Family perished here 60 years ago

A LOCAL councillor says he does not want a repeat of a tragedy which claimed the lives of three generations of a Kilrea family.

Wednesday, 13th January 2010, 8:23 am

SDLP councillor and MLA John Dallat (pictured below) was speaking to the Times, as police issued a warning, following reports that youngsters have been playing on a frozen lough in the grounds of Kilrea Manor Golf Club.

The waterway is known locally as 'Kathleen's Lough'

And, as councillor Dallat explained there is a tragic history of people skating on the lake.

Almost 60 years ago three generations of one family lost their lives at the site.

Louis and Lavinia Derry, their son and daughter, John and Rosetta and grandchildren Patrick (7) and John junior (5) all perished as they tried to save each other.

"Young people really don't realise the dangers of playing on or near a frozen lough," said councillor Dallat.

"About 58 years ago, six members of the one family, the Derry family, were killed trying to save each other at Kathleen's Lough.

"The drowning of the Derry family is etched in the memory of the older people in the community, who remember the horror of that day.

"There is a real fear that the tragedy could be repeated.

"While, it is picturesque in the present weather, it is a potential killer should someone fall through the ice.

"I understand that the Lough has been frozen over now for the past few days.

"I called up on Friday morning, and spoke to the owner of the golf course, Phillip McIntyre.

"He told me that there are springs underneath the Lough, which are not frozen, and the ice above them is very thin - this makes playing on or near the lake even more dangerous.

"Phillip is extremely concerned about the danger, and is doing everything possible to persuade children and young people to stay off the ice. Large notices have been erected and golf club staff are on alert to watch out for anyone putting themselves in danger.

"School principals in the area have been asked to warn their pupils of the dangers, we really don't want another tragedy," said John.

Police have also warned parents to be mindful of where their children are during the cold weather.

A spokesperson told the Times: "While playing on the frozen surface may seem like a novelty the risks shouldn't be underestimated.

"There is no uniformity in the formation of ice and while it may seem sturdy and able to support weight it can become very thin very quickly. The surface can easily crack, give way and individuals can fall through. At the temperatures experienced locally over recent days, the consequences could be fatal.

"Frozen rivers and lakes are not playgrounds and children and indeed teenagers should be reminded of this. Police want people to enjoy the wintery weather without putting themselves and others at risk.

"If you see someone, or a pet, fall through the ice and get into difficulty never try and rescue them yourself instead ring 999 immediately."