Michael Cooney was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on the 26th January 1869, the son of Peter and Margaret Cooney. He was married to Elizabeth Cooney, (née Moore) on the 27th May 1894, and the family home was at 92, Hopwood Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool, Lancashire. Michael and his wife had thirteen children, four of whom had died in infancy or early childhood. Their nine surviving children were Mary, Michael, Margaret, Elizabeth, Francis, Joseph, John, Catherine, and Charles.
He was a professional seaman in the British Mercantile Marine, and served as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the
Lusitania and was killed when she was sunk. He was aged 46 years, although when he signed on for the final voyage, he gave his age as being 40 years!
His body was not amongst those recovered and identified afterwards and as a consequence, his name is embossed on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
His son, also named Michael, also served as a fireman on the ship and he, too, was lost, His body was not recovered and identified either. He was aged 20 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 widow 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, Elizabeth Cooney died, leaving her eldest child, Mary, to raise the family.
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, 1871 Census of England and Wales, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 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