The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

James McCarron

McCARRON, James, Alderman

James McCarron was baptised in Coleraine, Co Derry on the 28th March 1852, his parents being John McCarron and Esther McMullan. Nothing is known of his early life but when he married Margaret Casey in Derry in 1875 his occupation was a Tailor. James gave his address as Joseph Street and Margaret as Creggan Street, and it was in the latter street that they settled until about 1882 and had their first four children. In all, fourteen children were born to James and Margaret, three of whom died in infancy and one died in the US in 1912 at the age of thirty two.

In the 1901 census the family was living in Lone Moor Road, with the seven youngest children at home, the older ones having emigrated to the US, most to Philadelphia. The two older girls at home gave their occupation as ‘Seamstresses’ while James continued as a Tailor. By 1911 they were living in Stanley’s Walk, a larger five roomed house under the City walls, and only four of the children remained at home. They were joined however by two grandchildren, sons of William in Philadelphia, whose wife had died in 1907.

From the early 1890s James McCarron had been prominent in the Amalgamated Society of Tailors and Tailoresses, becoming Secretary and being imprisoned after a strike. Representing that Union, he was elected to the parliamentary committee of the Irish Trades Union Congress and served as President on three occasions. Politically he was a Nationalist but he defended the role of the British-based trade unions in Ireland. He was elected to Derry City Council and became an Alderman in 1901. He represented the labour movement in the 1917 Convention that discussed Home Rule.

James McCarron

James McCarron was travelling to England on RMS Leinster on the 10th October 1918 with fellow trade unionist Patrick Lynch from Cork. Neither survived the sinking, but both their bodies were recovered. One of McCarron’s daughters travelled to Dublin to identify him and accompanied the body to Derry by train on Saturday evening. An enormous crowd gathered to witness the sad homecoming and a hearse took the body to his home on Stanley’s Walk. He was buried the following day in the City cemetery.

A notice in the Derry Journal on the Wednesday announced that “scenes from the funeral of Alderman James M’Carron” would be shown in St Columb’s Hall and also “scenes after the sinking of the SS Leinster off the Irish Coast”. A subscription list was opened to raise funds to erect a permanent memorial.

In July 1920 his widow Margaret travelled to Philadelphia with her daughter Elizabeth, then aged thirty-three, and her two grandsons who had been living with their grandparents for some time. Margaret died in Philadelphia in December 1922 and is buried there.



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