be making a submission to the hearing to outline the serious concerns that residents in Meath have regarding the proposals.

“I’ve long held the view that this project is unworkable. There needs to be community consensus for the project and a far greater emphasis needs to be placed on upgrading existing infrastructure alongside ensuring that the new transmission line is placed underground,” said Senator Byrne.

“People in Meath feel that their concerns have not been taken on board by those pushing this project. They are not being treated equally as the development of new transmission lines in other parts of the country are proceeding with the lines being placed underground. However Meath residents are being told that the North South Interconnector has to be developed over ground. It’s unacceptable.

“Meath residents now have their chance to make their voices heard in relation to these proposals. I’ve been informed by An Bord Pleanála that the public hearing for the project will begin in March. I’ll be making a strong submission outlining why I think the proposals have to be cast aside. I encourage others with similar concerns to make a submission during the public hearings.

“In Fianna Fáil’s energy policy launched this year, we outlined that grid development such as planned under the North South Interconnector should be subject to a full economic review in light of our reduced energy needs. Fianna Fáil maintains that undergrounding the North – South Connector is the most preferential route along with upgrading existing infrastructure and this will form a key part of my submission,” concluded Senator Byrne.

Nigel Hillis of the County Monaghan anti-pylon committee said the fact the oral hearing is to take place has to be welcomed. He said a number of parties would be making a formal oral submission at the hearing. Formal notice of the hearing, including the agenda and the details of venue will be sent to all parties approximately two weeks in advance of the announcement.

In a letter to the 900 interested parties including individuals who made submissions (with a fee of €50) to the planning application submitted by EirGrid in June last year, An Bord Pleanála said that owing to the scale and complexity of the case, and the large number of written submissions received, parties are requested to indicate their intention to make a formal oral submission at the hearing, before 5.30pm on February the 4th.

Eirgrid Statement 

“We welcome An Bord Pleanála’s decision to convene an oral hearing and note that it is likely to commence in early March. Each aspect of this process is managed by An Bord Pleanála. We await further detail from An Board Pleanála with regard to the upcoming oral hearing. Our offices in Carrickmacross, Cootehill and Navan will continue to be open in the coming weeks for anyone who has queries about our application.”

EirGrid’s plans to build the overhead 400kV power line from Woodland in County Meath through parts of Cavan, Monaghan and Armagh to Turleenan near Dungannon in County Tyrone were lodged in June 2015. Observations had to be lodged with the planning authority in Dublin by 5.30pm on Monday 24th August. Over 900 submissions were received and because groups of people got together to lodge a single submission, the names of over 1500 were submitted, most of them opposing the plan and calling for it to be put underground.

Monaghan County Council was one of the prescribed bodies notified of the application.The planning department made a submission to the Board including comments made about the project by Councillors at a meeting. Cavan County Council and Meath County Council were also notified and the Cathaoirligh of each of the three councils including Councillor Noel Keelan of Monaghan have joined together to oppose the plans.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys T.D. was notified along with her Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White T.D. The Environmental Protection Agency, National Roads Authority, An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Fáilte Ireland, An Taisce, The Heritage Council, Irish Aviation Authority, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Health Service Executive, Commission for Energy Regulation, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Iarnród Éireann, Railway Safety Commission, Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly and Irish Water were informed of EirGrid’s plans and given the opportunity to make submissions. Additional notifications were made to Birdwatch Ireland, Irish Peatland Conservation Council, and the North’s Environment Department.

According to the Bord Pleanála website, submissions were received initially from Dominic Halligan T.D. (Meath East, Labour), members of Meath County Council; Michael Halpin; Meath Farm Machinery, Navan; Sean Byrne; Cyril Darcy and family, Robinstown, Kells, Co. Meath; Noel Meade; Eugene Connolly; Fred Smyth; Navan Municipal District Councillors of Meath County Council; Scoil Bláithín Íosa, Ballynagearn N.S., Magheracloone and separately, All Saints National School Doohamlet and Doohamlet Childcare Ltd.; Patricia and Coleman Ryan; Hugh and Bernadette Duffy; Eamonn McNally; Irish Water; Kingscourt Stars GAA Club; Philip Smith; Michael Coleman; Fr Brendan Madden; Meath Cllr Ronan McKenna, Trim (FF); Meath Cllr Damien O’Reilly, Ratoath (FF); Meath Cllr Claire O’Driscoll, Ashbourne (FF); Brendan Doyle and Barbara Doyle; Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly; North and Western Regional Assembly; David Murray; Eugene and Rosemary Cunningham Corlea, Kingscourt; Meath Co Cllr Shane Cassells, Navan (FF).

The North East Pylon Pressure Campaign said it would continue to provide support to all individuals, groups  and organisations willing to make a submission and has been working closely with 97% of landowners who are in complete opposition to the planning application and who favour undergrounding.

When EirGrid made its submission in June to An Bord Pleanála, it contained detailed plans to erect over 400 giant pylons along the route of the interconnector. NEPPC says communities across the North-East are being discriminated against by Eirgrid and by the government because there is no underground option under consideration, unlike the Grid West and Grid Link projects. It says Eirgrid has changed nothing of any material relevance since 2007, when the project was first announced..

The grid operator for its part says an additional high capacity North-South interconnector will provide multiple technical and other benefits.  These include improving competition by reducing the constraints that are currently restricting the efficient performance of the all-island Single Electricity Market; improving security of supply and supporting the development of renewable power generation by enhancing the flexible exchange of power flows over a large area of the island. It says these benefits will accrue to all electricity consumers on the island of Ireland.

EirGrid has stated that the proposed interconnector will also provide sufficient additional transmission capacity in the North East area of Ireland to cater for growth in electricity consumption for many years and will also put the area in a good position if an even stronger economic recovery should emerge in the coming years.

The new interconnector will increase the capacity, and the reliability, of interconnection between the two networks. This will allow the two independent networks to operate together as if they were one system for the mutual benefit of residents and businesses in both jurisdictions.The increase in interconnection capacity will effectively eliminate current restrictions in cross border support in the event of a shortage of electricity in one jurisdiction, thus enhancing the security of electricity supply throughout the island of Ireland.

Operating the two networks as if they were one system will bring cost savings for all electricity consumers as larger electricity systems can be operated more efficiently than smaller ones. The increase in interconnection capacity will also facilitate further and greater connection of wind generation in both parts of the island which will help achieve Ireland’s renewable energy targets.

EirGrid’s counterpart in the North, SONI, also believes that the new link is vital to ensure the effective operation of an efficient all-island electricity market, to support the realisation of strategic renewable energy targets and to exert downward pressure on electricity prices for customers in Northern Ireland. It will allow the all-island wholesale electricity market to work more efficiently, enabling wider competition between power generators and electricity suppliers throughout the island, and therefore ensuring that future electricity prices will be as competitive as possible. It will enable more renewable generator capacity (mostly wind generation) to be connected to the electricity network. The governments in both jurisdictions have set challenging targets for the amount of electricity to be generated from renewable sources, 40% by 2020, and these targets cannot be met without additional interconnection.