Faces of the Titanic: Delia McDermott from Addergoole was one of 14 from her town on board - she survived
The Mayo woman insisted on recovering a prized possession and almost missed her spot on the life boat
In March, ten of the intending passengers, including Delia McDermott, then 28 years old, booked their passage with Thomas Durcan of Castlebar. Three others booked with another travel agent, Mrs Walsh of Linenhall Street.
The days before they were due to travel for Queenstown were extremely busy ones for the Addergoole contingent. They visited neighbours most would never see again and there were tearful embraces on the doorstep of many a thatched cottage.
Delia McDermott’s niece, now Delia Melody of Lord Edward Street, Ballina, tells the story of a strange and chilling encounter between her aunt and a mysterious man in black in Lahardane village the evening before she left for Cobh.
‘She was in Lahardane with friends when suddenly a hand tapped her on the shoulder,’ Mrs Melody explained. ‘She turned around and there was a little man there whom she thought was a traveller. My aunt went to give the man a few pennies and he told her he knew she was going on a long journey.
There will be a tragedy, but you will be saved,” the little man said before disappearing.’
When Delia mentioned the little man to her friends, they said they hadn’t seen anybody. Thus Delia McDermott began her long and eventful journey to the New World filled with some foreboding …
Luck was also in Delia McDermott’s favour. She was one of the first to find a lifeboat but returned to her cabin for the new hat she had bought before the journey. Says Delia’s niece, Mrs Melody: ‘It was perhaps a foolish thing to do, but luckily she managed to get a place in a boat. She had to jump fifteen feet from a rope ladder onto the lifeboat. At this stage the Titanic was sideways. It was going down.’
Delia indeed survived and later prospered in the United States. She never returned to Ireland.
Report of the American Red Cross (Titanic Disaster) 1913:
No. 323. (Irish.) Servant, 25 years of age, injured very severely, and long unable to work. ($200)
On 25 April, Delia McDermott received $150 from the Women’s Relief Committee, formed in New York to aid survivors. She had intended to travel to her cousin, Mrs Celia Syson, at Henrietta Street, St Louis, but never left the east coast. She moved from New York to New Jersey, marrying a fellow countryman, John Joseph Lynch of Galway. He served in the First World War and spent his working years on the Jersey city docks. They had three children – Julia, Margaret and Tommy. Delia never spoke about her Titanic experiences and the children were forbidden to ask her about it. It appears however that Delia was rescued in lifeboat No. 13, launched from the starboard side of the ship relatively early in the night.
Her daughter, Julia Danning, remembers Delia’s later life:
She was a quiet, home-loving housewife, devoted to her family. She was very devout,
with daily Mass and nightly Rosary. Her one and only vice was a weekly Euchre game with friends. She rarely spoke of her experience aboard the Titanic except for having left a lifeboat to go back and retrieve her new hat. Hats being what they were in those days, it was no doubt a huge expenditure for her family and it was a going-away gift. Otherwise I believe the ordeal was so traumatic that she closed her mind to it.
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