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Memorial to Co Down man who died on Titanic fails as another local victim identified

James McGrady (27) who was a Catholic saloon steward on the fateful ship, perished when it sank on April 15, 1912 and is understood to be the last remains found from the sunken liner


A proposed Co Down Titanic memorial to the last person recovered from the tragedy has failed to gain support following a councillor’s discovery of another victim from the district.

Crossgar native, James McGrady (27) who was a Catholic saloon steward on the fateful ship, perished when it sank on April 15, 1912 and is understood to be the last remains found from the sunken liner.

A Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) motion by DUP representative Callum Bowsie for a Titanic memorial had been sent for equality screening before being declined at the strategy, policy and resources (SPR) committee this week.

A council officer stated that the Titanic Society had so far not provided any other local names of people who died on the White Star Line ship, though a “follow up would be progressed”.

However, Slieve Gullion SDLP councillor, Pete Byrne said: “I have sat on the equality group for many years and when things get through that, they can often fail by falling over some hurdle on policy.

“We do have memorials to Willie Maley (1st Celtic FC manager) and Pat Jennings (Northern Ireland football keeper), but those things are separate and we must give reasons for why they are separate.

“We do have a policy in place that does not allow for memorials such as park benches.”

He added: “Just on the point raised by the council, I must get myself a job on the Titanic Society, as there has been a man from Jonesborough in south Armagh, James Heslin, who died on the Titanic.

“He moved to Liverpool married his wife, Biddy Burns and came back to take over the family farm in Jonesborough. And he died on the Titanic and his body wasn’t recovered.

“His wife went on to live to a fair age of 104 and only died in 1967 and has many family members about the area.

“When we are talking about a bench (memorial) to one person, we can’t insult others across the district by leaving them out.

“I think possibly the way going forward would be to document all names of those who died on the Titanic from the local area at the museum, though I do support the sentiment of the motion.”

Mournes DUP councillor, Henry Reilly alluded to previous maritime memorials in the district with a proposal to develop a wider scoping tourism project.

Cllr Reilly said: “I totally understand the council policy in the modern era, against naming benches and memorials for local people, some of whom perhaps died young.

“But this is a historical matter, some 111 years ago now, and the council has recognised maritime disasters in the area before.

“The Newry Canal for example has a memorial to the SS Retriever (1916) and SS Connemara collided in Carlingford Lough with a large loss of life, so there is a precedent there for markers and memorials.

“The Rowallane ward is an ideal location for a memorial to those who died on the Titanic as the designer of the ship was from there.

“We never want to commercialise a tragedy, but there is a Titanic trail that attracts thousands of people to Northern Ireland every year.

“I’m sure, something like this (memorial) would bring visitors to Crossgar and expose tourists to the lovely area that it is. ”

After a lengthy debate it was agreed that the matter would be sent back to the council’s equality and good relations group to discuss further.

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