The commemoration of the 107th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania will take place in Cobh on Sunday 8th May, 2022. Organised by Cobh Tourism, the ceremonies are fitting memorials to all those who lost their lives on that fateful war time voyage. Cobh has an enduring connection to the Lusitania and its tragic story because it is where survivors were brought and many of the dead were buried.
The memorial ceremony commences at the Lusitania graves in the Old Church Cemetery at 2.30pm. Following prayers, musical honours by the Commodore Male Voice Choir and the laying of wreaths, the proceedings move to Cobh Town Centre. A Colour Party from the O.N.E. and representatives of the Royal Naval Association and other maritime and historical groups will assemble at approximately 3.15pm at the Lusitania Peace Memorial in Casement Square.
Further ceremonies will take place here including a wreath laying ceremony. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.
The Lusitania Tragedy
On May 7th 1915 Cunard Ocean liner ‘Lusitania’ was sunk by a German torpedo 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale. The ship had been en route from New York to Liverpool with 1,962 people onboard. This tragic maritime event is particularly etched in minds of people locally because of both the scale of the tragedy and the valiant nature of the rescue attempt. Once damaged, the Lusitania quickly listed to one side, making it difficult to launch lifeboats. A flotilla of rescue boats was launched from the nearby Cork coast and while 761 people were saved, 1201 passengers sadly lost their lives, the majority of these bodies were never recovered.
Survivors were ferried to Queenstown, as Cobh was then known and were accommodated in local hospitals, lodging houses and private homes. Nearly three days after the sinking of the Lusitania over 145 of her victims were buried in three mass graves and some smaller plots in the Old Church Cemetery, 1 mile north of Cobh town, 80 of whom were never identified.
Visitors to Cobh on the anniversary weekend and the coming weeks will therefore find it particularly poignant to follow the Lusitania Trail which includes: The Lusitania Peace Memorial in Casement Square, Lusitania A Day in May Exhibit in Cobh Museum www.cobhmuseum.com/Exhibitions/Lusitania and the Lusitania Exhibition at Cobh Heritage Centre . This extensive exhibition includes images from the Poole Collection of glass plate photographs taken by A.H Poole in the days following the sinking www.cobhheritage.com/lusitania/
In addition, the Cruise Ship ‘Ambassador Ambience’ will arrive mid-morning on Sunday 8th May and is scheduled to sail at 7pm. Ambassador is a new UK based Cruise Line the first new British cruise line to be launched since 2010).
Musical performances take place every Sunday from now until September on the Victorian Bandstand in Cobh’s Promenade. This Sunday the Cork Light Orchestra will perform from 2.30pm until 4.30pm. The summer series of recitals on the 49 bell Carillon of St Colman’s Cathedral has also commenced. Recitals are from 4.30pm to 5.30pm on most Sundays from May to September.
For more information on Lusitania Commemorations, Cruise Liner Visits, and visitor attractions in Cobh visit www.visitcobh.com
Expanded Historical Background of Lusitania Connection to Cobh:
The liner “Lusitania” sailed from New York on 1st May 1915 on a voyage to Liverpool with a total of 1962 persons on board. As about 2pm on 7th May she way torpedoed by German Submarine “U20” off the Irish coast 12 miles from the Old Head of Kinsale. The Ship sank in just 18 minutes and 1201 people were lost. Most of the 761 that we saved were landed at Cobh together with many of the dead.
On 7th May 1916, Cobh witnessed the horror and tragedy of the aftermath of the sinking of the Lusitania. Survivors and bodies were brought into a community that responded with courage and compassion. Cobh people remember this tragedy every year on or about the anniversary with a fitting remembrance ceremony for the 1201 people who lost their lives.
On 10th May, 1915, the mass funeral of over 145 victims of the Lusitania tragedy took place in the Old Church Cemetery which is located just outside the town. Glass Memorial headstones now mark the graves within this quiet and impeccably maintained cemetery.
Accounts of this funeral in the press in 1915 describe it as dismal, ghastly and exceedingly sad. Thousands of people from Cobh and Cork turned out to pay their final respects to the victims.
The striking photographs of the A H Poole collection taken at the funeral document this story and these are now on display in Cobh Heritage Centre. The Lusitania exhibit here also reveals the ship’s splendour, first-hand accounts of survivors and outlines the valiant efforts that earned Jerome B. Murphy, manager for the Cunard Line in Queenstown an MBE from King George V.
Cobh Museum is situated in a former Scots Presbyterian Church and its Lusitania exhibition displays a survival biscuit from one of the Lusitania lifeboats.
The Lusitania Peace Memorial stands in Casement square in the centre of Cobh and is a fitting memorial to all who died and those who assisted in the rescue effort. The Angel of Peace, her foot on a sword, embodies the broader appeal for an end to all wars.