People on board
John Dolan was born on the 7th of February 1883 in the townland of Tullynafreave, between the villages of Glangevlin and Dowra in Co Cavan. His parents, Charles Dolan, a farmer, and Rose Durkin, had at least four other sons and a daughter. In 1918 John Dolan had eighteen years’ service in the Post Office, so he would have started in 1900 and in the 1901 census he gave his occupation as ‘Clerk Civil Service’. He was a boarder in Fontenoy Street in the north inner city at the time.
John has not been found in the 1911 census, but when he married in 1913 his address was Whitworth Road in Phibsborough and he declared himself a ‘Civil Servant’. He married Jane Dolan from the neighbouring townland in Cavan, Tullantanty; in 1911 she was a nurse in the Meath Hospital. Her address on the marriage certificate was Ruth Villa, Fairview, a large house owned by John’s brother, Patrick. John and Jane lived there after marriage, alongside Patrick’s family. There was a market garden attached to Ruth Villa which Patrick ran, as well as being a successful builder in the Fairview area. Over the years the house was lived in by the wider Dolan family. John and Jane Dolan had two children, Robert born in 1914 and Anne born in 1915, both named as O’Dolan on their birth certificates, while John’s occupation was given as ‘Clerk GPO’. Robert later became a doctor and practised in Ruth Villa for some time.
On the 10th of October 1918 John Dolan was one of the twenty-two postal workers team who brought the mail from the G.P.O. in Dublin by train to Kingstown where it was loaded on to RMS Leinster. He would have been working in the Post Office compartment below deck when the torpedo struck the ship, directly hitting that compartment. John Dolan is believed to have died immediately, as reported by the sole survivor of the team, one of only four to have reached the deck and the only one to have survived the water. John’s body was not recovered.
His name is recorded on the memorials in the G.P.O. in Dublin and in the Post Office in Dun Laoghaire. On the 10th of October 1921 there was an In Memoriam notice published in the Irish Independent “In sad and loving memory of Sean O’Dolan, Ruthville by his loving wife and little children”, the Irish version of his name indicating that he may have been involved with the Gaelic movement. Jane Dolan died of pneumonia at Ruthville in January 1925, aged thirty-seven.