Fermoy man who died on the Titanic
Many tragic stories have come out of the sinking of the
Titanic in 1912, but one of the most tragic of all is that
of Mr. Thomas Francis Myles from Fermoy. An extraordinary
series of circumstances led him to his death on board what
was supposed to be the 'unsinkable' Titanic.
Thomas Francis Myles was born at Brook Lodge in Fermoy on
Wednesday January 31, 1849 to Margaret Barry Myles and Michael
Myles. Michael Myles was highly respected as a landowner
and businessman and ensured a good education for his son,
Thomas at St Colman's College, Fermoy. Thomas was determined
to make his own way in the world and after sailing on a
cargo ship to India and visiting Bombay and Calcutta, he
travelled to America and with the spirit of adventure in
his blood, he sailed the full length of the Mississippi
over 2,348 miles. In 1875 at the age of 25 he arrived at
Boston, without a penny to his name, but his education paid
off and he began to invest in real estate and was successful
to such a degree, that in 1890, he was able to build his
own home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He married Mary Kennah
and the couple had two sons, Frederick and Leo Thomas, who
later became a doctor and four daughters, Agnes Mary, Gertrude
Ellen, Elizabeth and Eileen.
Life was good for the Myles family and by the early part
of the 20th century, Thomas was the owner of of ten properties.
In late 1911, Thomas sailed back to Ireland to settle part
of the family estate in Fermoy and to look after the affairs
of his brothers James, who was the last family member remaining
in Ireland. With all the family affairs in order, in early
April of 1912, Thomas began to make arrangements to go back
to his family and this is when fate took a hand. His first
sailing was on a White Star liner, but with the miners coal
strike of 1912 causing chaos in Britain, that liner was
withdrawn from service. He was then transferred to the Carpathia,
but the ship was overbooked and he finally got a ticket
for the Titanic.
The records for the Titanic show that Thomas Francis Myles
bought ticket number 240276 for which he paid nine pounds,
thirteen shillings and nine pence. He was a second class
passenger, whose occupation was listed as gentleman. His
last residence prior to sailing was listed as Fermoy, Co.
Cork. Thomas boarded the Titanic at 11.30am on Thursday
April 11, he was one of the 2,224 people who had a date
As the Titanic set sail from Queenstown nobody aboard could
have conceived that they were to be part of one of the biggest
tragedies of the 20th century. They were on board the World's
biggest ship, a floating palace, a ship which according
to one deckhand; "God himself could not sink".
But on April 15, 1912, the pride of The White Star fleet,
sank within hours of hitting an iceberg in the icy waters
of the North Atlantic. The ship was speeding through an
icefield, hoping to win the Blue Riband for the fastest
Atlantic crossing. The Titanic sank within three hours,
1,513 people died, the survivors were rescued at 4am by
the liner, the Carpathia, the ship which Thomas Myles was
originally to sail on.
Many stories have since emerged of sacrifice, heroism and
cowardice in the aftermath of the sinking. It is now an
established fact that the Titanic had lifeboat space for
only half of its passengers. Many passengers and crew voluntarily
sacrificed their seats for others and the poorest passengers
packed into steerage far below had little chance, they died
with aristocrats and millionaires as the ships orchestra
played on to the end. An account of the traedgy in the Newark
Evening News of Friday, April 19, 1912 gives an account
of Thomas Francis Myles being among the lost passengers
of the Titanic.
The same paper also gives an account of Thomas's son Frederick,
aged 30 wandering the streets of Jersey, driven out of his
mind by grief at the loss of his father.
Thomas Francis Myles died a heroic death. Three weeks after
the traedgy a survivor of the Titanic visited the Myles
family and told them that Thomas had been in a lifeboat,
but had steeped out, saying, "women and children first".
The survivor also told that family that he saw Thomas leading
a group in prayer and trying to encourage and calm them.
The last time Thomas was seen, he was kneeling on the deck,
saying the Rosary and asking God's help in their hour of
need. And so Thomas Francis Myles, born in Brooklodge in
Fermoy, died at the age of 63 on a ship which fate decreed
he should be on. The Myles family home Brooklodge was near
the village of Clondulane, they also owned a farm at Carrigabick.
Courtesy of The Avondu