Miss Catherine Connolly was born in Cortrasna, Drumlumman, Co Cavan, Ireland on 3 June 1888.1
She was the daughter of James Connolly (b. circa 1844), a farmer, and Catherine Fagan (b. circa 1850), Cavan natives who had married on 16 January 1871.
Kate, as she was known, had five known siblings: James (b. 14 October 1871), Ellen (b. 12 July 1874), Eliza (b. 7 October 1877), John (b. 10 May 1883) and Mary Josephine (b. 2 May 1898).
She appears on the 1901 census living at house 6 in Cortrasna. Her father died aged 65 on 25 June 1909 and the remainder of the family appear on the 1911 census at house 1, Cortrasna. Kate's age was listed erroneously as 19 by the time of the latter record and she had no stated profession at that point.
Kate decided to join her sister Ellen "Nellie" McGuckian in New York and boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 370373 which cost £7, 15s). Her cabin mates aboard were fellow Cavan girls Julia Smyth and Mary McGovern and a girl from Co Clare, Mary Agatha Glynn.
On the night on the sinking Kate and her roommates made their way to the upper decks and were able to escape in lifeboat 13. She later reported that several young Irish men had found a route to the upper decks before returning to show them the way. The presence of two Irish women named Kate Connolly on board Titanic initially caused confusion on both sides of the Atlantic; the other woman, Kate Connolly from Tipperary was lost.
Kate eventually landed in New York aboard Carpathia; she was then described as a 21-year-old domestic from Curtrasna, naming her mother Catherine as her next of kin. Her destination address was that of her sister Mrs John McGuckian at 309 East 88th Street, New York with whom she was eventually reunited.
Kate made her home in New York and was married there on 30 September 1916 to William Arkins (b. 7 March 18902). Arkins was born in Moynagh, Co Cavan to farmer John Arkins and his wife Mary Donohue and, like Kate, had come to American shores in 1912, he just a few weeks behind when he arrived in New York aboard Baltic on 5 May. It may be surmised that they knew each other from back home.
The couple settled in Manhattan where Arkins had in several maintenance, factory and shipyard jobs before he dabbled in real estate by buying properties to let out to tenants. He and Kate had four sons: James William (b. 11 March 1918; d. 1992), John Joseph (b. 26 October 1920; d. 2009), Peter (b. 2 August 1925) and Thomas (b. 1927-d. 16 September 1927).
By 1920 the Arkins' home address was East 75th Street, Manhattan and Kate had been joined in America by her brother John, then an iron worker. It appears John did not remain in America for long and returned to Ireland where he nursed his mother through her final illness until her death on 3 April 1922.
The couple were living at East 19th Street by the time of the 1940 census and William was then described as a salesman. Kate applied for US citizenship in November 1924 and was then described as standing at 5' 7" and with brown hair and grey eyes. She became a citizen on 22 June 1931 and at which point her address was 114 East 81st Street, New York. Her husband had become a citizen just the year previous.
Kate Connolly Arkins died following a stroke aged 60 in Whitestone, Queens, New York on 3 July 1948; her widower William died in Queens, New York on 21 June 1965.
She is buried in Mount St. Mary's Cemetery, Flushing, New York City (section 20, Row R, grave 12).