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Titanic survivor’s tale goes on block

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The eyewitness account of an Irish Titanic survivor was sold at auction at Christie’s in New York last week.

Eugene Daly, from Athlone Co. Westmeath, lived through the sinking of the Titanic 87 years ago by throwing himself into the icy waters of the Atlantic.

Daly, a third class passenger, was saved from certain death by the arrival of the liner Carpathia. Once on board he related his ordeal to a Chicago physician, Dr. Frank Blackmarr.

Before the Belfast-built Titanic finally went down, Daly had soothed frantic passengers by playing “Erin’s Lament” on his bagpipes.

According to his own account, he then helped throw overboard a collapsible lifeboat and, as the ship began to make its final death plunge, he threw himself into the freezing water. He managed to climb aboard the collapsible and hang on for the arrival of the Carpathia at first light on the morning on April 15.

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Blackmarr recorded Daly’s story on three pages of his medical stationary. These pages came up as lot 149 at last week’s auction held at Christie’s East on 67th St.

“My God, if I could only forget those women’s cries, if I could forget those hands and faces in the water,” Daly said to the doctor turned reporter who also took photographs of icebergs and approaching Titanic lifeboats in an otherwise empty ocean.

Daly’s account to Blackmarr sold for $3,500. In other sales, a photo of the Titanic and her sister ship Olympic in Belfast Harbor fetched $3,000.

The biggest price of all for the more than fifty Titanic/Carpathia lots was $70,000 — $79,500 when the Christie’s premium was added — paid for “a painted-cast iron house flag and nameplate from a life boat on the Titanic.”

A number of Titanic lifeboats were taken aboard by the Carpathia and later unloaded at the White Star piers in New York.

Pataki finds another $100,000

New York governor George Pataki has set aside an additional $100,000 to help underwrite the drawing up of a Great Hunger curriculum for New York State public schools.

The money will be added to an already existing $200,000 marked out in the state budget for the curriculum, which is currently being put together under the guidance of Dr. Maureen Murphy of Hofstra University on Long Island.

The extra money was confirmed to the Echo this week by Jack Irwin, Pataki’s liaison to the statewide Irish American community.

The curriculum idea was initially proposed by then assemblyman, and now U.S. representative, Joe Crowley, and later approved by state legislators in Albany.

The curriculum is expected to be completed at Hofstra by the summer, possibly by the end of June.

Irish Embassy on line

The Irish Embassy in Washington has gone on-line with its own website. The address of the website is www.irelandemb.org/ and, according to an embassy spokesman, the site has three broad purposes.

“It will act as a resource for those who seek general information on a range of issues relating to Ireland, including the peace process in Northern Ireland, the economy and Irish foreign policy,” spokesman Adrian O’Neill said.

“It will also provide a source of practical information about obtaining passports and visas, applying for citizenship, tracing your ancestors and to serve as an effective gateway to a multitude of other web-sites which relate to Ireland,” O’Neill added.

Meanwhile, those who live in the greater Washington D.C. area may now watch TV news from Ireland Monday to Friday. The broadcast, relayed jointly by RTE and Celtic Vision, is being shown on World View TV-Channel 56 each afternoon at 1.30 p.m. EST.

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