In December 2007 Mary Duffy sent me the following inquest report into the death of Patrick McCarthy, my great great grandfather – and Mary’s great grandfather. He was also my father’s great-grandfather, on his mother’s side.
Northern Standard, Saturday 25th of June 1890
Fatal accident at the Cathedral
Wednesday evening – at half past four – death of respectable, quiet and inoffensive workman named McCarty – constantly employed as a mason at the building for the past 25 years. Deceased was 52, and leaves behind a widow and nine children to mourn him. Much sympathy for a wife and family who have lost a most affectionate and thoughtful husband and father and who are in consequence, left in a very miserable and helpless condition.
It appears that McCarthy was engaged with another man named Conlon on a partly erected scaffold, about 11ft high, holding up planks to a third workman who was on a platform higher up again over where, they were standing. An open space in the centre of the scaffold and which they stood was left for the purpose of passing up planks through, and it appears that McCarthy, while in the act of assisting to raise one of them to the man above triped on one lying at his feet and fell through the aperture. Conlan made an attempt to catch McCarthy as he fell, and in consequence, he too was precipitated to the ground, but his feet touched the ground first, and he was uninjured. McCarthy’s head struck the ground first, and on an alarm being raised, it was found that he was fatally injured.
Express messages were dispatched at once by the doctor and the clergy. Both arrived while the poor man was breathing and remained with him until steps were taken to have him removed to the county infirmary. He expired, however, before reaching that institution.
On Thursday morning at half past eleven, Dr Stewart, coronor for the Northern Division of Co Monaghan, held an inquest. Mr DC Rushe solicitor attended the inquest on behalf of the most Rev Dr Donnelly. Mrs Elizabeth McCarthy was sworn and stated: I am wife of the deceased. He was employed working at the cathedral. He was a mason. On Wednesday morning he left to be in the cathedral at seven o’clock. He returned at nine o’clock is breakfast. He was then in good health. After taking his breakfast he left. I never saw him alive again. He was about 52 years old.
John Doran was the next witness examined. He stated: I am clerk of works at the cathedral. I knew deceased Patrick McCarthy. He was employed here it as a mason. He was at his work on Wednesday. Part of the day he was working at Mason work, but from about 11 o’clock in the day he was engaged in putting up scaffolding. There were four others with them. I was on the scaffold with him and was assisting with the work. I was working with my back to the deceased. The scaffold was about 11 feet from the ground. At about four o’clock in the evening I heard some of the men shout suddenly. I could not say whether it was the deceased that shouted. I turned quickly around and deceased was just striking the ground as my eyes caught him. I am almost sure that his temple struck the ground first. No portion of the scaffold broke our gave way. The men were engaged in sheeting, the scaffold at the time of the accident. None of the plank fell with him. Nothing fell, nothing broke. He was in the act of sheeting at the time .
Hugh Gormley stated: I remember Wednesday last I was working in the cathedral that day as a labourer. I was employed at putting up a scaffold along with others. I knew Patrick McCarthy. He was also assisting at putting up the scaffold. I was higher platform – about 6 feet higher than the one the deceased was on. Patrick Conlon and the deceased were engaged in passing up a plank to me. This was about four in the evening. While they were doing so, the deceased tripped by some means on the edge of the plank and fell towards Conlon. Conlan endeavoured to catch deceased could not hold him. He fell between the planks and Conlon fell after him. I think by the way deceased fell, his head struck the ground first. Conlan fell on his feet. He was not hurt. When I got down from the scaffold deceased was bleeding from the temple and the nostrils. He was not dead at the time. He was breathing. (Note: Conlan gave similar evidence).
Dr Teevan was sworn and stated: At about a quarter to five in the evening in question, a boy came to my house telling me to come immediately to the cathedral, that a man had fallen and was injured. I went at once and I found the injured man lying in a room in the cathedral. He was on his back on the floor. He was alone at the time and presented the appearance of compression of the brain. There was a small cut on the frontal bone and another at the angle of the eye. There was no bleeding from the nostrils as far as I could see. His breathing was stentorious. The pupils were both dilated. The eyelids were closed, and he was completely unconscious. I would say death resulted from compression of the brain due to fracture at the base of the skull. I had deceased carried to the county infirmary. I understand he died before he reached the place.
The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased Patrick McCarthy had died of a fracture of the skull following a fall from a scaffold on the 22nd of June 1890. This concluded the inquest.