Joseph Feeley was born in Drumderg, Ballinalee, Edgemanstown, County Longford, Ireland, on the 16th March 1880, the son of John and Anne Feeley (née Hetherton). He was an only son, but he had a number of sisters. It is believed that he first went to America in 1907, but he certainly arrived there on the 10th November 1912, having sailed from Queenstown on board the
S.S. Caronia. He gave his New York address as being that of his sister, Mrs. McInerney, 404. St. Nicholas Ave., New York. He gave his occupation as being a railroad man, and he was described as being 5’ 11”, fair complexion, fair hair, and blue eyes.
While in New York, he had met Teresa Clery, an Irish girl from Bulgaden, Kilmallock, County Limerick, and they got married in Manhattan on the 14th February 1915.
In 1910, Joseph’s father had died and in the spring of 1915, his mother had contacted him and urged him to return to Ireland to run the family farm. Joseph and Teresa agreed to return and booked third class passage on the May sailing of the
Lusitania, purchasing ticket 37729 from the Cunard agent, James Boylan, in New York City.
They were on board the vessel when she left Pier 54 in New York, in the early afternoon of 1st May 1915, following a delayed start. The delay was caused because she had to embark passengers, crew, and cargo from the Anchor Liner
Cameronia, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty as a troop ship, at the end of April.
It was a tragic decision for both of them for six days later, the liner was torpedoed and sunk, off the southern coast of Ireland by the German submarine
U-20 and they both lost their lives as a result. At that stage of her voyage, the
Lusitania was only about 250 miles away from the safety of her Liverpool home port!
Although Teresa Feeley’s body was recovered and identified, that of her husband never was and as a result, he has no known grave. He was aged 35 years, although his age was given as 29 years at the time.
After news of the sinking reached his mother in Longford, she successfully applied to The Lusitania Relief Fund for financial help. This fund was set up in Liverpool by its Lord Mayor and other local businessmen, immediately after the sinking to help those survivors or relatives of the dead who found themselves in financial difficulties. The award committee granted her a ‘once and for all’ payment of £35-0s-0d. £15-0s-0d of this sum was to go to her and £10-0s-0d was to be given to each of Joseph Feeley’s two dependent sisters.
A legal battle developed between Anne Feeley and her daughter-in-law’s father, Michael D. Clery, over money and securities found on the body of Teresa. In October 1915, the Lord Chief Justice ruled in favour of Michael D. Clery, and in November 1915, administration of her estate was granted to her father. She left an estate of £196-15s.-7d. (£196.78p.).
New York Extracted Marriage Index 1866 – 1937, 1901 Census of Ireland, 1911 Census of Ireland, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, Liverpool Record Office, Irish Independent, Dublin Daily Express, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, UniLiv D92/2/342, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.