Letter to Annie Keane
On the 14th of March 1960, Mr Joseph Hanly wrote to Annie Keane expressing his thanks for her “prayers and sympathy during the terrible days of suspense”. The ‘terrible days’ in question relate to an earthquake that occurred in Agadir, Morrocco on the 29th February 1960, which killed approximately 12,000 people. Mr Hanly’s son Daithi and daughter-in-law Joan (Kennedy) were spending their honeymoon in the Mauretania Hotel when the quake struck. Word of their safety did not reach their families until two days after the tragic event.
The earthquake strikes
The couple, who were married in Durrow, Co. Laois, on the 11th of February 1960, were staying on the top floor of the hotel when it started to shake like “a haystack in a tropical storm” at 11.39 p.m., to quote Daithi’s words from an article in The Irish Times.
Making their escape
In attempting to exit the hotel they found that the entrance was blocked by a collapsed veranda, under which a man lay dying, a terrible experience for the couple. They were unable to assist him, so they had no option but to return to their room. In trying to find another exit Daithi checked an elevator door, to discover “nothing … but a great hole” and behind another door the terrifying reality that the hotel’s annex had disappeared.
Later on, members of the staff led the couple out of the hotel through a downstairs window where they immediately saw that the nearby six-storey GuatheirHotel was in ruins. The hotel manager of the Mauretania drove them and some other guests to a farmhouse ten miles from the tourist location of Agadir, where they spent the rest of the night.
Praying for their safe return
Joseph Hanly attributed prayer to the “circumstances in which they were saved” and in his letter to Annie asked her to thank “the neighbours” and to tell them that Mrs Hanly and he were having a “Mass said for all those who prayed”.
Discovery of this letter
Joseph Hanly’s letter to Annie was discovered among possessions of the Keane family by Sylvester Cassidy, including photographs that are now available for identification on the Killererin Heritage Group website which can be accessed below. Just follow the link:
Joseph Hanly who grew up in the Barnaderg vicinity and whose brother John and wife Bridget Martin/Hanly lived in the village for many years, passed away on the 5th of August 1960.
‘Dublin Architect Describes Escape’ The Irish Times, March 4th, 1960. For more information of the Agadir earthquake please follow the link below: