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Titanic, 100 Years Later: Sinking Filled with Tales of Irish Tragedy

The Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society dedicated its April newsletter to the anniversary of the tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 78 Irish.

The Titanic was built in Belfast, set sail for New York from Queenstown in County Cork and carried 120 Irish passengers.

On April 15, 1912, when the "unsinkable" behemoth sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic, 78 Irish lives were lost — the fourth-highest number among the more than two-dozen nationalities aboard the ship. (More British passengers — 223 — died on the Titanic than any other nationality. One hundred and nineteen American passengers perished, the second-highest total.)

Ireland's link to the most famous maritime disaster in history is memorialized in the April edition of "The Shanachie," the quarterly publication of the Hamden-based Connecticut Irish-American Historical Society.

"I didn't really know much about the Titanic as of December," says Neil Hogan, editor of The Shanachie.  "I went online immediately and started looking and digging a little bit and discovering all of these Irish stories and thought we've got to do something about this."

Hogan says the Irish people have suffered as much as any in the 100 years since the tragedy.

"There was a lot of pain among the Irish," he said. "There was one group that came from County Mayo, there was about 20 young people that were coming over and only two of them survived. To have all of those people perish was a terrible blow."

The Shanachie (see PDF) details the story of Jane Carr, an Irish woman who found work as a domestic servant in Windsor Locks but died on the doomed ship trying to return to Connecticut, and Kate Buckley, whose ticket on the Titanic was paid for by her sister, a domestic servant in Boston.

There's also the story of Irishman Dr. William O'Loughlin, Titanic's chief surgeon, who is said to have worked calmly to guide passengers onto waiting lifeboats as the ship took on water.

"I think one of the most terrible things about the tragedy is, really, there was no need for it. If they put enough lifeboats on there they could have saved everybody, and they undoubtedly cut back on the number of lifeboats because it cost money," Hogan says. "It never had to happen."

Anyone interested in learning more about Ireland's connection to the sinking of the RMS Titanic is welcomed to attend the Irish History Roundtable on Tuesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Knights of St. Patrick Hall, 1533 State St., New Haven (see attached PDF).

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