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Thursday, December 20, 2012



The Christmas before the Titanic sailed…

by Jina Bacarr

With the holidays upon us, I’ve been wondering what Christmas 1911 was like for the Irish emigrants and passengers who would later board the Titanic in April 1912.

I remember a story I read in an Irish newspaper about a letter to Santa written in 1911 by children who hid their wish list in a chimney.

When it was discovered many years later, it was barely touched by time. As if nothing could douse the hopes and dreams of children adrift on their magical adventure of writing to the man in the North Pole.

Most likely the passengers who booked passage on the Titanic were just as excited about the ship’s upcoming maiden voyage.

It was an unusually cold winter in 1911. What was it like on that Christmas Day?

Did Irish widow Margaret Rice knit extra mittens for her five boys?

I wonder if Father Browne–then a theology student–received his new camera on that Christmas morning?

Imagine the joy in the heart of young Swede Dagmar Bryhl when her handsome fiancé presented her with a lovely watch.

Or the Irish holiday feast of turkey and ham and mince pie enjoyed by Nora Keane when she returned to Limerick to visit her mother.

When they raised their voices in O Holy Night on that Christmas Eve, they had no idea what part they would play on the ship of dreams when they set sail on the Titanic.

Father Browne sailed on the Titanic for two days and got off the ship at Queenstown on April 11, 1912. A wealthy first class couple offered to pay his passage to New York, but his uncle, the Bishop of Cloyne, ordered him off the ship. The future Jesuit priest took the last pictures of the Titanic and her passengers.

Margaret Rice was a steerage passenger. She and her five sons never made it to a lifeboat and perished in the tragedy. A surviving photo of her and her boys was taken before she left and has only recently resurfaced.

Dagmar Bryhl was traveling to visit an uncle in America in second class. She survived, but her brother and fiancé both perished. She was wearing the watch her beloved gave her on a chain around her neck when she boarded the ship.

Nora Keane decided to stay longer in Ireland than planned, but she had trepidations about traveling on Titanic’s maiden voyage. Her brother convinced her to book passage as a second class passenger. She survived the sinking, thanks to a ship’s officer who banged on their door and ordered her and Edwinna Troutt up on top. Nora was shocked when four hundred people showed up at the train station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to welcome her home.

These are a few Titanic stories from that Christmas of 1911.

As Katie O’Reilly, my heroine in TITANIC RHAPSODY, would say, “May the hand of an angel be upon your shoulder to guide you in your dreams.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Read an Excerpt at:

Check out the Titanic Rhapsody book video on my website at:

(You can find Buy links for all e-book Readers on my website).

Follow me on Twitter @JinaBacarr

Merry Christmas, everyone!

WIN an e-book copy of my Titanic Romance novel “TITANIC RHAPSODY” from Ellora’s Cave by leaving a comment. I’ll pick out a lucky winner and post the name here in the comments section.

Katie O’Reilly runs away from the grand house where she is in service after being wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape—the Titanic. She boards the ship of dreams and runs straight into the arms of Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. If she takes off her clothes.

Jina Bacarr loves to travel, indulge in dark chocolate truffles and spend rainy days in museums.

Jina is also a Titanic enthusiast and blogger. Follow her Titanic posts at


Mountain Laurel said...

I never really thought about what the passengers of Titantic did and thought that Christmas before...thank you for your thoughts and sharing them today!

Debby said...

I have visited some of the Titanic exhibits that travel around. Very interesting stuff.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Linda Swift said...

Our fasccination with the Titanic never dies. Thank you for sharing these stories of passengers. Your book sounds very appealing against this background.

Jina Bacarr said...

Thanks for stopping by, Debbie (Moutain Laurel) -- I thought it would be fun to imagine what the Titanic passengers may have been doing during the holiday based on on their personal letters, what was known about them, and the traditions of the time.

It was a challenge, to say the least.

Jina Bacarr said...

Hi, Debby. Great that you had the chance to see the Titanic artifacts up close and personal. Did you see the exhibit with the wall of ice? You can touch the ice and get a feeling of how cold the water was that night of April 14th...freezing. A person couldn't last more than a few minutes in the water.

Jina Bacarr said...

Thank you, Linda, re: your thoughts and my book. Yes, our fascination with Titanic is always there--such a time of hope and grandeur. The emigrants coming to America; the very rich enjoying the best of the best aboard ship.

I thought it would be fun to create a poor Irish heroine who has the op to experience that grandeur...a big part of the story also takes place in New York after the ship sinks and how Katie fools NY Society as the Countress of Marbury...

Jina Bacarr said...

Hi, everyone! It's Dec 22nd -- just three days until Christmas.

And since I had three comments and it's three days before Christmas (do we see a pattern here?), how could I not spread some Christmas Cheer and give each of you who commented an e-book copy of Titanic Rhapsody?

All I need from Debbie (Mountain Laurel), Debby, and Linda is which format works for you: Kindle, epub or pdf.

No hurry...when you see this, let me know. Everyone is shopping and wrapping presents this weekend...and then there are the holiday parties!

I hope you all enjoy your journey on the ship of dreams! Merry Christmas!!


PS -- Are you a fan of Dickens' classic Christmas Carol? Meet my modern, hunky Scrooge in a blog post I wrote:
A Naughty Christmas Carol (How I turned Scrooge into a Sexy, Alpha Male)

Na said...

I love Titanic stories. I've always been fascinated by them and though I read a lot of non-fiction books, I don't often come across fiction ones.