The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Dr. Thomas Fennessy

FENNESSY, Thomas Dr.

Thomas Fennessy was born in Waterford City on the 23rd of September 1889 to William Henry Fennessy and Lilian Agnes Rance. He was the fifth of their six children, and the youngest of four sons. William had succeeded to the family nursery at Grange and the family lived in Grange Villa on John Street. There was also a seed shop on the Quay, near Reginald’s Tower and branches of the nursery in several counties. An unusual oak seedling was discovered at the nursery in Waterford and named ‘Fennessy’s Oak’. Lilian Agnes Rance, born in Malta, was the son of an English army officer who served in India.

Both Thomas and his eldest brother, Edward/Edmund, became doctors, and both were in Dublin in the 1911 census as medical students, Edmund in the Mater Hospital and Thomas boarding in nearby Nelson Street. In June 1914 their brother Frederick, who had been working as a Nurseryman, died in Waterford of TB. When Edward graduated he moved to England, where he married in 1916, but he also joined the R.A.M.C. with the rank of Temporary Captain and served in Ballykinler Army Camp in County Down. Another brother, Arthur, had married and emigrated to Perth in Australia where he was working as a Florist and Seed Merchant’s Assistant. He enlisted with the Australian Army and served in France in 1918. He later returned to Ireland. Their elder sister May was a Carmelite nun in Liverpool.

In 1917 Dr Thomas Fennessy was listed in Kelly’s Directory as working in the Asylum, Claybury, a psychiatric hospital in London. He had been appointed Assistant Medical Officer there in Nov. 1914. He came home on holiday in late September 1918 and was returning to England when he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October. According to a report in the Waterford Standard he was due to take up an important new appointment but he did not survive the sinking. His body was recovered and was identified by his father. He was brought to Waterford by train and a large crowd of sympathisers met the remains at the station. Along the Quay flags on the ships flew at half-mast and shops were shut on the route of the cortege to Ballygunner graveyard, where he was laid to rest in the family plot.


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