Miss Hannah Riordan was born in Glenalougha, Kilmeen, Co Cork, Ireland on 27 January 1890.1
She was the daughter of Peter Riordan (b. 1857), a farmer, and Mary O'Connor and she had six known siblings: Julia (b. 1885), Ellen (b. 1888), Mary (b. 1892), Norah (b. 1894), James (b. 1896) and Eugene (b. 1898). Her mother died sometime before 1901 and her maternal grandmother Julia O'Connor (b. 1827) stepped in to help care for the family.
Hannah and her family appear on the 1901 census living at 7 Glenalougha, Kilmeen. By the time of the 1911 census Hannah was described as a single domestic servant and still living with her widowed father and siblings, now at 9 Shanavoher in Kilmeen, Co Cork.
Hannah boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 334915 which cost £7, 14s, 5d). Her destination was 319 Lexington Avenue, New York City where her sister Ellen Riordan Lenihan lived. Ellen was holding a position she had found for Hannah as a domestic worker. Travelling with Hannah were several others from the Kingwilliamstown (now Ballydesmond), Cork area, among them her cousin Patrick O'Connor and Daniel Buckley, Bridget Bradley, Patrick Denis O'Connell, Nora O'Leary and Michael Linehan. It is likely she shared a cabin with her fellow Cork girls.
Hannah remained in New York for the rest of her life and only returned to Ireland once for a visit in the 1920s. She worked as a domestic maid and was naturalised as a US citizen on 10 May 1928 in Manhattan. In her application she is described as a maid, 150 pounds, brown hair, grey eyes, 5 feet, 9 inches tall with fair complexion. At the time she was living at 109 E. 72nd Street in New York City.
On St Patrick's Day (17 March) 1936 Hannah was married in St Anselm's Church in the Bronx to John Spollen (b. 11 September 1899), also an Irish immigrant who hailed from Co Offaly and who was the son of James and Margaret Tilvius Spollen. Shortly after their marriage the couple moved to 14 Whitesboro Street in Utica, New York but they later returned to the Bronx and lived the rest of their lives there. The couple had no children.
Hannah Spollen (née Riordan) rarely spoke about the Titanic disaster in later life and refused to grant interviews or even discuss it with family and friends. She died on 29 September 1982 aged 92. Her widower John died less than a year later on 4 April 1983.
- Age widely disputed. She appears on the 1901 census as an 11-year-old and the 1911 census as a 21-year-old confirming the 1890 birthdate as purported by Senan Molony (1999). When joining the Titanic in 1912 she gave her age as 20. Some sources give her birthdate as 27 January 1894 and her social security application gives the date as 27 January 1896.
References and Sources
State of New York, Certificate of Death
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Robert L. Bracken (2000) Irish Titanic Passengers
Noel Ray (1999) List of Passengers who Boarded RMS Titanic at Queenstown, April 11, 1912. The Irish Titanic Historical Society
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB 85 T715 Vol 4183
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Queenstown, 11 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/776/2).
Senan Molony (1999) The Irish Aboard Titanic. Wolfhound Press, Dublin ISBN 0 86327 805 1