Miss May Barrett

May Barrett, 25, and her friend Kate McDonnell were returning to Ireland for a holiday aboard RMS Lusitania.  Both May and Kate survived the sinking. May Barrett was of 120 Barrack Street, Cork City, Ireland.  In April 1911, May and Kate McDonnell emigrated to the United States on the White Star Liner Majestic.  Their address in New York City was 263 9th Avenue.  In the spring of 1915 they took a holiday together to go back to Ireland and booked passage on the Lusitania. On Friday, 7 May, May and Kate had just finished lunch and were sitting in the second cabin dining saloon when she heard the sound of something like "the smashing of big dishes."  This was quickly followed by a larger, second crash.  May and Kate made for the stairs, but the crowd got in their way. The ship stopped moving and Kate and May got up to the boat deck where the sailors were working at the falls.  There was no panic at the time.  May went to get lifebelts for Kate and herself, but a man told them, "If you go into the cabin again, you will never get up again." The man went down and came back with lifebelts for the two women who put them on.  At this time the list to starboard was so strong that they lost their footing.  Kate and May scrambled to the side of the ship and mumbled a prayer.  She saw the falls from a nearby lifeboat.  She thought that she could jump toward the ropes and climb down to the water, and so she jumped -- and missed. May landed in the water and did not lose consciousness, but she lost track of Kate.  May feared that she would never see her friend again.  May did not see anyone around her said that she must have lost consciousness because she couldn't remember anything until a lifeboat picked her up.  At the time, the boat was pulling on board another woman, and a man on the boat shouted to May, "You hold on a little longer."  After the boat picked her up, she lost consciousness again until evening and the boat picked up twenty more survivors. The survivors were transferred to a trawler at a quarter to six and it was half past nine when they reached Queenstown. May's friend Kate had also survived was reunited with her father.  Two weeks later, the All-for-Ireland Club passed a "sincere vote of congratulation" to both May and Kate. Contributors: Senan Molony References: Cork Free Press, 10 May 1915, p. 5. New York Times, 10 May 1915, page 2. "All-for-Ireland Club Vote of Condolence to Lusitania Survivor," Cork Free Press, 21 May 1915, p. 5. Molony, Senan.  Lusitania:  An Irish Tragedy.  Mercier Press, 2004.

About the Author