Wednesday 20 September 2017

Relatives honour rescuers lost during 'storm of the century'

RNLI member Kiaran O'Connell handing the wreaths over to the lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Declan Masterson
RNLI member Kiaran O'Connell handing the wreaths over to the lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire. Photo: Declan Masterson
Cynthia Mulligan, whose granduncle died in the tragedy, pictured with her husband Ciaran and their kids Evan, Aaron, Emily and Laura. Photo: Declan Masterson
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

RELATIVES of volunteer rescuers who lost their lives at sea have gathered at a memorial service in their honour.

The annual Christmas Eve RNLI ceremony for those lost at sea and the 15 volunteers who died in service in 1895, was held in similar weather conditions to the disaster of 118 years ago. On the Christmas Eve tragedy of 1895, all 15 of the RNLI volunteers attempting to rescue those aboard the stricken SS Palme caught up in a storm were lost off of Blackrock, Dublin.

The 15-minute ceremony was held at the Dun Laoghaire lighthouse, which had waves covering its light on the day of the 1895 disaster. At the time, the storm was described as "the most severe of the century".

The volunteers had launched their rescue bid from Dun Laoghaire, or Kingstown as it was known. All on board the Palme were later rescued.

Eight of the bodies of the crew were recovered on St Stephen's Day and, in time, all 15 were recovered.

Cynthia Mulligan's great-granduncle, Edward Crowe, was one of those volunteers and it was her first time at the ceremony on Dun Laoghaire East Pier after a year-long search into her family's naval past.

Cynthia's great-grandfather was a man lost to the sea, too. He was on the RMS Leinster when it was torpedoed off Dun Laoghaire by a German submarine in October 1918. In February this year her own mother died and both naval men had been on her side of the family.

"I remember trips down to Dun Laoghaire pier every other Sunday as a child and my mother would always point out the RNLI plaque on one side and the RMS Leinster one on the other side," Ms Mulligan said.

Her great-granduncle was 30 when he died. His body was buried separately to the other 14 servicemen in Deansgrange cemetery because he was one of the last to be found.

Cynthia enlisted help in locating Edward's 1895 grave, which was in a state of disrepair, but she has since had it restored in time for the annual commemoration.

Irish Independent

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