Miss Bridget Bradley was born on 10 January 18901 in Knocknaboul, Co Kerry, Ireland2, close by to Kingwilliamstown in Co Cork, and she was baptised the following day.
She was the daughter of Daniel Bradley3 (b. circa 1861), a labourer, and Elizabeth "Bessie" Linehan (b. circa 1866), a domestic servant, both Kerry natives who had married on 14 April 1886.
Coming from a brood of nine, Bridget's siblings were: Mary (b. 22 April 1886), Michael (b. 1 January 1888), Kate (b. 1 July 1892, later Mrs Michael Morrisey), Dennis (b. 24 January 1895), John (b. 9 July 1897), Elizabeth (b. 2 September 1901), Daniel (b. 1905) and Julia (b. 1907)4.
On the 1901 census the Bradley home was house 8 in Ballynahulla, Millbrook, Co Kerry; by the time of the 1911 census their address was 24 Ballynahulla; Bridget was still at home on the latter record and had no stated profession. Her sister Mary was the first of the family to migrate, followed shortly after by brother Michael, both settling in New York prior to 1911.
Bridget boarded the Titanic at Queenstown (ticket number 334914 which cost £7, 14s, 6d) intent on joining her sister Mary who lived in Glen Falls, New York. She was travelling in a group from the Kingwilliamstown area led by Daniel Buckley, and consisting of Hannah Riordan, Nora O'Leary, Patrick O'Connell, Patrick O'Connor and Michael Linehan. The Glen Falls Daily Times (18 April 1912) states that she was also acquainted with Katie McCarthy of Co Tipperary.
Bridget survived the sinking, but in which lifeboat is unclear. From an interview with the Glen Falls Daily Times (20 April 1912) Miss Bradley stated that she escaped in the last lifeboat but one, identifying Bruce Ismay as an occupant. She also stated that her lifeboat reached the Carpathia at 6am.
I was in bed at the time the accident occurred and the shock, which was a comparatively slight one did not disturb me greatly. A knock on the doors of our rooms caused us to get up and dress ourselves. I slipped on a lightweight black dress and wrapped a small shawl about me, the only clothes I saved, and went to the deck where I found the most of the passengers assembled.
There was no disorder on the deck that amounted to anything and all officers acted in a manner that convinced us that the ship was not in grave danger…
All the lifeboats were lowered while I was on deck and it looked for a time as if I would be left. I saw men lead their wives to the lifeboats and leave them there, returning to the deck and we on deck were not so horribly frightened as might be thought. Every one of us thought that it was impossible to sink the ship.
Just as the last boat, the one with Mr Ismay in it, was launched over the side, one of the officers shouted ‘There’s more room in that boat!’ and I and eleven other women were crowded into it. This was after 1 o’clock. I don’t know how much, but it was after one. The lifeboat was manned by enough men to care for it properly, and immediately on touching the water, the men rowed with all their strength to get away from the ship, so that, if it did go down we would not be caught in the suction.
Fellow third class survivor Daniel Buckley mentioned Bridget Bradley in his own account, placing her in his lifeboat:
"There was a girl from my place and just when she got down into the lifeboat she thought the boat was sinking into the water. Her name was Bridget Bradley. She climbed one of the ropes as far as she could and tried to get back into the Titanic again, as she thought she would be safer in it than in the lifeboat. She was just getting up when one of the sailors went out to her and pulled her down again." — U.S. Senate Inquiry Testimony, 8 May 1912, Daniel Buckley
Describing her time in the lifeboat, Bridget said:
The night was extremely cold, and we women folk had little wraps to keep us warm and huddled there in clusters watching the great ship as it slowly sank. Not until we got off the boat did we fully realise the danger. Then we saw that the boat had tilted forward and that slowly, but surely she was sinking. We saw the bottom row of lights disappear under the water and watched as line after line disappeared showing us the rapidity of the sinking of the ship.
We were entirely surrounded by large cakes of ice and there was no food or water in the boat and in the long wait for the Carpathia the majority of us prayed for the coming of the ship… Throughout the long night in the darkness we were kept together by a light, which a seaman had brought on board one of the life boats. All the other small vessels kept headed toward this one…
Her rescue was also recorded by one of the local newspapers in New York state:
"One of the steerage passengers who arrived safely was Miss Bridget Bradley, whose sister is employed as a cook at the home of William T. Cowles in Glen Falls. She will go to Glen Falls after a visit with her brother here." — Albany Journal, 19 April 1912
After her arrival in America on the Carpathia and suffering only from a heavy cold and shock, Miss Bradley was taken to hospital and later received financial aid from the American Red Cross:
Case number 52. (Irish).
Domestic servant. 20 years old. Awarded - ($125). — The Emergency and Relief booklet by the American Red Cross, 1913
Bridget was reunited with her siblings in Glen Falls, New York and spent a few years there before moving to Manhattan where she worked for William H. Nichols, a wealthy chemist and businessman. Nichols owned a lodge on Howe Island, Ontario to where Bridget accompanied he and his family on holidays. On one such trip in 1925 Bridget, known as Delia in her new home, met Canadian tour guide Bernard LaSha (b. 24 October 1887)5 of Gananoque, Ontario.
Bridget and Bernard were married in New York on 16 February 1926 and made their home in Gananoque and had four surviving children: Mary (b. 1927), John Joseph (b. 1928), Rose Henrietta (b. 1930) and Joan Margaret (b. 1931).
The crash of 1929 left Bernard unemployed so he and Bridget took their savings and had a boatbuilder build them a tour boat, Sun Dance, which took tourists around the islands of the St Lawrence.
Bernard died from tuberculosis on 28 March 1933, leaving Bridget with a young family and reportedly again with child who died not long after birth. A resilient woman, she hired someone to operate the Sun Dance whilst she supplemented her income by babysitting and doing other small chores.
Bridget never remarried and never returned to Ireland, despite stating that, given the opportunity, she would be “tickled to death” to do so and see all “the old folks.” She never did get the opportunity and ill health later precluded any notion of it.
In 1953 Mrs LaSha, despite being paralysed and with limited speech on account of a stroke a few years previous, was persuaded to see the movie Titanic with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyk. "She hesitated about wanting to see [it], but with a little persuasion we managed to get her to go," her daughter wrote. "She became very emotional during the movie and at times kept shaking her head as if to say, "no, it didn't happen that way." After the movie she was rushed on stage, had her picture taken with the mayor, given a bouquet of flowers and a lifetime pass to the theatre which she never used. For once in her life, she was in the spotlight, if only for such a short time."
Bridget Bradley LaSha died 24 January 1956 aged 66 and was buried in St. John's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Gananoque, Ontario with her husband. Her simple headstone mentions that she was a Titanic survivor.
Her parents remained in Ireland; her father died 6 September 1938 aged 77 and her mother moved to Rathmore near Killarney, Co Kerry where she died on 22 January 1940 aged 74.