Forgotten deaths on the Titanic

Robert Murphy and his son were the first family victims of the Titanic.

While the Titanic was still under construction, the sheer number of men employed and lack of safety regulations led to many deaths. There is no doubt that the most tragic of all these deaths was also the last to occur.

Robert Murphy was employed in the shipyard as a rivet counter. On June 11, 1911, he was crossing a plank gangway on the Titanic when the boards suddenly parted and caved in. Murphy fell 50ft and landed on the tank top. He died as a result of the injuries received. Murphy’s death was not the first for the Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff, the Titanic itself, or indeed, even the Murphy family. Robert Murphy’s son had previously met a similar death onboard the massive ship.

At 2pm on June 15, 1911, the funeral of Robert Murphy began from his home at 6 Hillman Street in the New Lodge area of North Belfast. The coffin was placed in the hearse and bore a simple inscription.

After a brief service by the Rev W Magill, curate of Trinity Church, a mournful train of followers slowly moved off from Hillman Street to North Queen Street, Duncairn Gardens and Antrim Road, and onto Carnmoney Burying Ground, where the interment took place. A burial service was conducted at the graveyard and the coffin was reverently lowered into its last resting place.

Most historians interested in the Titanic have ignored Robert Murphy’s death, which is strange, given that Murphy and his son were the first real ’family’ victims of the infamous ocean liner.

© The Glenravel Local History Project 2004

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