The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Alfred McDonnell

McDONNELL, Alfred Thomas

Alfred Thomas McDonnell was born on the 19th of January 1875 to Henry McDonnell and Teresa O’Connor. The address given was 3 Windsor Place, off Pembroke Street in south Dublin, and Henry’s occupation was ‘Coachmaker’. Another child, Mary Elizabeth, had been born at the same address on the 10th of April 1868, with the same details given for her parents. There is a record of a possible marriage on the 12th of May 1867 between Henry McDonough and Teresa Connor, the latter giving an address of 3 Windsor Place, while Henry’s address was Summerhill. This may be a case of inaccurate information on the certificate. No further children have been found, but there could have been several.

Post Office PlaqueThe London Gazette of the 15th November 1895 listed the appointment of Alfred Thomas McDonnell as ‘Sorting Clerk’ in the Post Office in Dublin. Four years later, on the 11th of September 1899 he married Elizabeth Tyrrell in the Church of Ireland parish church in Donnybrook, both giving an address of 7 Victoria Avenue, Donnybrook. Elizabeth was born in Co Kildare, and was the daughter of William Tyrrell, a farmer. The following year her sister Margaret also married in Donnybrook, also giving 7 Victoria Avenue as her address. Two daughters were born to Alfred and Elizabeth, Eveline in 1900 and Frances Anne in 1903. In both the 1901 and 1911 censuses a widowed aunt, Margaret Close, was living with the family in Victoria Avenue.

Alfred was a member of the Geraldine Lodge of the Freemasons in Dublin from 1912, and his death on the RMS Leinster in 1918 was noted on the official Freemasons Register.

In September 1916 Alfred made a ‘Claim for Damages caused during the Disturbances’ during the Easter Rebellion in April 1916. He claimed that damage was done to his bicycle at the G.P.O. caused by fire during the bombardment. He had had the bicycle for five years and looked for ten pounds, but was offered seven. He would have used the bicycle on a daily basis travelling to work from Donnybrook.

Alfred McDonnell was not due to work the shift on the 10th of October 1918 involving travelling on the boat to Holyhead, but he replaced a colleague who was sick. The work would have started in the G.P.O. in Dublin city where the mailbags would have been brought to Westland Row train station along with the twenty-one postal sorters and their Superintendent. They would then have travelled out to Kingstown on the train, which went straight to the Carlisle Pier where the mail was then put on the ship. The Post Office sorters had their own designated compartment, below decks.

Unfortunately, when the first torpedo hit the ship it went straight into that compartment, causing immense damage. Of the four Post Office workers who managed to escape from the compartment, only one survived the sinking. Alfred McDonnell was seen on the deck just before the ship sank but he did not survive, nor was his body recovered. His name is recorded on memorials in the G.P.O. and in the Post Office in Dun Laoghaire.                                                                     





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