President to lay wreath in Cobh to mark centenary of the Lusitania sinking

President to lay wreath in Cobh to mark centenary of the Lusitania sinking

IRISH President Michael D Higgins will lay a wreath in Cobh later today to mark the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

A total of 1,201 people died when the boat, en route to Liverpool from New York, was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Cork on May 7, 2015.

The President will be joined by Defence Minister Simon Coveney for the ceremony at the Lusitania Monument on the Old Head at 2.10pm - the time the tragedy happened.

Cobh is among four coastal communities in the county of Cork who have come together this month to host a series of commemorative events to mark the World War One disaster.

Kinsale, The Old Head and Courtmacsherry have also been paying tribute to all those who lost their lives in 1915, as well as those who helped in the wake of the tragedy.

A spokesperson for the Lusitania100 Cork project said: “We remember the gallant efforts of those who responded with great courage and compassion to rescue survivors, the bereaved, and recover the dead, in ordinary fishing boats and lifeboats.

"These communities witnessed first-hand the trauma and heartbreak of the disaster.”

As part of the commemorations a series of re-enactments are also taking place. Last Sunday Courtmacsherry recreated the call to service of the RNLI lifeboat.

The old British Royal Navy Watch Tower on the Seven Heads peninsula in the town's bay is home to the oldest RNLI Lifeboat Station in Ireland, which was instrumental in the aftermath of the disaster.

Today in Courtmacsherry 1,201 balloons will be released by local school children - each one bearing the name of a Lusitania victim.

Tonight Cobh will remember their rescue efforts with a twilight Flotilla of work boats, fishing boats and pleasure craft, each illuminated with white lights, and the town will also re-enact the Mass Funeral procession on Sunday.

The mass grave at the Old Church Graveyard in Cobh was the final resting place of the dead.

There are still remains that have never been named or claimed to this day.

Tomorrow Kinsale town is recreating the aftermath inquest with descendants of the 1915 jury.

The Old Head of Kinsale is the point from which the Lusitania took her final bearing on May 7 1915, with the ship’s final resting place just over 11 miles south of the Old Head Lighthouse.

The Old Head Signal Tower will also be officially opened today as a new Lusitania Museum where artefacts recovered from the wreck will be exhibited.

Plans are also in place to add a piece of sculpture bearing the names of all who sailed on the Lusitania.