Mr Thomas Joseph Kilgannon was born on 2 April 1890 in Currafarry 1, Killian, Co Galway, Ireland.
He was the son of John Kilgannon (b. circa 1851), a farmer, and Mary Killalea (b. 1851), Galway natives who were married in early 1881. His family were Roman Catholic and versed in both the Irish and English languages. His known siblings were: Michael (b. 1882), John (b. 1883), Bridget (b. 1884), Maria (b. 1888) and William (b. 1892).
Thomas appears on the 1901 and 1911 censuses living at house 3 in Currafarry, on the latter record being described as an unmarried farmer's son. His father had died around 1897 in a farming accident whilst carrying out seasonal work and his mother never remarried, living at the farm owned by her elderly father-in-law Michael Kilgannon.
His brother John emigrated in 1909, settling in Manhattan, and was married in early 1911 to Mary Josephine Regan (b. 1884), also from Ireland and their first child, John Patrick, was born later that year. His sister Bridget had also made the leap and had recently settled in New York.
Thomas was reportedly convinced to go to America by Martin Gallagher. He boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 36865 which cost £7, 14s, 9d) and whilst aboard was acquainted with several other Galway natives, including Thomas Smyth, Margaret Mannion and Ellen Mockler. His destination was the home of his brother John in Manhattan.
On the night of the sinking Thomas and his Galway cabin-mates Martin Gallagher and Thomas Smyth made their way to the cabin of the Misses Mockler and Mannion to alert them of the danger and the men accompanied them to the upper decks, seeing them off in lifeboat 16. Kilgannon handed Mockler his Arran sweater as she joined the lifeboat and the last she saw of her three male companions was the sight of them kneeling on the deck reciting the Rosary.
Thomas Kilgannon lost his life in the disaster. His body, if recovered, was never identified. Ellen Mockler returned to Ireland and visited Thomas' family where she returned his sweater to them.
His mother remained in Currafarry and later saw off another child to America, her daughter Maria, with her son William being her sole child remaining in Ireland. She died in the Spring of 1929. William later became a policeman in the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary), a rare career path for young Irish Catholic men at the time, and he served during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and the ensuing Irish Civil War (1921-1923) before his retirement. He died in the 1960s.
Thomas' brother John in New York raised a family and later moved to Raritan, New Jersey. What became of him is not clear.
His sister Bridget was married in 1916 to John Rafferty, another Irishman, and soon moved to Delaware, Pennsylvania where she raised a large family and where she would spend the rest of her life. She died in 1977 aged 93.
- Sometimes spelled Curraferry. Derives from the Irish Corr Uí Fhearaígh
References and Sources
The Irish Aboard Titanic; Senan Molony. Wolfhound Press, 2000. ISBN 0-86327-805-1
Gavin Bell, UK
Robert L. Bracken, USA
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Noel Ray, Ireland
Articles and Stories
Western People (1912)