Eugene Daly, survivor of the Titanic

Eugene Daly was a 29-year-old weaver in Athlone Woollen Mills who decided to leave his job and go to America. He paid £6-19 for a third class ticket and boarded the Titanic at Queenstown. He was a piper and played native airs on board the tender on the way out to the liner. One of the survivors later sourly noted, “Looking astern from the boat deck, I often noticed how the third-class passengers were enjoying every minute of the time, a most uproarious skipping game of the mixed double was the great favourite whilst “in and out and roundabout” went a man with his bagpipes playing something that ‘faintly’ resembled an air.”

Daly’s account of the sinking is graphic. “I was in my bunk asleep on the Sunday night. A crash woke me up. It nearly threw me from my bed. I met a steward in the gangway. He said there was nothing serious. I went back in for a little while then I went up on deck as I heard a noise there. People were running around. I went to the room where Maggie Daly and Bertha Mulvihill were and they came out with me. There was a great deal of noise at this stage and water was coming in. We knelt down and prayed in the gangway. We went to the second cabin deck. A boat was being lowered there. Maggie and Bertha got in. I got in but they pulled me out. The boat was lowered and went off.

“In the first cabin part of the ship, they were getting women into boats. There was a terrible crowd standing around. The officer in charge pointed a revolver and said if any man tried to get in, he would shoot him. Two men tried to break through and he shot them both. Then I rushed across the deck and there was a sort of canvas craft there. It was fastened to the deck and could not be moved. I worked on cutting one of the ropes. The collapsible was crowded with people hanging on to the edges. The ship gave a lurch and we were in the water up to our hips. Another lurch threw this boat and myself into the water. I fell on one of the oars and fell into a mass of people. “Everything I touched seemed to be women’s hair. Children crying, women screaming, and their hair in their face. My God, if I could only forget those hands and faces that I touched. I could see the enormous funnels of the Titanic being submerged in the water. These poor people that covered the water were sucked down in those funnels like flies.”

Daly later said it was his heavy overcoat that saved him in the freezing water. He survived, got a job in New York, and got married. He and his wife came to Galway and rented a house in 7, St John’s Terrace. Eugene worked in the Woollen Mills. He was very musical and played the flute and flagelette. He loved nature and bred cocker spaniels and canaries. He was a well known figure, a tall man who spoke in a loud voice because of industrial deafness. He was a great regular in the Jesuit Church. He bore a remarkable resemblance to Pope Pius XII which is why he dressed up to pose for this photograph. He and his wife had a daughter Marion who married Michael Joyce, a well known singer and actor who took part in many pantomimes in the Columban Hall. Marion and Michael and family eventually moved to the US, and after his wife died, Eugene moved there also. He died in 1995.

The Old Galway Society will host a lecture this evening in the Mercy School, Newtownsmyth at 8.30pm. It will be given by the irrepressible Donal Taheny on “Franciscan Galway”. All are welcome.

On Monday next, April16, the Galway Archeological and Historical Society’s lecture on “The History of Galway Docks” will be given by Captain Brian Sheridan, starting at 8pm. All are welcome.

On Wednesday next, April18, An Taisce is hosting Bernard O’Hara who will give a talk on Michael Davitt. The venue is The Ardilaun, the starting time is 8pm and again all are welcome.

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