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West Clare connection to famous Titanic bugler

A commemoration for Titanic bugler, Percy Fletcher who was newly married to a West Clare woman took when he died in the disaster 112 years ago, took place last Sunday at Tooting in London.
The young 25-year-old man tragically died when the ocean liner struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912. A mere three months previously, he had married a Kilrush woman called Mary Meaney at St Gregory’s Catholic Church in Wandsworth.
Local historian and county Tyrone native, Geoff Simmons had put out an appeal in March via local Clare media and social media for descendants of Mary Meaney’s to attend the unveiling of an historic blue plaque in Percy’s honour at his former home at 26, Lessingham Avenue on April 14, the eve of the anniversary of the ship’s sinking. Mr Simmons had hoped The Cliffs of Doneen would be sung on the day in recognition of Mary and the Clare connection.
“Percy’s last sight of land may have been the beautiful Cliffs of Dooneen, so close to the town of Kilrush, hometown of his wife of just three months, Mary [Molly] Meaney,” he said.
Describing how the commemoration went, he told The Clare Champion that it was a very uplifting event.
“Honestly it was just the best I could have wished for. Not too stuffy, a lovely heartwarming occasion with a good crowd of people of all ages, shapes and sizes on a lovely, sunny spring afternoon. We selected Christy Moore’s live version of ‘Cliffs of Dooneen’ and blasted it out to open up proceedings after I said a few words about Mary, St Gregory’s, Kilrush and the Titanic’s last sight of land.
There wasn’t a dry eye on the street and several people asked me about it later and said how appropriate it was. There is a large migrant population in this area, including myself, and ‘all the fine people I’m leaving behind’ [line] is very meaningful.”
At the event, a 10-year-old boy, Caspian Loth trumpeted a section of The Last Post in Percy’s honour, and also a rendition of the tune the bugler would have played to summon first class passengers to their final dinner on board the Titanic.
Since his appeal and through recent research, Mr Simmons has now discovered that after her young husband perished in the Titanic.
Mary emigrated to Canada where she went on remarried a James Yell a few years later. She died in 1960. Mary and James had one daughter, Pamela in 1918 who became a nun and died in 2007.
Therefore, it would appear Mary has no grandchildren, and Mr Simmons said that to date, he has received no direct contact from any extended family in Clare.
An expert in the history of the Titanic, Mr Simmons said he has become fascinated by Mary Meaney’s story, and has been delving into her history. He has since discovered that Mary’s sister Grace also lived in Wandsworth, and the sisters lived next door to each other at one point. Grace died in 1980. At least one other sister and a brother, Joseph were also here all living very near to each other, according to the historian.
Meanwhile, Grace’s grand-daughter and Mary’s grand-niece, Taryn Morris from Brighton got in touch with him via social media.
“That is the closest I’ve got and her memory of her grandad telling her that Grace’s sister [Mary] once lived next door. Apparently Taryn did once meet Mary’s daughter, Sister Pamela in Canada. Very poignantly, Sr Pamela according to her obituary had a lifelong attachment to Halifax, Nova Scotia which you might know is very much part of the Titanic story,” he explained.
When the ill-fated ship sunk, it was 700 nautical miles east of Halifax in Canada. Once the Whilte Star
Line’s owners in New York heard the ship had hit an iceberg, they believed the damaged vessel would be able to continue on there.
Another tragic link is that 150 of the 1,496 people who perished were laid to rest at Halifax.
Mr Simmons added he was thankful to Paddy Waldron who kindly put up a post on the Kilrush Historical Society Facebook page to help in the search for Mary Meaney’s descendants.

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.

About Sharon Dolan D'Arcy

Sharon Dolan D'Arcy is originally from Ennis. Her work as a print journalist has appeared in a number of regional publications. She worked as court reporter at The Sligo Weekender newspaper and is a former editor of The Athenry News and Views. She covers West Clare news.

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