New research on the Iirish on The Titanic from Know Thy Place
Tag Archives: Titanic 100
Addergoole – Ireland’s Titanic Village – is so-called because no fewer than 14 friends and neighbours set sail on the Titanic for a new life in America. 11 of these drowned in the freezing Atlantic waters. (See my earlier post here recounting the extraordinarily moving annual commemoration that takes place in this village in the West of Ireland.)
A commemorative plaque is to be unveiled in Castlebar, the main town in County Mayo, from which the emigrants departed by train. The Addergoole community has been instrumental in ensuring that this plaque be in both the Irish and English languages – a further fitting tribute to their kinsfolk, most of whom spoke only Irish when they left their friends and family on that ill-fated journey, a century ago.
The memory of the Addergoole 14 is indeed in the safe hands of the community that has not forgotten them.
Read the news story here.
Well done, Addergoole!Another fine example of the excellence and dignity with which your community upholds the memory of your people!
In an earlier post I wrote about the efforts of the family of a ship’s officer to get possession of the letter from their ancestor who perished on the Titanic.
Now a good news story …from the delighted family of Dr John Simpson , a medical officer who also perished on the Titanic. His last letter written to his mother just days before he was lost, has been returned to his family. Bought by a generous and mysterious benefactor, this is indeed a good news story!
RTE News report :
A mystery benefactor has stepped in to ensure a valuable letter written by an officer days before he died on the Titanic will return to his home town.
There were fears that the note Dr John Simpson penned to his mother onboard the doomed liner would be bought by a private collector when it was put up for auction in New York with a $34,000 reserve price.
But after hearing about a campaign by relatives of the ship’s assistant surgeon to bring the letter back to his native Belfast a mystery donor stepped in and bought it for the city just weeks before the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.
According to witnesses who survived the 1912 sinking, 37-year-old Dr Simpson stood with fellow officers on the deck of the stricken vessel as it went down.
His great-nephew Dr John Martin said he was happy the letter was coming back to where it belonged.
He said: “I’ve never actually seen the original letter itself as it was last in Belfast in the 1940s before Dr Simpson’s son moved away.
”So for it to be on its way back is just amazing and so appropriate now just ahead of the 100th anniversary of his death. We are so thankful to the benefactor.”
He said the letter had been passed down through several generations until Dr Simpson’s 81-year-old daughter-in-law gave it to a Titanic enthusiast in The Netherlands 15 years ago in the hope it would go on display.
However, what happened to the letter after that remained a mystery to the family and Dr Martin said relatives had always regretted its loss.
They thought it was gone for good until they heard it was to be sold at Philip Weiss Auctions in New York.
But the item failed to reach its reserve price at the sale earlier this month, enabling the benefactor to step in and purchase it for an undisclosed sum.
The letter, dated 11 April 1912 and written on notepaper headed RMS Titanic, was brought ashore at Cobh, Co Cork (then called Queenstown) before the ship set sail for the US.
It was dispatched to his mother Elizabeth who was living in Belfast’s Dublin Road.
In it, the married father-of-one, who was then based in Liverpool, said he was tired but settling into his cabin well.
He had worked on the Titanic’s White Star Line sister ship the Olympic for a year previously and observed to his mother that the accommodation on board his new vessel was larger.
Dr Simpson also complained he had found one of his trunks unlocked and $5 or $6 had been stolen from his pocket book.
The surgeon, who treated second and third-class passengers, signed off: “With fondest love, John.”
It is intended that the letter will go on display in Belfast.
RTE news Item can be seen here.- Some nice scenes!
A hand written letter from Titanic’s Chief Officer Henry Wilde is up for auction. The letter dated 7 April 1912 was penned while the Titanic was in Southampton. This is an item from the Irish Independent newspaper that has some interesting pictures.
The Titanic centenary commemorations were launched today in Cobh, County Cork. Cobh, or Queenstown as it was then known,was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic.
