June 14

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1982 Argentinian troops surrendered to the British commander of land forces on the Falkland Islands. The surrender marked the end of a six-week conflict that cost the lives of 254 British and 750 Argentinians.
  • 1811 Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and author of the highly influential Uncle Tom’s cabin (1852), born in Litchfield, Connecticut.
  • 1690 King William III landed at Carrickfergus with a 36,000-strong army, over 40 pieces of artillery and a war chest of £20,000 in cash.
  • 1894 The Clew Bay, Co. Mayo, disaster. From early morning over 400 young people, mainly teenage girls, gathered in high spirits at Cloughmore, on the southern tip of Achill Island, and embarked on four hookers bound for Westport to join the SS Elm. A steamship of the Laird Line, she was to bring them to Ayreshire for seasonal work as ‘tattie hokers’—the back-breaking work of gathering potatoes. Disaster struck when one of the hookers, Victory, which was grossly overcrowded with 126 on board, approached Westport Quay. As her passengers sighted the Elm, most of them ran to the starboard side waving handkerchiefs at her crew. Dangerously top heavy, the Victory was capsized by a sudden gust of wind, trapping many under the heavy, saturated sails. Twenty-four of the victims were teenage girls and young women, such as the three sisters Mary (24), Margaret (19) and Anne (15) Malley from the Valley, Achill. Remarkably, the majority of those rescued boarded the Elm and continued on their journey in soaking clothing. Two days later, most of the bodies were brought back by the Midland’s Great Western Railway’s first train from Westport to the island, described by the Mayo News as ‘like a mighty steam hearse moving quietly along through mountains and glens’, and were buried in a communal grave at Kildownet, beside Granuaile’s Tower. By tragic coincidence, the last train on that route, in September 1937, carried the bodies of ten young tattie-hokers who perished in a fire in a bothy in Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire, a route at present marking the Great Western Greenway.

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