Posted by: Jina Bacarr | June 10, 2011

Titanic and the Irish and Katie O’Reilly

Did you know the first immigrant registered at Ellis Island in 1892 was Irish?

Annie Moore was her name and there’s a statue of the fifteen-year-old girl at Ellis Island.

Years later in 1912 when the survivors of the Titanic arrived in New York, many of the 705 survivors were Irish who had boarded at Queenstown, Ireland on April 11th; many more were lost in the sinking.

Margaret Rice and her five sons were lost on the Titanic. So were Julia Barry, Norah Hemming and Mary Mangan, according to the passenger list in Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember. Names that should never be forgotten.

I decided my heroine, Katie O’Reilly, would board at Queenstown because…

Well, because I’m Irish.

No surprise here. My grandmother came to America from Ireland with her fourteen brothers and sisters and used to regale me with stories about fairies (the “gentle people”) and green hills and grand houses.

Like every good Irish family, we had a priest and a nun among the siblings.

And then there was Aunt Marie. A somewhat scandalous lady, from what I remember. She had studied to become a nun, but she didn’t take her vows (I never found out why); however, she lived and worked with the nuns. She was a forward thinker and a strong believer in women getting ahead in the world and a follower of the saints. I still have the statue she gave me of Saint Catherine Labouré, a sister of the Daughters of Charity.

But I digress…

Growing up with my grandmother and Aunt Marie, I developed a strong sense of faith and that became a very important part of Katie’s character. Yet, like Aunt Marie, she also has her own mind and tends to do things “her way,” while trying to keep her faith intact.

So there you have the beginnings of Katie O’Reilly, my heroine…

 Next time…the Irish and the rosary…and Katie



  1. […] when I discovered the Irish were a big part of that story (read about my Irish roots here), well, that did it for me. A Titanic enthusiast was […]

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