Edward Ryan was born at Corrags, Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland, on 1st September 1864, the son of Patrick and Anne Ryan, (née Rice). He married Margaret Irving at St. Sylvester’s Church, Liverpool, on the 26th January 1892, and they lived at 57, Gildarts Gardens, Limekiln Lane, Liverpool, Lancashire.
On 14th April 1915, he signed on at Liverpool for service as a fireman in the Engineering Department on the
Lusitania, under his mother’s maiden name of Rice, at a monthly wage of £6.10.s.0d, (£6.50p.). His previous ship had been the White Star Liner
Ceramic. He left the Mersey for the last time on board the Cunarder, on the morning of 17th April 1915 and was killed when she was sunk nearly three weeks later, homeward bound for Liverpool.
His body was never recovered and identified afterwards and as a consequence, his name is embossed on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing, at Tower Hill, London. He was aged 51, although when he engaged, he stated that he was 44!
In August of 1915, he was officially discharged from his service on the Lusitania and his widow Margaret was paid the balance of wages owing to him, which amounted to £4-14s-0d. (£4.70p.). This was in respect of his sea service, which was reckoned to be from 17th April 1915 until 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the great liner had gone down. The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited also granted her an annual pension which amounted to £20-12s-5d. (£20.62p.), payable at the rate of £1-14s-5d. (£1.72p.) per month.
His brother William Ryan served in the Royal Naval Reserve, as 411V Stoker William Rice, and was killed in action just over a year later, on 31st May 1916, on board the battle cruiser H.M.S.
Queen Mary, at the Battle of Jutland. His body was not recovered and identified either and he is commemorated on The Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire. He was aged 50 years at the time.
Family lore states that when both brothers engaged for sea service, they used their mother’s maiden name as she had a relative named Rice, with high naval connections and the pair hoped that this might help both of their careers!
Both brothers were originally commemorated on the headstone of the family grave at Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland. However, this stone having been destroyed, a simpler one has now replaced it, which simply gives the family name.
Edward Ryan’s widow Margaret returned to Gildarts Gardens, Liverpool, in 1958, where her niece had the tenancy of No. 59, and lived there until her death, in June of the same year.
The records of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission state that when he engaged, Edward Ryan lived at
94 Gildarts Gardens, not 57, but this latter is taken from the Particulars of Engagement
ledger, compiled at the time each seaman actually signed on and still extant at The Public Record Office today. As Edward Ryan would have given the address himself, to the Cunard official who filled in the ledger, it is more likely the latter number is correct.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Edward Byrne, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, J. McGuiness, UniLiv. PR. 13/24, PRO BT 334.