Faces of the Titanic: Survivor Eugene Daly - wrote a detailed account having stayed on the ship to the end
29-year-old witnessed brutal shooting and dramatic panic on board before his escape
But the Irish World of New York, in its 4 May 1912 issue, offered another picture:
Eugene Daly of County Athlone [sic] bore the marks on his face of blows from sailors who fought with him against entering the last boat as it was lowered with many vacant seats. With five other men he launched a life raft and put off, picking up a score or more of passengers and crew who were struggling in the water.
‘We were only a little distance from the Titanic when I saw her sinking and sinking, but I mistrusted my eyes until I looked and saw that the sea covered the place where she had been.’
It had all been so different when Daly first set out to join the Titanic at Queenstown. A 29-year-old weaver in Athlone Woollen Mills, he was also a mechanic and a prominent member of the Clan Uisneach War Pipers’ Band, the Irish National Foresters Band and the local Gaelic League. He had been working for ten years at the woollen mills when he decided to leave that job and the terraced family home which faced directly onto a salmon weir that roared and foamed with the rushing waters of the broad and majestic Shannon river. He bought his passage in Butler’s of the Square, Athlone.
Travelling with his 30-year-old cousin Maggie, Eugene played airs on his bagpipes on the tender America ferrying passengers from Queenstown to the Titanic anchorage at lunchtime on Thursday 11 April 1912. The Cork Examiner of 9 May reported that as the tender cast off from the quay, he played ‘A Nation Once Again’, his performance being received with delight and applause by his fellow travellers.
He played many native airs on board the tender and as the latter moved away from the liner, the pipes were once more giving forth A Nation Once Again. Those who were on board the tender that day heard with extreme pleasure of his being amongst the survivors."
Daly’s pipes are visible from his right ear downwards as he stands with them on the tender America in a little-known photograph taken on the day the Titanic sailed by Cork Examiner photographer Thomas Barker (see page 2).
The Westmeath Independent played up its local hero on 4 May 1912:
"Eugene Daly’s courage
"The courage credited to Eugene Daly in the foregoing will not surprise his fellow townsmen, who knew him as a man of principle and pluck. In the present deplorable disaster, he appears to have upheld the traditions of the Gael, and one can well imagine that when the Captain seized the megaphone and roared: ‘Be British!’ Daly thought of the Pipers’ Club in the old Border Town and determined to ‘Be Irish’, as he ever has been."
The Cork Examiner (7 May 1912) said he was an Athlone man who ‘acted the part of a hero. He fought his way to the boats and was the means of saving two of his town’s women.’ Actually another passenger, Katie Gilnagh, also credited Daly with helping to save her life.
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