and accidents mar Punchestown of old
"The King was much shocked to hear of the death of
your son, who succumbed to the injuries he received from
his fall at the Punchestown Races. His Majesty deeply regrets
that so shocking an accident should have occurred, and desires
me to express his sincere sympathy with you and the members
of your family.
That letter, published in the Kildare Observer of May 1904,
was addressed to the father of the victim, W.MCormack
of Co Limerick. Beneath it was a printed letter from a surgeon
in Dublin who wished to confirm that it was not he who had
performed the operation of trephining the young man: It
was actually performed by my friend Dr. D.P.Coady, of Naas,
assisted by Mr. Taylor, surgeon of the Meath Hospital. I
was present at the operation, and quite concurred in the
opinion that the operation was absolutely necessary.
Another fatal accident associated with the races that week
resulted in a Dublin car driver being charged with the death
of John Mooney by negligent driving.
Several witnesses on their way home from the races gave
evidence at Clane Petty Sessions that they had seen the
deceased staggering about the road drunk, but a member of
one party said he believed that he felt the car jolt as
the horse was going along, and remarked that they had
driven over something.
They stopped and found the man lying in a pool of
blood on the road. When they lifted him up they found him
to be quite stiff. They drove onto Clane and reported the
mater to the police, and to the priest. The magistrates
found that the car driver was not to blame for the death.
A Newbridge man wrote to the Observer asking If nothing
could be done about the military wagons that travel from
Newbridge and the Curragh to the races. I unfortunately
have to travel the same road, and the great wonder is how
there are not more accidents.
He suggested that each wagon should display a number in
the style of motors.
The Editor added a note that he knew on good authority that
the policy on duty at the Fair Green in Naas had some trouble
with the military wagons.
In the following weeks issue two other correspondents
supported the proposal that military wagons should be checked
and that it was impossible to think that with the
RIC present in such huge numbers the drivers of these vehicles
would be allowed to run riot and cause so much annoyance,
terror and injury to the public without being in any case
Those were not the only fatalities reported that week. Two
young men were drowned while working at sheep dipping in
a pool in the Rye Water at Leixlip, in which it was customary
for flock owners and farmers to give their sheep their annual
When one of the sheep headed away from the others a man
rushed to divert the animals, but fell into a deep pool,
and another man went to his help. Despite the efforts of
a third man, both men drowned.
The police were quickly on the scene, but it was a long
time before the bodies were found. During the rescue attempts
the mother of one of the drowned men arrived on the river
bank and the poor woman, frantic from her sudden grief,
was with difficulty restrained by some women from jumping
into the fatal pool.
There was also a report of an accident. Lieut. A.H. Harrison,
Royal Horse Artillery, stationed in Newbridge, was summoned
by Alfred Beckett, a civil servant from Dublin, who was
cycling home at Harcourt Street when the officers
motor car came round a corner and struck him.
He was thrown off the bicycle, which was smashed. He said
he had been riding a bicycle for 28 years.
Lieut. Rochford Boyd, who was a passenger in the car, said
that they had driven up from the Curragh in an hour and
a half; at the time of the accident there was a bakers
cart in front of them and they did not see the cyclist,
who wobbled into the car.
He admitted that he had said to the cyclist Silly
fool, it is your own fault.
Mrs. Ethel Mahony, who witnessed the accident, thought the
cyclist had been confused when he saw the motor, and lost
his head which she told him afterwards when he called to
She was a cyclist herself.
Having deliberated on the evidence, the jury announced that
they were unable to agree, and were discharged.