Patrick McMahon was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, in 1870.
He was a professional seaman and in April 1915, he had been in New York, in the United States of America, having served on the steamer S.S. Corfe Castle.
On 29th April, he engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the
Lusitania at Liverpool at New York, and he was employed on these duties when the liner left the port just after mid-day, on 1st April, on what became her last ever voyage.
Just six days later he survived the liner’s sinking after she had been torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 off the southern coast of Ireland and only 250 miles away from her home port. Having been plucked from the sea and landed at Queenstown, he eventually made it back to Liverpool, where he was eventually officially discharged from the liner’s final voyage and paid the balance of wages owed to him in respect of it. This amounted to £2-14s-4d., (£2.72p.).
In an article with the headline "Corkman's Thrilling Story" published in
The Cork Examiner on 13th May 1915, fellow fireman Charles Scannel told of his experiences during and after the sinking and this included a mention of Patrick McMahon: -
As far as I can learn since, only two of the seventeen room mates of mine were saved, in addition to myself, namely Hugh Stanley and Patrick McMahon. There were in all about 200 firemen and trimmers in the ship - the "Black Gang," as they are called, and the majority of these were drowned, and I have no doubt that all the men in stoke holds on the 12 to 4 watch went down too."
There was another fireman on board the Lusitania named Patrick McMahon. He came from County Monaghan and was killed as a result of the torpedoing. His death and the survival of the Liverpool born fireman has sometimes caused confusion as there is a Fireman Patrick McMahon in the both the survivors and perished list of crew members known to have been on board the ship, which was published by The Cunard Steam Ship Company on March 1916.
As far as can be ascertained, Patrick McMahon continued to serve in the mercantile marine for a number of years following his ordeal.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cork Examiner, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345.