Much of Sheffield’s great heritage was possible due to the magnificent railway network that it once boasted, (ie through the Woodhead Tunnel) to Manchester or the quickest way to London via the (lost) Great Central Railway.
Unfortunately, short-sighted politicians have allowed a continual decline in the most practical links to other large cities in the UK.
However, when we cast our minds back 100, 200 or even 300 years, wasn’t it the muscular Irish “navvies” who built many of the canals, railways (including long tunnels, cutting huge embankments and tunnels?) and many roads too?
But surely one of the greatest Irishmen to have links to Sheffield is Sergeant William Coffey (who was awarded the VC in Hyde Park on June 26, 1857.
Indeed, Sgt Coffey was amongst the first to receive a VC from Queen Victoria herself!
Unfortunately, it is said that he “took his own life” by shooting himself through the head in a Drill Hall in Sheffield on July 13, 1875.
His death certificate reads “Dysentery” as being the cause of death.
Apparently the “horrendous memories” he had of this time, fighting in the Crimean War in Sebastopol left him seriously affected both mentally and physically.
G A Evans