Addergoole Parish remembers a ‘very sad human story’

14 from its pews boarded the Titanic, only 3 survived; Memorial Week is April 8-15


Catherine Bourke, Nora Fleming, Delia Mahon, Annie McGowan, John Bourke, Annie Kate Kelly, Pat Canavan, Delia McDermott, Mary Mangan, Kate McGowan, James Flynn, Bridget Donohue, Mary Bourke, and Mary Canavan.

The names don’t mean much to most of us but they bring tears to the eyes of many in the North Mayo parish of Addergoole. The Addergoole Fourteen, as the group is known, struck out from the hills and valleys around Nephin Mountain 100 years ago next month – some in jaunting carts, others on foot – and crossed the Windy Gap into Castlebar where they took the first of several trains to Queenstown (now Cobh.) There they settled into steerage (third class) on the RMS Titanic to laugh, chat, dance, and sing as they prepared for the long ride to America and their bright new lives.

When the luxury liner struck an iceberg off Newfoundland on April 15, 1912, eleven of the fourteen were among those who died as Addergoole Parish suffered a proportionately higher loss of life than anywhere else in Europe.

Each year, members of the Addergoole Titanic Society and the parish remember the lost and the survivors with an April 15 commemoration that begins in Murphy’s Pub in Lahardane at 1 a.m. At about 1:45 a.m., the participants – some of whom are descendants of the Addergoole Fourteen -- go from the pub to St. Patrick’s Church. They quietly walk down a dark street that is illuminated only by their 14 lanterns that they place on the ground beneath the Timoney Bell at the church to simulate a ship’s bow.

Songs and stories follow and at 2:20 a.m., the exact time the Titanic disappeared after floundering for two hours and ten minutes, the Timoney bell is rung slowly eleven times for those lost and three times – joyously -- for those who survived. Lahardane is said to be the only place in Europe where the Titanic is remembered every year. Dr. Paul Nolan, energetic chairman of the Titanic Society, said, “Ours is a very sad human story still remembered here.”


Dr. Nolan and the society have been hard at work for many, many months raising money, applying for grants, sending speakers all over – even to Boston – to explain the Titanic’s connection to Addergoole parish. Plans are now finalized and a Mayo Titanic Cultural Week will be held in Lahardane from April 8 to 15.

The observation starts on Easter Sunday with a re-enactment of the journey from Lahardane to Castlebar. The balance of the week includes many assorted activities to entertain and inform all ages, including a treasure hunt, vintage and heritage display, exhibitions, a live American wake, an evening of Irish song and poetry, and a spectacular Titanic Ball (advance tickets only) at the Pontoon Bridge Hotel.

The annual memorial Mass on April 15 will be followed by the dedication of two Titanic stained glass windows at St. Patrick’s Church, designed by American artist Michael Coleman, who now lives in Lahardane and owns Whitethorn Studio. There is one stained glass window on either side of an existing marble plaque, erected in 2002, that lists the names and birth dates of most of the Addergoole Fourteen from baptismal registers and other sources. The theme of one window is emigration and is dedicated to all those who have left Addergoole Parish. A Titanic window on the other side shows Lifeboat 16 being lowered.
Thirteen of the travelers were baptized in Lahardane, according to Dr. Nolan. The exception was Annie McGowan, who was born in Scranton, PA, and baptized in Dunmore, PA. Her godmother was Catherine McGowan, an aunt who lived in Chicago and had tried for a year and a half to persuade residents to return to Chicago with her. She even bought tickets, he said, for some who couldn’t afford the fare. Catherine perished on the Titanic but Annie was rescued, eventually moved to Chicago, married and raised three daughters.

Another Annie – Annie Kate Kelly – also survived and is memorialized in one of the stained glass windows looking up at her cousin, Pat Canavan, who is holding rosary beads and waving as her lifeboat -- Boat 16 -- is lowered into the water. She joined the Dominican nuns as Sister Patrick Joseph Kelly OP, and taught in Chicago.

The third survivor was Delia McDermott, who bought a new outfit and hat in Crossmolina before leaving because her mother said she should arrive in New York looking like a lady by wearing a hat and gloves. She was in a lifeboat when she realized that she left her hat behind so she ran back to get it and found a place in another lifeboat. Delia was going to stay with her cousin in St. Louis but once she recuperated from her rescue, she married and stayed on the East Coast.


On the last afternoon of Titanic week in Lahardane, the Memorial Park will be dedicated and a time capsule buried. The Memorial Park, designed like the bow of a ship pointing west, will have five story plaques and two life-sized statues and will be on land donated by the Killala diocese next to the Lahardane rectory.

If you are in North Mayo at the beginning of April, be sure to take part in the Titanic Memorial Week events. And, if you’re in a post office in Ireland, keep an eye out for the Titanic stamp with Michael Coleman’s painting that portrays the Addergoole Fourteen waiting on the Queenstown quay for the tender.

For more information about the week in Lahardane, visit

Other ship exhibits: If you’re visiting Cobh, Co. Cork, head for the Cobh Heritage Centre to see the fascinating multimedia exhibit there on the Titanic, the Lusitania, convict ships, and more. Between 1848 and 1950, more than 6 million adults and children left Ireland with some 2.5 million of them departing from Cobh, making it the single most important port of emigration.There are also Titanic exhibits in other places, including Belfast, where the ship was built, at the Harland and Wolff shipyard. Titanic Belfast is expected to open to the public in early April ( And, there are plans for a Titanic Belfast Festival from March 31-April 22 (see for details.)


If you want to see Mayo but aren’t in the market for a transatlantic trip just now, be sure to make time to visit Ron Rosenstock’s magnificent one-man show at the Worcester Art Museum. His exhibit – Hymn to the Earth – runs through March 18 and features many stunning shots of County Mayo, where he owns a house outside Westport, as well as other places he has visited and toured. The museum is open Wednesday to Friday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and college students and free for those under 17. The museum, at 55 Salisbury St., is also free the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon. Call 508-799-4406 for more information.
Rosenstock said he was initially drawn to Mayo in 1971 when he landed at Shannon to photograph. “I just drove, not knowing where I would wind up. It was in the winter and very few B&Bs were open. I drove as far as Westport and found a wonderful B&B. I intended to stay a few days and drive on, but it was so magical, I never left!”

On subsequent trips, he stayed a week in Westport and a week in another part of Ireland. “I thought I really should see if there were other areas that had the variety of subject matter that all photographers just love. I kept returning to Westport. As the years rolled by I made many friends that I still have to this day. It is truly my home away from home.”

For information about traveling on a photo tour with Rosenstock visit: or email: He says there are many advantages to traveling with him. His group “will not be considered tourists by the Irish but as my friends and we will visit many of my friends on the trip. I also know many out-of-the-way spectacular places to photograph, and I try to get there for the right light. After teaching photography for 40 years, I can help people with any problems they have.” To see more of his work, visit:
And, enjoy your trip to Ireland – or to Worcester – whenever you go, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.