Encyclopedia Titanica

John Meehan

Mr John Meehan was born in Curraghbonaun, Achonry, Co Sligo, Ireland around 1890.1

He was the son of Thomas Meehan (b. circa 1859), a farmer, and Honor Cooke (b. circa 1851)2,3, Sligo natives who had married in Curry, Co Sligo on 15 February 1876.

One of nine children (three of whom died in infancy), John's known siblings were: Patrick (b. circa 1878), Mary (b. 10 January 18794), Bridget (b. 1 July 1886), Honor (b. 7 January 1892)5, Ellen (b. 15 March 1895) and Thomas (b. 17 March 1898).

He grew up in a Roman Catholic household and the entire family was bilingual, speaking both the Irish and English languages. The family appears on the 1901 and 1911 census records at house 34 and 9, respectively, in Curraghbonaun, Achonry West. On the latter record John was described as a farmer's son.

At least three of his siblings had already made the leap across the Atlantic; Patrick, Honor and Mary. His brother Patrick was married in Chicago in 1909 to a Bridget Moran but died on 25 December 1911. Sisters Honor and Mary also lived in Chicago and it was John's intention of joining them there and he made plans to travel in the Spring.

Apparently booked aboard another ship (possibly the Cymric), Meehan's passage was switched to Titanic due to the ongoing coal strikes. He boarded Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number AQ/4 3130 which cost £7, 15s) and he was destined for 4745 Indiana Avenue, Chicago6. It is not certain if he was travelling alongside others from Sligo but most likely he was and whilst aboard became acquainted with other Irish passengers, including Hannah Riordan.

On the night of the sinking John Meehan reportedly saw Hannah Riordan off into a lifeboat, telling her not to worry about him as he was a strong swimmer.

John Meehan died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Some initial newspaper reports poured doubt that Meehan had even been aboard Titanic, his sister Mary stating that she had word from her mother back in Ireland that he had not travelled aboard the ship. It soon transpired however that John had indeed been aboard the Titanic and was among the lost.

His parents were later financially assisted following his loss and remained in Co Sligo; his mother passed away there on 11 January 1927. His father rallied for close to another decade but later battled senility; he died 19 October 1935. 

Only two of his siblings are believed to have remained in Ireland, Bridget and Ellen. Sisters Mary and Honor remained in Chicago where they married, Mary to James Brennan and Honor to Patrick Duffy. In 1923 his brother Thomas also emigrated and joined his sisters in Chicago. 


  1. His birth was apparently never registered and his birth date therefore remains unknown. 
  2. John's family have often been confused with another family from Sligo; a Thomas Meehan married Honoria Costello in Ballyconnell, Sligo on 4 March 1878 but they are from a different family. To add to the confusion, John's mother Honor is named as Honoria on the 1901 and 1911 censuses. 
  3. On the 1901 census Thomas and Honor gave their ages as 42 and 39 respectively. The 1911 census shows ages at odds with the previous records, with their ages now recorded as 69 and 67 respectively. Their ages at their time of death also show no correspondence to census records. 
  4. Later Mrs James Brennan
  5. Later Mrs Patrick Francis Duffy
  6. His destination is often cited as Patterson, New Jersey, perhaps derived from the Newark Evening News (20 April 1912) which confused the John Meehan aboard Titanic with a John Mechan of New Jersey who was initially reported to be aboard, returning to that city after a spell in Warwickshire, England. 

References and Sources

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

Newspaper Articles

Chicago Daily News (19 April 1912) Boy Fails to Take Ship
Chicago Record-Herald (20 April 1912) Meehan Kin Escape
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Comment and discuss

  1. Dennis Hollywood

    My mother Mary Meehan was niece of John Meehan and lived in New York until her death in 1986.

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr John Meehan
Age: 22 years (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Occupation: General Labourer
Embarked: Queenstown on Thursday 11th April 1912
Ticket No. 3130, £7 15s
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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