Miss Margaret Madigan, known as Maggie, was born on 11 August 1890 in Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland.
Hailing from a Roman Catholic family, she was the daughter of James Madigan (b. circa 1849), a general labourer, and Margaret Duggan (b. circa 1848), both Limerick natives who had married in Ballysteen Chapel on 13 February 1877.
She had two known siblings: Simon (b. circa 1878) and Mary (b. 30 October 1885).
Schoolgirl Maggie and her family appear on the 1901 census living at 35 Church Street in Askeaton. Her father, later suffering a heart ailment, passed away on 27 May 1908 and by the time of the 1911 census her widowed mother was living with her son Simon and his family at 5 Church Street in Askeaton. Margaret's whereabouts at this time, however, are not clear.
Her brother Simon had married in 1909 to Margaret Purtill (b. 31 May 1882), also of Askeaton and by 1911 had a daughter, Hannah (b. 20 September 1910). That child would be followed by James (b. 8 November 1911) and Margaret (b. 26 September 1914).
Her sister Mary emigrated to America, departing from Ireland aboard the Arabic and arriving in New York on 22 May 1904. It was Margaret's intention to join her sister there at 338 East 155th Street, Manhattan.
Maggie boarded the Titanic in Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 370370 which cost £7, 15s). She was travelling with others from Askeaton, Patrick Ryan and the siblings Bridget and Daniel Moran, the entire group originally scheduled to have crossed on Cymric. Whilst aboard she and Bridget Moran shared a cabin, perhaps with some other Limerick girls.
Maggie and Bertha had retired early Sunday evening, April 14, and were asleep when Titanic had her fateful brush with the iceberg. Having a cabin so deep within the ship, they felt the collision much more vividly than the first and second class passengers with accommodations on higher decks. They were actually jolted awake by the collision and roused from their sleep by the commotion in the hallway outside their cabin. Confused and frightened, Maggie and Bertha were soon joined by Daniel and Patrick who hustled them to the third class promenade area where they managed to climb to the boat deck with many other steerage passengers, after having been held back by crewmen for a period of time. Having ascended to the boat deck at the stern of Titanic, Maggie and her friends found Father Thomas R. D. Byles, an English priest from Ongar, Essex, ministering to and consoling many of Titanic’s steerage passengers, reciting prayers and trying to calm them as attempts were being made to place the women and children in the last of the lifeboats, notably numbers 13, 14, 15 and 16. Daniel and Patrick fought to place Maggie and Bertha into lifeboat 15 shortly before it descended from the boat deck. After narrowly avoiding crushing boat 13, which had become entangled under it as it descended from the boat deck, the overcrowded lifeboat hit the water and barely stayed afloat that long cold night. They never saw Daniel and Patrick again.
Maggie Madigan - An Irish Immigrant's Dream Unfulfilled
On arrival in New York Maggie recovered at St. Vincent's Hospital before joining her sister, Mary, in Manhattan. For a time she resided in Troy, New York at 221 14th Street and from this address claimed for loss of property to the value of just over $317, which covered mostly clothing but also a gold watch, gold ring and $105 in cash.
Maggie was married in St Bernard's Church, Manhattan on 28 December 1913 to Alphonsus Thomas Hardt (b. 15 May 1879). Hardt, a labourer and a native of New York was born to a German father 1, Philip Hardt, and an Irish mother, Anna née Duggan who shared the same maiden name Maggie's mother.
He and Maggie went on to have one son, Alfred (b. 12 September 1914) and Alphonsus later worked at the docks as a stevedore to support his family. The 1920 census shows the family living on 508 West 19th Street, Manhattan.
By 1921, at the time of her husband's passport application, Margaret was still living at 508 West 19th Street. She, her husband and son made one known journey back across the Atlantic aboard the Baltic and for their return to America boarded the Scythia in Liverpool in September 1922.
Margaret faced several tragic losses back in Ireland in the 1920s and early 1930s; her sister-in-law Margaret died in April 1921 from tuberculosis; her mother died in January 1922 and her brother Simon died on 29 June 1923. Her namesake niece Margaret died from tuberculosis on 3 September 1930 aged 15.
On the other side of the Atlantic, on 4 September 1925, Maggie faced another heartache when her young son died in tragic circumstances; he had been with friends at Belmont Creek, New Jersey when one boy, Charles Bartel got into trouble whilst swimming. Young Hardt and another friend James Harrigan attempted to rescue him but both died during the endeavour, resulting in three young deaths.
Three years later in September of 1928, Maggie lost her husband Alphonsus. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens, New York.
Maggie was remarried on 2 June 1934 to Thomas F. O'Shea (b. 1903), a labourer and reportedly a relative of Margaret's fellow-Limerick Titanic shipmate Patrick Ryan. He was the son of Denis O'Shea and Elizabeth Ryan. By 1940 Margaret and Thomas were residents of 133 West 15th Street, Manhattan. Maggie became a widow a second time when her husband Thomas died in 1951 aged just 48.
Maggie Madigan O'Shea died in New York on 14 December 1968 at the age of 78 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery.