The Worlds first ever fatal car accident, Birr, County Offaly

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Infrastructure

Route taken by car prior to accidentPeople might be surprised to read that the first fatal car accident occurred in Birr, County Offaly close to the centre of Ireland. I only realised when I was passing by the actually spot on my way to Birr Castle recently. There is a large notice board describing the events on the road side  which I stopped to read and then look at the junction where the accident occurred.

The events occurred on the 31st of August 1869 when the passenger, Mary Ward, fell out of a steam powered car while it was turning sharply at a junction. She was fatally wounded with a broken neck. The car was destroyed afterwards, thus following the custom at the time, where animals were killed if they caused human deaths.

The victim Mary Ward was a well known scientist and had written three books on various scientific subjects including microscopes.  A pictures I took of the junction where the accident occurred is below but you can also look at the location via Google maps click here.

It is surprising that more is not made of this event in Ireland, for instance Mary Wards name and story could be used as part of a road safety campaign. And safety campaigns are needed, she was the first of many millions of road victims, as it is estimated that over a million people die in car accidents every year. Source.

First fatal car accident                                                      Location of accident marked by star
Route taken by car prior to accident                                                  Sketch view of route of car prior to accident, from street notice board in Birr

3 thoughts on “The Worlds first ever fatal car accident, Birr, County Offaly

  1. The car apparently was travelling at 4mph at the time of the accident. At the inquest the Coroner hoped that such an accident would never happen again.

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