The Tragedy of the first and last trains to Achill
In the 17th century a man called Brian Rua Ó Ceabháin from Erris prophesied that carriages on wheels with smoke and fire would come to Achill and that the first and last trains would carry home the dead.
In 1894 just before the railway line between Westport and Achill was completed a group of young people left Achill to travel to Scotland to work in the fields picking potatoes as they did every year. They travelled by boat first to Westport and then were to transfer to a larger ship to take them to Glasgow. When the boat was nearing Westport Quay the large ship came into view and everyone ran to one side of the ship. A sudden wind came up and the large sail shifted which brought all the weight to one side and the boat capsized throwing everyone into the water.
34 people drowned that day. The railway line into Achill was completed quickly and the bodies were brought home to Achill.
The years passed and the trains came and went from Achill to Westport with the Great Western Rail Company doing great business for many years. With better roads and the arrival of the car the line was losing money and the company decided to close the line. Work had already started on dismantling the line when tragedy struck in Scotland.
Many young Achill men and women had travelled to the town of Kirkintillock just outside Glasgow to pick potatoes. Their accommodation was basic and consisted of a shed or bothy as it was known to the workers. In the early morning of September the 16th 1937 a fire broke out in the Bothy and the young men could not escape as the door was locked. The fire claimed the lives of 10 young Achill boys and men between the ages of 10 and 23.
The bodies were brought to Westport and the now disused railway line was re-opened one last time to allow the bodies of the young victims to travel by train to Achill to be buried.