Alice Curley was born in Clonsedy, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland, on the 14th October 1887, the daughter of James and Anne Curley (née Meegan). Her father was a general labourer who died when Alice was very young, following which, the family moved to the nearby townland of Mokeeran, Carrickmacross.
She worked as a general servant in a local grocery store before deciding to emigrate to the United States of America. She arrived in New York on the 19th October 1912, on board the White Star liner
Baltic, and found work there as a domestic servant. Other members of her family, including at least one sister, also lived in New York.
In the spring of 1915, however; perhaps because of the military situation in Europe, Alice Curley decided to return home - possibly only for a holiday. Consequently, she booked third class passage on the May sailing of the
Lusitania from New York to Liverpool, on the first stage of her journey.
Having boarded the vessel at her berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on the morning of 1st May 1915, she had to wait until just after noon for the liner to depart and give her what was to become her last glimpse of the New World. This delay from her scheduled 10.00 a.m. departure was because the Lusitania had to take on board passengers, cargo and crew from Anchor Liner
Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned as a troop ship at the end of April.
Six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the Lusitania was torpedoed by the German submarine
U-20, twelve miles off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and sank only eighteen minutes later. At that stage of her voyage, she was a mere twelve or fourteen hours away from her Liverpool destination. Alice Curley was one of some 240 third class passengers to perish as a result of this action. She was aged 27 years at the time of her death, although official records stated that she was aged 22 years!
On 21st May 1915, a letter arrived from her brother-in-law in New York City, a Mr. Hugh Leonard of 142, West 83rd Street, which gave a description of her which stated: -
Had on her person when sailing, two ten dollar bills, one five dollar bill, a gold locket and chain, white cuff links, also two one pound notes in a small bag or satchel.
Despite the details of this description, none of the unidentified female corpses matched them and as a consequence, Alice Curley has no known grave.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1901 Census of Ireland, 1911 Census of Ireland, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.PR13/6, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.