When we think our roads today, with all the hustle and bustle of cars, we often worry of the risks that are possible. But there have always been road dangers, even when the only vehicles were horses and carts. These hazards can be separated into two categories: first, falls from horses or carts and second, being hit by a horse or cart. Among adults the former had a higher chance of occurrence, and children in the latter.
Below are only a few of the stories that have been recorded in Limericks History:
- James O’Grady, who was a well-respected farmer from Croagh, was returning home from Limerick city on the evening of Saturday August 12th, 1899. Halfway between Adare and Croagh, he turned to better secure some parcels on the back of his car. As a result, he fell off whilst the horse was still in motion, knocking his head on the ground. A doctor and priest were called for and were quickly on the scene but despite their best efforts, he succumbed to his injuries early the following morning.
- Twelve year old Patrick Joseph Keating, son of Richard Keating of Alphonsus Terrace had plans to compete in the College Sports Tuesday evening the 20th of June 1899. At half past twelve that day, he was at the Market Field exercising his cob, a sturdy, short-legged horse. When the animal which was standing slipped and fell on its side and landed on its rider who sustained an injury to the brain. He was rushed to the County Infirmary when every effort was taken to save him but he passed away four hours later. He was buried in Mount Saint Lawrence cemetery.
- A sixty-year-old fruit seller named Mary Murphy was returning home from Limerick to Rhebogue at about one o’clock on St. Patrick’s Day, 17th of March, 1900, on a donkey cart. When she reached Locke quay she slipped from the cart banging her head which knocked her unconscious from which she never recovered.
- At half past two on Saturday the 14th of April 1900, on Sarsfield Street twenty-one year old John McCarthy was engaged in loading a sack of flour on a cart when he slipped backwards grasping a barrel of porter that was also on the cart. He landed flat on the ground and the barrel came tumbling down on his head, crushing his skull in a shocking manner. At the inquest, it was believed that the cart that was being used to transport the porter barrels was not sufficient for the load although it was the common form of cart used by the countrymen of the time.
- Michael Daly from Cornwallis Street (now Gerald Griffin Street) and a group of his friends were cycling on a day trip to Castleconnell on Sunday the 8th of July 1900. When he reached an area called Newgarden he was hit by a car and knocked off his bicycle killing him.Thomas Daly, a man in the employment of Major-General Saddlier, Plassey was driving from the city at about half past five on Monday 20th of August 1900. On turning the corner at St. John’s Hospital onto New Road, a little girl, called Mary O’Loughlin aged three and a half, ran out from the footpath and was knocked over and the wheel passed over her head. The driver went on a short distance until he was called back as he had not noticed knocking down the child. In the mean time, one Mary Collopy, on seeing the child on the road scooped her up and ran with her to Barrington’s Hospital, but sadly, she died in her arms in the waiting room of the hospital.
- The week beginning Saturday the 22nd of June 1901 was a sad one in Limerick, beginning with the death of Edmond Sexton, a forty year old farmer from Abbeyfeale, who was killed while fixing the strap on his horse and cart. He was married with children. James Enright a 61 year old from Athlunkard Street was killed by a run away horse on George Street, now O’Connell Street.
- A horse spooked by a newspaper was running across Matthew Bridge on the 9th of January 1902. At the same time a fruit seller from Clare Street called Kate Woods was crossing the bridge, she was knocked down by the bolting horse and killed.
- John Millane assistant supervisor at Smith’s Boot est. on Patrick Street accompanied John Smith Junr and his aunt Mrs. Craig to Carraigunnell on the 4th of August 1902. When they reached the castle, Mr. Millane remained with the pony and trap to have a cigarette while the others went to view the castle. Mr. Millane sat at the side of the road, the pony bolted and the trap knocked him on the side of the head. When his two companions returned they found him dead in the road.
- Sixty-five year old Edmond Heelan was helping two others place a large piece of wood onto the back of a cart in Caherconlish on the 1st of May 1903 when the wood began to roll off the cart falling onto Mr. Heelan, who was then crushed under its enormous weight.
- Mary O’Connor, two and a half year old daughter of Thady O’Connor who resided at 25 Athlunkard Street. Thady was a prominent and popular member of the Garryowen Football Club. On the 19th September 1904, Mr. Bradshaw, a mineral water manufacture, was driving his horse and van through the narrow though fare at Ahern’s Row. Ahern’s Row is located just across the road from Arthlunkard Street. Mr. Bradshaw immediately pulled up the horse and pucked the girl up carried her to Barrington’s hospital where she died a few hours later. Her great-grand father 84 year old Charles Coleman a pigbuyer, of 20 Athlunkard Street died within a few hours of her. He was buried in Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery on the 20th of September while Mary was also buried in the same cemetery the following day.