MARITIME lawyer and marine historian Michael Kingston will give his insights on the sinking of the Lusitania ocean liner on the eve of the 100-year anniversary of the World War One tragedy.
The Co. Cork native gives the first instalment of the new Centennial Commemorations in Irish History lecture series, organised by the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith, next week.
The lecture will see him tackle the event which took place on May 7, 1915, where German torpedoes sunk the RMS Lusitania passenger ship in Irish waters less than a year after the First World War began.
The U-boat attack, which took place off the Old Head of Kinsale in Co. Cork, killed 1,918 people, with 761 survivors rescued from the stricken liner.
Mr Kingston was brought up in Crookhaven Harbour, close to the Fastnet Lighthouse, which is the last landmark that the ill-fated Lusitania would have seen before she sank.
“The Lusitania is a fascinating topic and was a huge Irish tragedy at the time, sitting in the midst of our long maritime history in Ireland and in my native County of Cork, where, sadly, we have had to endure terrible maritime accidents both under British rule and under our independent Irish government,” he told The Irish Post.
Mr Kingston, who attended Goleen National School in Co. Cork and Downside School in Somerset before studying history and politics at University College Dublin, went on to study law in London, where he has carved out a hugely successful career in the maritime sector.
Currently working for DWF LLP in their Marine Trade and Energy Group, the solicitor was recently awarded Lloyd’s List Global Maritime Lawyer of the Year for his contribution to safety of life at sea.
In his Lusitania lecture next week he promises to shed new light on the tragedy while looking at the safety regulations of the era and the impact they may have had on the scale of the disaster.
“These great liners, and particularly the Lusitania - known affectionately as the ‘Greyhound of the Seas’, played an integral part in Ireland’s diaspora’s future,” he said.
“Many of our ancestors travelled on these liners and their fate often depended on the hand of luck they were dealt,” he added.
“Of course this tragedy also played a huge role in the politics of The Great War - and like lots of aspects of history the popular narrative is not always correct.”
The 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Lusitania lecture is a free event which takes place from 7-9pm at St Paul’s Church Centre on Hammersmith Broadway on Wednesday, May 6.
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