Michael Cooney was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on the 3rd October 1894, the son, and one of thirteen children of Michael and Elizabeth Cooney (née Moore). The family home was at 92, Hopwood Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancashire. His father was a merchant seaman who also served on the Lusitania on her last voyage.
He served as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania and was killed when she was sunk. He was aged 20 years.
His body was not recovered from the sea and identified afterwards and as a consequence, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
His father, Michael Cooney senior, was a professional merchant seaman too and also served as a fireman on the ship. He too was lost, and his body was not recovered and identified either. He was aged 46 years, although when he signed on he claimed to be aged 40 years..
One can only imagine the effect of their two deaths on Elizabeth Cooney, - losing a husband and a son in the same disaster!
In August 1915, his mother Elizabeth was paid the balance of wages owed to him, in respect of his service on the
Lusitania’s last voyage, which was reckoned to be from 17th April 1915, until 8th May, 24 hours after the vessel had gone down! In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Elizabeth Cooney to compensate her for the loss of her husband and son, which amounted to £58-17s-2d. (£58.86p.) which was payable at the rate of £4-18s-2d. (£4.91p.) per month.
In 1918, Michael’s mother died, and his eldest sister, Mary, was left to raise his siblings.
There was one other father and son tragedy from the sinking. Greaser Paul Wiencke and his son Trimmer Paul Frederick Wiencke were also lost.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 334, UniLiv. PR 13/24, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Joyce Percival, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.