Miss Margaret Jane Murphy was born in Fostragh, Killoe, Co Longford, Ireland on 24 September 1886.1
She was the daughter of Michael Murphy (b. 1841), a farmer, and Maria Lyons (b. 1845), who were married in 1871.
One of twelve children born to her parents, with seven surviving into adulthood, Maggie's known siblings were: John (b. 1874), Anna Maria (b. 1875), Patrick (b. 1880), Bridget (b. 1881), Rose Ellen (b. 1884) and Kate (b. 1893).
Maggie and her family appear on the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses living at House 20 and House 29, respectively, in Fostragh. By the time of the latter record she and her sister Kate were still at home and without any stated profession. Her father would die later in 1911.
She and her sister made plans to emigrate to the USA where several of their siblings already lived there. Her sister Annie lived in Brooklyn and her brother Patrick is believed to have lived in Philadelphia. It was to the latter city that Maggie and Kate were headed to and they boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 as third class passengers (joint ticket number 367230 which cost £15, 10s). Whilst aboard the sisters shared a cabin on E-deck with two other Longford girls, Kate Gilnagh and Kate Mullin, and they were also acquainted with others from Longford: the Kiernan brothers, John and Phillip, who were also from Fostragh, and Thomas McCormack and James Farrell who were from neighbouring townlands. They possibly also associated with the McCoy siblings, also from Longford, whilst aboard. It has been reported that Maggie and John Kiernan were sweethearts intent on marrying once they reached America.
On the night of the sinking, Maggie later recalled crewmen blocking their way up to the upper decks and recalled seeing lifeboats leaving the ship only partially full. She also reported scuffles breaking out between some third class men and crewmen determined to keep the steerage in their place whilst she saw women and children deep in prayer nearby. Lore has it that it was the intervention of Longford man James Farrell, who threatened to punch a crewman if he didn't let the women past to the boats, who became the women's saviour.
Upon landing in New York the Murphy sisters were greeted by their siblings.
Maggie was married in 1913 to Matthew O'Reilly (b. 27 October 1881), an undertaker originally from Co Cavan who had emigrated in 1905 (2). The couple settled in Manhattan and had three children: Margaret (1917-1959, later Mrs John Edward Leniston), Anna Marie (1919-2004, later Mrs Peter McCabe) and Matthew (1921-1998).
Maggie was widowed, coincidentally, on 15 April 1939 and she never remarried. She died whilst visiting family in Slate Hill, Orange, New York on 29 September 1957 and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York.
- Margaret would give various different ages throughout her life, universally younger than her true age. Her birth was registered in Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim in the last quarter of 1886, confirming her true age.
- Census records differ as to when he emigrated, the 1930 record stating 1910 and the 1940 records stating 1905.
Gavin Bell, UK
Erin Garry (great-granddaughter of Kate Murphy)
Margaret Catherine McGrath (descendant of Catherine and Margaret Murphy)
Robert L. Bracken, USA
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Noel Ray, Ireland
Articles and Stories
New York Times (1912)