Miss Mary McGovern

Mary McGovern

Miss Mary McGovern1 was born in Clarbally, Templeport, Co Cavan, Ireland on 7 June 1891.

Birth Record
Mary's birth record

Hailing from a Roman Catholic family, she was the daughter of John McGovern (b. circa 1838), a farmer, and Bridget McManus (b. 14 December 1866), Cavan natives from Corlough and Ardmoneen, respectively who had married on 13 February 1888 in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.

The second of seven children, Mary's siblings were: Patrick (b. 3 February 1890), John (b. 23 March 1893), Thomas (b. 10 December 1895), Francis (b. 12 October 1898), Philip (b. 23 May 1901) and Bridget (b. 3 September 1905). Two of her siblings reportedly died in childhood. 

Mary first appears on the 1901 census residing with her family at house 4 in Clarbally; by the time of the 1911 census the family were resident at house 4 in Clarbally but Mary is not listed at the address and her whereabouts at the time are uncertain. 

Mary was leaving Ireland to find work in New York where she already had family, including her brother Patrick who had migrated aboard the Dominion in August 1911.

She boarded the Titanic at Queenstown, Co Cork on 11 April 1912 as a third-class passenger (ticket number 330931 which cost £7, 12s, 7d), having travelled to Queenstown by train from Ballinamore, Co Leitrim. Carrying with her, besides her few belongings was a small parcel of soil from the church of Saint Mogue, given to her by her mother to safeguard her journey.

Whilst aboard her cabin mates were fellow Cavan girls Kate Connolly and Julia Smyth and another girl, Mary Agatha Glynn from Co Clare.

On the night of the sinking Mary had been in bed in her cabin with her friends. Following the collision, Mary reported that she did not feel any alarm or fear as everything for a short time remained silent. Soon the noise and commotion outside their cabin prompted the girls to get up and get dressed, fighting their way up to the communal decks only to be told to go and fetch their lifebelts. Upon their return journey to their cabin, Mary reported seeing seawater creeping slowly up a corridor (perhaps she meant Scotland Road). Luckily they reached the cabin, found said life preservers stored above the door and once again commenced their ascent through dense crowds back to the upper decks, presumably the aft well deck. Once arriving on either the boat deck or A-deck promenade, Mary recalled how many of the boats were already full or being lowered and that the boat she eventually left in was amongst the last to leave. It is presumed she was saved in lifeboat 13 with her cabin mates.

Upon arrival in New York Mary was described as a 20-year-old unmarried domestic; her relatives were stated as her parents and her destination address was to her cousin, a Mrs Greeves of 35 West 56th Street, New York. Before travelling there Mary was taken with other survivors to St Vincent's Hospital where she recuperated and was assisted financially to the tune of $100 by the American Red Cross.

What Mary did over the next few years in New York is not certain but she did not remain there and returned to Ireland before the close of the decade. Her elderly father died following heart failure on 10 September 1918 and Mary perhaps returned home around the same time, returning to her family in Co Cavan where she would remain for the rest of her life. 

In Corlough Parish Church on 11 April 1921, just weeks before the partition of Ireland, Mary was married to Peter McGovern (b. 6 June 1889); he hailed from nearby Tullytrasna, Co Cavan and was the son of Hugh McGovern and the former Bridget McAuley. 

Marriage Record
Mary and Peter's marriage record

Mary and Peter made their lifelong home on their farm in Tullytrasna, which lay only a few short miles from the newly-installed political border; they went on to have one son and one daughter, Hugh (b. 1923) and Mary Kate (b. 1925). For the rest of her life Mary kept the small parcel of Saint Mogue's earth that had accompanied her on Titanic.

Following a battle with stomach cancer, Mary McGovern died aged 66 on 24 August 1957 in a hospital in her native Co Cavan. She was survived by her husband and two children. 

