Mrs Hannah O'Brien

Mrs Thomas O'Brien was born as Hanora (Hannah) Godfrey on 29 January 1882 in Kyle, Cappamore, Co Limerick, Ireland.

She was the daughter of Michael Godfrey (b. 1849), a farmer, and Eliza "Lizzie" Gilhooly (b. 1853), Limerick natives who were married around 1872. She had six known siblings: Patrick (b. 1874), Mary (b. 1876), Michael (b. 1877), Catherine (b. 1878), Norah (b. 1882) and Patrick (b. 1888).

Hannah and her family were listed on the 1901 census living at house 12 in Kilduffahoo, Limerick and she was described as a farmer's daughter aged 16. By the time of the following census her father had passed away (on 5 June 1904) and her brother Michael was running the farm.

Hannah later became involved with another Limerick man, Thomas O'Brien (b. 1885), a native of Grean. It is not clear if the two were ever officially married but by early 1912 it was clear that Hannah had fallen pregnant and it was decided that the couple should emigrate.

Hannah and Thomas boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as third class passengers (ticket number 370365 which cost £15, 10s). They were travelling to Chicago, Illinois where Thomas' sister Mary Hunt lived at 638 Sherman Plaza.

Hannah arrived in New York aboard Carpathia but did not travel as planned to Chicago but also decided against returning to Ireland. She later became involved in a wrangling over compensation with Thomas' family back in Ireland. Hannah was soon able to produce evidence that she and Thomas were married and she went on to benefit from various relief funds. In a terse letter to her sister-in-law Mary Hunt, Hannah said:

"You needn't worry about me. My baby and myself will be alright. I knew ye were all trying to get some money. I produced my marriage certificate, and I had the nearest claim. So you nor the lawyer needn't bother..." 

On 3 September 1912 she gave birth to a daughter and named her Marion Columba O'Brien. They later lived in Brooklyn and a few years later Hannah was remarried to a fireman originally from Kilkenny, Ireland named James Quinn (b. 1886) who had first arrived in the USA in 1908. The couple had son, also named James (b. 1918).

Hannah died aged 35 on 17 October 1918 and was buried three days later in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

Her daughter Marion, son James and widower appear on the 1920 census living in Brooklyn with the older James's sister Mary helping to care for the young children.

Marion, a Titanic survivor in her own right, later married an Irishman, William J. Hanlon (1905-1975) and had one son and two daughters. She lived in Albany up until widowhood when she transferred to Tennessee where her daughter Catherine lived. She died in Manchester, Tennessee on 4 July 1994 aged 81 and is buried in St Agnes' Cemetery, Menands, Albany.

What became of Hannah's widower and son James is not known.



Gavin Bell

References and Sources

Belfast Telegraph, 5 September 2007, My family's dark secret and the legend of Titanic,
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
Noel Ray (1999) List of Passengers who Boarded RMS Titanic at Queenstown, April 11, 1912. The Irish Titanic Historical Society

Link and cite this biography

(2018) Hannah O'Brien Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1085, updated 30th March 2018 21:06:30 PM)

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