Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday, almost: In the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin

'The Issue of the Marriage of the Bishop of Meath & Mrs. Diana Ellis':

In the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, this grave marker is replete with the details of family connections, including information about their ancestors, as well as the births and deaths of their children, and even a reference to  their daughter Anne's first husband. Some might call it a genealogist's dream stone.

To see more gravestones from the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral, visit my other blog:
'On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History

Click on photographs to view larger version.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: 'Stella': The muse of Jonathan Swift

Interred in St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, lies the mortal remains of Mrs. Hester Johnson who was, as the memorial indicates, better known to the world as 'Stella'.

In the same year that Gulliver's Travels was published, Jonathan Swift paid a visit to London, but was suddenly called home to Ireland due to the illness of his lifelong friend and muse Esther (Hester) Johnson. Her death, on 27 January 1727-8, is said to have been the greatest sorrow of Jonathan Swift's life. At the time of her death Swift wrote of her:

"The truest, most virtuous, and valuable friend that I, or perhaps any other person, was ever blessed with. I knew her from six years old, and had some share in her education, by directing what books she should read, and perpetually instructing her in the principles of honour and virtue, from which she never swerved in any one action or moment of her life. Never was any of her sex born with better gifts of the mind, or who more improved them by reading and conversations. Her advice was always the best, and with the greatest freedom, mixed with the greatest decency. She had a gracefulness somewhat more than human, in every motion, word, and action. Never was so happy a conjunction of civility, freedom, easiness, and sincerity. With all the softness of temper that became a lady, she had the personal courage of a hero."

In accordance with her wishes, Esther Johnson was buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral. Upon his death Jonathan Swift was buried nearby.


A Compendium of Irish Biography, Dublin, 1878.

Click on photograph to view larger version.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Remembering Titanic: Those whose names were known

Although the bodies of the eight individuals interred beneath these stones in Fairview Lawn cemetery were not returned to their families for burial, the fact that they were identified meant they could be interred under stones which bear their names and other details. The numbers on the markers indicate the place they held in the procession of bodies pulled from the sea.

Click on photographs to view larger versions.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Remembering Titanic victims: Irish aboard Titanic

Joseph Dawson - Titanic Crew: Coal Trimmer

After the release of James Cameron's film Titanic, the grave marker for Irish born J. Dawson was one of the most visited of the Titanic victims. For months it was covered with flowers, love poems, and keepsakes. Many people assumed that the fictional character Jack Dawson, as portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, was based on the man interred in this grave.

The real J. Dawson was in fact far from a romantic figure. 'J' was not 'Jack', but Joseph Dawson. Joseph was born into the tenement life of inner city Dublin in 1888 to parents who were widowed from their first spouses, but not married to each other. The 1901 census shows his family living in two rooms of a tenement in Rutland street. Their mother died when Joseph was eighteen, and so he and his younger sister Maggie moved to England. After a brief stint in the Royal Army Medical Corp, in 1911 Dawson moved into the family home of John Priest, a White Star Line fireman. Dawson was tempted into life on the high seas by dreams of seeing the world. He signed on with the White Star Line, serving first on the Majestic, and then on the Titanic, where he worked as a coal trimmer, responsible for bringing wheel barrows filled with coal to the firemen at the furnaces.

The RMS Titanic fatality report produced at the time, and included below from the Nova Scotia Canada Archives, incorrectly identified Dawson's job as a fireman, and incorrectly estimated his age as 30. Joseph Dawson was 23 years old when he died.

Ernest Waldron King - Titanic Crew: Assistant Purser

Galway born Ernest Waldron King's employment aboard the ships of the White Star Line was the welcome answer to a year long stint of unemployment. His family, including his father, a Church of Ireland curate, were proud of him and encouraged him in his career on the sea. However, an incident early in King's career hinted that a life at sea might not be a charmed one. Although he came away from it unscathed, in 1911 Ernest King was working onboard the ship Olympic when she collided with the cruiser HMS Hawke. Her proximity to Southampton meant the ship did not sink, but was brought back into harbour. King left the Olympic and signed on to work on the Titanic.

Ernest King's body was not found until two weeks after the sinking of the Titanic, and it was found floating almost fifty miles away from where the ship sank. The body, counted as number 321 of those drawn from the sea, was sent to the morgue at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where it was identified as that of Ernest Waldron King. King was interred in Fairview Lawn cemetery, 9 May 1912.

The RMS Titanic fatality report produced at the time, and included below from the Nova Scotia Canada Archives, purports that the body is "probably purser's assistant".

Click on photos to view larger version.


Molony, Senan. The Irish Aboard Titanic, Dublin, 2012.
RMS Titanic Virtual Archives, Nova Scotia Canada Archives

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday, almost: Remembering Titanic: Little child lost*

*Update: In 2002, More than 90 years after the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic, the identity of one of the victims was finally discovered by means of DNA matching. The "unknown child" buried with other victims in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has been identified as Eino Viljami Panula, a member of a Finnish family who died in the disaster. He was 13 months old when the Titanic sank on April 15 1912. His mother Maria and four brothers also drowned.

Click on image to view larger version.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Arthur Gordon McCrae: The only Australian lost with Titanic

Copyright ©John Cowper Australia
Arthur Gordon McCrae's Celtic cross headstone stands out among the rows of simple markers of the Titanic lost. He was born in Adelaide Australia, the grandson of the illegitimate daughter of the 5th Duke of Gordon. The only Australian to die on Titanic, he was a graduate in Engineering from the University of Sydney. Following graduation he worked first at a goldmine in West Africa, and then at a Siberian copper mine. He took a second-class ticket on the Titanic with the purpose of travelling to Canada to meet friends. His recovered body was dressed in a blue suit, white canvas shoes and a flannel shirt. He was carrying a diamond and emerald ring, gold links, two watches, a key chain, keys, a pencil case, foreign currency and a letter case. He was 32 years old.

Biography from Encyclopedia Titanica:

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Remembering victims of Titanic: Interred without a name: the unidentified

It was unexpected, the feelings of sadness that arose in me upon viewing the graves of some of those lost in the sinking of the Titanic, and now interred at Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ship went down 15 April 1912. As far as I know, none on board were ancestors of mine; however, perhaps I felt the way I did viewing these graves because so many of those lost were Irish. Maybe it was the simplicity of the markers, but more likely I was struck by the fact that so many bear no name. These simple granite markers testify only to the date of the event and to a number. The number on each stone signifies each one's place in the procession of bodies pulled from the sea.

1500 people went into the sea that night. Many were never recovered. Some were buried at sea; some were returned to their families in Europe. 150 Titanic victims were buried in Halifax from 3 May to 12 June, 1912. In Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 19 were interred. 10 are in Baron de Hirsch Jewish Cemetery, and 121 are in Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Of these, 44 remain unidentified. The following are photographs of some of those markers. For photographs of St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh, County Cork, Titanic's last port of call visit my blog: 'On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History.

Each of these granite markers stands over the grave of someone lost with the Titanic. 44 bear no name.

*Click on photographs to view larger version.
All photographs Copyright©irisheyesjg2008-2012.
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