Paddy Agnew, great grand nephew of fireman James Toale, pays tribute at the Lusitania Memorial in the Old Church Cemetery, Cobh (Photo: Centenary News)

Lusitania relatives gather on Irish coast to mark centenary

Posted on on 06 May 2015
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Thousands of people are expected to take part in Lusitania centenary events on Ireland's Cork coast today (May 7th 2015), many of them descendants of the First World War liner's passengers and crew.

The Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, will lead an afternoon of commemorations in the port of Cobh to remember those lost in the 1915 disaster.

The British, German and American ambassadors, together with representatives of Cunard, will join Mr Higgins in laying wreaths at the Lusitania Monument close to the waterfront.

Cobh (formerly Queenstown) was at the centre of the operation to rescue survivors and recover bodies after the sinking of the Lusitania by the German submarine U-20 on May 7th 1915.

As part of the Centenary commemorations, the Cunard cruise liner Queen Victoria is spending the day in port.

More than 2,000 people are on board, many of them descendants of the Lusitania's victims.

At 2.10pm, the Queen Victoria's siren will sound to mark the moment U-20's torpedo hit her predecessor exactly 100 years ago.

The Courtmacsherry lifeboat crew, whose forebears were among the first to go to the rescue, will lay a wreath on the waters where the Lusitania was lost.  

In Cobh, there'll be a second blast from the the Queen Victoria's whistle at 2.28pm, a reminder that it took just 18 minutes for the ship to sink.

The Lusitania Peace Memorial in Cobh (Photo: Centenary News)

Other events during the day include:

*A special commemorative mass at St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh, for Lusitania relatives, and descendants of those who took part in the rescue effort.

*The Cunard Chairman, David Dingle, will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Old Church Cemetery on the outskirts of Cobh, where almost 170 Lusitania victims are buried. A series of glass commemorative panels will be unveiled on the sites of the mass graves where the dead were laid to rest.

*Ireland's defence and marine minister, Simon Coveney, will open a new museum at the restored signal tower on the Old Head of Kinsale, the closest landfall to the site of the Lusitania's sinking.

*A flotilla of small boats, illuminated with white lights, will sail towards Cobh in the evening, symbolising the return of the first rescue boats with victims and survivors a century ago.

*More than 60 historic photographs capturing the aftermath of the Lusitania disaster are being exhibited at the former Cunard ticket office in Cobh (above).

*On Sunday May 10th, there will be a re-enactment of the procession from Cobh to the Old Church Cemetery to mark the 100th anniversary of the mass funerals for the victims.

Full details of all events in Cobh, Courtmacsherry, Kinsale, and at the Old Head, can be found on the Lusitania100Cork website. 

Source: Lusitania100Cork

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, reporting from Cobh for Centenary News