On the 16th of October 2015, Mona O’Brien visited Titanic Experience Cobh.
Mona is the niece of Thomas (Tom) O’Brien, along with his new bride Hannah travelled aboard the Titanic. They were originally booked on the Cymric, but were transferred to Titanic after the Cymric sailing was cancelled as a direct result of the Welsh coal strike. When disaster struck Titanic and as the ship sank on the 15th of April 1912, Tom helped his wife, who was two months pregnant, into a lifeboat and kissed her goodbye. Hannah and her unborn baby survived the tragedy, but Tom was sadly lost. On learning of the families claim for compensation, Hannah wrote a letter to her sister-in-law Mary Hunt on the 20th of March, 1912. Mona very kindly donated that letter to us at Titanic Experience Cobh.
The following statement by Mona is the reason why Hannah’s sister Mary O’Brien received that letter.
Before 1913, four of Tom O’Brien’s sisters were in Chicago and getting on well there. His two unmarried brothers – Paddy and Barney were in Ireland. Therefore, Tom and Hannah decided to emigrate to seek their fortune and a better standard of living in the New World. It was more by chance than design that they sailed on the Titanic. When the collision between the ship and an iceberg took place and the mighty liner was then in deep trouble, my uncle’s wife Hannah (who was expecting their first child) was fortunate to get away in one of the lifeboats. I have been told by a wonderful historian – the late Anthony Ryan R.I.P., that Tom helped his wife onto the lifeboat and then kissed her goodbye. His body was never found. May he rest in peace.
Tom’s sisters in Chicago were unaware that their late brother had been married, so Mary Hunt (Tom’s sister) on behalf of the O’Brien family, claimed compensation on the grounds that they were next-of-kin. This claim was brought to the attention of Hannah, so on the 20th of March 1913 she wrote the following letter to her sister-in-law Mary Hunt. On receiving the letter regarding the compensation, Mary sent it to her brother Paddy (my father) residing at the family home in Bunaire, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick.
After all those years, I now wish to donate the letter to Titanic Experience Cobh.
Friday October 16th, 2015.
This is the letter in question written by Hannah O’Brien to her sister-in-law, Mary Hunt.
My dear, Mrs. Hunt,
I have just received your letter this morning, you need not bother yourself about that lawsuit. I have all that filed long ago. I settled with them, you needn’t worry about me. My baby & myself will be alright. I know ye were all trying to get some money. I produced my marriage certificate & I had the nearest claim, so you nor the lawyer needn’t bother.
With love from Baby & myself your fond Sister,