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Eastland Disaster, Chicago, Illinois, 24 Jul 1915

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While this disaster happened a long way from Arranmore, amongst the heroes who emerged that day was a young man from Aphort - Peter Boyle



On Saturday morning, 24 July 1915, employees of the Western Electric Co. and their families boarded the "Eastland," a steamship chartered by the company to cruise 40 miles from the Chicago River along Lake Michigan to the company's annual picnic in Michigan City, Indiana. As passengers were crowded to the port side of the deck for a view of the river, the boat capsized, still docked at the Clark Street Bridge


The Eastland rolled into the river with over 2,500 passengers and crew members on board. Over 800 people lost their lives, including 22 entire families





The Eastland had been constructed without a keel, relying on water-filled ballast tanks to keep her from becoming top heavy however, a U. S. District Court investigation determined that the ballast tanks were empty that morning. The lack of a counterbalance caused the accident


Peter Boyle


        Peter Boyle was born about 1892 in Aphort, a son of Neil Boyle (Neil/Margaret) and Bridget O'Donnell (Denis/Isabella, Lefinn). In 1901 he was recorded as an 8 year old in the Aphort census, in the household of his grandmother Margaret, along with his parents and seven siblings. At age 19 he emigrated, sailing to Quebec on the SS Scandinavian, which he boarded in Glasgow on 29 Jun 1912. His passage was paid by his brother, Daniel, who was living at 123 E Illinois St, Chicago. Accompanying Peter on that voyage were Lawrence Gallagher (whose brother James lived at the same address as Peter's brother Daniel) and Charles Rodgers, Cloghcor, as well as Cecelia McFadden from Marameelan (Falcorrib), grand daughter of Neil Gallagher Leabgarrow


By 1915, he was living at 110 E Illinois St, Chicago and on the day of the Eastland disaster he was employed as a lookout on the steamer Petoskey. Peter, attempting to rescue a woman who had been thrown from the capsized Eastland, dove into the river from a life boat being lowered into the water. Peter lost his life in that attempt. He is now buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, in Cook County, Illinois.


Further Reading


Peter Boyle, who gave his life in the effort to save others

(article includes a photograph of Peter)


Find A Grave


The Fall of the Eastland


Eastland Disaster Historical Society


Man of Aran


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Lindel Buckley

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