Part 2. Saved or Perished? RMS Titanic, Mayo relatives anxious wait

This is article Two of Two, entitled “Saved or Perished? RMS Titanic, Irish relatives anxious wait”. Please see article One for background and context.

“We used get the paper and I used to read the paper for me grandfather. He’d hear all the news then. He’d sit down and I’d read the paper. Lord, it was terrible!”

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’ [Senan Molony, The Irish Aboard Titanic (Dublin, 2000)] 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:

‘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, Castlebar, 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. 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

The Connaught Telegraph proved itself resourceful by reprinting an article concerning the Addegoole Fourteen from the parish of Adderoole printed previously in the Chicago Herald. The article entitled ‘Loss of the Titanic’ includes 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 numbers of those who traveled and those who survived the origin of the article highlights for us that a regional newspaper in Chicago was aware and interested in the loss of so many from such a small community in the west of Ireland. Seven of the group were destined for Chicago indicating a chain migration.

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 Flemming, 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).

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. Though, due to the confused state of verification and instances of misreporting, there remained a forlorn hope that other members of the Addergoole Fourteen would be found safe and well amongst the other survivors.

A desperate hope was maintained until the families of the Addergoole Fourteen and the 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

In Ireland periods of distress and tragedy are generally remembered in song and verse yet relatives of the Addergoole Fourteen and the community of Addergoole maintained the memory of those who lost their lives and those who had survived in their own particular way through silent prayer. The memory of those who were lost remained ever-present in the community. The Irish Folklore Commission collected this account from Norah Walshe, a resident of the parish of Addergoole, in 1938:

‘There were many sad homes in Ireland when the disastrous news arrived. The memory of the accident is still held in our parish and often when we sing “Nearer my God to thee” the Master refers to the accident’

In a taped interview in the early 1980’s, Bridgie Leonard who was 17 years old when the Titanic sank recalled how the news came to Addergoole:

 Q.”Bridgie, can you remember how you heard the news that time?”

A. “I heard the people talking and crying in the village and all over. You know, James Flynn , a fine young boy was drowned and they were all going up near Leonards crying what about it, and I was excited about all this news. We used get the paper and I used to read the paper for me grandfather. He’d hear all the news then. He’d sit down and I’d read the paper. Lord, it was terrible!”

Interview with Cannon Boland (1980), in the possession of Michael Molloy

The newspaper became the main conduit with which the families of the bereaved and the community in Addergoole were initially informed of the disaster remaining their main conduit for information until final correspondence from the White Star Shipping Company was received which confirmed the deaths of eleven of the Addergoole Fourteen who had emigrated to the United States on the RMS Titanic.

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

Sources: Western People, Mayo News, Connaught Telegraph, Chicago Tribune, Michael Molloy, Irish Folklore Commission, Senan Molony, The Irish Aboard Titanic (Dublin, 2000).

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