Mr Joseph Foley was born in Mountplummer, Co Limerick, Ireland on 5 February 1893.
He was the son of David Foley (b. 1866) and Mary Julia Hickey (b. 1872). He was named for his paternal grandfather and he had two known siblings, his brother John (b. 1895) and his sister Lizzie (b. 1901).
Joseph and his family appear on the 1901 census living at house 5 in Mountplummer; his father was described as an agricultural labourer and his mother a shopkeeper. His mother died shortly after this, apparently during childbirth with his sister Lizzie. His father was remarried in 1903 to Margaret Harnett (b. circa 1862) and they had a son named William in 1904.
The 1911 census shows Joseph's family living at house 21 in Mountplummer but he was listed elsewhere as a general farm servant at the home of the Aherin family in Hernsbrook, Mountplummer. He was unmarried.
Joseph boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 as a third class passenger (ticket number 330910 which cost £7, 17s, 7d) and he was journeying to the home of his uncle John Hickey in Larchmont, New York. Travelling with him was his sweetheart Bridget O'Sullivan.
Joseph and Bridget both died in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.
Confusion arose following the death of Joseph on Titanic. A family of Limerick Foleys in Chicago had been awaiting the arrival of their brother Joseph, aged 26, from Ireland and the reports of a Joseph Foley being among the lost threw them into despair. His brother Thomas Foley of 3157 Harrison Street in Chicago, who worked as a street car conductor was later interviewed by the press where he mourned the loss of his brother. His brother, however, had travelled aboard the Celtic and later made it to American shores.
"I guess he is gone, " said Foley, pulling excitedly at his pipe. "Poor lad, he was a fine, clean cut fellow, 26, he was. The last letter I wrote I told him to stay at home on the farm with the old folks. Joe is the first to go..." - Chicago Daily Tribune, 20 April 1912, p. 3