Mrs Catherine Bourke

Mrs John Bourke was born as Catherine McHugh in Tawnagh, Addergoole, Co Mayo, Ireland on 28 October 1879 1.

She was the daughter of Patrick McHugh (b. 1842) and Mary Madden (b. 1845) who had married in Ballina, Mayo on 22 May 1865. She reportedly came from a large family but her only known siblings were: Margaret (b. 1866), Anthony (b. 1868), Mary (b. 1870) and Ellen (b. 1881). Both her parents reportedly died within months of each other in the mid-1880s and Catherine herself emigrated at an early age and settled in Chicago, Illinois where she had family.

Catherine returned to her native Ireland in 1910 and after a whirlwind romance was married to a childhood acquaintance, John Bourke (b. 1869), a farmer from Carrowskeheen, Addergoole on 17 January 1911.

Catherine, her new husband and his sister Mary appeared on the 1911 census living at house 11 in Carrowskeheen.

Catherine's friend Catherine McGowan had returned to her native Mayo in late 1911 with the intention of returning to Chicago in the following Spring. This perhaps prompted her husband John to follow suit and he, Catherine and her sister-in-law Mary made plans to emigrate to Chicago where her sister Ellen lived at 66 Ruby Street in Chicago.

She joined a large group of over a dozen people from the locality who would all be travelling third class aboard Titanic and Catherine and her husband boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 (ticket number 364849 which cost £15, 10s).

On the night of the sinking Catherine, John and Mary were all reportedly asleep at the time of the collision but were awakened by a steward who told them to get up and dressed. The trio (perhaps with the others whom they were travelling with) all made the upper decks with Catherine and her sister-in-law Mary having ample opportunity to escape. However, both Catherine and Mary refused to be parted from John under the women and children first edict and the three of them were lost in the sinking.

Catherine's body, if recovered, was never identified.


Articles and Stories

Connaught Telegraph (1912) 
Chicago Daily News (1912) 
Chicago American (1912) 
Chicago Examiner (1912) 
Connaught Telegraph (1912) 
Chicago Daily Journal (1912) 


Gavin Bell, UK
Noel Ray, Ireland


  1. Birthdate under dispute; another source says 1 November 1879 which may have been her baptism date.

Link and cite this biography

(2017) Catherine Bourke Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #689, updated 23rd August 2017 14:24:01 PM)

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