The Cahir community was united with the rest of the world last week in commemorating the lives of those who perished on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean 100 years ago.
A plaque was unveiled above Halpin’s betting shop on Castle Street in Cahir last Sunday, which will forever mark the spot where four young and brave travellers from South Tipperary purchased their tickets to a new life.
Katie Peters, Kate Connolly, Roger Tobin and Katie McCarthy were full of hope and anticipation as they departed from Cobh, or Queenstown as it was then known, on April 11, 1912, destined for New York. Sadly three of these passengers’ dreams were dashed when they lost their lives on April 15, 1912 when the massive liner sank, in what became one of the most famous maritime disasters.
Last Sunday commem-orative events took place in Kilmoyler Church and Cahir town to remember the young lives of the four South Tipperary travellers: Katie Peters who was aged 26 and from Ballydrehid in Cahir, Kate Connolly aged 35 who was from Bank Place in Tipperary Town, Roger Tobin who was 20 and a farmer from Ballycarron, and 24-year-old Katie McCarthy from Ballygartin in Bansha, who was the only survivor of the four. After her death in 1948, she was laid to rest in St. Michael’s cemetery in Ballintemple in Tipperary.
The family graves of Katie Peters, Kate Connolly and Roger Tobin whose bodies were never recovered are in Killaldriffe graveyard where a wreath-laying ceremony took place on Sunday following a poignant mass in Kilmoyler Church, celebrated by Fr. Higgins.
A grave-side oration by Michael Peters, a cousin of Katie Peters, was appropriate in putting into context our current emigration crisis and how important small events like this one are a reminder of how a community is connected and how important it is to keep our networks alive despite the divide.
The event was preceded hours earlier by the ringing of the bells of St. Paul’s Church at 02.20am, the moment that the Titanic sank, as a reminder to the community of the loss, bravery, survival and sense of history that surrounds the Titanic disaster.
Following the church and wreath laying ceremonies, the congregation travelled to the Castle Street site in Cahir. Compere Seamus Martin and great grand nephew of Roger Tobin, Cathal Twomey, recounted the four travellers’ individual stories prior to the unveiling of the plaque. And an atmospheric rendition of ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ was performed by Deirdre Buckley followed by ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by the Peters sisters, as well as a series of traditional songs by the Mills girls from Upperchurch.
“It was a fantastic day, the weather was beautiful and we had a huge crowd in attendance,” said Joe Walsh from Cahir, one of the many people involved in organising the special commemorative event, which attracted up to 100 people on a gloriously sunny Sunday. Relatives of those who perished, as well as local community groups combined their efforts to design the plaque which was created by Liam Costigan of Costigan & Sons Funeral Directors and financed by the Cahir Historical Society.
Mr. Walsh explained that once they had established that the building on Castle Street was indeed the one from where tickets for the Titanic were sold, there was huge interest in erecting a plaque there. They found reference to the building in an article published in the The Nationalist newspaper in 1912 following the maritime disaster and this helped to confirm what they believed.
The building was originally built by Mr. Walsh’s great grandfather and namesake, Joseph Walsh and his business partner Pat Clarke,
“They parted ways, and Pat Clarke remained in the shop and my great grandfather moved out and opened up his own drapery shop in the building that is now The Commercial House.
“One of Pat Clarke’s sidelines was as a travel agent, he was a shipping agent for White Star, which owned the Titanic,” explained Mr. Walsh.
As well as the plaque unveiling, local establishments Cahir House Hotel and the Galtee Inn also created special Titanic-themed menus serving pea soup, mutton and fresh trout, some of the dishes that would have been served to Titanic passengers.
“It was a very tender and respectful occasion that was very appropriate and certainly makes the town more interesting now,” said Mr. Walsh.
Brian Costigan who is a grand nephew of Katie Peters and runs Morrissey’s Bar on Castle Street in Cahir said the event captured the mood perfectly.
“There was a very nice turnout, the day was beautiful, it was a commemoration rather than a celebration,” he said. Ms Peters was a sister to Mr. Costigan’s maternal grandmother, Anna Kearney.