Everybody has heard the story of the world-famous luxury liner, the supposedly unsinkable Titanic, built in Belfast, which hit an iceberg and sunk on its maiden voyage on April 14th 1912, with the loss of 1514 lives.
Seven of those passengers were from County Sligo, and here is a little bit of background formation relating to those Sligo people’s lives.
The seven County Sligo people on board the Titanic were: Alfred Middleton, Mary Delia Burns from Kilmacowen, Margaret Devaney also from Kilmacowen, Catherine ‘Kate’ Hargadon from Carraroe, Henry Hart from Ballisodare, Janie Carr from Aclare and John Meehan from Curry.
The only Sligo survivor of the Titanic was Margaret Devaney who featured in an artilce in “The Sligo Champion” which described how she used a penknife bought in “Barton Smiths” shop in Sligo Town to help rescue fellow passengers.
Different reports put the age of Margaret Devaney as being either 19 or 20 years of age, She boarded the Titanic at Queenstown, now known as Cobh, County Cork, and was leaving her home in Kilmacowen, County Sligo, to settle in New York City where her brother and two sisters lived.
She boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 330958, costing £7 17s 7d, together with her friends Mary Delia Burns and Kate Hargadon also from County Sligo.
In a 1973 interview, she said the three girls were alerted to the disaster by an older male friend from their homeland. After a brief investigation of the aft deck, the three girls went to retrieve their lifejackets from their cabin during which time they lost track of their older friend.
Margaret said that after encountering locked gates to Second Class, the three climbed a ladder from the Aft Well deck to one of the decks on Second Class. One of her friends began suffering from seasickness and had to stop. The other friend stayed with her while Margaret proceeded on, intending to return for them when she located a boat. But she found herself caught up in the crowd around Collapsible C liferaft and was pushed in.
She said that as the boat was lowered it got caught on the ship’s rivets, and that the crew had trouble freeing the boat. One of them begged the passengers for help in cutting them. Margaret discovered she had a pocket knife on her and gave it to the crew by which they were able to cut the collapsible free.
After getting married and living in Jersey City, New Jersey where she had six children, two of which died at a young age, She herself passed away on June 12, 1974, at the age of 82. She was buried in the Holy Name Cemetery, New Jersey.
Margaret kept some momentos 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 is the actual knife that the crewmen used to cut the ropes to free the liferaft, and the third is a lifeboat iron emblam flag that was removed from a lifeboat and 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 by having the knife. As a token of his appreciation, he presented her with it.
Miss Mary Delia Burns was, according to different reports either 15 or 18 years of age, and she too came from Kilmacowan, County Sligo. She boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 330963, costing £7 17s 7d) with her friends Margaret Devaney and Kate Hargadon.
Delia was emigrating to America where she hoped to get employment as a housemaid for a well-to-do family.
Miss Mary Delia Burns died in the sinking of the Titanic. Her body was never recovered, though she is commemorated by a small plaque on her brother’s grave, in Kilmacowen Cemetery.
Jane “Janie” Carr, aged 47 years, was born in Aclare, Tubbercurry, County Sligo on 14 July 1864. She was the daughter of Thomas Carr and Bridget Goldrick and had three brothers and three sisters.
She originally emigrated to America in 1890 and worked as a domestic and cook in Springfield, Massachusetts. She later worked in Hartford, Connecticut and then at the home of Dr. C.A. Burnap of Windsor Locks, Connecticut as housekeeper and cook. Her last place of employment was as a cook at the Chicopee Falls Hotel.
She had returned for an extended visit to Ireland in 1909 and was returning to America to settle her affairs and planned to return once again to Ireland and spend the rest of her life surrounded by her brothers and sisters and their families.
Janie Carr boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 368364, £7 15s).
She lost her life in the disaster. Her body, if recovered, was never identified.
Miss Catherine “Kate” Hargadon, aged 17, came from Carraroe, County Sligo.
She boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number AQ/3. 30631, £7 14s 8d) together with her friends Margaret Devaney and Delia Burns.
Miss Hargadon died in the sinking, her body, if recovered, was never identified.
Mr Henry Hart aged 27, of Ballisodare, Co Sligo, boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 394140, £6 17s 2d).
It was reported that he had recently married in Belmont, Massachusetts and then travelled with his bride to Ireland, he was returning alone. His stated destination was Boston, Massachusetts.
Henry Hart died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
Mr John Mahon aged 22, of Curry, Co Sligo, boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number AQ/4 3130, £7, 15s). His destination was Patterson, New Jersey.
John Mahon died in the disaster. His body, if recovered, has never been identified.
Alfred Pirrie Middleton was born in Ballysadare, Co Sligo and was 27 years of age. His father was a manager at a corn and flour mill in Ballysadare.
Alfred was educated at the Intermediate School, Sligo and was placed with a firm of electrical and mechanical engineers in Glasgow, Scotland for practical training. During this time he studied at Glasgow Technical Institute and later worked for Telford, Grier & Mackay Ltd of Glasgow and superintended electrical work for them in Ireland.
In August 1911 Alfred joined the Aberdeen White Star Line`s ship Demosthenes for its maiden voyage to Brisbane. After that voyage he returned to Harland & Wolff in Belfast and shortly thereafter was appointed to the Titanic alongside his good friend Albert George Ervine, also an electrician for the ships maiden voyage.
He was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip to Southampton, when he signed on again in Southampton, on 6 April 1912, Albert gave his address as Ballysadare, Sligo and his previous ship as the Demosthenes. As an electrician he could expect monthly wages of £8.
Alfred Pirrie Middleton died in the sinking of the Titanic. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His parents continued to live in County Sligo. His father Adam Middleton passed away in 1936.