The ‘Londonderry’, a paddle-steamer which berthed at the quayside in Derry one Sunday in the winter of 1848 was only seven years old, big for a ship of her kind, weighing 222 tons. She was manned by a crew of 26 and often sailed between Sligo and Liverpool.
On this winter trip, while hugging the coast of Donegal she hit bad weather. She was carrying general cargo down below, a deck cargo of cattle, three cabin passengers and 174 passengers in steerage. This was a fairly average-sized manifest for the relatively short journey to Liverpool, not much more than 300 miles. Many of the passengers would probably be seeking onward passages on arrival in Liverpool. The majority of the steerage passengers would expect to complete most, if not all the voyage on deck.
When a storm broke one evening the master ordered his crew to drive all passengers into the…
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