Was this the first Motor Car Accident in Millstreet?

MOTOR CAR ACCIDENT NEAR Millstreet, Saturday. An accident, which might have been very serious, happened near this town on yesterday evening, the particulars of which have only now come to hand.

A motor car bearing the Earl and Countess of Kerry arrived at Millstreet, and the party having had lunch at Vanstan’s Hotel, proceeded on their way to Killarney en route to Derreen House, after their honeymoon trip. The other occupants were a ladysmaid and the chaffeur.

After carefully looking over and supplying the machine with its oil fuel they started on their journey at about five o’clock. In trying to escape collision with some of the carts and cars opposite Howard’s Hotel, a little child named Cornelius Stokes had narrow escape from being run over. The speed as they went along towards Killarney must have been much accelerated. At Ferm Bridge, Ballydaly, three miles from the town, it was noticed to be bounding along the road, and ultimately plunged into the dyke at the roadside, where it ploughed onwards for about 30 yards, tearing the face of the fence. The Countess of Kerry was thrown over the fence, but luckily fell into a piece of cut away bog, and was only stunned for a short time, and after the assistance of her maid quickly recovered. The other occupants, the Earl, the maid, and the chaffeur were quite uninjured, but got a severe shock. 

Meantime the motor car was embedded in the deep dyke, and almost wrecked, some part within it was seen to explode. Mr. Corkerry, J.P., Chairman of the District Council, who holds an out-farm at the place, witnessed the disaster, and placed his men and horses at the disposal of the party in distress, and having pulled the wrecked machine from its embedded position, two horses took in tow for Rathmore Railway Station, a distance of four miles. The Earl and Countess, with the maid and driver, took their seats in the car none the worse for their mishap, and finally left for Killarney by the 8.40 train. – Cork Examiner Monday 18 July 1904

First Cars in Ireland:

Until 1898, there were no motor cars in Ireland. The first car imported into Ireland was a Benz Velo which arrived in 1898. Cars were extremely expensive and in 1904, only 38 motor vehicles registered. This had risen to 5,058 by 1911 and 19,554 in 1914. This also led to an increase in the number of petrol dealers in the country, which doubled between 1901-1914. [2]


Who were the Earl and Countess?

In the car, the Earl of Kerry was: Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, and his new wife Elizabeth Caroline Hope, who had been recently married on 16 February 1904. They went on to have 5 children.

The Earl’s full title was: Lieutenant-Colonel Henry William Edmund Petty-Fitzmaurice, 6th Marquess of Lansdowne DSO MVO (14 January 1872 – 5 March 1936), styled Earl of Kerry until 1927, was a British soldier and politician. [wiki]

Elizabeth Caroline Hope
Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice


Where did it happen: Ferm Bridge

Ferm Bridge is the last bridge you pass over before Ballydaly, when coming from the Millstreet direction. It is 500m before Ballydaly.
It gets its name from being in the townland of Ferm … but it is also half in the townland of Ballydaly!


What about Cornelius Stokes, the lad that was nearly run over?
+He would have been aged 4 at the time, born on August 8th 1900, the son of James Stokes (a soldier and later a farm labourer) and Margaret Kiely, the family were living at Riordan’s Lane (down by the side of Cinnamon Café), but also on Mill Lane.
+He was the oldest of six children (+Denis, Kattie, Daniel, James, Hannah).
+ Their father James died after falling off a cart in 1909.
+In November 1922, he married Johanna Roberts. At the time he gave his occupation as a Bank Porter.
+Johanna died in 1943, at which time Cornelius was still a bank porter! [grave]
+Cornelius died in 1956 at home at 24 Murphy’s Terrace, his daughter Margaret by his side.

Children: Francis Stokes (07/08/1924 -18/10/1970), James (Bobby) Stokes,  Mary Bernadette Stokes (1930-1931), Margaret (Peggy) Stokes, Cornelius (Sonny) Stokes (-2012), Johanna Stokes, Elisabeth Stokes, Denis Stokes. (thanks to Con for these in his comment below)

2 thoughts on “Was this the first Motor Car Accident in Millstreet?”

  1. Children: James (Bobby) Stokes, Mary Bernadette Stokes (died in infancy), Margaret (Peggy) Stokes, Cornelius (Sonny) Stokes, Johanna Stokes, Elisabeth Stokes, Denis Stokes.

  2. I forgot to write in that Cornelius also had a son Francis Stokes (07/08/1924 -18/10/1970) who was my own father. That would complete the list of eight children.

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