Encyclopedia Titanica

Mary McGovern

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.

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:

DIED 14 MAY 1983
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.


  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.

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

Newspaper Articles

Sunday Press (21 September 1952) Titanic Story By Cavan Survivor
Search archive online


Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phil McGovern (descendent of Mary McGovern)
Noel Ray, Ireland

Comment and discuss

  1. Shelley Dziedzic

    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 time spent at the court (which was denied!). She became homesick for Ireland and returned in 1917 and married a man whose last name was McGovern also. Her daughter, Mary McHugh was born in the late 1920's and lives in Ireland. Mary McGovern is buried in the cemetery outside Corlough Chapel-he nephew lives in New York.
  2. Inger Sheil

    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. Lowe's Australian grandson once related to me with great glee how he found himself on a committee with a bloke who turned out to be a distant relative of Lightoller. Yours in the wearing of the green (a day late, but sure an' it doesn't matter). ~ Ing
  3. Jason D. Tiller

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

    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. Jason D. Tiller

    Hi Shelley, Thank you for the information
  6. Shelley Dziedzic

    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 survivors upon their arrival at pier 54 and they were taken in a Gimbles truck to St. Vincent's Hospital. Eight months later Mary filed her first claim for $50 against the Line, later she filed an amended claim for 70$, including the amount of 2 crochet lace collars ($20) which she had gotten from her mother. She stayed in NYC for 8 years, working as a housekeeper then returned to Ireland in 1920... Read full post
  7. Shelley Dziedzic

    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 collision. But we were not at all afraid for everything was silent, the lights burned brightly..in fact, we felt no cause for alarm. But outside our door we heard a rising clamour and when we went out, we found the passages and corridors full of running people. That was about midnight, if I remember right and we went up to the boat deck, pushing our way through lines of linked sailors and some... Read full post
  8. Kyrila Scully

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

    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.
  10. Jim McHugh

    Just watched on Facebook funeral service of Mary-Kate McHugh (Mary McGovern's daughter, called just Mary above). Funeral in St. Patrick's church, Corlough, 20/02/2021. Jim McHugh.
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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Mary McGovern
Age: 20 years 10 months and 8 days (Female)
Nationality: Irish
Religion: Roman Catholic
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Queenstown on Thursday 11th April 1912
Ticket No. 330931, £7 17s 7d
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Saturday 24th August 1957 aged 66 years

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