Minister Josepha Madigan T.D. and the Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, to lay wreaths on Wednesday, 10 October, at an official commemoration in Dún Laoghaire in remembrance of all of those who died following the sinking of the Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) Leinster a century ago

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., and the First Minister of Wales, the Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones, will today lay wreaths in Dún Laoghaire in remembrance of all of those who perished following the sinking of the RMS Leinster.

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 (then Kingstown) to Holyhead in Wales. The ship was owned and operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. Between 09.30 am and 09.40 am, the RMS Leinster passed the Kish Light. Shortly afterwards, it was struck by two torpedoes, fired by German submarine, UB-123. What unfolded was the worst maritime disaster in the Irish Sea, with at least 564 lives lost.

Minister Madigan said: “I am deeply honoured to represent the Government at today’s official commemoration in remembrance of all of those who lost their lives following the sinking of the RMS Leinster.

“As the French philosopher, Paul Ricour, wrote, “To be forgotten is to die twice”. For many years, those who were lost in this terrible tragedy – over 564 members of the ship’s crew, civilian passengers, postal sorters, and military and medical personnel – were consigned to the shadows of our history.

“One hundred years later, the Decade of Centenaries has created a new momentum and opportunity to shine a light on their stories. Today, we remember each and every one of those who perished and the countless families on both sides of the Irish Sea and as far afield as America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who grieved for their terrible loss. We remember too the members of the crew of UB-123, who themselves were killed one week later. We pay tribute also to the heroism and kindness shown by the rescue services, nursing and medical personnel in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

“I welcome the attendance today of representatives from the countries affected by this tragedy, in recognition of our shared loss and shared remembrance. I am especially grateful to the First Minister of Wales for his presence this morning.

“I would like to thank all of those who have, for many years worked so hard to ensure that the stories of all of those who were on board the RMS Leinster when she embarked upon her final voyage are written back into our shared history.

 “I would like to acknowledge the endeavours of the late owner of the RMS Leinster, Mr Des Brannigan, who was committed to protecting the ship. Today, (10th October), the vessel comes under the protection of the National Monuments Act, which covers shipwrecks over 100 years old.

“I thank also Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council, the family members of those affected by this tragedy, and the many others involved, whose support and collaboration made today’s commemoration possible.

The First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones said: “The disaster that befell the RMS Leinster is a shared loss; not just here in Ireland and at home in Holyhead, where the RMS Leinster was headed, but also by the communities further afield whose loved ones were aboard. Dún Laoghaire’s commemoration, and the commemoration in Holyhead, honours every person who died so tragically on that terrible day. The moving tributes here today serve as a poignant reminder that, although 100 years have passed, the sacrifice of those lost will never be forgotten.”

Councillor Ossian Smyth, Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire added: “On this centenary of the tragic sinking of the RMS Leinster, I think it is very fitting that those lost and the survivors, many of them local people from all walks of life, are being remembered by the State. These commemorations are very much a community effort also, involving local groups and relatives, who have for many years kept the memory of the RMS Leinster alive. The impact of the disaster in 1918 was widespread and I am delighted to be able to welcome those relatives who have travelled from abroad to be here with us in Dún Laoghaire to commemorate this event.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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