Victims remembered at 103rd anniversary of RMS Leinster sinking

THE sinking of RMS Leinster on October 10, 1918 is the worst maritime disaster ever recorded in the Irish Sea.

On that fateful Thursday morning over a century ago, The Leinster had left the Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire at around 9am.

She carried over 800 passengers and crew on board.

Among her passengers were postal workers, civilians, and a large number of military personnel, both soldiers and sailors.

Germany had resumed its highly controversial policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, and just before 10am, off the Kish Bank, submarine UB-123 fired two torpedoes into Leinster, which sank.

The exact number of dead is unknown but researchers from the National Maritime Museum believe it was at least 564.

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A newspaper report from 1918 on the sinking of the Leinster

The 103rd anniversary of the sinking of RMS Leinster took place at 10:00 on Sunday October 10, at the anchor on the Queen’s Road, Dun Laoghaire.

There was a large crowd in attendance which included relatives of those lost, members of the public, local politicians and a representative of the British Embassy with responsibility for Wales.

The commemoration was overseen by Philip Lecane, an author who has written two fine books on the event, “Torpedoed” (2005) and “Women and Children of the RMS Leinster” (2018).

He introduced Joe Varley, President of the Maritime Institute who gave an overview of the historical event and referred to the 100th anniversary commemoration.

He thanked the various people who attended today.

He also introduced Joe Ryan, Secretary of the RMS Leinster Memorial Committee who commended Des Branigan (RIP 2016) for donating the anchor from RMS Leinster.

His hope is that we go a step further and erect a memorial to name all onboard the vessel on its last fateful voyage.

Lettie McCarthy, Cathaoirleach of DLRCC was also in attendance and she said she was appreciative of the invitation and feels that the memorial will be built in time.

She also said it is up to us to keep pressure on the council and councillors to get the memorial built.

Wreaths were laid by the Maritime Institute, Leinster Memorial Committee and there was one of poppies from Canada.

The lady who represented the postal workers laid a beautiful sheaf of 21 roses for the 21 lost postal workers.

Individuals were then asked to recount stories of their relatives, a lady whose mother was only 10 months old when her father died spoke of his loss, a lady whose family had fourteen members employed on the Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connaught spoke of the loss of one of them.

A man who also lost a relative spoke on behalf of a man in Canada who sends a wreath every year. Another gentleman whose relative was a Medical Officer who had served in France throughout WW1 told how he was lost returning for another tour of duty when he drowned.

Lastly Philip Lecane related the story which he unearthed when doing research for his first book of the fourteen-year-old boy who was travelling to London to train with Bernardo’s from the “cripples” home in Bray (now Sunbeam House).

He was never found.

Those in attendance also heard from a lady from the British Embassy with responsibility for Wales who supports the efforts to build a memorial.

Joe Ryan, Secretary of the RMS Leinster Memorial Committee, told Southside People the campaign to get Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to allocate a site for a memorial continues.

“Recent insights into a meeting of the civic memorial’s committee of DLRCC state that we have a monument, the anchor,” he said.

“There are also monuments to the Titanic and Lusitania but in 2012 and 2015 respectively memorials naming all those who travelled on both vessels were unveiled for their 100th anniversaries.

“Another misgiving is that a name or names might be left out.

“We intend using the 813 names compiled for the 100th anniversary book.

“If there are any further additions/deletions then a plaque can be added to update as required.

“We await debate of a motion at the council to allocate a site for the memorial.

“We await the publishment of the Indecon report on the Harbour due in November to which we have made a detailed submission and we hope that the civic memorial’s committee will approve the building of the memorial which will give focus to relatives from at home and abroad who visit Dun Laoghaire.”

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