Maypole Pit Disaster, Charlestown in Co. Mayo

It was five o'clock in the afternoon of Tuesday the 18th of August 1908, when an explosion ripped the heart out of the Cannel mine, No one Pit, at Maypole Colliery, Abram, killing seventy-six men.

It was a disaster that shook the Lancashire coalfield, a tragedy unprecedented in the Wigan area. For hours after the explosion, yellow smoke poured from the No one shaft, a stark aftermath of the horror underground. Seven bodies were recovered quickly, but it was not until November of the following year, that most of the remaining victims were brought to the surface.

The last body was not recovered until 1917, nine years after a disaster still talked about by local miners. Recovery of bodies was delayed because the No one Pit had to be flooded to quell the underground fire started by the explosion.

An inquest on the seventy-six victims, listed below, was opened on the 21st of August 1908 and concluded on the 8th of July 1909.

Verdict: Accidental Death

There were four victims from the Charlestown area, namely: Pat Mulligan, J McGrath, M Cafferty and E Cafferty.

The rest of the victims, some of whom were from the West of Ireland, were : J Bennett, T McDonald, Pat Cullen, J Cassidy, T Gaskell, J Holcroft, John Hammons, Tom Jennings, T Cross, T Kearns, H Pimblett, M McGreal, T Fishwick, P Duffy, J Donnelley, M House, A Hughes, P Caulfield, J Robinson, E McDonough, McMalloy, Pat Sloyan, J Burns, J Crehan, J Doyle, M Boyle, S Evans, T Murphy, H Taylor, L Rushton, T Lloyd, Pat Carroll, J Moran, M Gallagher, Thomas Groarke, T Donlon, J Flannery, McGuckian, W McCabe, J Taylor, J Welsh, W Moore, A Devaney, W Monks, A Henderson, T Killoran, R Pimblett, A Monks, R Wilding, J France, T McEllin, T Harrison, P McGowan, E France, J Goghegan, J Walkden, J Davies, O Robinson, C Ford, J Kirby, J Pennington, H Killoran, J Hodgson, G Allen, G Melling, J Danson, E Banks, J Conway, A Draper, P Simm and P Charnock.

The three survivors were: Edward Farrell, W M Doran and Richard Fairhurst. Patrick Sloyan, also listed as having lost his life in that terrible tragedy, was from Kilgarriff, Charlestown. He was related to the late John Sloyan and also to the Harringtons, Bones, Ruanes, Mulligans and Gallagher families.

© Cathal Henry 2003

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