11. The Mission and The Titanic

1. SS Titanic, 1912 | White Star Line Poster   2. SS Titanic | Postcard   3. ‘New York Times,’ Headlines from front page article, April 16, 1912
No account of pre-WWI trans-Atlantic Irish emigration would be complete without the story of the Irish on the Titanic. Fifty-four men, fifty-four women and five children boarded the Titanic at Queenstown. Irish girls arrived on the boat deck from steerage in time to get into Boat 15, the next to the last boat lowered from the starboard side of the Titanic at 1:35am. The Titanic went down at 2:20am. Irish girls survived at a slightly better rate than steerage women. Thirty-two women (56%) were rescued; nine men were rescued. No Irish child survived.

Survivors from the Titanic who arrived in New York aboard the Carpathia were taken to the Mission. Later, they were invited back to the Mission on April 28th, 1912, for debriefing and to receive a share of the money donated to survivors.

Some Titanic survivors who arrived at the Mission on April 18, 1912
Pictures from The Irish on the Titanic by Senan Mohony, Centenary Edition, 2012 Mercier Press, Cork

Thomas McCormack with Catherine, probably Catherine McCormack Evers, his sister

Kate, Margaret and Rose Murphy

Margaret Devaney

Kate Mullen

Daniel Buckley

Eugene Daly
Musician and Titanic survivor

Eugene Daly, Musician and Titanic survivor

The piper, Eugene Daly, played “Erin’s Lament”on the stern of the Titanic as the ship left Cork Harbor. He was one of the steerage men who roused the Irish girls who were then able to escape from the sinking ship.
Daly was from Co. Westmeath and realized quickly the sinking even though the crew reassured passengers that all was well. He recounted:
“I managed to don a life preserver and failing to get a seat in a lifeboat on a raft I jumped overboard and struck out just before the ship sank. The water was icy and for the first few minutes I thought I could not survive the cold shock. I do not know how long I was in the water when I caught the edge of a life raft or collapsible boat already crowded. It upset, but the people in it did not drown. Some of them scrambled back while others, including myself were dragged into a lifeboat containing women and a few men. My sufferings in the lifeboat were intense until we reached the Carpathia, where I was made comfortable. Here I am now, stripped of every worldly possession, including my beloved bag pipes, my baggage and ninety-eight pounds sterling which I saved for fourteen years in anticipation of spending the rest of my days in the United States.”
The Evening World Newspaper, April 22, 1912

Titanic Survivor, Nellie Shine, with her daughter, Mary Ellen Callaghan Quinn, and her granddaughter, Christine C. Quinn, former Speaker of the New York City Council | Collection of Quinn family

Margaret Devaney
Titanic survivor

Margaret Devaney, Titanic survivor

From Co. Sligo, Devaney recounted that as she made her way to the collapsible life boat, she noticed that it was caught on the ship’s rivets and the crew was having trouble freeing the boat. They begged the passengers for help in cutting them free. Margaret discovered she had the pocket knife her brother had given her as a token of good luck when she had left Ireland. She gave it to the crew and they were able to cut the collapsible free. She saved three mementos from the Titanic and these relics are still treasured by her descendants: the first, was her third class ticket (which she had in her sweater pocket when she left the Titanic); the second, was the actual pocket knife that the crewmen used; and the third, was the lifeboat emblem flag removed from the collapsible that was given to Margaret while on the Carpathia. The man who gave the flag to Margaret was in charge of the boat and told her that she was responsible for the lifeboat escaping the Titanic.