Irish author Martina Devlin stumbled upon a family secret while scanning a list of Titanic passengers.
Idly running my eye down it, a name and address leapt out: Thomas O'Brien of Bonavie, Co Limerick. My grandmother, Josie English née O'Brien, came from Bonavie. It's such a small townland (near the Tipperary border) that I assumed there had to be a connection between the two.Devlin learned that Thomas O'Brien was her grandmother's uncle, and had boarded the ship with a woman named Hannah—possibly his bride, and certainly pregnant. Hannah survived and gave birth five months later to a daughter. Devlin also discovered the reason for her family's secrecy: Hannah and Thomas' mother fought over who should be considered his next-of-kin and collect compensation from the White Star Line. A letter from Hannah to Tom's sister was less than conciliatory.
"Did Granny have a relation on the Titanic?" I asked my mother. Her forehead pleated. "That's ringing a vague bell," she admitted. "I don't know anything much about it, just that there's a family connection. We knew never to talk about it as children. It upset your granny too much."
"You needn't worry about me. My baby and myself will be alright. I knew ye were all trying to get some money. I produced my marriage certificate, and I had the nearest claim. So you nor the lawyer needn't bother," she said. [Link]