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Cornelius Grady (1846 - 1888)

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Description of Cornelius' Grave at Riverside Cemetery, Erin St Queanbeyan NSW Roman Catholic Section.

Upright sandstone slab, rose in relief at top; by W. Furber,Goulburn. Footstone, 'C.G.'. Erected/ by/ Margaret Grady/ In loving Memory/ of her late/ Husband/ Cornelius Grady/ who departed this life/ 8 Mar 1888/ Aged 42 years

Cornelius Grady grave

smh 10 mar 1888
The newspaper article about the event
in the Sydney Morning Herald on Sat 10 March 1888

A Letter to the Editor prompted by Cornelius' accident, commenting on level crossings and offering his solutions, appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald a week later (Sat 17 March 1888) from F. Campbell.

Cornelius Grady Lanyon Crossing
Lanyon Crossing on the East side of the line where the accident happened (Photo 2004)
Cornelius Grady Looking South
Looking south down the line in the direction in which Cornelius travelled on his last ride (Photo 2004)

Cornelius, son of John and Margaret (Hayes) Grady, Yarrowlumla, born 3 July 1846; married Margaret Ryan, Ginninderra, 11 May 1874, and farmed at Canberra. He was run down and killed by a train at Lanyon (now Tralee) Crossing, and his body was carried across the engine beam to Queanbeyan station. His widow later married Michael McMahon. The following verses, written by John Gale, were published in The Queanbeyan Age, 14 March 1888

--- RUN DOWN ---

A RAILROAD TRAGEDY

(Cornelius Grady was run down whilst on horseback and killed
by a railway train near Queanbeyan on 8 March, 1888.)

Out from the town he went
Was he on home intent,
On that night dark and wierd?
Was he, in sober mind
Thinking of fatherhood,
As on his steed he rode
How wife and children fared

Out on the lonely road,
Did his heart ill forbode?
How were his thoughts employed?
Reck'd he that Death was near?
Had he a passing fear
That in the darkness drear
Death would so soon make void

His cosy fireside seat,
And his hearth, trod by feet
No more that hearth to tread?
Why, Muse, thus speculate?
Why idly cogitate?
His was a fearful fate,
known only to the dead!

Yet from the silent tale
Told by the glistening rail,
And by the impressed trail
Made by the horse's shoe
And from the mangled steed
Learn we a fearful deed
Happ'd that is sternly true

'Tis that he missed his way
And to the left did stray
Taking the iron laid track
Made for the rushing train -
Soon to dash on again
Ever anon and again
Up to the hills and back.

Slowly his horse paced on
Since half a mile had gone
When with its flashing light
Came on the rushing thing
Came on as lightning's wing
Thundering and threatening
Quickly it hove in sight

Turned he his startled horse
Startled himself the worse
Back for his life he flew
Sep! would he ride in vain?
Ere he the gate could gain
Would that swift rushing train
Horseman and horse o'throw?

Fleet as a hind that steed
Urged in a time of dread
Urged on with spur and knee
Madden'd the reeling brain
Of him who held the rein
As from the thundering train
Strove he his best to flee

As falcon towards his prey
Over the iron way
Hasles the mighty thing
Gleams out its rodden'd light
All in the wierdsome night
As on, with twain and night
Speeds it with thundering

Ah! vain the horse's speed
Vain, too the riders deed
Doing and daring
Though he (for dearest life,
Children and loving wife)
Keeps the enequal strife
Never despairing

See! o're the gravel'd way
Fleet as approaching day
Dash they - the doomed pair
Only a chain or two
For, rushing madly through
Darkness and falling dew
What see we happening there?

Cornelius Grady Headstone

Down on both horse and man
Swiftly the engine ran
Where ate its fleeing prey
Crushed 'neath the pondorous wheels,
As 'neath a monster's heels
Scattered across the steels
And o'er the gravel'd way

Lies what remains of him
The steed so swift of limb
Mangled and torn
Where is his rider now?
He on whose anxious brow
Stood lines of fear just now
Where is he bourne

Yet, though the deed was wraught
Not e'en a passing thought
Entered the anxious brain
Of guard or guiding hand
(Steering across the land
As o'er an outstretched strand
The screeching panting train) -

That (as they dashed ahead
Making as they had made
Speed nearly quick as light
Their's was a race to death
Crushing out life and breath
All on that aweful night

There lies the mangled horse
Where is the rider's corpse
Not where the dead steed lies
See as she slackens pace
Engine of death, in her race
To the next halting place
Whither she onward lies -

There, on her ironbound beam
Sitting, as in a dream
Him who so bravely road
Rode, but in vain for life -
Rode in unequal strife
When in his breast was rife
Fear lost the nearing road
Never he'd gain again

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

"Who" cried the station-men
"Sits on the engine beam?
"Has some poor driv'ling sot
"Reckless of ill or what
"Chosen that dangerous spot?
"A cosy seat for him"

Closer they scan his face
See that his dimm'd eyes glaze
Glaze in the damp of death
Limp hangs the bleeding head
"Ah! he is newly dead"
That, that was all they said
Said it in bated breath

Tenderly down they bore
Him whom we saw before
Riding for precious life
Wrapp'd him in snow white shroud
Round him a weeping crowd
Silent, and sad and bowed
Sad for his widow'd wife

Sad for his children seven
Whose hearts with sorrow riven
Are sore and bleeding
God of the orphans! hear
Turn not away thine ear
From ernest, tearful prayer
Hear Thou our pleading

Be Thou the widow's friend
Her and her children tend
In their deep sorrow
Be Thou their one support
Be Thou their shield and fort
Their one best friend indeed
For this we intercede
That, to their time of need
There quickly may succeed
A bright tomorrow.


Elm Grove, Queanbeyan 11th March 1888.

Updated : 11 Jul 2011