People on board
Michael O’Connor (Connor) was born on the 30th of August 1872 to Mortimer (Morto) Connor and Mary Connor. They lived in the townland of Dirra, Brosna, Co Kerry where several Connors held land in the 1850s Griffiths Valuation. Mortimer and his father Bartholomew before him were Weavers and do not appear to have held land. Michael Connor was the third of four sons of Mortimer and Mary.
The youngest son, Mortimer, enlisted in 1892 in the Royal Irish Regiment until 1905. His military records give his next of kin as his parents and a brother, Bartholomew, also in the Royal Irish Regiment. The latter’s, the eldest son, records have not survived. In 1901 Mortimer Snr, then a widower was a Boarder in Pontypridd, Glamorganshire, Wales along with his second son, Patrick. Both gave their occupation as ‘General Labourers’, though being in the Rhondda Valley, they may have been working in the coalfields.
Michael has not been identified in the 1901 census but he may have moved to Wales with his father and brother as he married Blanche Florence Williams in Pontypridd in 1910. A daughter Nora was born in 1913 and there was one other child. He appears as head of household in the 1911 census in Penmain Street, Aberrhondda, north-west of Pontypridd. With his wife Blanche there was also his father Mortimer, ‘Labourer in Mine Underground’ and his brother Mortimer, ‘Contractor Underground’. Michael gave his occupation as ‘Assistant Contractor Underground’.
The family also lived in Treforest, close to Pontypridd and Mortimer Snr was regularly before the Magistrates for drunkenness. The newspaper reports show him as an irrepressible wit, “an elderly Irishman with a strong Irish brogue and a beaming face” and “his enforced visitations to the Pontypridd Police Court are invariably amusing”. His death does not appear to have been recorded, though there is a death record of a Mortimer O’Connor, aged thirty-six, in Pontypridd in 1913 which may be Michael’s brother. There is also a record of the death of Blanche O’Connor, aged thirty-eight, of Treforest in November 1915, who may have been Michael’s wife.
Michael O’Connor enlisted in the Welsh Regiment, giving Treforest as his residence, and he later transferred to the Labour Corps. His older brother Bartholomew also enlisted in the Labour Corps. Nineteen members of the Labour Corps were travelling on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October and sixteen lost their lives that day, including Michael O’Connor. His body was recovered and he was buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin. His name is recorded on the Pontypridd War Memorial.