People on board
John O’Connor was born in Kingstown on the 8th of February 1900. He was the eldest of the five children of Peter O’Connor and Julia Barnes who had married in Glasthule in 1899. According to shipping records Peter was born in Glasgow, though his family was living in Kingstown by the mid-80s and Peter was employed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights from 1886. He began as a ‘Boy’, graduating to ‘Seaman’ on the SS Princess Alexandra and later the SS Tearaght. He also served on other ships plying the Irish Sea.
Peter and Julia had five children, two of whom died in infancy. The family lived at various addresses in Kingstown and Glasthule, including Mulgrave Street and Magenta Place. The latter was the address that John O’Connor gave in his employment records for the City of Dublin Steam Packet Co. He was working as a Third Steward on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918, aged just eighteen.
He was interviewed a few days later by a reporter from the Irish Independent at his home in Magenta Place and described his experience. He said that he was initially thrown on his back by the explosion, but recovering he put on a lifejacket and helped a lady passenger with hers. He helped to lower a lifeboat on the bridge and put off with a number of passengers, one of whom sang all the time to “keep up their hearts”. They were rescued after about two hours.