On April 10, 1912, Jeremiah Burke boarded the RMS Titanic in Cobh, Ireland.
The 19-year-old was headed to Charlestown, Massachusetts, to start a new life.
Before he left, Jeremiah’s mother, Kate, gave him a small bottle of holy water for the trip.
Jeremiah’s father drove him and his cousin, Nora Hegarty, to Cobh (formerly known as Queenstown) in his pony and trap to meet the ship. The cousins then departed, excited about their adventure to America.
Four days later, on April 14, the ship hit an iceberg, and it sank in the early hours of April 15. Jeremiah and Nora died in the wreckage, along with 1519 other passengers and crew members.
Sometime between when he boarded the Titanic – and when it sunk – Jeremiah scribbled a quick note on some paper, placed it in the holy water bottle his mother gave him, tied it up with his own shoelaces, and threw it overboard.
The note simply read: “From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork”.
One year later, the message in a bottle washed up just a few kilometres from Jeremiah’s hometown of Glanmire, Cork.
The Royal Irish Constabulary contacted the Burke family with the news that a man walking his dog had picked up a message in a bottle at Dunkettle. He’d read the letter and handed it into the authorities.
Upon looking at the note, Kate immediately recognised her son’s handwriting. She could also identify the holy water bottle she had gifted him just before he set off on his trip.
Historians believe Jeremiah wrote the note before the ship hit the iceberg, to say farewell to his homeland which he may never have a chance to visit again.
Little did he know that he would never touch dry land again – or that his eight word note would be the last words sent from the Titanic.
An article published in The Cork Examiner on April 27, 1912, said the “sympathy of the people of Cork will go out in full measure to the parents of Miss Nora Hegarty of Killavallig, Whitechurch, and Mr. Jeremiah Burke, of Upper Glanmire, both of whom were only 19 years of age and who lost their lives in the Titanic disaster”.
“They left Queenstown full of hope for a bright and happy career in the United States,” the article said.
“Their parents and relatives will have the sympathy of all in the great sorrow into which they have been plunged.”