RMS Titanic: Mayo Newspaper Coverage

                Finn’s Paradise

 ‘Liverpool, 4.30 p.m. Tuesday. Referring to your telegram re Titanic, deeply regret to say that latest word received is steamer foundered; about 675 souls, mostly women and children, saved’

                                        Connaught Telegraph, 20 April 1912

The coverage offered by county Mayo based newspapers was lacklustre and sporadic. The Connaught Telegraph published the most information relating to the sinking of the RMS Titanic and the Mayo connection.

The Mayo News newspaper dedicated a sparse amount of newsprint space to the tragedy. Apart from an acknowledgement that the disaster had occurred whilst information contained in the Western People was equally as disinterested as the Mayo News.

The Western People published an article which noted words of sympathy from public bodies such as the Connaught Gaelic Athletic Association and the Ballina Urban Council were published but contained no analysis impact the sinking of the RMS Titanic had wrought on the small community which inhabited the slopes of Mount Nephin and the western shores of Lough Conn.

Addergoole Fourteen Commemorative Stamp

Contained in the 20 April edition of the Mayo News was an article which gave a general account, found in all the national dailies, of the disaster. Located at the end of the article is the Mayo link to the sinking of the RMS Titanic:

‘At one period every hope was entertained that all the passengers and the crew had been taken off the sinking vessel by the liners Carpathia, Parisian, and Virginian, which were summoned to the scene of the disaster…But unhappily al hopes were falsified on the receipt of later and more definite news that the Carpathia was the only vessel to arrive on time…unfortunately it is impossible to obtain more precise information as to the awful disaster…there are still about 1,490 unaccounted…Amongst the list of Irish passengers furnished are the following from Castlebar – Catherine McGowan, Mary Concannon, Mary Bourke, John Bourke, Catherine Bourke, Mary Mangan, James Flynn, Bridget Donohoe, Patrick Canavan, Norah Fleming’

The Mayo News, 20 April 1912

A week later the 27 April edition of the Mayo Newscontained a second more detailed

All Saved - Titanic Taken in Tow to New York

article. It included an accurate account of the disaster but failed to refer to the loss suffered by the community in Addergoole, or from any other communities around Ireland.

In contrast to the Mayo News and the Western People, the Connaught Telegraph produced a number of articles which actively followed the local Mayo connection. It is through these articles, printed in the Connaught Telegraph, that we have some knowledge of how the community of Addergoole was assisted in receiving final confirmation of the deaths of eleven of the Addergoole Fourteen. An article in the 20 April edition referred to the group:

‘Immediately the news reached Castlebar, one of the agents for the White Star Line, Mr. Thomas Durcan who had booked 10 emigrants from the Lahardane district by the Titanic, wired to the head office in Liverpool, and received the following reply:- “Liverpool, 4.30 p.m. Tuesday. Referring to your telegram re Titanic, deeply regret to say that latest word received is steamer foundered; about 675 souls, mostly women and children, saved’.

Connaught Telegraph, 20 April 1912

Rather surprisingly news of the deaths of members of the Addergoole Fourteen had been reported on the other side of the Atlantic. On the 19 April 1912 the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper reported the deaths of the Bourke Family, Mary, John and Catherine Bourke, and the death of Mary Mangan:

“The names of the Burke family and that of Margaret [Mary] Manion have been learned only through the greatest indirectness, and it is believed that the whole family has been lost and that no friends or relatives in Chicago have been aware of their passage on the Titanic. It was through Mrs Garvey that the last five names could be added to the Chicago list”

                                          Chicago Inter Ocean, 19 April 1912

Initially the community in Addergoole feared the worst, believing all members of the Addergoole Fourteen had perished. Within a number of days news of the survival of the youngest member of the group, Annie McGowan, had reached her family and friends in Addergoole and in county Mayo. Her name had appeared on the survival list printed the following Thursday after the  sinking of the RMS Titanic on early Monday morning 15 April 1912. This was reported by the Connaught Telegraph:

‘The following are the passengers booked by Mr. Thomas

Durcan, Castlebar, and the presumption is that all have been lost, still there is hope that some of the females may have been rescued; – Norah Fleming, Patrick Canavan, Bridget Donohoe, James Flynn, Mary Mahon, John Bourke, Catherine Bourke, Mary Bourke, Kate McDermott, Mary Canavan. All the above are from the Lahardane district, as are the following, booked by Mrs Walsh, Linenhall Street, Castelbar: – Annie McGowan, Catherine McGowan, Delia Mahon, Annie Kate Kelly. In the list of survivors published on Thursday, the name of Annie McGowan appeared’

