This post concludes our look at each of Titanic’s 13 honeymoon couples. They came from different countries, different walks of life, and had various reasons for sailing on Titanic. Some survived the sinking and were able to carry on with their lives. In some cases, the husband or wife lived but were forever separated from their spouse. Others went to their deaths together. They each had their own love story.
Sir Thomas Lipton grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and started the first Lipton’s grocery store there in 1870. By 1888, one store grew to 300. He then created the Lipton’s tea brand and established it across Europe and North America.
To young Neal McNamee, a new Lipton employee in Derry, Ireland, Sir Thomas was a hero. Neal planned to start his own business one day and became a dedicated, hard-working employee, soon earning a promotion to the London store in 1910. Then, when Eileen O’Leary applied for a cashier’s job at the store in nearby Salisbury, he was so taken with her charm and beauty that he soon began courting her. It wasn’t long before the two fell in love.
Eileen and Neal McNamee
Neal had been offered a position at Lipton’s new store in New York City, so when he proposed to Eileen, she knew she would need to leave her family behind. Also, Neal was Catholic and she was a committed Baptist. With interfaith marriage not being acceptable at the time, Eileen would need to convert to Catholicism. But she loved Neal, and the two had great dreams for the future. She accepted Neal's proposal, and the two were married in January, 1912. For their transportation to their new life in New York, Neal booked a small third class cabin on the new ship everyone was talking about, the RMS Titanic.
One of Titanic's third class public rooms
Sir Thomas Lipton gave Neal a glowing letter of recommendation to present to the manager of his New York store. Eileen received her own letter from the mayor of Salisbury, thanking her for serving as a Sunday School teacher at her church and praising her fine character.
On April 10, the couple checked into their cabin and enjoyed the comfortable third class dining room and other public areas during the voyage. But no surviving witnesses recalled seeing them after the Titanic collided with the iceberg. Some stewards directed third class passengers toward the boat deck, others found it themselves, and many others waited in their cabins for instructions, due in part to language barriers.
Third class menu from the last day aboard Titanic
Eileen’s body was found by the recovery ship Mackay-Bennett. She had apparently taken some time to dress in several layers of warm clothing and she still clung to her purse. It’s assumed she and Neal had reached the outer decks and were not stuck somewhere inside the ship. Neal’s body, however, was not found.
Today in a Salisbury park, a memorial plaque and bench pay tribute to these two young lives full of hope and dreams for their future together.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Titanic Honeymoons series of posts. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we’ll continue with another aspect of the great RMS Titanic.