They memorial stone in the local graveyard poignantly spells out Convoy’s close connection with the ill-fated White Star liner. Unveiled yesterday evening to mark the centenary of one of maritime history’s worst tragedies, the inscription reads: “In Memory of William and Catherine McNamee, Ruskey, Convoy. Also their son Neal and his wife, Eileen (nee O’Leary) who perished on the Titanic, April 15th, 1912.”
The story of the young couple who, three months after their marriage, boarded the great ship for a new life in the United States, has passed down the decades, recalled at the various anniversary milestones and no more so than this week, a century old disaster still summoning up the emotions for a generation who never knew Neal or his spouse, but have never allowed their memory to diminish.
For 88 year old Andy McNamee, nephew of the Titanic victim, it’s a story that has been with him and his family since they were old enough to be aware. “I stayed with Neal’s father, William, at Rooskey Cottage and napped stones with him,” he recalls.
A large portrait of Neal McNamee occupies pride of place in Andy’s home at Milltown, Convoy. And on the memorial stone in the nearby graveyard, an image of the newly married man and his 19 year old wife who met in England where he had gone after securing promotion from the Lipton’s tea company in Derry to a new posting in London.
A further promotion followed to the company’s offices in New York and consequently after their wedding on January 17th, 1912, the couple prepared for the voyage, full of anticipation of what lay ahead for them.
What lay ahead was tragedy, the McNamees being among the 1,500 plus victims who lost their lives between 14th and 15th April, 1912, when the ship sank to its doom.
“The story goes that Eileen could have been saved when she was offered a chance to go on one of the lifeboats but she turned it down, preferring to stay with Neal,” says Andy’s son Vincent.
“She said she wanted to die with him,” Andy declares. The brief inscription underneath the portrait in his living room says simply: ‘They Would Not Be Parted.’
READ MORE IN TODAY’S DONEGAL DEMOCRAT.