Titanic Passenger – James Farrell

James Farrell could very well be the inspiration for “Tommy Ryan” in James Cameron’s Titanic. He was an Irish man who demanded that crew members open the gates for women and chidren, and died in the sinking. He is generally believed to be a kind man, and associated with at least two young female steerage passengers (I think I remember them as sisters named Kate and Mary)

11 thoughts on “Titanic Passenger – James Farrell

  1. James Farrell was born in August 1885 in Clonee, Killoe, Co Longford, Ireland to John Farrell and Ellen McCarthy and one of nine children.
    On the night of the disaster, James accompanied Katie Gilnagh and Katie Mullen (both from Killoe) as well as sisters Margaret and Kate Murphy towards the upper deck. When prevented from going further he shouted “Great God man, Open the gate and let the girls through”. Much to their fellow passengers amazement the sailor complied. After leading the women to safety aboard the lifeboats, he gave his cap to Katie Gilnagh and shouted “Goodbye forever”
    Eight days later, James’ body was recovered still clutching his rosary beads. It was given a brief religious service and buried at sea on 24th April, 1912.
    James Farrell’s actions that fateful night featured in the book ‘A Night To Remember’ and the subsequent film in 1958 where his character was played by Patrick McAlinney. He was also portrayed in the 1979 TV film “SOS Titanic” by Robert Pugh.
    James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster featured a character Tommy Ryan that seems to have been based on James and features a scene where he pleads for the barriers to steerage to be opened.
    In April 2012, a memorial plaque commemorating James’ actions that night is planned to be unveiled in his native parish of Killoe, Co Longford.

  2. I am looking for more information on James Farrell. I believe he was married to a relative in my wife’s family. There is a story which says that he was headed back to New York to be reunited with his wife, Margaret Maloney Farrell.

    Margaret was the twin of Bridget Maloney Prout who made her life in Ireland and was the great grandmother of my wife.

    Do you have any way of verifying that I have the right James Farrell. Did he leave a wife behind? She would not have been traveling with him.

    1. James Farrell was my great uncle. He was coming over here to join his brother Michael Farrell (my grandfather) who was married to Annie McRobbie and lived in Brooklyn. Michael came earlier (not sure of the year) from Ireland and Annie came from Scotland. My grandfather later opened up a bar in Brooklyn, Farrell’s Bar and Grill. The bar is still there, but not owned by the family anymore.

      1. I believe James Farrell may also be my great great uncle. I believe he was the brother of my great grandmother who was also from County Longford and later married – her married name was Finnerty. Any info. to help me find out if this is true would be helpful. Thank you.

      2. Hi there

        I am just wondering if there is any chance that James Farrell may have been related in any way to our Family.
        It’s is a very very long shot but I was just interested to find out when I saw home on the list then saw your post. My father is from Marino in Dublin and obviously our family name is Farrell. Did you manage to find out through your family that James Farrell was you relation or did you have to search.
        If you have any information of where I could look I would be really grateful.
        Kind regards

        Siobhan Colgate nee Farrell

      3. My mother retells the story of her father that left Ireland 1920 or 30s that he had a relative that ran away onto the Titanic, I believe that that was James Farrell. My Grandfather was Thomas Farrell of Longford.

  3. Gregory, as far as we are aware, the James Farrell who perished on the sinking of Titanic wasn’t married. That was his first and last voyage. Where did you hear your story?

  4. My grandmother hailed from Killoe. She was theresa dunleavy and her mother was bridget farrell. bridget married john dunleavey and had 10 daughters and 1 son. Any chance this is a relation to james farrell from the titanic. any information you have would be helpful. Thank you.

  5. My mother’s best friend growing up in Alliance, Ohio was Mary Ray. Her mother was Mary Farrell Ray, the sister of James. I don’t know what Mary’s(the daughter) married name was but my mother still had contact with her up until Mother’s death in 1988. Because of Mary’s uncle James perishing on the Titanic I have always been interested in all thing Titanic since my childhood.