Monday, March 3, 2014

The Fighting Irish

March is here and the whole month is a celebration of the Irish Heritage that runs throughout the world.  If you don’t have an Irish bloodline, it doesn’t matter! You can still celebrate with the rest of us that do.  The Irish are a proud people that have had struggles in their past, but always digs a little deeper and come through their difficulties.   

When we think of the fighting Irish, most of us think of the 1909 Notre Dame-Michigan Game where a teammate yelled, “What’s the matter with you guys?  You’re all Irish and you’re not fighting worth a lick!”  Notre Dame came back to win the game! The Irish are born with determination. A reporter overheard the remark and reported the game as a victory for the “Fighting Irish!”                
With determination and pride, the Irish Built Titanic. The Irish were also part of the crew and represented a lot of the passengers on board.  So, to talk of Titanic, one can not help but speak of someone that was Irish.  I could tell you story after story of some of them, so when asked to write about an Irish passenger, it was very hard to choose which one.


I personally love to dress up as one of my favorite passengers,

“Miss Bridget Delia Mc Dermott” of the Addergoole fourteen.  Bridget had great determination to retrieve her hat after being in a lifeboat.  During the sinking, this Irish lady, who was in her third class cabin when Titanic hit the iceberg, returned to the decks only to see all the  lifeboats already being lowered into the water. As is typical of a "Fighting Irish", Bridget jumped fifteen feet off the side of the ship and landed in lifeboat number thirteen.   

Titanic Crew Member Cheri dressed as Miss Bridget Delia Mc Dermott


Even though Bridget's story is one of my favorite, I have instead chosen to tell you about a couple of sisters and a brother that were greatly loved.  Like most siblings growing up, the McCoy sisters bickered and argued amongst themselves, but were close siblings. It reminds me of my family. As my brothers and I began aging, we would ask each other, "Remember when we were young, and we ....?" The McCoy sisters of Ireland also had a memory that they will never forget.  


Two sisters Agnes and Alice came to take their twenty four year old brother Bernard back to America.  Like most Irish families of that day, the family sent their children to the new land for a better future.  Part of the family was in American and each time they saved up additional money, they would come back for additional family members.   


On Titanic, you can image how the girls enjoyed seeing Bernard ’s amazement

of everything new and exciting.  That excitement changed to panic that Sunday

Night when Titanic struck the iceberg and each third class passenger struggled to make his way out.  When the McCoy sisters found their brother that night, whose cabin was far from theirs, they pushed through gates, stewards, and crew to the boat deck with hard determination.  But when the crew told Bernard that he couldn't get into a lifeboat, the McCoy sisters fell silent. Their hearts stopped as the crew pulled them into a lifeboat, leaving Bernard behind. Will this be the end of Bernard ?  


Robert L. Bracken wrote a lovely piece on this family and I would like to use parts of his story for my article. The following is a direct quote from his writings:


"Agnes McCoy later gave an account to the New York Herald. She said - Both my sister and I wanted to remain on shipboard when they would not allow poor Bernard to come into the lifeboat with us. He told us to go ahead, but we thought that if one was going to drown, we might as well all go down. We were literally thrown into the lifeboat and while we fought and cried, it was lowered over the side. The boat bobbed around in the water for some time before the men got at the oars, and the first thing I knew, I saw a form whirl through the air and splash into the water near our boat. When the form came up, I recognized it as Bernard. I cited to my sister, who was nearer to him than I, to help him. The poor boy took hold of the side of the boat and I staggered to his rescue. Several persons pushed me back and I saw a seaman strike Bernard's hands with an oar. Then he tried to beat him off by striking him on the head and shoulders. It was more than I could stand, and calling for Alice, I made for the seaman. With more strength than I thought I ever possessed, I threw the man to the bottom of the boat and held him there fast. Yes, maybe I did hit him once or twice, but I think I was justified under the circumstances. In the meantime, Alice helped the poor boy over the side and lifted him to safety. I think everyone on board the lifeboat was highly elated and perfectly satisfied that our brother was safe with us. We need him here with us as any two sisters do.”


A victory for the “ Fighting Irish!”  It isn’t really the victory in the fight itself, but for the determination to overcome under any circumstances.   And that is something to really celebrate!  




Titanic Crew Member Cheri




1 comment:

  1. Awesome story to share, Cheri! We all need to be reminded to keep our determination in all circumstances and fight for what is important in life.