THE family of a Termon ‘tunnel tiger’ has unveiled a plaque in Scotland where he was killed in an accident over 60 years.
Edward Gallagher was working on the Cruachan power station in the Scottish Highlands when tragedy struck on April 23 1962.
Like many, Edward had left his native Donegal in the late 1950s to seek out employment in the UK. The 23-year-old found it among the 1,300 other tunnellers hired to drill and blast into the Hollow Mountain, a project that would eventually deliver hydroelectric power to the region.
But months after being taken on Edward was killed – one of 15 men to lose their lives during the vast construction project which lasted six years.
Now, approaching the 61st anniversary of his death, members of his family have made the journey to the isolated site to unveil a permanent memorial to him.
On St Patrick’s Day 18 members of the Gallagher, Porter, Moriarty, Buckley and Connelly families travelled to Oban.
Among the group were Mary Porter and Brid Moriarty, two of Edward’s sisters. Mary now lives in Wicklow while Brid has stayed in Termon.
So too has Kathleen Gallagher who would have been a sister-in-law of the late 23-year-old. Others travelled from London and from Sydney to be there for the poignant ceremony.
They all placed a plaque bearing the inscription ‘Eddie Gallagher 1939 – 1962, a young life lost but never forgotten’ at the site where he died.
On the trip was Edward’s nephew, also called Eddie. He said that the visit had been planned for 2020 but had been scuppered by the pandemic.
On Friday though they all got to pay their respects on the shores of Lough Awe, in the shadow of the power
station their late relative helped build.
Eddie said, “It was a lovely day but a very emotional day at the same time. There was something special about it and for the likes of myself and the cousins who never got to meet him it was almost like we were saying hello and goodbye at the same time.”
Edward Gallagher was killed just months after getting engaged to his girlfriend Barbara McCabe. They were due to marry in September 1962.
Following a chance encounter in 2020, Barbara rekindled her friendship with her late fiancee’s family. Now in her 80s, Barbara was not able to make the trip to Scotland. But those travelling did chat to her via Zoom on the morning prior to their departure.
Following a short memorial service the families were shown around Cruachan which has the capacity to power more than 90,000 homes.
Eddie added, “The people from the power station showed us great courtesy and were so friendly.
“It was a brilliant day and with it coming up to his 61st anniversary, everyone was glad they made the journey. It was fitting too that it was on St Patrick’s Day because it was his sister Mary’s wedding anniversary.
“I would just thank too everyone who helped make it possible. A word of thanks to the visitor centre and to all those who travelled up because a lot of people made a big effort to be there.
“It’s nice to think that Eddie’s name is up there now and that his memory will live on with the bench and the plaque. It’s for him but it’s also for all those who lost their lives during construction of the power station. None of them should be forgotten.”
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