People on board
GOULD, Mary Catherine (née Whelan)
Mary Catherine Whelan, known as Mary Kate or Katie, was born about 1876 in Limerick City, according to census entries. Her father was Patrick Whelan, a labourer who, according to the Limerick Leader in October 1918, was a prominent member of the Limerick National Volunteers. Mary Kate married John Gould in August 1896 in Tralee, when he was twenty-four and she twenty, as recorded on the marriage certificate. They both gave an address of Ballymullen Barracks in the town where John was a ‘Sergeant in the Army’, the Royal Munster Fusiliers.
John left the Army in 1897 and when their first child Eliza was born in April 1897 they were living in Nicholas Street in Limerick and John gave his occupation as ‘Labourer’. (In the censuses Eliza was recorded as Mary E and Mary, and as May in the reports of the sinking of the RMS Leinster in 1918). The second child, Ellen (later known as Essie), was born in April 1899. John rejoined the Army in November 1899 and served with the Royal Munster Fusiliers in the Boer War in South Africa. He left the Army on his return from the South Africa. At this stage the family were living at Change Lane. William was born in March 1901 but lived only two days. Alice was born in June 1903, followed by
Catherine in 1905 and the family were then at No 9 King’s Island, where they would stay until at least 1913. Patrick Joseph was born in 1906, Michael John in 1910, Angela in 1913 and Olive in 1917. Catherine and Patrick also died while very young, of convulsions and laryngitis respectively.
In the 1901 census Mary Kate was living with the two oldest girls in one room, her husband John was serving with the Army in South Africa. In 1911 they had two rooms in the King’s Island house for the family of six, and John gave his occupation as ‘Commercial Porter’. The newspaper reports of the sinking of the RMS Leinster in October 1918 said that Catherine was taking the six children, May, Essie, Alice, Michael, Angela and Olive, aged from twenty-one down to twelve months, to England where their father was working. The Limerick Chronicle went further, saying that John Gould “had been at munition work in England for some considerable time past” and that the family had been living in Creagh Lane, Mary Street, Limerick
The second eldest child, Essie, was the only member of the family to survive the sinking and she returned to Limerick by train the following day, where she was met by a number of her friends. The body of Mary Kate was recovered but not those of the other five children. John Gould returned to Limerick and was present when Mary Kate was interred in Mount St Lawrence cemetery in Limerick in an unmarked grave. It is not known what happened to John and his surviving daughter, Essie, in the following years.