The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Birdie O'Connor

O’CONNOR, Birdie

Birdie O’Connor was born Bridget Mary O’Connor on 20 November 1897. Her parents were Patrick O’Connor and Mary Holey, of Lohert Cottage, Cecilstown, Mallow, who had married in Cork City in April 1882. Both their fathers were farmers, and Patrick stated on the marriage cert that he was a ‘Shopkeeper’ in Main Street, Mallow. Unfortunately the family has not been identified in either the 1901 or 1911 censuses so information has been gathered mainly from birth certificates and newspapers. It appears that Birdie was the youngest of five children, John 1887, Joseph 1889, Margaret 1891, George 1895 and Birdie in 1897, but there may have been other unidentified children. On the birth certificates Patrick gave his occupation as either ‘Shopkeeper’ or ‘Grocer’.

On 8 December 1917 Birdie began service with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, commissioned by the Cork Reserve and was sent to work as a nurse in the Greek Street Military Hospital in Stockport, Manchester, previously a secondary school. According to newspaper reports, she was returning to duty from a holiday at home, 67 Main Street, Fermoy, and travelled on RMS Leinster. She was saved and her father put a notice in the Irish Examiner on 16 October saying he was “anxious to hear from the brave man who gallantly gave his lifebelt” to his daughter. There was no report of a happy outcome for this man.

Birdie O'ConnorAccording to the V.A.D. records Birdie’s service terminated on 31 October 1918, though it is unlikely that she actually returned to duty. It is probable that she returned to England after the war, and she was not listed among the mourners at the funeral of her brother George in 1929. In 1934 she married Dr James Twomey, from Kanturk in County Cork, who was working as a G.P. in Hull, both of them in their late thirties.

They married in Cork and Birdie gave her address as Mallow, but they returned to Hull where James was described as capable, respected and popular. Tragically, he died suddenly just four years later, while on a business trip to London. His remains were brought back to Kanturk where he was buried in the local cemetery.

At some stage Birdie returned to Ireland and she was living in Douglas, Cork when, in February 1968, she collapsed and died in her garden. She too was buried in Kanturk cemetery. She left her estate to various causes of the Catholic Church.


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