Part 1. Saved or Perished? RMS Titanic, Mayo relatives and their anxious wait

‘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

How did the relatives of all those Irish aboard the RMS Titanic learn of the fate of their loved ones?

In the twentieth first century of instant messaging, mobile phones and Skype it is hard to comprehend the unenviable anxiety families of Irish emigrants, who were travelling aboard the RMS Titanic to New York, had to experience whilst waiting for final confirmation of safe arrival of their loved ones in New York, or the confirmation of death of a loved one in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.


Upon the sinking of the RMS Titanic to the arrival of the SS Carpathia in New York Families of loved ones aboard the RMS Titanic relied on the regional and national newspapers for information on what had occurred on that April night. It was through the local Mayo newspapers and, a surprising source from across the Atlantic in the United States, that relatives of the Addergoole Fourteen learned further details of the fate of their loved ones.

Initial publications of the Mayo newspapers contained sparse information relating to the disaster, they reprinted general articles from other publications thus ignoring the local connection to the RMS Titanic tragedy.

Printed 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

Mayo News, 20 April 1912

A week later the 27 April edition of the Mayo News contained a second more detailed 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 Mangan

[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

A further article will outline the close connections the Parish of Addergoole, home of the Addergoole Fourteen, had with the Irish community in Chicago. Initially the community in Addergoole, and the Titanic Village of Lahardane, believed that all fourteen members of the group 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 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 (Dublin, 2000)

This is article One of Two, entitled “Saved or Perished? RMS Titanic, Mayo relatives and their anxious wait”. Please see second article on “Saved or Perished? RMS Titanic, Mayo relatives anxious wait” for further reading via this link – http://addergoolefourteen.com/2012/02/16/titanicirelandtragedy/#more-352

3 thoughts on “Part 1. Saved or Perished? RMS Titanic, Mayo relatives and their anxious wait

  1. Pingback: A Blog You Should Read | joeccombs2nd

  2. Many thanks for publishing this story it is very important to set the records straight.
    Wher ecan I find the 2nd article “Save or Perished” ?

    from
    RMSTitanic.ca
    George Watters
    Based in Whitby, Ontario Canada
    originally form Belfast N.I.

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