Sunday 11 December 2016

A tragedy that has echoes in the world we live in today

Published 25/04/2015 | 02:00

The Lusitania docks in New York after its world record-breaking maiden voyage.
The Lusitania docks in New York after its world record-breaking maiden voyage.
The Lusitania comes into dock in New York.

The sinking of the RMS Lusitania off the coast of Cork, on May 7th 1915, was condemned as the biggest civilian atrocity of the First World War. While seven million non-combatants died in that conflict, the loss of 1,198 mainly British, Irish, American and Canadian lives provoked greater anger than any others and led to the United States entering the war.

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That it did so hastened the end for Germany, and marked the arrival to the international arena of what was to become the world's first superpower.

In this special centenary supplement, UCD lecturer Dr Richard McElligott explains the background to the sinking and just why Germany targeted the passenger liner.

With stunning photographs, we tell the story of the appalling loss of life and some remarkable tales of heroism on board the ship - and the magnificent response of the lifeboat and fishermen of Co Cork who rowed out for three hours on a calm day to help rescue passengers and crew.

The citizens of Queenstown, now Cobh, were also generous in extending the hand of friendship to those stricken, and that kindness is remembered to this day.

We also bring to life what it was like to be a passenger aboard the Lusitania; the remarkable Cork man who died but is still a major figure in Irish life; and the various mysteries and theories that have abounded ever since. And diver Tim Casey brings us right down to the seabed in recounting his visits to the wreck.

The Lusitania comes into dock in New York.
The Lusitania comes into dock in New York.

As the centenary is marked in New York, Liverpool, Dublin and all along the coast of Cork, we remember the great ship and those who sailed in her, innocents who fell victim to war and now lie in graves far from their homes, or on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Gerard Siggins

Editor

Irish Independent

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