One Clonbur man perished on the fateful Titanic
For most passengers the reason for boarding HMS Titanic was the hope of a better life in the new world. John Flynn from Clonbur had already found the American dream having emigrated years previously. He was returning home to his wife and family in Pittsburgh after visiting his sister in Ireland.
John was born in Carrowhakeen, the only son of John and Catherine Flynn. He had two sisters. Mary emigrated to America where she married John Gallagher and settled in New York. Bridget, the youngest, remained at home looking after the farm following the death of her father. She married Martin Mannion from Gortnasup and they lived in Carrowhakeen where she cared for her elderly mother.
John left for America at a young age going to live with an uncle in Pittsburgh. He secured work in the local steel mills. He married Mary Cassidy from the village of Dooras near Cornamona on August 26, 1891 in Pittsburgh. They had six children and they lived in Oakland, Pittsburgh.
In March 1912 John returned to Clonbur to visit his sister Bridget. Life had not been easy on Bridget or ‘Bid Ann’ as she was affectionately known. Their mother Catherine died in 1906 and her husband Martin passed away in 1910. After arriving in Clonbur John wrote to his wife in Pittsburgh telling her he arrived safely. During his stay he assisted Bridget with daily chores on their small holding. On Easter Saturday John was setting potato ridges in Carrowhakeen when he received a letter from his wife Mary in Pittsburgh. Whilst the contents of this letter were never revealed it’s clear it was a matter of urgency as John immediately abandoned his task and set about returning to America. Joe Kyne was General Merchant and Boat Agent in Clonbur. His premises were located where The Fairhill House Hotel stands today. It was here John Flynn paid £6-19s for a third class sailing ticket number 368323.
He visited his in-laws in Dooras on Easter Sunday. While there a sister of his wife expressed a wish to go with John to the land of opportunity. Her mother dissuaded her from making the journey.
The following Tuesday John left for Ballinrobe on the first leg of his return journey. A subsequent letter from Bridget to his wife Mary reveals she had given John ten shillings to purchase a shawl in Ballinrobe as a gift to Mary
He stayed overnight in Ballinrobe in The Railway Hotel and took the train to Queenstown where he boarded ship on Thursday, April 11, 1912. Operated by White Star Line, RMS Titanic was on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. On Thursday, April 12 Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. John Flynn was among the 1,514 passengers who lost their life in one of the worst disasters in maritime history. He was 42 years of age.
A series of letters from Bridget to his wife in America followed inquiring about any tidings of a husband, father and brother. His body was never recovered.
But now, thanks to the diligent work of Bernadette Feerick, Veronica Flanagan and Ann McGuigan the people of Clonbur can finally honour John Flynn who lost his life on that ill-fated voyage.
The task became a labour of love for this small but hardworking committee. They have painstakingly gathered details of his life and, in as much as possible, traced the itinerary of his fateful journey.
Father Martin Moran, a native of Kildun, The Neale is a distant relative of John Flynn. He recalls attending a film in Cong about Titanic. On returning home he regaled the harrowing tale to his parents only to discover the family connection.
On Sunday next Father Martin, assisted by Father Peter Connolly, will celebrate Mass in St Patrick’s Church Clonbur at 2pm in his memory. Earlier he will bless the ruins of the Flynn home in Carrowhakeen at 1.15pm. After Mass, Galway County Councillor Sean Ó Tuairisg will unveil a stone monument in the village of Clonbur. Other Titanic memorabilia will be on display and the hard-working committee have also produced a souvenir booklet that will be on sale on the day.
Were it not for the invaluable work and time invested in this project by Bernadette, Veronica and Ann, the story of John Flynn might have forever remained untold. It’s through their dedication that Clonbur can now remember John Flynn.
The specially inscribed stone to his memory will be unveiled in Clonbur just over a hundred years to the day he left Carrowhakeen under the shadow of Mount Gable for the final time.
The spirit of passenger 368323 is finally home from the sea.