The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster
 

People on board

Mary Donnelly

DONNELLY, Mary (Minnie)

Mary, known as Minnie, Donnelly was born in Ballyshunnock, near Kilmeaden in County Waterford on the 23rd of August 1888. She was the second of the nine children of Michael Donnelly and Margaret Walsh, all of whom were alive in 1911. Michael worked as a Milesman on the Waterford, Dungarvan and Lismore Railway, an employment he held right through his working life.

Minnie was not at home in the 1911 census and in 1913 there is a shipping record of a Minnie Donnelly at the correct age, Governess, coming into Liverpool from Buenos Aires, accompanied by another Governess. This may have been Minnie Donnelly from Kilmeaden. In 1918 she was working as a Lady-in-Waiting to Lady Alice Keppel, long-time mistress of King Edward VII who had died in 1910.

Minnie Donnelly was returning to London after visiting her family in Waterford when she travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. She later recounted her experience “in graphic style”, as the Waterford Standard recounted on the 16th. She said that she was very lucky to get into the first lifeboat “thanks to an American soldier who handed me into the boat”, from where she saw the second torpedo hit the ship “when terrible panic prevailed and we could see people jumping into the water in hundreds”. One thing particularly impressed her, “a sailor in the water, with a baby in his arms whom he was trying to save”. Over an hour after the disaster she was rescued by a war vessel and taken to Kingstown.

It has been reported that Minnie Donnelly later married and had two children, but this has not been confirmed.

 

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