Miss Mary McGovern was born in Corlough, Templeport, Co Cavan, Ireland in April 1890.
She was the youngest of six children born to John McGovern (b. 1840), a farmer, and his wife Bridget (b. 1843) 1, Cavan natives who had married around 1867.
Her siblings were: Thomas (b. 1871), Peter (b. 1879), John (b. 1881), James (b. 1883) and Honor (b. 1886). The family were Roman Catholic.
Mary first appears on the 1901 census residing with her family at house 11 in Corlough; by the time of the 1911 census the family are resident at house 9, Corlough and Mary is described as a 20-year-old domestic servant.
Mary was leaving Ireland to find work in New York where she already had family. 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.
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 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 lowering or full and that the boat she eventually left in was among the last. It is presumed she was saved in lifeboat 13 with her cabinmates.
Upon arrival in New York 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.
Mary did not remain long in America and returned before the close of the decade. She was married back in her native Ireland around 1921 to Tullytrasna, Co Cavan farmer Peter McGovern 2 (b. 1890) and had two children: Hugh and Mary Kate. The family lived in Tullytrasna, Corlough and for the rest of her life Mary kept the small parcel of Saint Mogue's earth that had accompanied her on Titanic.
Mary died on 24 August 1957 aged 67. Well-regarded in her local community as a kind and charitable lady, upon her death local media reported that her funeral attracted a large turnout. She is buried in Corlough Cemetery with her son and husband. Her headstone reads:
LOVING MEMORY OF
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.
Articles and Stories
Sunday Press (1952)
Gavin Bell, Northern Ireland
Noel Ray, Ireland
- Ages as per 1911 census. The previous census in 1901 gave their ages as 50 years each.
- Peter was the son of farmers Hugh and Bridget McGovern, the latter née McAuley.
References and SourcesThe 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).
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