Faces of the Titanic: Nora Keane survived - almost didn't make it as she wasted time putting on her corset
Limerick woman was met from rescuse ship, the Carpathia, by her brothers in New York
Profile taken from Senan Molony's book "The Irish Aboard the Titanic"
Ticket number 226593. Paid £12 7s.
Boarded at Queenstown. Second Class.
From: Gardenhill, Castleconnell, County Limerick.
Destination: 167 Paxton Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
A corset nearly got in the way of Nora Keane saving her own life. She was wasting so much time as she fumbled to put it on and lace it up that it became the object of a dispute with her traveling companion, Edwina Troutt. When Edwina returned to her cabin, one woman, Susie Webber, had already left. The other, Nora, was still dressing. Having replaced her dressing-gown with a warmer coat, Edwina dealt with the nervous Irishwoman. When Nora insisted on trying to put on a corset, Edwina grabbed it from her and sent it flying down the narrow passage leading to the porthole. Interestingly a similar confrontation over a corset is played out in the James Cameron movie Titanic. Edwina could not believe that Nora could put her life at risk over a foolish item of clothing at the height of a sinking.
The three women had been sharing compartment 101 on E deck aft. Edwina Celia Troutt (27) was from Bath, heading back to a sister in Massachusetts. Susie Webber (37) was from Devon, bound for Hartford, Connecticut. Both also survived. Edwina lived to be 100, dying in December 1984, while Susan Webber died in 1952 at the age of 77.
Edwina later recounted how their Irish companion, Nora Keane from Castleconnell, had undergone a sudden premonition that the Titanic would sink when boarding at Queenstown, speaking openly of her fears when the vessel was barely underway. It is one of a number of verified incidents of foreboding and one of the most chilling – Edwina later claimed that Nora told her she was so overcome with sudden dread as she tottered towards the towering Titanic that she dropped her Rosary and prayer book into the water as she was going up the gangway from a tender that had brought mainly Third-Class Irish passengers from Deepwater Quay.
Another member of the women’s cabin had a story of foreboding to share: Nellie Hocking, a 21-year-old girl from Cornwall. Edwina later recounted how Nellie put the fear of God into Nora Keane by telling her how she had heard a cock-crow on the Titanic at dusk on the fateful Sunday. Hearing such a cry while traveling on a journey is viewed as an ill omen in Cornish custom. Nora told the unnerving story to Edwina, who laughed it off. But Nellie had not been imagining things – there was a live rooster and other poultry on the Titanic. First-Class passengers Marie Grice and Ella Holmes White were importing a clutch of French chickens to the United States.
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