ONE hundred years ago yesterday 28-year-old Delia McHugh was rushing to Queenstown Port from County Mayo, Ireland, to board the Titanic for its maiden journey to New York.
Delia, a young woman from a well-off Irish family, was to chaperone the wife of a wealthy politician - but romance struck in the nick of time to save her from the doomed ship when it called in at the port.
Her remarkable escape is recalled by her Lydiate granddaughter Maureen Birchall and is being printed for the first time for the final article to commemorate our local connection with the ship.
Delia was clutching her boarding pass andn just minutes away from stepping on to the ship when her childhood sweetheart, Patrick Hoban, caught up with her on his horse and cart.
In a scene not out of place of a Hollywood blockbuster, the teenager, who was 10 years her junior, crouched down on one knee, proposed marriage to her there and then and begged her not to leave.
Shocked and surprised, Delia said “yes” but only after she returned from her two-year stint in New York – and providing he would ask again.
In all the excitement, Delia missed the Titanic and ended up getting its sister ship - The Olympic - which was also bound for New York. Little did she know that he had just saved her life.
While in New York, Delia met many survivors from the Titanic and was told by many that they believed the reason it sank was because of a ‘haunted Egyptian mummy' on board.
Two years later and true to her word, Delia returned home to Ireland and met Patrick. The couple ended up getting married and moved to Liverpool.
They took over The Renshaw Pub on Renshaw Street, had two children and two grandchildren.
Their granddaughter Maureen Birchall, who lives in Lydiate, said: “The Titanic sinking is of course really sad but thankfully I'm still here today because he proposed to her and she was one of the lucky ones who missed the ship.
”I spoke to my grandmother a lot in my early teenage years and I can remember her telling me the story – it is so romantic. She was sad about the ship sinking but felt very lucky that she was still alive because of Patrick.
“She was also a lovely lady, very shy and very gentle while granddad was very confident.
”They were opposites but they complimented each other and lived a very happy life before both dying of old age aged 86.“