Neal McNamee, the son of a farm labourer, was born in Ruskey, Convoy, Co. Donegal on 29th of August 1884. As a young man he acquired a job at Lipton’s tea company in Derry. He worked hard, showed great promise and managed to secure a promotion to a new post in Salisbury, in southern England, as branch manager in provisions. It was here he met and fell in love with the lovely Eileen O’Leary, a young woman from Plymouth, who had begun work at Lipton’s as soon as she left school.
Neal and Eileen were wed on 17th of January 1912. The enterprising Donegal man had secured yet another promotion within the company, this time in New York. Sir Thomas Lipton himself wrote a letter of introduction on his behalf. The happily married couple purchased a ticket as third class passengers on the RMS Titanic. Figures vary but it is estimated that they paid £7, the equivalent of £569 today.
A third class ticket usually meant incredibly poor conditions for passengers, who often wouldn’t even survive the journey. However, third class on the RMS Titanic was a different story. The conditions here were equal to second or even first on many other ships. The young couple must have been bursting with excitement and anticipation at he new life that lay ahead of them, rich with promise. The passengers on board the maiden voyage of the Titanic included hundreds of emigrants from throughout Europe seeking a new life and opportunities in America as well as some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world.
The newly-weds, Neal aged 27 and Eileen aged 19, sadly never reached New York to begin their promising life together. They perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic along with the other 1,500 victims in what is the most famous ship-wreck of all time. Only 333 bodies were ever recovered and Eileen was among them. Neal was unfortunately never recovered.
A memorial to the couple and a planted tree stands in Winston Churchill Gardens, Salisbury.