Cuff links belonging to James Farrell were on display during last week’s commemorations in Ennybegs where a special memorial was unveiled to remember the local hero, who perished after the ship sank just days into her maiden voyage to New York, 100 years ago this week.
Farrell has been credited with saving the lives of local women Katie Gilnagh and Katie Mullen – among others - before he died, and it was eight days after the sinking of the vessel that his remains were discovered.
Martin Farrell’s aunt was married to James Farrell’s brother Tommy and it is now believed that James handed the cuff links to Katie Gilnagh as she boarded Life boat 16 with Farrell’s assistance. Ms Gilnagh posted the cuff links back to the Farrell homestead in Killoe, weeks after arriving safely on the shores of New York.
“James Farrell handed them to Katie Gilnagh, once he knew that she was safe and going to make it,” said Martin Farrell. “Tommy Farrell was James’ brother and it is believed that it was Katie Gilnagh that gave them to him. My Aunt, Mary was married to Tommy Farrell and when he died in the 1950s, she passed the cuff links on to my father Matt Farrell.”
The cuff links remained in safety for many years, unbeknown to the Farrells just how precious they would become.
“My father always knew that they were there, but they weren’t mentioned that often; I suppose people never realised at the time how important those items would become.
“I do remember my father, though, taking very good care of them,” Mr Farrell added. “My sister later took charge of the cuff links and it was really nice to be able to show them at the unveiling of the memorial to James Farrell in Ennybegs last week. It means a lot to the family to have some of James’ personal possessions.”
Mr Farrell also said that a pocket watch belonging to James Farrell, which he carried with him aboard the ill fated ship, also survived the test of time and also made its way back to the Farrell homestead shortly after the disaster. To this day, the watch remains in safe keeping within the extended Farrell family.