Miss Catherine "Kate" Mullin1 was born in Rhyne, Cloonee in Co Longford, Ireland on 28 July 1890.2
She was the daughter of Thomas Mullin (1846-1919), a farmer, and Mary Duignan (1847-1916) who were married in Ainbegs Roman Catholic church in Drumlish in their native Co Longford on 14 February 1871.
The youngest of nine children, Kate's siblings were: Michael (b. 28 April 1872), Patrick (b. 28 February 1874), Mary Anne (b. 22 December 1876), Rose (b. 1 April 1879), John (b. 9 August 1881), Eliza (b. 6 October 1883, later O'Flynn), Bridget (b. 7 July 1885, later Thompson) and Thomas (b. 26 July 1887) and she grew up in a Roman Catholic household.
Kate and her family appear on the 1901 census of Ireland living at house 7 in Rhyne, Cloonee and by the time of the 1911 census at house 23.
Kate boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 35852 which cost £7, 14s, 8d). She was destined for New York City where she had a sister; whilst aboard she shared cabin Q161 on E-deck with three other Longford girls, Kate Gilnagh and sisters Margaret and Catherine Murphy
On the night of the sinking Kate and her roommates had been in their cabin when another acquaintance, Longford James Farrell who came from the same parish as Kate, knocked on their door and told them to get dressed as something was amiss, the engines having stopped. The four girls did as they were bid and upon trying to find a way to the higher decks found their way impeded by physical barriers or crewmen redirecting them elsewhere. When one crewman tried to block their way James Farrell intervened, shouting the at the crewman to let the women through. Intimidated by this strapping Irishman, the crewman relented and the party passed through.
Kate was rescued, probably with Kate Gilnagh and the Murphy sisters (the exact boat number is uncertain). The last she saw of James Farrell was him kneeling by his suitcase reciting the rosary. She later wrote to her father describing her experiences and related how her boat was packed with over 50 persons and how the screams of those left behind had haunted her.
Landing in New York following their rescue by Carpathia, Kate was described as a 20-year-old unmarried domestic and was headed to the home of her sister Mrs Murray at 231 East 50th Street, New York. Assisted financially for the loss of her belongings, Kate later garnered employment as a domestic in her new home.
Kate was married in Manhattan on 2 January 1916 to labourer Martin Kearns (b. 5 April 1889), son of John Kearns and Margaret Larkin who had migrated from his native Co Galway in 1910. They had four children: Margaret "Peggy" (b. 1918), Mary (b. 1919, later Dormer), Eileen (b. 1922, later Wall) and John Thomas (b. 1925).
The family spent two decades living in the Bronx, New York, their 1920 address being Miller Avenue and their 1930 address as St Anne Avenue. By the time of the 1940 census they had relocated to Queens, New York and were living at 65th Street in that borough--where they would live for many years--where Martin Kearns was by then working at the docks.
Kate never cared to remember the Titanic disaster and it is not clear if she ever returned to her native Ireland. Both her parents remained in Ireland and died within a few years of her leaving, her mother passing away on 13 August 1916 from bronchitis and her father on 3 September 1919 from influenza.
The loss of Kate's son John in 1944 in the sinking of his troopship at age 19 took an especial toll on Kate in later years and for the most part she remained silent on the topic of Titanic but did, on a few rare occasions speak about it to family or the local media. Interviewed for the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking she simply thanked God for her survival but stressed she did not want to be reminded about that awful event.
Kate Mullin Kearns died in Queens on 1 November 1970 aged 80; following a mass at St Sebastian's Roman Catholic church she was buried in St Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx. Her death notice made no mention of her ties to Titanic. Her widower Martin Kearns died in Queens on 27 September 1976 and they are buried together.