Today, the LE Emer of the Irish Naval Service, was alongside and exchanged a gun salute with nearby Spike Island. There then followed the release of 123 flares from Spike Island, one for each of the passengers who boarded at Queenstown in April 1912. A poignant remembrance of those who last stood on Irish soil 100 years ago and left family and friends in search of a better future.
Throughout 2012, Cobh will lead the Irish tribute to those who lost their lives on the Titanic as well as those who survived. Many events to remember the Irish ship and her passengers will take place during the year-long commemoration- exhibitions, lectures,concerts,visiting cruise liners, markets,church services and naval displays. The impressive exhibition centre will be a central attraction to all visitors to the area.
There will be frequent posts on this site throughout the year on the Titanic 100 commemorations at Cobh and in Belfast as well as in The Titanic Village – Addergoole, Co Mayo.
On the afternoon of Thursday April 11th 1912, the RMS Titanic weighed anchor just off Cobh – then Queenstown- County Cork, Ireland, and set sail for America. On board were many people leaving Ireland in search of a better future. Included in their numbers were a group of 14 men and women from the County Mayo parish of Addergoole, on the shores of Lough Conn.
The weather was fine and the voyage went smoothly for the first few days. By Sunday April 14th, the Titanic had travelled some 1,400 miles and was east of New Foundland. Most passengers were asleep when, at 20 minutes before midnight, she struck an iceberg that ripped a 300 feet long gash in her side.
Shortly after midnight on Monday April 15th the order was given to prepare the lifeboats. At this point, hundreds of the estimated 2,207 people on board were already doomed as the total lifeboat capacity was estimated at 1,178. At 12. 25 am the order was given to load the lifeboats with women and children, and by 1.15 am, 7 had been lowered.
An eyewitness report : ‘They called out three times in a loud voice: ”Are there any more women before this boat goes?” And there was no answer. Mr Murdoch called out, and at that moment a female came up whom he did not recognize. Mr Ismay said: ”Come along, jump in.” She said: ”I am only a stewardess.” He said: ”Never mind – you are a woman; take your place.”
The ship began to list and was tilted steeply when the last boat containing 44 people was lowered at 2 am. Hundreds of people were still on the deck as the water got higher and higher. The ship’s orchestra played ‘Nearer My God to Thee’. This is sometimes thought to be a romantic invention but, in a book of eyewitness accounts, several survivors and members of the crew attest to hearing the orchestra playing ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ as the lifeboats pulled away.
The stern lifted out of the water and at 2.18 am the lights flickered and went out. By 2.20 am, the Titanic was almost perpendicular in the water and she slipped into the icy depths. One eyewitness recounted: ‘After she reached an angle of 60 degrees, there was a rumbling sound, which he attributed to the boilers leaving their beds and crashing down. Finally she attained an absolute perpendicular position and then went slowly down’
An estimated 1,522 people lost their lives.
Included in their number were 11 of the hopeful emigrants from Addergoole:
John Bourke and his pregnant wife Catherine
John’s sister, Mary
Three of the women who had left Addergoole just days earlier were among the 700 who survived. They were Annie Kate Kelly, Delia McDermott and Annie McGowan.
At Lahardane Church there is a bell that is used in an annual commemoration of the people from Addergoole who were on the ill-fated Titanic. On the 15th of April each year between 2 am and 3 am, they remember their kinsfolk. At 2.20 am, the bell tolls slowly in memory of those who were lost. The tolling is followed by jubilant ringing in celebration of the three lives saved in this terrible tragedy. Each year, in the still of the night, the bell’s lonely toll and joyful rings resound across the lonely landscape of Mayo. It is then silent until the following year. Many of the bell ringers are family members of those who left their community 99 years ago.
This is a unique and very moving tribute to the lost members of this community, and to those who survived. The 15th of April is indeed their ‘Night to Remember’.
Beesley, L. Gracie, A. Lightoller,Bride, H, 1960. The Story of The Titanic as told by its survivors. Jack Winocaur, Ed. Dover Publications . Accessed at Google Books