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Why These Two Irish Third Class Passengers Died on the Titanic

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L.M. Reid is an Irish writer who has published many articles in magazines and online.

Young love for this Irish couple on the Titanic leaving Queenstown Ireland

Young love for this Irish couple on the Titanic leaving Queenstown Ireland

Third Class Passengers on the Titanic

Denis Lennon and Mary Mullin were a young couple from Ireland. Mary's family had forbidden them from seeing each other because they believed Denis was not good enough for her. This is why they were running away together on the Titanic.

The family only realised that this was happening when Mary did not show up at her boarding school in Dublin. But by the time her brother Joe had reached the dock in Queenstown they had boarded the Titanic as third class passengers and had escaped the family.

This is their story.

The Mullin Family in Galway, Ireland

Denis Lennon was born on 9 December 1891 in Co Longford, Ireland. By 1911, he had left home and was working as a barman in Clarinbridge, Co Galway. He was working and living at the business premises of Delia Mullin and her family.

She was a widow with six children. Her youngest child Mary was born on 31 August 1893. The family were quite well off as the businesses they ran were very successful. The three girls of the family were sent to a boarding school, the Loretto Convent, in Rathfarnham, south Dublin to further their education. By 1912 Mary was the only one left who attended the school.

Mary Was Still in Boarding School

Mary's family ran a public house and a shop where they also lived. They had lots of employees who lived there too according to the Irish census of 1901. Mary's father died when she was only a few weeks old.

Over time Denis and Mary fell in love but the union was not accepted by Mary's family. She was still in school and they believed that Dennis had no prospects.

So they met in secret and decided to run away together to America.

Their Tickets Are Transferred To The Titanic

They booked two tickets on the ship the 'Cymric' of The White Star Line. This ship was not able to take the journey to America. There had been a coal strike on in Britain and the new ship The 'Titanic' had been given extra coal from smaller ships. Their tickets had been transferred to third class on the Titanic.

It was time for Mary to return to school in April and her sister, Cissie accompanied her to Oranmore, Co Galway. There she was put on the train that was on it's way to Dublin.

Mary's Family Realises She Has Ran Away

The school had been expecting Mary and when she did not turn up they contacted her family. It was during the panic that her sister remembered that she had seen something odd at the train station.

She told her family that she had noticed that Denis Lennon had been standing by the train too. The family realised that Mary must have got off the Dublin train when her sister had left the station. So they came to the conclusion that the young couple were planning to run away together and got a train to Cork, where Queenstown was.

Brother and Sister on The Titanic

They had pretended to be brother and sister and on the ticket, number 370371, they were using the names Denis and Mary Lennon. They had also claimed to be twenty one and twenty years old. They were planning to live and work in New York City in America.

When they got to the docks at Queenstown on Thursday 11th April 1912, they waited to board the Tender that would transport them to the Titanic. It is not known if the two young people knew for sure that they were being pursued by Mary's family. Indeed Joe, Mary's brother went after them from Galway by train but reached Queenstown too late to stop them.

Boarding The Titanic

The Titanic had set out from Southampton on April 10, 1912 at 12 pm. The ship arrived at Cherbourg in France the same day at 6.30 pm and left at 8:10 pm. It arrived in Roches Point just outside Queenstown Harbour in Ireland at 11.30 am on the 11th April.

On the pier at Queenstown the ten first and second class passengers boarded the tender PS Ireland. Also allowed on this boat were the many reporters. The remaining 113 passengers had third class tickets and they boarded the PS America. These tenders were there to ferry them out to the Titanic. So Denis and Mary would have been on this boat too. They must have been relieved that they managed to escape the family as they moved closer to the huge ship.

The two tenders, The Ireland and the America ferrying passengers out to the Titanic

The two tenders, The Ireland and the America ferrying passengers out to the Titanic

Leaving Queenstown Ireland On The Titanic

There were a number of smaller boats that went along with the tenders to the Titanic. After the passengers went on board people from these smaller boats were allowed on the ship too. They were local people who were there to sell their Irish crafts to the wealthy passengers on board. By 1.30 pm all these stall holders had left the ship and the Titanic left Queenstown Ireland on her way to America.

Only 40 of the 123 souls who boarded at the Irish port would be alive a few days later.

Accommodation For Third Class Passengers

Both Denis and Mary would have had to sleep in separate cabins on board. There was a strict rule for third class accommodation. Single men had to sleep in the bow at the front of the ship. The single women and families were put in the stern section at the back of the ship. This meant that they were on opposite sides of the ship. The Titanic had 2 berth, 4 berth and larger cabins available.

But there was the disadvantage of where they were located when the ship hit the iceberg. The noise and vibrations of the engines would stop some of these passengers realising that the ship was in trouble. Of those who did know that something was amiss a lot of them were told to return to their cabins as there was no danger.

A third class Cabin identical to those on the Titanic

A third class Cabin identical to those on the Titanic

Facilities Available On Board

The steerage passengers had their own dinning hall and sat down to three meals a day. But single men had their own area to eat in. As Denis and Mary let on they were family they would have been allowed to dine together in the area allowed for single women and families.

There were a number of other areas for 3rd class passengers to go. There was a room that allowed the single men and women as well as the families to mix. Most of them congregated here when it was cold because it had a piano and then there were other musical instruments brought along too. So sing songs and dancing were the norm. They also had their own open space on the ship on D and C Decks.

The Start of Their Journey

So when the Titanic left Ireland at 1.30 pm on 11th April the young couple would have been relieved. They knew they had escaped the family and planned to get married when they arrived in America. Even though they had to sleep in different parts of the ship they would have been able to spend lots of time together during those days of the voyage.

A Deck on the Titanic

A Deck on the Titanic

The Titanic Hits The Iceberg

There is no proof that Denis and Mary were enjoying their evening together on the night of April 14 but they were young and in love. This was one of only a few places that they could be together so it is very likely. But at 11:40 pm that night their plans and their future were shattered.

The family of Mary sent their solicitors and her brother Joe to New York. They looked for her body but neither Mary or Denis were identified from the bodies recovered.

Also there was an eyewitness account that the young couple were seen on deck as the lifeboats were being loaded. She told them that Mary did not get into a lifeboat and stayed with Denis.

At least they had those few days on board together and were able to enjoy their love and dreams of a better future.

The tragic news of the sinking of the Titanic.

The tragic news of the sinking of the Titanic.

Sources

  • The Irish Aboard Titanic by Senan Molony
  • A Night to Remember by Walter Lord.
  • Discovering Titanic - The story of the most famous ship wreck by Ben Hubbard
  • On Board RMS Titanic : Memories of the Maiden Voyage by George Behe.
  • The Titanic Diaries by Anthony Cunningham.
  • Great Disasters : Great Catastrophes Of The Twentieth Century by John Canning.
  • Titanic: In A New Light by Dr Joseph MacInnis.
  • Titanic : The Tragic Story of the Ill-fated Ocean Liner by Rupert Matthews.
  • Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax by Alan Ruffman.
  • Titanic by Peter Thresh.
  • Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition by Judith Geller
  • Spirit of the Titanic by Nicola Pierce
  • Encyclopedia-titanica.org
  • Fr Browne Collection
  • 'The Irish Titanic Historical Society

Other Titanic Stories by L.M.Reid

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