On the 7th May 1915, the British ocean liner, RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine (or U-boat) causing the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew. Holder of the Blue Riband (an award given to a ship with the record for a transatlantic crossing) and briefly, the world’s largest passenger ship, she was launched by the Cunard Line in 1906. She had made 101 round-trip voyages (or 202 crossings) during her 7-year-and-9-month career and was on what would be her final voyage.
The Lusitania departed New York for Liverpool and on the afternoon of the 7th of May 1915, she was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland, about 11 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale.
She sank in about18 minutes. Of the known 1,960 people on board, 767 survived and 1,194 perished in the Lusitania disaster. Four of those survivors died in the following months, bringing the numbers to 762 survivors and 1,198 victims.
The sinking caused a storm of protest in the United States, as 128 Americans were among the dead and this event helped shift public opinion in the United States against Germany and influenced their declaration of war two years later.
From records, there appears to have been thirteen victims and eight survivors from County Mayo.
Hannah Cunniffe: Aged 30, Single, Third-class passenger from Aughamore, Ballyhaunis
John Feerick: Aged 26, Single, Third-class passenger from Roxboro, Ballinrobe. Spent about 10 years in the States- on visit home to friends.
Margaret Feerick: Brother of John, Aged 22, Single, Third-class passenger from Roxboro, Ballinrobe.
Patrick Browne: Aged 24, Coal Trimmer, Kilboyne, Ballyheane
Patrick Coyne: Aged 24, Coal Trimmer, Buncam, Ballyheane
Thomas Costello: Aged 30, Fireman, Killawalla
Patrick Campbell: Aged 35, Fireman, Born in Fisherhill, Co. Mayo – lived in Newry, Co. Down
Patrick Hopkins: Aged 25, Fireman, Castlebar
Thomas Kearney (Carney): Aged 25, Fireman, Tawnyshane, Castlebar
Peter Gavan: Aged 38, Coal Trimmer, Born in County Mayo
Martin Welsh: Aged 28, Coal Trimmer, Born in County Mayo
Jeremiah Sweeney: Fireman, Turlough, Castlebar
Patrick Kearney: Aged 25, Coal Trimmer, Crimlin, County Mayo. His family were then living in Liverpool. Not believed to be related to Thomas.
NB: A coal trimmeris a position within the engineering department of a coal fired ship which involves all coal handling tasks starting with the loading of coal into the ship and ending with the delivery of the coal to the stoker
- Catherine Henry: (nee Ruane)
Aged 24, Married, Third–class passenger, Cloonacanna, Swinford. Emigrated to the USA (New York) in 1908. Was pregnant with first child on voyage and was on her first trip back home. Later moved back to Ireland to reside.
- Delia Kilkenny:
Aged 33, Third-class passenger, Aughamore, Ballyhaunis. Her first cousin was Hannah Cunniffe who died on the Lusitania. Emigrated to the USA (Boston) in 1908. Was on a trip back home to see her sick father. She went on to marry Edward Pollagh from Kiltimagh on the day of the Easter Rising in 1916. Her family donated a rug given to Delia as she climbed into a lifeboat, to Kiltimagh Museum.
- Annie Ruane:
Aged 29, Single, Third-class passenger, Cloonacanna, Swinford. Was returning home after spending a number of years in Chicago.
- John Sweeney:
Second-class passenger, Ballina, County Mayo. Brother-in-law of James Murphy, Vice-Chairman, Ballina UDC. Had lived in New York.
- Margaret Tuohy:
From Roosky, Attymass – she had emigrated to the USA and was on a trip home. She never returned to the US – married Pat Mulherin from Boherhalla and had a family of 4.
- Mary Feeney: From Murneen, Claremorris, Co. Mayo
- Elizabeth O’Donnell: From Foxford
- James Moran:
Aged 24, Fireman, Errew, Castlebar. Was working on the dockyards of Liverpool, when he joined the crew. Later gave an account of the night of the sinking to local newspapers. He died in 1966.
- The remains of Thomas Brownlie,Winnipeg, Canada was found washed ashore at Pullocopal, Belmullet and was buried in Belmullet Protestant Cemetery.
- The remains of Frederick Alexander Twigg was found washed ashore along the Mayo coast and was buried in Louisburgh Cemetery.
- A teenager Maria Fitzmaurice from Reisk, Knock had booked a ticket on the Lusitania to return to New York from a visit home. For some reason, she couldn’t make the sailing. She never went back – married Michael Kelly from Lissaniska, Claremorris.
- A Martin Walsh from Aughamore was a Stevedore (Dockworker) on the Lusitania but ill health prevented him from taking the fateful voyage.
Sources: ‘Lusitania – An Irish Tragedy’, Molony, Senan, Mercier Press, 2004. Connaught Telegraph, Mayo News & Western People
by Alan King, Castlebar Library, Co. Mayo