A poignant ceremony took place at the weekend in a Boston area cemetery in memory of an Irish passenger who lost her life on the Titanic.
For nearly a century her body had lain in an unmarked grave in a West Roxbury cemetery. Her death led to a family feud that has only now been resolved.
Catherine (Kit) Buckley was the 22-year-old daughter of a small Irish farmer. She was from Ovens County Cork, and her half sister had saved her passage fare of $35 for her to come to America in the spring of 1912.
She is the only third class passenger on the ship to have a memorial.
She was due to work in the home of a wealthy Boston businessman. Her family was opposed to her leaving.
Alas, she never made it, and on Saturday her final resting place was given a headstone to remember her tragic life.
“She kind of typified the Irish that were coming to this country,’’ Bob Bracken, treasurer of the Titanic International Society, told the Boston Globe. Bracken was the driving force behind attaining recognition for the Irish woman.
“Truly, many of them fulfilled their dreams here.’’
More than 100 people gathered for the ceremony, including Irish Consul General Michael Lonergan and relatives of Catherine Buckley.
Una Reilly, chairwoman of the Belfast Titanic Society, said the Titanic must have truly been a ship of dreams to Buckley.
“This was a big adventure,’’ Reilly said before the crowd. “I want to remember that Kit, full of optimism and enthusiasm for the future.’’
Sixteen of Buckley’s descendants each laid a rose on her grave after two of her great-great-grandnieces unveiled the marker.
“I think Catherine would be very proud right now,’’ said Charles A. Haas, president of the Titanic International Society.
Buckley’s death led to a rift in the family with her half sister blamed for her death. Only on Saturday was the family able to achieve closure. Relatives of Margaret her half sister and her Irish family were there.
In a strange twist, Buckley was never supposed to be on the Titanic.
Buckley’s ticket was originally for Boston aboard the Cymeric, a smaller ship owned by the White Star Line but a strike intervened.
She was transferred to the “unsinkable’’ Titanic, set to arrive in New York in April 1912. 1,500 on board perished when it sank.
“Too bad I couldn’t go direct to Boston,’’ Buckley wrote in a letter dated March 19, 1912, that has been preserved by the family. “I have to go the way I am told to.’’
The Buckley family, convinced that Margaret indirectly caused her sister’s death, shunned her, even when she went all the way home the following Christmas Eve.
“They wouldn’t let her in the house, as the story goes,’’ said Margaret’s grandson, David Kay, 69, of Lynn. “They turned her away.’’
It is not known why Buckley’s grave never told the story of her last voyage.
“I think commemorating Kate Buckley’s death is symbolic of all of the Irish immigrants who sought to come to the United States,’’ said Boston’s Irish consul general Michael Lonergan. “It’s very appropriate that it’s here in Boston.’’