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Faces of the Titanic: Eugene Daly Photo by: Mercier Press

Faces of the Titanic: Survivor Eugene Daly - wrote a detailed account having stayed on the ship to the end

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Faces of the Titanic: Eugene Daly Photo by: Mercier Press

The boat where men were gunned down appears to have been collapsible A, all the way forward on the starboard side, since Daly says he then ‘rushed across the deck’ to collapsible B on the port side. In 1913 evidence he cited two shot dead, but no officer.

Dr Frank Blackmarr, a passenger on board the Carpathia, noted that Eugene Daly was unconscious when carried to his cabin, where he was revived with stimulants and hot drinks. Dr Blackmarr later took down Daly’s dictation of his experiences as they approached New York on 18 April 1912. This was his first account of what transpired: 

"I left Queenstown with two girls from my own home town who were placed in my charge to go to America. After the accident, we were all held down in steerage, which seemed to be a lifetime. All this time we knew that the water was coming up, and up rapidly.

"Finally some of the women and children were let up, but, as you know, we had quite a number of hot-headed Italians and other peoples who got crazy and made for the stairs. These men tried to rush the stairway, pushing and crowding and pulling the women down, some of them with weapons in their hands.

"I saw two dagos shot and some that took punishment from the officers. After a bit, I got up on one of the decks and threw a big door over the side. I caught hold of some ropes that had been used setting free a lifeboat. Up this I climbed to the next deck because the stairs were so crowded that I could not get through.

"I finally got up to the top deck and made for the front. The water was just covering the upper deck at the bridge and it was easy to slide because she had such a tip. 

 ([Blackmarr’s note:] Here this man fell back on his pillow crying and sobbing and moaning, saying: ‘My God, if I could only forget!’ After a bit he proceeded.) 

My God, if I could only forget those women’s cries. I reached a collapsible boat that 

was fastened to the deck by two rings. It could not be moved. During that brief time that I worked on cutting one of those ropes, the collapsible was crowded with people hanging upon the edges. The Titanic gave a lurch downwards and we were in the water up to our hips.

She rose again slightly, and I succeeded in cutting the second rope which held her stern. Another lurch threw this boat and myself off and away from the ship into the water. I fell upon 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!

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As I looked over my shoulder, as I was still hanging [on] to this oar, 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, each of which was twenty-five feet in diameter, like flies.

I managed to get away and succeeded in reaching the same boat I had tried to set free from the deck of the Titanic. I climbed upon this, and with the other men balanced ourselves in water to our hips until we were rescued. People came up beside us and begged to get on this upturned boat. As a matter of saving ourselves, we were obliged to push them off. One man was alongside and asked if he could get upon it. We told him that if he did, we would all go down. His reply was ‘God bless you. Goodbye.’ 

I have been in the hospital for three days, but I don’t seem to be able to forget those men, women and children who gradually slid from our raft into the water.

Signed, Eugene Daly. Collapsible B. 

After safe arrival in New York, Daly wrote a letter to his mother in which he clearly and casually glossed over all that had happened:

Dear Mother, got here safe. Had a narrow escape but please God, I am all right, also Maggie. I think the disaster caused you to fret, but things could have been worse than what they were.

(The Cork Examiner, 7 May 1912)

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.

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