The steel cargo passenger steamship Killarney was built by A & J Inglis Ltd., of Glasgow (Yard No.311) in 1919 and purchased by the City of Cork Steam Packet Co. Ltd later that year. The ships dimensions were 265.0′ x 36.1′ x 15.9’ with a gross tonnage of 1578 tons. In 1920 she was purchased by G & J Burns Ltd of Glasgow and the name change to Moorfowl. Two years later the company became Burns & Laird Lines of Glasgow and a further name change followed in 1929 to Lairdsmoor.
The Lairdsmoor was en route from Dublin to Greenock on 7 April, 1937. Aboard were thirty three crew and six passengers and she was carrying a general cargo which included 300 head of cattle. Around 3:20am, the Lairdsmoor was in collision with the Shaw Savill & Albion liner MV Taranaki in dense fog, off Black Head, Galloway. The Lairdsmoor was badly holed in the collision and immediately began to sink. All the passengers and crew, except Captain John Campbell and a fireman named Edward McBride, were rescued by the Taranaki before the Lairdsmoor vanished in less than 15 minutes, sinking in deep water.
Although having sustained damage to her bow plating, the Taranaki managed to make Liverpool and once docked was inspected by the Board of Trade and it was found she had two large holes in her starboard bow.
Only on arrival did the full story become known. The Lairdsmoor had been heading north at dead slow speed when all aboard felt the whole vessel shudder, with the larger 8448 ton vessel hitting and become wedged in the focsle head of the Lairdsmoor. The crew raised the passengers who had no time to collect their belongings, and all abandoned ship either by a single lifeboat or by Jacob’s Ladder onto the Taranaki. Captain Campbell was last seen lying on the floor of the bridge, the crew believed he was dead and had been struck by debris from the collision, they hastily fitted a lifejacket in the hope he may float and be recovered. Edward McBride was in the engine room when the Taranaki struck, shortly after which he was engulfed by a fractured 40 ton fuel oil tank. Last to leave were the remaining ships officers who threw a life raft over the side and managed to jump aboard. Their rescue was hampered by fuel oil on the surface and many distressed cattle who by now were able to swim out of the holds, there was no hope for their rescue and they all perished. The passengers and crew were looked after in the Shipwrecked Mariners Home in Liverpool until they able to make they way home.
The reported position of the collision was 5 miles – 260° from Black Head which gives an approximate position of 54° 50.950’N 05° 17.500’W and general seabed depths of 150-170 metres in the area. The general location is also swept by strong tides.