Miss Margaret Galligan

Margaret Galligan (1893 - 1973), 22, was a British subject and Irish national living in the United States who was traveling with her aunt, Bridget Lee, as second cabin passengers aboard the Lusitania's last voyage.  Margaret and Bridget had planned to take the Cameronia across the Atlantic, but the ship's requisitioning by the British Admiralty reshuffled them to Lusitania.  Both Margaret and Bridget survived the Lusitania sinking.

Emigration and transfer

Margaret was originally from Ardlougher, Ballinagh, County Cavan, Ireland, and was the daughter of Bernard and Mary Galligan. Prior to sailing on Lusitania she had lived in New York City for five years.  She was traveling on the Lusitania's last crossing with her aunt, Bridget Lee.  Margaret and Bridget originally booked passage on the Cameronia to visit friends in Denn, Co. Cavan, Ireland, but when the British Admiralty requested that ship at the last minute, they and many of those originally traveling on the Cameronia were transferred to the Lusitania.


On Friday, 7 May 1915, Bridget and Margaret were sitting at lunch talking about submarines when the ship was torpedoed.  All in the room got up at the impact, but the stewards and waiters assured them that nothing was the matter.  Bridget and Margaret sat back down in their seats.  When the second explosion happened, they had a difficult time getting out and reaching the boat deck.  Margaret and Bridget were supplied with lifebelts but the launching of the lifeboats was slow and disorganized.  The two women held onto each other and the Lusitania sank so quickly that they went under with the ship. The two women were still holding on to each other when they surfaced, and they struck for a floating deck chair.  A nearby man also made for the chair and the three of them clung onto their piece of flotsam for two hours until they were picked up by a lifeboat then holding 20 people.  From the lifeboat they were transferred to a tugboat that took them into Queenstown.  Margaret and Bridget stayed there until Monday, 10 May.  In Queenstown they looked for their shipboard acquaintances, Susan Coleman and Ernest Moore.  Coleman was saved, Moore was not. In the 8 May 1915 New York Times, Margaret Galligan is mistakenly listed as Margaret Galligher.

A promise to the Lord

While in the water, Margaret had promised to devote her life to God in some special way if she were to be saved. Margaret returned to the United States, and in 1918, she entered the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor, a Catholic order, as Sister Mary Amata. Her first mission was in Columbus, Ohio, and later also served in Colorado and New York. Her sister Catherine entered the Dominican order in 1927 and became Sister Cecilia, who died in 1966. Sister Mary Amata worked at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York, for the last 15 years of her life, where she tended to patients on their deathbeds. She also made and sold hundreds of yarn dolls to raise funds for the Calvary Hospital Sunshine Fund. Following a heart attack at age 79, Sister Mary Amata was forced to retire. Sister Mary Amata died on 26 December 1973 at age 80 in Mariandale, Ossining, New York. Contributors: Senan Molony, Ireland Michael Poirier, USA Judith Tavares Hildo Thiel, The Netherlands References: Anglo-Celt, 15 May 1915, pg. 1. Molony, Senan.  Lusitania:  An Irish Tragedy.  Mercier Press, 2004.

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