Death Record
Mary's death record

Well-regarded in her community as a kind and charitable lady, upon her death local media reported that her funeral attracted a large turnout. She was buried in Corlough Cemetery, eventually being joined by her husband and son. Her headstone reads:

IN
LOVING MEMORY OF
HUGH MCGOVERN
TULLYTRASNA
DIED 14 MAY 1983
HIS MOTHER MARY
DIED 24 AUGUST 1957
HIS FATHER PETER
DIED 29 MARCH 1974

Her daughter Mary later became Mrs Tommie McHugh and she lived in Tempo, Co Fermanagh. She was still alive as of the late 1990s but her final whereabouts are not known.

Notes

  1. Mary is often confused with another Mary who was of similar age and the daughter of John and Bridget McGovern of Corlough, Co Cavan. The McGovern surname is very common in that area of Ireland.
 

Pictures

Mary McGovern
MARY MCGOVERN
 

Articles and Stories

Sunday Press (1952) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Seems a good night to be thinking of Mary- St. Patrick's Day and all. It's a small world-bumped into friends who know Mary's nephew Philip McGovern and he kindly sent some information along. Some of it I see already posted on the passenger bio section of the board. But here 'tis with a few new bits. She was from the town of Corlough and left from Cobh hoping for a better life in the States. She was the second oldest of 5 children-her older silbling had already immigrated and lived in New Jersey. She stayed in New York for 4-5 years, went to the hearings and trial and put in a claim for the... Read full post

  2. avatar

    Inger Sheil said:

    Hallo, Shelley - appropriate indeed that we remember the Irish on that day of days (I am currently nursing a chukka-BOOM headache, though I insist seasonal allergies and not last night's pints of Guinness have a hand in it). Some of that information is referred to in Senan's TIAT although not, from memory, the specific date she returned to Ireland. Know what you mean about the extrordinary fortune you can encounter - five degrees of seperation and all that. I found a group of Lowe's Whitehouse relatives through a friend who lives just outside London - one of the family was a neighbour.... Read full post

  3. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hi Shelley, Where in Ireland is Corlough Chapel? Or is Corlough a town in Ireland? Best regards, Jason

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  4. avatar

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Corlough is in County Cavan (in the northwestern"finger" of the county.) Dowra is the nearest big city. For a nice detail map of Cavan just type Corlough,Ireland in the Internet Search box and you will see the link.

  5. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hi Shelley, Thank you for the information

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  6. avatar

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Got a nice note from Mary's nephew who has asked to have this posted-a few more details. Mary McGovern- date of birth April 1890, Carbally, Corlough. County Cavan, Ireland. Mary was making a trip to New York alone. She travelled by train from Ballinamore. County Leitrim to Cobh, Co. Cork to board the ship. Her ticket cost 7 pounds and her passenger # was 330931. It is believed that she was on one of the last 3 lifeboats to leave approximately 15 minutes before the end. A group of Irish women who stayed together were saved at the same time. Fr. Grogan from St. Vincent's Hospital met the... Read full post

  7. avatar

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    The local people of Cavan have a firm belief that a little earth from the grave of St. Mogue will , if you carry it on your person, protect you from death by drowning, fire, air or road crash. Mary's mother gave her a little bag of this earth before Mary set out to sail on Titanic. This is the 1952 account Mary gave the local newspaper.. " We left Cobh on Wed. for New York and everything was grand. I was fast asleep in my cabin, a three-tiered affair which I shared with two others from Virginia (an Irish town). We were awakened Sunday night and thrown out of our bunks by the shock of a... Read full post

  8. avatar

    Kyrila Scully said:

    Shelley, did they actually call the town "Cobh" in those days? Was it only the Brits who called it Queenstown? Just wondering.

  9. avatar

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Good question- I think the Brits were behind the name change to Queenstown. In 1912 articles, I have read both names. Irishmen out there- discuss.

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Phil McGovern (descendent of Mary McGovern)
Noel Ray, Ireland

References and Sources

The Anglo-Celt, Cavan, 31 August 1957: Death of Titanic Survivor
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
The Anglo Celt, 2 April 1998, 5 April 2012
Search archive Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) Mary McGovern (ref: #1016, last updated: 7th March 2020, accessed 8th August 2020 15:34:57 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/mary-mcgovern.html