People on board
Laurence Kearns was born in Kingstown on 9 June 1880 to Laurence Kearns and Catherine Canavan. Both his parents were from Kingstown families and throughout their married life they lived at various addresses in the town. Married in 1874, they had their first two children in Stoneview Place, and the next two, including Laurence, in Mulgrave Street. They were in Crimmin’s Court and Milliken’s Court when the final two children were born and, in the 1901 census, the family of five were living in two rooms in Patrick Street, alongside four other households, including one family of eight. Laurence Snr. gave his occupation as ‘Van Driver’, though it had been ‘Labourer’ on the birth certificates of all his children.
Laurence Jnr. gave his occupation in 1901 as ‘General Labourer’, but in February 1903 he started working as a Fireman or Stoker with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company on the mailboats. This move was likely influenced by Anna Maria Loughlin who Laurence married in May 1903 in St Michael’s Church in Kingstown. Anna Maria’s brother John Loughlin, as well as several Loughlin cousins, all worked with the C.D.S.P.Co and were on board RMS Leinster on 10 October 1918.
Laurence and Anna Maria had at least nine children. Initially the family lived at 5 Wellington Street but had moved to 26 Dominick Street by 1908. This was a three bed house, off Library Road, built in 1905 as part of the Kingstown housing improvement scheme, and the Kearns family lived in this house for nearly forty years.
Laurence survived the sinking of RMS Leinster though his brother-in-law, John Loughlin, did not. Laurence was among the group of survivors who took part in the Red Cross war pageant in Dublin on 24 October 1918, which included two of the RMS Leinster’s lifeboats, drawn on lorries. The crew members in these lifeboats held out collecting boxes to spectators “who at once responded to the appeal”, according to the Freeman’s Journal.
Laurence continued working on ships after the tragedy, with ‘Fireman’ given as his occupation on his death certificate. He lived on in Dominick Street until his death in July 1941 at the age of fifty-nine, predeceased by Anna Maria in 1934 and his son Michael in 1936. They are buried in Deansgrange cemetery.