The tragedy of the Connemara and Retriever collision in November 1916 took to the courthouse in Newry
Frontier Sentinel January 13th 1917
His Honour Judge Orr, at Newry Quarter Sessions, heard a number of compensation claims, arising out of the loss of the ss Retriever, which was sunk in collision with the ss Connemara off Cranfield Point in circumstances of such tragic nature.
Mrs Margaret O’Neill, Merchants Quay, sought compensation for the loss of her only son, Joseph O’Neill who was second mate on board.
Mr T.W. Brown B.L (instructed by Messrs, Collins and Collins, was for all the applicants). Mt H.M. Thompson B.L. (instructed by Messrs Carson and McDowell) for the respondents, the Clanrye Steamship Company.
Mr Brown said the applicant had lost her husband and only son in the collision. She had been awarded £300 in respect of the husband who was captain of the Retriever, and the company offered £150 for the loss of the son, which she declined to accept until the matter came before his Honour.
His Honour advised applicant to accept the offer, stating that if there had been no offer he would not have awarded anything, as the wife must have been almost totally dependent on the husband, in respect of who she had received £300.
Applicant said she got £2 a week from her son.
Mr. Collins - He had £2 17s 6d a week.
His Honour - yes, but that was during war time.
Applicant said she would take the £150. His Honour asked were there any other dependents.
Applicant said not, that all she had was her husband and only son, and had lost them both.
His Honour made the offer a rule of court. Had anyone he asked, ever given any account of what had happened in that terrible affair? Had any enquiry been made?
Mr Brown said there would probably be an inquiry.
His Honour - But who is to give evidence?
Mr. Collins - The three lighthouse-keepers.
The first report made was that the Connemara was hit on the starboard side and the divers found she had been hit on the port side.
His Honour - That would look as if the Retriever ran into her.
Mr. Collins - Of course we have nothing to say to that.
His Honour - Of course not.
In the case of William Clugston, who was first mate on the vessel, his Honour apportioned £200 to the widow, Mrs Elizabeth Clugston, Boat Street, Newry, and £20 to each of the children - Mary (17), Jeannie (16), Lily (10), Thomas John (8), and Harvey (3) - paying the widow her share and investing the shares of the minors in the Post Office.
In the case of John Stuart, who was chief engineer on the Retriever, his Honour declared that deceased’s four sons, who were married, were not dependents, and apportioned the amount as follows:- Margaret Stuart, Bridge Street, widow, £200; Margaret Stuart, jun, £50, and Eveline Stuart, £50.
Mrs, Elizabeth Mullan, Castle Street, was awarded £150 for the loss of her husband, Edward Mullan, who was engineer on the Retriever, and £25 each was apportioned to the six children - Edward (15), Patrick (14), Mary (11), Margaret (8), Peter (6) and Bernard (3 1/2)
His Honour, in the case of Mrs John Henry Tumilty, fireman, ordered the widow to be given £50 of the £300 paid into court, and adjourned the further apportionment to next sessions.
In the application with respect to the loss of Samuel McCombe, his widow, Elizabeth McCombe, Queen Street, was allotted £195, and £35 was ordered to be invested for each of the three children - John (6), Clare (4) and Veronica (6 months)
Mrs Sarah Donnan, The Harbour, Kilkeel, has paid out the sum of £300 awarded to her for the loss of her son, Joseph Donnan, A.B.