On the first of December, 1848, the Londonderry Paddle Steamer was forced to take shelter in Derry Harbour. The boat was rounding the North Irish coast when a bad storm broke. The steerage passengers, who would normally remain on deck for the duration of the journey were forced to go below deck to protect themselves from the storm. However, the area where they were being held was far too small to accomodate all 174 of them. Conditions were extremely cramped and the passengers struggled to breathe. When the hold was opened in the morning, it was discovered that 31 women, 23 men, and 18 children had all be crushed or suffocated to death.
The crew were put on trial and convicted of manslaughter.
Those who lost their lives had been attempting to leave Ireland to escape the Great Famine.