Chicago Inter Ocean, 19 April 1912

Some of the names of the members of the Addergoole Fourteen were noted incorrectly at their embarkation or due to clerical error. Confusion was caused by the misspelling of some of the group’s names in the manifest of the RMS Titanic and in the corresponding missing list. Bridget Donohue was turned into a man as her name was misread on the passenger manifest, noted as ‘Bert O’Donoghue’:

‘The error has continued for decades. Many of the lists of the lost containing the name Bert O’Donoghue, when in fact this final indignity stems from a careless misreading of her handwritten name in the embarkation records. Bridget had been abbreviated to ‘Bert’’

Senan Molony, The Irish Aboard Titanic

Final official confirmation of Bridget Donohoe’s death has never been forthcoming. Nora Fleming’s name was also misspelt, noted as ‘Nora Hemming’. Whilst Mary Canavan’s name was misreported as a ‘Mary Concannon’. Such careless errors and repetition of such caused confusion and inevitable heartache as outlined in this report from late April 1912 in reference to the fate of Mary Mangan:

Mary Mangan

‘Some Chicagoans do not know yet whether their relatives were saved by the Carpathia or not. Edward Manion, who lives at 1848 Lincoln Avenue, does not know whether his sister, Miss Margaret Manion, Castle Bar, Ireland, is on her way to Chicago or lying two miles deep off the Newfoundland banks. Miss Manion has been reported in both the list of survivors and the list of lost’

The article continues by stating:

‘Her brother telegraphed the New York offices of the White Star company on Friday to settle his fears, but he had no reply from them at a late hour yesterday. “It is hard to sit here and wait, nearly a week after the Titanic went down and not know whether she is alive or dead,” Mr. Manion said. “It may be she has wired me and the message failed to reach me”’

Chicago Tribune, 21 April 1912

An article in the Connaught Telegraph stated that the English Attorney-General had promised to do all he could to assist families who were anxious for further information. The same article recognized the torture that family members were undergoing:

‘In Mayo to-day there is mourning in many home as a result of this appalling tragedy and some attempt should be made to give the bereaved ones the fullest details of the fate of their loved ones’

Chicago Tribune, 21 April 1912

The Connaught Telegraph proved itself resourceful by reprinting an article concerning the Addegoole Fourteen, which had been printed previously in the Chicago Herald. The article entitled ‘Loss of the Titanic’ included the sub-headings ‘Flower of Mayo’s Youth Sank With Hands Joined on the Titanic, of Fifteen Lads and Coleens Seeking Fortune ONLY Two Arrive’.

Though there were inaccuracies relating to the number of the group form Addergoole, and those who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the origin of the article indicates that a regional newspaper in Chicago had a specific interest the fates of the Addergoole Fourteen. Further articles will outline the close connections the Parish of Addergoole, home of the Addergoole Fourteen, had with the Irish community in Chicago in the United States of America. Seven of the group were destined for Chicago indicating a chain migration.[i] 

Despite the initial accurate news that Annie McGowan had survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it was not until the arrival of the SS Carpathia in New York that final confirmation was made that only two other members of the Addergoole Fourteen had survived. It brought comfort to the community there still remained a forlorn hope that members of the Addergoole Fourteen had been saved and were on other ships that had yet to reach New York.

A desperate hope was maintained until the families of the Addergoole Fourteenand the

The Irish Wake

community of Addergoole received final official confirmation of the deaths of eleven of the group from agents of the White Star Line based in Castlebar. Thus, finally, the families of the bereaved and the community at large could mourn those who had perished:

‘One of the saddest sights ever witnessed in the West of Ireland was the “waking “ of the five young girls and a young man from a village near Lahardane, who went down with the ill-fated Titanic…when the first news of the appalling catastrophe reached their friends the whole community was plunged into unutterable grief. They cherished for a time a remote hope that they were saved. But when the dreaded news arrived a feeling of excruciating anguish took its place’.

                                                     Western People, 4 May 1912

Matters were compounded as the families and the community did not have the bodies to wake:

‘For two nights and two days “wakes” were held. The photo of each victim was placed on the bed on which they had slept before leaving home and kindred. The beds were covered with snow-white quilts, and numbers of candles were lighted around. The wailing and moaning of the people was most distressing’

                                                      Western People, 4 May 1912

[i] John, Catherine and Mary Bourke, Bridget Donohue, Annie Kate Kelly, Mary Mangan and Annie and Catherine McGowan were all destined for Chicago. Mary Canavan, Nora Fleming, James Flynn and Delia Mahon were destined for New York; Pat Canavan was destined for Philadelphia whilst Delia McDermott was destined for St.Louis. See Senan Molony, The Irish Aboard Titanic (Dublin, 2000), pp.22-141.

Source:  The Mayo News, The Western People, Senan Molony, The Irish Aboad Titanic, The Chicago Tribune, The Connaught Telegraph, Chicago Inter Ocean.


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