The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster
 

People on board

Alice Blacker Douglas

BLACKER DOUGLAS, Alice née McGeough

Alice McGeough was born in Dublin on the 19th of December 1869 to Robert John McGeough and Alice Maud Sivewright. Within months Alice, originally from Brighton, had died aged just twenty-five. Robert McGeough did not remarry. A J.P. from Armagh, he owned several estates in Counties Armagh and Down, all of which he left to his daughter and her sons on his death in 1903.

Alice married Maxwell Vandeleur Blacker Douglas on the 9th of September 1891 in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, the ceremony being performed by His Grace the Lord Primate. They had three children, Robert St John, 1892, Alice Florence, 1895, and Charles Maxwell, 1900. Initially they lived in Dublin but by the time of Charles’s birth they had moved to Glanmore Castle in Ashford, Co Wicklow. Set in the Devil’s Glen, the house had been the family home of playwright John Millington Synge.

By 1903 they were living in Bellevue Park in Killiney (now the St Joseph of Cluny convent school). Maxwell Blacker Douglas was a High Sheriff for Dublin as well as representing the Dalkey Division on Dublin County Council as a Unionist. According to his obituary in 1929 he was “a large landowner in many parts of Ireland”, including Armagh and Kerry, and had interests in many industrial concerns. Golf and yachting were his chief pastimes, and also fishing. In the 1911 census the family were living in Lareen House in Co Leitrim which he had bought along with the fishing rights.

In 1912 their eldest son, Robert St John, was gazetted to the Irish Guards and promoted Lieutenant in 1913. He went to the Front with the First Expeditionary Force in August 1914 and was wounded in September. He returned to Flanders in January 1915 and was killed in action at Cuinchy on the 1st of February leading an attack, though already wounded. He was buried in Cuinchy and was posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

It is not known why Alice Blacker Douglas was travelling on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. Initially thought to have lost her life, she was subsequently found to be a survivor and the Irish Independent on the 14th reported that “she was making satisfactory progress at her home in Killiney”.

In 1922 Alice and Maxwell left Ireland and settled in the Channel Islands in a house named ‘Seafield’ in St Lawrence, Jersey. Maxwell died in Biarritz, France in 1929 and Alice stayed on in Jersey. Her house was requisitioned by the Germans during the war and her Registration card from 1941 shows that she was then living in St Peter. She returned to ‘Seafield’ after the war and she also ran a farm at La Valonnerie, St Clement. Both her son and daughter were then also living in Jersey. Alice’s death was registered in St Helier in 1956 and her will showed that “she desired to be buried at sea”. She is remembered on the WW1 Memorial in Woodenbridge, Co Wicklow.

 

 

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