Faces of the Titanic: Kate Gilnagh was saved because she told a "white lie"
17-year-old only got on lifeboat because she lied about her sister
At another barrier a seaman held back Kathy Gilnagh, Kate Mullins and Kate Murphy. (On the Titanic all Irish girls seemed to be named Katherine.)
The report goes on to recount the story of how James Farrell got them through the gate (see James Farrell) and then continues:
Even then, Kathy Gilnagh’s troubles weren’t over. She took a wrong turn … lost her friends … found herself alone on the Second-Class promenade, with no idea how to reach the boats. The deck was deserted, except for a single man leaning against the rail, staring moodily into the night. He let her stand on his shoulders, and she managed to climb to the next deck up. When she finally reached the boat deck, No. 16 was just starting down. A man warned her off – there was no more room. ‘But I want to go with my sister!’ Kathy cried … ‘All right, get in,’ he sighed, and she slipped into the boat as it dropped to the sea – another Third-Class passenger safely away.
Gilnagh described James Farrell as her ‘guardian angel’. He appears to have reached the upper decks, according to an Irish Independent report of 15 May 1912, about a letter written home by Katie concerning the ‘sad fate of fellow-passengers from her district’:
(She) states that James Farrell of Clonee was very kind to her and another girl. As they were leaving the ill-fated vessel he gave her his cap to cover her head, and shouted ‘goodbye forever’.
An Irish Post article from 25 May 1912 records:
A County Longford survivor
Among the passengers who were saved from the ill-fated Titanic was a young lady named Miss Katie Gilnagh, of Killoe, County Longford, whose photo we reproduce. She has written to her parents in Longford giving a graphic narrative of her experience.
In her letter she states that she and another girl named McCoy were the last two girls taken on the last boat, and a young man who had previously got into the boat was taken out of it. She further states that she was wearing a small shawl on her head which got blown off, when a person named Mr James Farrell of Clonee, gave her his cap.
As they were being lowered, he shouted: ‘Goodbye for ever’ and that was the last she saw of him.
Katie may have been identified aboard Carpathia by fellow survivor Lawrence Beesley in his 1912 book The Loss of the SS Titanic:
Among the Irish group was one girl of really remarkable beauty, black hair and deep violet eyes with long lashes, perfectly shaped features, and quite young, not more than eighteen or twenty; I think she lost no relatives on the Titanic.
Joyously welcomed by sister Molly in New York, Katie was photographed to reassure the family back home. She sat on a chair, smiling sweetly, as Molly stood protectively alongside.
Katie was born in Rhyne, County Longford, on 13 October 1894, appearing in the 1901 census as the second eldest child of parents Hugh (35) and Johanna (33) Gilnagh. Katie was aged just six, and had an elder sister Mary (7), the selfsame Molly who was waiting anxiously in New York eleven years later. Four other children listed were Ellen (5), Thomas (3), Bridget (2) and one-year-old Elizabeth.
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