Courtmacsherry RNLI's centenary tribute to the Lusitania. The coxswain is Brian O'Donovan, a direct descendant of coxswain Timothy Keohane, who spotted the Lusitania in difficulty from the coastline of the Seven Heads in the background (Photo: courtesy of Philip White)

Lusitania Centenary: Irish lifeboat crew re-enacts 1915 rescue call

Posted on on 03 May 2015
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A veteran lifeboat has been rowed to the wreck site of the Lusitania in tribute to those who went to the rescue of the torpedoed liner 100 years ago.

The present Courtmacsherry RNLI Lifeboat crew, together with descendants of the 1915 crew, took part in the re-enactment off the County Cork coast on May 3rd 2015.

Twelve miles (19 kms) out to sea, and after rowing for several hours, they laid a wreath on the waters where the Lusitania sank with the loss of 1,200 lives. 

A restored 1902 lifeboat from Polperro in Cornwall, very similar to the boat that went to the aid of the Lusitania, was used for the historic tribute.

In 1915, Courtmacsherry's lifeboatmen were among the first to head for the Cunard flagship after it was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 on the afternoon of May 7th. 

The Lusitania sank within 20 minutes of being hit. More than 750 survivors were picked up by a flotilla of local lifeboats, fishing vessels and British naval patrol boats.

This week, the coastal communities of Cobh, Courtmacsherry, Kinsale and the Old Head of Kinsale are holding events to mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Descendants of the Lusitania victims will be in Cobh (formerly Queenstown) for a day of official commemorations led by the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, on May 7th 2015. Centenary News will be reporting from Cobh.

Latest details of the Centenary Day programme can be found on the Lusitania100Cork website.

Sources: Courtmacsherry RNLI Lifeboat Centenary Committee; Lusitania100Cork

Images courtesy of Philip White

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News