The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Edward Augustus Hackett

HACKETT, Edward Augustus

Edward Augustus Hackett was born on the 1st of December 1859 at Castletown Park in the townland of Castle Armstrong, Ballycumber, King’s County (now Offaly) to Thomas Hackett and Henrietta Clementina Fawcett. He was the sixth of their seven children, and the youngest son. He studied in the Engineering School in Queen’s College, Galway, taking his degree in 1880 with first place in Ireland. After two years’ work in Ireland he was appointed in 1882 to “the important and lucrative post of Assistant Engineer to the Natal Railway” in South Africa.
On the 28th of August 1883 he married Emilie Elliott Henry from Co Kerry in Pietermaritzburg, Natal and their first son, Learo Aylmer, was born in 1884 in Estcourt, Natal. On their return to Europe he was Resident Engineer on the Craigmaddie Reservoir project outside Glasgow and their first daughter, Venice Clementina was born there in February 1887. In September of that year he was appointed County Surveyor for Kerry and two years later he moved to a similar, but better paid, post in Tipperary South Riding.

The family settled in Clonmel and four more children were born, two boys and two girls, including twins. Edward Hackett developed a reputation for excellence and for the introduction of new techniques in the construction and maintenance of roads, publishing a pamphlet in 1904 titled Economical Steam Rolling of Irish Country Roads.
He also carried on a substantial private practice in the area. In 1911 the family were registered in the census in Portarlington but appear to have returned to Clonmel where the youngest son, Edward, died in 1915 aged just sixteen.

The middle son, Eric, born in 1895, was commissioned into the 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment and fought at Loos and Guillemont and lost his life in September 1916 at Ginchy. His body was not recovered. The eldest son, Learo, enlisted with the Royal Munster Fusiliers after leaving school, but left the army to pursue a career in rubber planting in Ceylon. In January 1916 he rejoined the R.M.F. later transferring to the Royal Irish Rifles. In June 1917 he fought on the Messines Ridge and was subsequently awarded the Military Cross for bravery and excellence in leadership. In April 1918, having been promoted Captain, he was killed in the Battle of Ypres and was buried in Flanders.

Meanwhile Venice, the eldest daughter, registered with the British Voluntary Aid Detachment in August 1916 and was posted to a hospital in Boulogne. She became engaged to a British army officer during 1918 but fell ill with Spanish flu in October. She was sent to London on a hospital ship, but she developed pneumonia and died on the 13th of October. Edward Hackett was on his way to London to see his daughter when he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th. He survived the sinking but it is not known if or when he reached London.

In 1919 Tipperary County Council transferred its allegiance from the Local Government Board to the Dáil Department of Local Government. It would appear that Edward Hackett was unhappy with the political changes and he retired in May 1920. He returned with his wife Emilie and two daughters, Geraldine and Alma, to Castletown Park in Ballycumber and took over the running of the farm from his older brother. In 1928 Alma married but died the following year in childbirth. In 1931 Edward Hackett gave up the farm to the Land Commission and the house was demolished, the stone being used to pave local roads. The bodies in the family grave on the estate were exhumed and reinterred in Liss cemetery in Ballycumber. They moved to Ballenagh House in Avoca, Co Wicklow where Emilie died in 1935 and his daughter Geraldine in 1943. Edward himself died in February 1945 in the nearby Woodenbridge Hotel, aged eighty-six. His body was returned to Liss.





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