The 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sailing was on a White Star liner, but with the miners coal strike of 1912 causing chaos in Britain, that liner was withdrawn from service.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 with destiny.

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