Monday 27 January 2020

Video: The villagers who never saw the new world

Tom Shiel

TIME spun back a century in a Mayo village yesterday as the departure of 14 young local people, all heading off for new lives in the US onboard the

ill-fated Titanic, was re-enacted.

After tearful hugs and embraces outside St Patrick's Church in Lahardane, near Crossmolina, the 2012 travellers, smartly outfitted in period clothing, climbed aboard a fleet of sidecars and traps for the journey to Castlebar railway station.

The clip-clop sound as the ponies departed resurrected feelings which were difficult to bear for many of the onlookers.

Bridie Syron, a relative of 23-year-old Mary Canavan, who perished, explained: "Today brings back again for the whole community the sadness of it all.

"Mary's death hasn't been talked about much in the family over the years. It's been too upsetting."

The sinking of the Titanic brought to a shocking end the dreams and plans of 11 people from the parish of Addergoole which lies on the western shore of Lough Conn.

The names of those who died were: John Bourke (42) and his wife, Catherine Bourke (32), Catherine McGowan (42), Mary Canavan (23), Mary Bourke (40), Nora Fleming (24), James Flynn (28), Bridget Donoghue (21), Delia Mahon (21), Pat Canavan (21) and Mary Mangan (24).

Annie Kate Kelly (20), who later went on to become a nun, Delia McDermott (31) and Annie McGowan (14) survived.

According to Dr Paul Nolan, chairman of the Mayo Titanic committee, Lahardane had the highest proportionate loss of life in the Titanic disaster of any locality in Ireland.

Former President and UN High Commissioner, Mary Robinson and her husband Nicholas, who have a holiday residence locally, were guests at yesterday's ceremonies.

In a brief address to the large gathering, Mrs Robinson paid a warm tribute to the Mayo Titanic committee for their week-long ceremonies of "respect and remembrance".

Before the departure to Castlebar, where a bi-lingual plaque was later unveiled to the Addergoole 14 at the town's railway station, Mrs Robinson personally shook hands with each of the modern-day "leavetakers".

Maureen Neary, whose grand aunt Delia McDermott survived the sinking, told how Delia left Lifeboat Number 12 to retrieve an expensive hat she had purchased in Crossmolina for the journey.

"She had left the hat in her cabin. After retrieving it she had to jump 15ft into another lifeboat."

Ms Neary said Delia never came back to Ireland.

"The fear of sailing was too much for her," she explained. "She was brought one time to see a film about the Titanic but when some of the scenes came up she froze. She walked out and burst into tears. She could not take it".

As part of a Cultural Week centred on the Titanic, pictured left, there will be be a bell ringing ceremony in Lahardane Church next Sunday morning between 1am and 3.15am when the Titanic slipped beneath the north Atlantic after hitting an iceberg.

Irish Independent

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