The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Nora Davoren


Nora Davoren was born in Ennis, Co Clare, in March 1876, the tenth of eleven children of Michael and Margaret Davoren. In the early 1850s Michael Davoren had gone out to Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, with his mother, brother and sister, lured by the promise of fortunes to be made in the recently discovered goldfields. He returned in 1859 having found a gold nugget, valuable enough for him and his brother to each buy a farm. Michael settled at Claureen, a seventy eight acre farm with a well on-site, on the outskirts of Ennis and, marrying the following year, brought up his large family, four of whom died young.

Nora and her elder sister Delia both trained as nurses and were working in the General Infirmary in Northampton at the time of the 1901 census. By 1911 it appears that permanent hospital positions were difficult to get as Delia was then working as a private nurse in Northamptonshire, and Nora went to nurse an elderly relative on a farm in Buckinghamshire. There she became pregnant by a son of the household, giving birth to Mary Elizabeth Davoren in 1912 in Bristol. The child was adopted and probably never known about in Clare.

Later Mary Elizabeth changed her name to Nora, married and had children of her own; she was the only grandchild of Michael and Margaret Davoren.

Both sisters were back nursing in the General Infirmary in Northampton in 1918. They were returning to England on RMS Leinster on 10 October after a few weeks’ holidays, but because of missing the train in Ennis they were travelling a day later than intended. Their family was alerted to their personal tragedy when the Matron in Northampton wired them to say that the girls had not arrived.

Neither Delia nor Nora survived the sinking, but their bodies were recovered and identified by their brothers. As the undertakers in Dublin and Kingstown were on strike the brothers had to go to Bray to get coffins, but they managed to organise their removal by train to Ennis on the Saturday evening.  The Clare Champion reported on the huge crowd that escorted the bodies from the station to the Cathedral, where they lay overnight, followed on the Sunday by Solemn Requiem High Mass.  The funeral procession to the family plot in Drumcliffe graveyard was described as “one of the most remarkable demonstrations witnessed in Ennis.”

Both Davoren sisters are commemorated on the World War 1 Memorial in the Peace Park in Ennis.



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