The day 1,198 died.

This day 100 years ago, eighteen kilometres from the Irish coast, a German submarine sunk the luxury cruise liner the Lusitania. 1,198 drowned, 761 survived.

In the weeks leading up to her departure from New York, the German embassy in Washington posted a Sinking of the lusitaniawarning to prospective passengers in fifty newspapers. Many passengers were worried but travelled regardless, comforted by the knowledge that wealthy members of society were on board.

On May 1st the ship left New York. Arriving off the coast of Ireland on May 7th, look outs were in position on board, as it was known that submarines were in the area. At 14.10 a torpedo struck. There were forty eight lifeboats on board, only six were successfully launched. Eighteen minutes after being hit the Lusitania sank (it took the Titanic three hours).

The word went out around Queenstown (now known as Cobh) and rescue vessels of all sizes made their way to the scene. It took three hours for the first rescuers to arrive, by then most of those in the water had lost their battle.

Today in Cobh thousands have gathered to remember the day a small Cork town became a final resting place for so many. Wreaths have been placed on the memorial, and on the mass grave where 169 were buried. Tonight a flotilla of boats will sail into Cobh harbour, each carrying white lights to re enact the arrival of the many boats who had left the shore on their rescue mission over six hours earlier, some carrying those who had survived, others those who had not.

Tonight I too would like to remember a maritime tragedy often forgotten.

photo credit: LUSITANIA (LOC) via photopin (license)

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24 thoughts on “The day 1,198 died.

    1. I knew about it too, but the photos that have been published in the past few weeks here have really brought it home to me, the scale and the tragedy felt by such a small village.

  1. I remember learning about the Lusitania in school, but hadn’t heard much about this historic event until recently. Because of the centenary, I have seen articles about it this year. Because I am in the US, I am used to hearing about its impact on our side of the Atlantic. I so appreciate hearing about it from Ireland and how so many came out to aid the passengers and crew despite the dangers.

  2. Reblogged this on Top of JC's Mind and commented:
    Thanks to (the award-winning) Tric of (the award-winning blog) My Thoughts on a Page for commemorating the sinking of the Lusitania and the many Irish townsfolk who went out to rescue the victims.

  3. As much as I enjoy learning about history, I’m surprised that I had never heard of this before. Thank you so much for sharing this and for taking the time to acknowledge the lives of these people.

    1. Found a documentary on YouTube “Terror At Sea Sinking Of The Lusitania” which looks to be very informative for anyone wanting to learn more about this tragic event.

      1. Oh great thank you.
        I watched a great documentary film on RTE last night, (I’m not sure you can watch it in the US but I’ll look for the link) which is our native channel. It re enacted the sinking and portrayed a number of true stories.
        Yesterday the families of survivors were on a liner which came to Cobh and they were then brought around Cobh, including the graveyard. The day ended beautifully with the boats coming in and the headland lined with 100 people holding lights. A bell rang 100 times and flares were released from the harbour and the spot she sank.

        1. What a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives. That would have been such an inspiring sight to see.

          If you find the link, I’d love to watch it. I just finished the documentary/drama I had mentioned earlier. It was well done and gave a lot of insight as to what happened on that dreadful day and the events that led up to it. Thank you again for this post, as it has informed me of a very important event that should be known and not forgotten.

  4. What a sad story, of which, unfortunately, I have not heard of until today. How kind of you to share this important piece of history, and for honoring them in this very personal way. Blessings to you, your thoughtfulness will not be forgotten.

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