Miss Catherine "Katie" McCarthy was born in Ballygorteen,1 Co Tipperary, Ireland on 25 September 1888.2
She was the daughter of Patrick McCarthy (b. circa 1839), a farmer, and Mary Boyce (b. circa 1854), both Ballygorteen natives who had married on 23 February 1873.
Katie had five known siblings: Mary (b. 2 October 1874, later Mrs John Woolnough; died 1950), Patrick (b. 21 February 1877), John (b. 13 April 1879), Johanna (b. 4 December 1881, later Mrs Thomas Peters) and Michael (b. 24 June 1885).
Her mother Mary died from typhoid in Tipperary's Union Workhouse on 19 June 1891 aged just 37. When Kate and her family appeared on the 1911 census they were living at house 10, Ballygorteen, Killadriffe, Tipperary and she was described as an unmarried farmer's daughter; as per Titanic's passenger manifest, she was a domestic servant.
Katie had pondered going to America for a number of years but kept hesitating due to uneasiness about travelling; in early 1912 she finally resolved to make the leap, deciding to join her sister Mary in Guttenburg, New Jersey, where she hoped to live for a few months before heading west. She boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 383123 which cost her £7, 15s) and she roomed with two other Tipperary women, Kate Connolly and Katie Peters.
On the night of the sinking, Katie McCarthy, the only surviving member of their group, recalled that Tipperary man Roger Tobin called by their cabin and told them to get up and dressed and to bring lifebelts but assured them there was no danger. McCarthy said that only she sensed any urgency and whilst she implored the other two girls to follow her, she ended up leaving alone and never saw the other two Kates or Roger again.
It is not certain which lifeboat Katie escaped in, but possibly boat 16. She later recalled hearing Nearer My God to Thee being played and the horrible cries of those struggling in the water once the ship had sunk. She had also described the ship splitting in two during its final moments.
Arriving safely in New York she was described as a 23-year-old domestic and headed to her sister Mrs J. A. Woolnough at 107 25th Street, Guttenburg, New Jersey. She was hospitalised for recovery in St Vincent's hospital before eventually being reunited with her sister.
Katie settled in her new home and later met a fellow Tipperary man, John Croke (b. 15 December 1883) and they were married on 2 September 1914. Croke worked at Morse Dry Dock Co. in Brooklyn and by 1918 they were living at 144 Montague Street that borough.
In the early 1920s Katie and John returned to their native Ireland where she still had family; her father, however, had died on 19 October 1915.
Kate and her husband would remain childless and settled in Ballintemple, Dundrum, Tipperary where John worked as a farmer and merchant. Catherine was, in later years, reportedly held in high esteem in her local community and was described as a very kindly lady. During the summer of 1948, she suffered a stroke but lingered for three months before her death on 12 November 1948 aged 60. She was buried in St Michael's Cemetery, Tipperary.
She was survived by her husband John Croke whose eventual fate is uncertain but he may have died in the 1950s or 1960s.