In a lecture given by Mr. John Fisher Newry Rowing Club back in 1906 he was to describe the tragic drowning of Francis Lupton, son of Joseph Lupton of mill notoriety as "The greatest tragedy that ever occured in the Newry Rowing Club."  

The Albert Basin.

Mr. Fisher was referring to thirteen years into the clubs formation, June 1886 when a newspaper at the time reported - 'That around 8pm when the Middle Bank was very busy Francis Lupton and his younger brother who were junior members of the Rowing Club went into Newry Canal to bathe. 

After swimming about for some time they came out and entered the Boathouse for the purpose of dressing with the younger brother proceeding to get dressed. 

However Francis was determined to have another swim before leaving the club, to dive off the little board placed at the water edge for the accommodation of bathers swimming to the other side of the canal. On returning he must have taken cramp, for after a brief struggle he sank.

John Fisher, who happened to be passing (Fisher's lecture in 1906 tells a different story) an excellent swimmer at once stripped off attempting to save him but unfortunately he was too late. 

Francis had sank to rise no more alive, Fisher dived and searched repeatedly until he was exhausted eventually coming ashore. 

The sad news did not take long to spread throughout Newry and in a short time three boats were busily engaged in the sad occupation of dragging, while the banks on either side were crowded with hundreds of onlookers. 

The relatives of Francis were present and watched the progress of the draggers with a number of the Constabulary together with members of the club, at the scene rendering all the assistance in their power. 

For upwards of three hours they were unsuccessful, but at 11pm a man in one of the boats discovered the body. The boat was pulled up the canal, within short distance from the Dublin Bridge. 

The deceased was taken out and placed on a stretcher and a mournful procession followed the corpse until its arrival at the family home at Monaghan Street, Francis was about 17 years old.' 

Speaking about this tragedy twenty years later John Fisher revealed in his lecture he was more than just a passer-by and cowardice was rife on the evening when Francis Lupton drowned. 

"One beautiful summer evening Frank Lupton, Aurthur O'Neill and I went down to bathe at the Old Locks in the tidal river at a place called the Pier Head. 

Frank Lupton was a very indifferent swimmer, in fact he had got out of his depth and was making such a poor exhibition of himself that Aurthur O'Neill and I had to pull him ashore. 

When dressed we started for the boathouse, O'Neill and I were wearing rowing shoes and out distanced Frank who had ordinary boots on but he eventually arrived and proceeded to undress himself.  

I asked him what he was going to do, he said he was going into the canal for a dip as he was very warm. I told him to wash down like O'Neill and I had, and advised him not to go into the water beyond his knees. 

John Fisher.

I thought that was the end of it but he went outside, took of his clothes and went into the canal. I heard a great deal of shouting but paid no attention to it as I thought it was a boat passing down the canal. 

One of the members of the club ran in shouting that Frank Lupton was drowning. I rushed out and saw him throw up his arms at the far side of the canal and then to disappear from view, I swam over to where he had sunk and dived in but I could not find him. 

There was a great deal of cowardice shown that night, there was at least 30 people present who saw his struggles in the water and no effort was made to save him. 

There was one first-rate swimmer in the water almost beside him but he seemed to have been unnerved for when I swam over he was sitting on the bank with his hand on his heart and looked like he was going to faint. 

I could not help thinking if the men on the far side had of went into the water they could have reached the drowning boy but there was no effort made to save him. 

The life of one of the most pleasant, genial and promising young men to ever frequent the Boathouse was lost that night. Often I walk down the banks of Newry Canal, I never pass the spot without thinking how it seemed fated that Frank Lupton should be drowned that night. 

Pulling him out at the Pier Head, warning him not to go into the water, the absence of any effort being made to save him and the absence of any boats in the vicinity at the time."

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