Villagers remember 11 who died on 'Titanic'

Mon, Apr 9, 2012, 01:00

A MAYO community that lost the cream of its youth in the Titanic tragedy brought their departure from the village vividly back to life yesterday.

Former president and UN high commissioner Mary Robinson and her husband, Nicholas, were among the hundreds who attended a colourful re-enactment ceremony in Addergoole parish, Lahardane, near Crossmolina.

Fourteen young local people, smartly attired in period clothing, gathered outside St Patrick’s church before they were taken by pony and trap on the journey to Castlebar rail station.

After a blessing from local parish priest Fr John Reilly, the cavalcade departed on its 22km journey.

One of the local “actors”, Pamela Walsh, played the part of Delia McDermott, a 31-year-old local woman who survived despite leaving a lifeboat to retrieve a cherished hat she had bought in Crossmolina for the journey.

“It was nice to be picked for the re-enactment,” Ms Walsh said. “The Titanic story is such a big part of our local history and deserves to be commemorated.”

Eleven Lahardane people drowned when the ship sank. Three survived – Annie Kate Kelly (20), who went on to become a nun, Delia McDermott and Annie McGowan (14).

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

McDermott’s niece, Delia Melody from Ballina, told journalists the story of a chilling encounter between her aunt and a mysterious man in black on the evening before the Lahardane passengers departed for Queenstown (Cobh).

“The stranger told my aunt he knew she was going on a long journey.

“There will be a tragedy but you will be saved,” the man said before disappearing.

Before the departure to Castlebar, where a bilingual plaque was later unveiled, to the Addergoole 14 at the town’s railway station, Mrs Robinson shook hands with each of the modern day “leavetakers”.

The Robinsons have a holiday home locally on the shores of Lough Conn.

As part of a cultural week centred on the Titanic sinking, there will be a bell-ringing ceremony in Lahardane church next Sunday between 1am and 3.15am, the hours during which the ship sank.

Later that day Taoiseach Enda Kenny will officially open a memorial park in the village.