The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

John Folan


John Folan was born in Galway on the 31st of May 1895 to Michael Folan and Anne Carrick. He was the eldest of their seven children, three of whom died in infancy. Michael Folan was Mate on the SS Dun Aengus out of Galway, run by the Galway Bay Steamboat Co and serving the Aran Islands and Ballyvaughan in Co Clare. He had been with the company since his teens, working his way up from Deckhand. The family lived in Flood Street in Galway city and then in Courthouse Lane before finally moving to Quay Street.

John Folan first signed up with the Royal Naval Reserve in June 1914 and did his preliminary training on HMS Irresistible. He subsequently served on five more ships with his reports for Conduct always being V.G. and his Ability being Satisfactory and then Superior. In an interview with the Cork Constitution in 1918 he claimed he had been four times on torpedoed ships though only one appeared on his record, the Brumair in 1917.
Returning to Liverpool from leave in Galway in October 1918 he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th in the company of Martin Langley from Galway who was also in the Naval Reserve. John Folan survived the sinking, though Langley did not, and gave a detailed interview to the Cork Constitution, published on the 12th, and again to the Connacht Tribune when he returned to Galway.

He described how a woman handed him a baby which he passed to a man in a crowded lifeboat but the woman had disappeared when he looked back. The second torpedo and explosion caused many people to be thrown into the water. John Folan jumped into the water and clung on to a raft. There were eight men on the raft initially but only Folan and three others were able to cling on until they were picked up after more than two hours. He said they were very well treated, with dry clothes and hot drinks and well looked after in Dublin.

His experiences on the Leinster were not mentioned in his records and he went on to serve on HMS President 111. He was demobilised at Liverpool in January 1919.



  Home        The Sinking        Commemoration        Poetry & Song        People on board        Books        Contact        Privacy        Our Facebook page