Irish Prime Minister Opens Mayo Titanic Memorial Park
Irish Prime Minister Opens Mayo Titanic Memorial Park
The Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny officially opened The Titanic Memorial Park on Sunday 15th April 2012 in Addergoole Parish, which is situated in Lahardane village in County Mayo.
The memorial was created to mark the fact that fourteen passengers from the parish boarded the Titanic on its history maiden voyage on the 11th April 1912. Only three survived the journey. The eleven who perished were; Catherine Bourke, John Bourke, Mary Bourke, Mary Canavan, Pat Canavan, Bridget Donohue, Nora Fleming, James Flynn, Catherine McGowan, Delia Mahon, Mary Mangan. The three who survived were; Annie Kate Kelly, Delia McDermott, Annie McGowan.
The Addergoole Titanic Society believes that the loss of these 11 lives represents the largest proportionate loss of life from any locality on RMS Titanic. To put the loss in perspective, in 1911, the year before the Titanic sank the population of the Addergoole was 3,496 people living in 703 houses according to the Irish census. The eleven Addergoole passengers who perished represent 0.3% of that population, or 2% of all the Third Class passengers lost when Titanic sank. This was truly, an extraordinary loss for our small parish.
Enda Kenny made the following speech in his unveiling of the memorial:
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Today is a day for reflection, remembrance, and community.
This memorial park is a testament to the human spirit. It tells the story, unique to Western Europe, of the devastating impact the sinking of the Titanic had on a small isolated rural community.
This Memorial Park may be the story of the unknown – but it is not the story of the forgotten.
This is evidenced by the ringing of the bell, at 2.20 am in the morning in St Patricks Church, every 15th April, by descendents of those who died, to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic and those from this parish who died on that tragic day.
You – the people of Lahardane, of Mayo and the descendents of the dead, remember. This park may be dedicated to the memory to those who died from this locality on the Titanic but it tells a universal story insofar as:
It is the story of emigration.
It is the story of hope and expectation.
It is the story of tragedy and loss.
It is the story of remembrance.
Above all it is the story of Community.
What was it that bound the Burkes, Flemings, Mangans, Flynns, Kellys, Donoghues, Mahons, McDermotts, Canavans, and McGowans, emigrating together on that fateful ship?
It was their sense of place, of kit and kin. It was a shared understanding of hope and vision, of expectation and past experience. Emigration was a way of life, understood and accepted. They are representative of emigrants everywhere. Theirs is a story that has a universal resonance. Their loss – and the devastating impact it had in the locality cannot be
This park is as much a memorial to emigrants everywhere as it is to those who come from this locality.
Chain migration or emigration is a well known concept whereby people from the same community, stick together, help each other and move to where friends and family already existed. In an era where social welfare was non-existent or rudimentary to say the least, one stuck with those you knew or were related to. It was logical, It was comfort in a new world, It reinforced family and community values.
The American letter, where remittance money – and passage money paid for the next sibling to follow was an established feature of the process.
What is not that well documented – and is poignantly illustrated in this park today – was the level of female emigration from Ireland from the second half of the nineteenth century. Of all the emigrant nations that came to America at that time – slightly more than 50% of the Irish emigrants were women.
America was the land of hope. From the time of Famine and indeed earlier – millions of Irish had gone to the new world and carved for themselves a new life. In so doing they also helped to build America.
With nothing but determination, fortitude, and faith – with a welcoming hand from those who went before and an understood obligation to assist those left behind – the Addergoole 14 were no different from millions of other emigrant Jews, Italians, Germans, Hungarian, Poles, and Lebanese – to name but a few.
Their age was an age of expectation and hope. New technologies, such as the car, silent films, airplanes, and telephone were changing society. In marketing terms the great transatlantic liners were the poster boys of the age. Where we might wait in expectation of the next iPad, or Game, the generation of one hundred years ago were mesmerised by the Age of Great Liners.
The White Star Line sought with Titanic and her sisters to set new standards for size and comfort. They were to be the greatest and most luxurious trans-Atlantic passenger ships in the Age of the Great Liners. These ships were truly breath taking in their ambition. In our age of the super-carrier and the super-tanker, it would be easy to overlook the unprecedented scale of the ships.
The Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches long and her total height, measured from the base of the keel to the top of the bridge, was 104 feet. She displaced over 52,310 tons and for point of reference, this was when the most powerful battleship displaced only 20,000 tons.
Newspapers and magazines struggled to convey to readers a sense of the scale of this new wonder. Titanic was often portrayed, standing vertically on her stern and dwarfing the landmarks of the world.
The engineering achievement was complemented by high quality accommodation on board. While it was the custom of the times to have very marked difference in the cabins and services provided for the different classes of passengers, the many surviving images show the quality throughout the ship of the various dining rooms, staircases and cabins.
The Titanic sailed from Queenstown 100 years ago, carrying her thousands of passengers and crew, each one with an individual story – stories which have been illustrated here today. Most of their names and fates are known to us along with some details of their lives. From their stories, we find an insight into the society of the period. Whether working on the ship, a regular international traveller or an emigrant on a presumed once-only voyage, no one aboard had any basis for concern about the disaster about to happen.
As you the people of Addergoole have never forgotten.
The foundations of this Park are set not in concrete or stone but in memory, community and respect. It is an expression of that coming together, that unifying bond that we have shown time and time again in the face of adversity and challenge.
We again are facing new challenges, new pressures and new circumstances. We as a people are showing a unity of purpose and resolve that is drawing much comment from outside observers. Our strengths are our capacity to respond, our ability to use our imagination, our willingness to adapt – while holding fast to the traditions of community and sense of place.
The following words were written in the Western People Newspaper on the 4th of May 100 years ago:
“One of the saddest sights ever witnessed in the West of Ireland was the waking of the five young girls and young man from a village near Lahardane who went down with the ill-fated Titanic.
For two days and two nights wakes were held. The photo of each victim was placed on the bed on which they had slept before leaving home and kindred. They were covered with snow white quilts, and numbers of candles were lighted around. The wailing and moaning of the people was most distressing and would almost draw a tear from a stone.”
Let the Western People recall that 100 years later they have not been forgotten and that this monument has been erected in their honour and in honour of all those who died on the Titanic.
This is a memorial park to their memory.
And you have done a great service to that memory and to your community with
this park which I now declare open.