Death of Derry Alderman to be commemorated in City Cemetery

James McCarron in 1897. Picture courtesy of the Poole Collection
James McCarron in 1897. Picture courtesy of the Poole Collection

The 100th anniversary of the death of ‘one of the best and most highly esteemed citizens of Derry’ is to be commemorated later this week.

James McCarron, a trade union leader and an Alderman on Derry Corporation, was one of 500 people who perished when the RMS Leinster was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat.

The sinking of RMS Leinster on October 10, 1918, off the coast of Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) represents the greatest single loss of life in the Irish Sea.

Alderman McCarron, a father of seven from Stanley’s Walk, was a tailor who rose to prominence in trade unions in the 1890’s. He served as President of the Irish Trades Union Congress on three occasions.

The ‘Derry Journal’ reported the sinking of the RMS Leinster on October 14, 1918 and said there was a ‘universal feeling of grief’ at the death of Alderman McCarron.

He was described as ‘one of the ablest and most respected labour leaders in Ireland and one of the best and most highly esteemed citizens of Derry.’

Later this week, members of Alderman McCarron’s family will travel to Derry to commemorate his death.

Among them will be great-great grandson Jim McCarron who is travelling to the city from New Jersey.

He is due to attend the Irish Government’s official commemoration in Dun Laoghaire on Wednesday, before joining other family members from England, Derry and Strabane at a ceremony in the City Cemetery.

“I first came to Derry in 1984 and have come back over 20 times since then. I am a direct descendant of the alderman and for six generations there has been someone in our family named after him because of his importance as an alderman in Derry and as a union leader,” declared Jim.

Jim has been researching the alderman and his legacy for a number of years and said it ‘means the world to me’.

“The alderman was a nationalist but he was respected by both sides of the community and was able to join people together. That is the greatest thing and, for me, his lasting legacy.”

Jim will be travelling to Derry with eight friends and will visit places associated with the alderman, including his home at Stanley’s Walk.

“I think the alderman is a lost part of Derry’s history, but I would love to see a blue plaque outside his home at some stage down the road.”

Members of the local Trade Union Council and the Mayor, Colr. John Boyle, have been invited to the commemoration which is due to take place on Thursday, October 11 at 11am in the City Cemetery.