Faces of the Titanic: Mary Burns died while meeting the needs of others
The Irish Mary Delia Burns died aboard the Titanic after sacrificing her own safety for her friend.
Editor’s Note: On April 15, 1912, the Titanic RMS Titanic, built by Belfast, sank after colliding with an iceberg, causing more than 1,500 passengers and crew on board. This is one of the deadliest maritime disasters in modern times peacetime history and many Irish ships.
Anticipating the anniversary of the disaster, IrishCentral will observe the Irish on board: the fortunate, the unfortunate and the heroic.
This is an excerpt from Senan Molony’s book “The Irish on board the Titanic” that tells the stories of the people who were on board the night the ship fell. This book gives voice to these people. There are stories of agony, luck, self-sacrifice, dramatic fugitives and abandoned heroes.
Ticket number 330963. Paid £ 7 12s 7d, plus extra 5s.
Boarded in: Queenstown. Third class
From: Kilmacowen, Knocknarae, County Sligo.
Destination: 942 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Mary Delia Burns could have been killed for her own kindness. According to a source, the teenager would have chosen to attend Kate Hargadon aboard the Titanic, the latter suffering from nausea and could not climb a ladder to reach the boats.
Mary, known as Delia for her family, had stayed in the singles room at the back of the ship with the wife of her compatriot Kate and her own neighbor, Margaret Devaney. They were in compartment Q-138 on deck E.
The Irish World has published the story of Margaret Devaney on what happened to the trio in its edition of May 4, 1912:
“We were four from Knocknarae, County Sligo: Mary Burns and Kitty Hargadon and a child we knew, we were all on deck, not thinking it was serious when the boy came and said ‘You Girls, best boat.’ Then he extended He said, “I hope we meet again.”
“I got on the boat, but Mary Burns and Kitty Hargadon refused, thinking it was safer to stay in the boat, I never saw them again.”
Mary, 17, thought she was used to the sea. He lived in a small two-story house, less than 100 meters from the beach, at the end of a narrow channel that overlooks Ballysadare Bay. Mary had often helped transport seaweed to the plot of land they called a farm to use as fertilizer for the soil.
In the 1911 census, his age appears correctly at age 16, with a 12-year-old brother Joseph. His parents, Thomas, a worker, and Mary, born in Monaghan, were 43 and 37 respectively. Maria’s date of birth was November 15, 1894.
Like many other girls, she hoped to become the cleaning lady of a wealthy New York family and went to her aunt Mary Sheridan, where they promised her a room and a meal.
As for the overwhelming number of Irish victims, his body was never found.
“We never talked about his death in the house afterwards, it was so sad,” said a younger sister, still alive at the turn of the century, who asked not to be identified.
The cork examiner on Saturday, April 20, 1912, said:
There are two names of Mary Burns and Ellen Shine in the passenger list of the Titanic, while in the list of registered persons, the names of Burns without a name and Axel Shine appear and probably have the same meaning. Therefore, there is a doubt about these passengers. Ellen Shine was saved, but there was no doubt about the fate of Mary Burns: she drowned in the North Atlantic.
Mansion House Titanic Rescue Fund, Report of 1913: Case # 446. Burns, parents, £ 25.
Source: Irish Central