The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster
 

People on board

James Blake

BLAKE, James Joseph

James Joseph Blake was born in Queen Street, Arran Quay, Dublin on the 5th January 1869 to Daniel Blake and Eliza McDonough. He had a sister, Bridget, and there may have been other siblings. Daniel was a ‘Labourer’ then but given as an ‘Iron Moulder’ on James’s marriage certificate. James married Catherine Fay on 25 May 1892 when his address was Cottage Place and hers was St Patrick’s Terrace, Russell St. Their first child was born in Russell St. but by the time their second child was born in 1894 they had moved to 35 Clonliffe Road.
This was a solid, second class house with five rooms in a middle-class area of the city, a good address for a ‘Sorter’ in the General Post Office.

Post Office Plaque When James died in 1918, he had twenty-nine years of service, meaning he had started at the age of twenty. The family stayed in Number 35 until 1902, and four more children were born there. In 1897 and again in 1899 notices can be found in the Freeman’s Journal looking for a strong country girl for general house work. Another girl was born in 1903 in 18 Clonliffe Rd. and the youngest child was born in 1906 in Lomond Avenue in Fairview, but by the time of the 1911 census the family of eight children was back in Clonliffe Road at Number 167, a slightly larger house.

James Blake would have travelled out to Kingstown from the city centre on the 10th October 1918 on the mail train, accompanied by his fellow workers. They would then have transferred the mail bags into the Post Office compartment on RMS Leinster in preparation for sorting the mail during the journey to Holyhead. That work would have been underway when the torpedo hit the ship and tore into their compartment. Only three of the Post Office workers were able to get out of the compartment and of these only one survived. James Blake died on the scene.

His body was never recovered but his will was probated in December 1918. It was reported that his widow, Catherine, was ill at the time of the disaster, and she died from T.B. in August 1922. Two more of the children died from the same disease in 1922 and 1925. The three were buried in Glasnevin cemetery, though neither their names, nor that of James Joseph, are commemorated on the headstone.
There are memorial plaques to the twenty-one brave Post Office workers in the General Post office in Dublin and in the Post Office in Dun Laoghaire.

 

 

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