The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, has confirmed that an official commemoration will take place in Dún Laoghaire, on Wednesday 10th October 2018, to mark the centenary of the sinking of the Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) Leinster and to remember all of those who perished in that tragedy. The programme will comprise a significant cultural element as well as a formal commemoration and wreath-laying ceremony, with participation by members of the Defence Forces. This is also the date on which the vessel will come under the protection of the National Monuments Acts, which cover all shipwrecks over 100 years old.
Just before 9 o’clock on the morning of Thursday 10th October 1918, the RMS Leinster began its final voyage from Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire Harbour (then Kingstown) to Holyhead in Wales. Owned and operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, it is estimated that there were 771 passengers and crew were on board, including postal sorters, civilian passengers, military and medical personnel, and the ship’s crew. Between 9.30 and 9.40am, the ship passed the Kish Light, and shortly afterwards, it was sunk by three German torpedoes, fired from submarine UB-123. What unfolded was the worst maritime disaster in the Irish Sea, with over 500 lives lost.
It is great to see that this awful, but historic event, so close to the end of hostilities in World War I, should be commemorated in Dún Laoghaire.