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Victim m Kate was the ONLY 3rd c class passenger on Titan nic whose body was reco overed from the sea & ret turned to her family; FINAL TRIBUTE: AN IMMIGRANT'S TALE.


WHEN Kate Buckley skipped down the gangplank at Queenstown, she knew she was embarking on a new life, totally different from her existence as a domestic servant in Cork.

The 22-year-old was travelling to America at the invitation of her elder half-sister Margaret, who had already found success in Massachusetts.

Kate was the only child of her father Jeremiah and his second wife Julia.

Jeremiah had a daughter from his first marriage, which ended when his wife died in childbirth.

But his new wife did not take to his existing daughter Margaret, and the child was ushered first into a convent and then later emigrated to America, settling in the Roxbury area of Boston near her aunt.

When Kate came of age, her older sister Margaret offered to pay for her passage to join her in America. Jeremiah and Julia opposed the plan, but Kate jumped at the chance and bought her ticket for pounds 8, more than a month's wages for a working man and worth about EUR3,500 now.

Like most passengers crossing the Atlantic for a new life, Kate could only afford the dingy accommodation below decks in steerage, officially known as Third Class and the same accommodation used by Leonard Di Caprio in the film Titanic.

There, in the dark, cramped confines of third class, Kate was bunked alongside men, women and children alike, with little thought for private space or hygiene.

By law, locked gates prevented her and her fellow steerage passengers from moving around on deck or mixing with the richer passengers travelling in first and second class.

And like most passengers who travelled in steerage on her ship - a luxury White Star liner on its debut voyage - poor Kate Buckley did not live to see America.

Because 98 years ago last week, the ship taking Kate to her new life in America - the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic - was ripped apart when it slammed into an iceberg in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

In the early hours of April 15, 1912 of the 1,317 passengers and 905 crew (a total of 2222 people) 1,517 perished. Just 705 survived and the majority of deaths were caused by hypothermia in the -2C water in one of the most tragic and notorious of all maritime tragedies.

The majority of those who died were travelling in the steerage. As well as the locked gates, armed guards blocked the way of Third Class passengers who tried to escape to the lifeboats.

And one Irish steerage passenger, Annie Kelly, revealed afterwards that the stewards failed to raise an alarm to wake those in steerage and e v e n told concerned steerage passengers to go back to bed as there was no danger.

Most likely, Kate Buckley was among the "horde of humanity" one British Army officer witnessed pouring out of steerage and onto the boat deck, only to discover that all the lifeboats had already departed.

In the icy waters of the North Atlantic, few of the Titanic's passengers survived long enough to drown. Hypothermia claimed most of their lives within minutes. Probably, Kate Buckley was among the hundreds of passengers who literally froze to death in the icy ocean.

Only a fraction of the dead were ever recovered from the Atlantic, and most of those corpses that were retrieved from the sea belonged to the upper class inhabitants of the ship's First and Second Class cabins.

The first recovery ship to reach the site found so many bodies littering the water that they ran out of embalming fluid and decided to focus only on upper class remains.

Even in death as in life, class boundaries were applied.

Captain Larnder of the Mackay-Bennet cable ship decided to preserve only the bodies of first class passengers, since this could help "resolve disputes over large estates".

The remaining bodies were buried at sea without ceremony. Later, justifying his decision, Larnder told angry relatives and undertakers that he himself would be happy to be buried at sea.

But somehow Kate Buckley's body was among those retrieved by the Mackay-Bennet. So it was by accident rather than design than tragic Kate became the only third class passenger on board the Titanic whose body was recovered from the Atlantic and returned to her family.

The log of the Mackay-Bennet records that they found a young woman, guessed to be 18-years-old, who was wearing a long blue overcoat, a blue serge jacket and skirt.

Like most of the dead, her remains were brought ashore at Nova Scotia in Canada. The authorities there passed on information about those they were able to identify to relatives in New York and Boston.

Heartbroken Margaret Buckley was informed of her half-sister's death, and requested that the body be transferred to Boston for burial. Kate was interred in St Joseph's Cemetery in West Roxbury.

But astonishingly, there was yet more heartache in store for Margaret.

Later that same year, Margaret travelled back to Ireland to console her grieving father. But she was greeted at the door of his home by her angry stepmother who called Margaret a murderer and slammed the door in her face.

Margaret left without ever seeing or speaking to her father again.

Now, 98 years on, tragic Kate is set to receive a long-overdue memorial.

Kate Buckley's grave was finally discovered by members of the Titanic International Society six years ago. But they were surprised to discover that Kate's grave had no headstone.

A local stonemason has contributed the memorial stone and the cemetery has waived all fees for the tragic Titanic passenger.

"I think that it is finding closure for an ancestor," Susan Strong-Dowd, the wife of Margaret's grandson said.

"The marking of the grave and the whole ceremony is a way of saying to the ancestors that 'we know what happened.' It's a way for all of us to finally say 'Margaret, this was not your fault.' "This is a wonderful way to do that."

The monument will be unveiled at a public ceremony in St Joseph's cemetery, Boston, on Saturday, May 22.


Titanic postcard ... Eliza Johnstone, a victim of the disas ster, sent one a few days before the ship sank Rescued... but few survived The crew... ship was 'unsinkable' Lifeboat... Tragically too little, too late for hundreds Kate Buckley will finally have her own memorial as well Titanic survivor Millivina Dean in Dundee with a Daily Mirror Lucky for so me... lifeboats rescue the rich passengers Silver screen... Scene from the Di Caprio movie Haunting sight... the sunken hull True story... Immortalised in the movie, T is the scene of a young girl's own epic tr Titanic ragedy
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 18, 2010
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