Loss of the Titanic
By co-incidence, Andrew Houston was a former scholar of Rathkell National School, Addergoole, where his father was the first principal. Andrew attended his father's small school from 1855 to 1860, some 20 years before John and Mary Bourke were enrolled in the same school, both of whom perished on the Titanic.
Houston's father, himself a writer of verses and songs, was known as the Nephin Bard. After he died, the eleven year old Andrew immigrated with his mother and three siblings to England, to work in the Lancashire Mills alongside Michael Davitt, the Irish nationalist, agrarian and social reformer from Straide in Mayo. Hundreds of Mayo families followed that migrant path to east Lancashire to find work and avoid incarceration in the post-Famine Work-houses back home.
There Andrew kept up the tradition of writing poetry and became known as the Rossendale Bard, after the town in Lancashire where he lived. He wrote more than a hundred poems and songs before he died in 1920.
He probably did not even realise that eleven people from his own parish of Addergoole had lost their lives when he penned his poem 'Loss of the Titanic', but the final verse is a fair tribute to his empathy with those who died and those who remained behind.
"God solace all bereaved ones', what're their creed or race,
and may His brightest seraphs, their loved lost friends embrace!
And may the brave who perished be lovingly remember'd,
while rolls an ocean wave. "