Sunday 10 May 2015

Lusitania Centenary Commemoration, Cobh

Young Irish seaman stands silently in front of the
Lusitania Memorial

At 2.12pm on 7th May 1915 the RMS Lusitana sank off the coast of Ireland, after being hit by a torpedo from a German submarine, with the loss of 1,198 lives. Many of the survivors were brought ashore to what was then called Queenstown.

On Thursday 7th May 2015 a special day of commemoration was held in the town - now called Cobh, with the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins attending a special Commemoration Ceremony, centered around the Lusitania Memorial, and remembering the tragic events of 100 years ago.

The morning began with a Commemoration Mass in St Colman's Cathedral, where the ladies of the Cobh Animation Team were on hand to welcome and guide the visitors into the cathedral. Many of those attending this special mass were relatives of those who were lost in the tragedy.

This was followed by the unveiling of glass headstones at the graves of the Lusitania victims.

Meanwhile, down on the promenade, preparations were under way for the start of the main commemoration ceremony.

Large crowds had gathered, and all opportunities were taken to find a vantage point, whilst awaiting the arrival of Irish President Michael D. Higgins.

Following the raising of the standard, the President walked the inspection of the Guard of Honour.

With this part of the ceremony concluded, the official party moved to the main stage on the promenade, where the President went on to make his speech

Speeches were also made by officials from both the Port of Cork and Cunard, followed by a hymn and at 2.12pm the time that the Lusitania was hit by the torpedo, the Cunard, Queen Victoria sounded her whistle. She was alongside at Cobh having brought around 100 relatives of Lusitania victims to this special commemoration event.

Following the minutes silence, attention was brought back to the Lusitania Memorial, where wreath laying took place.

During the wreath laying ceremony, the President clearly had to contain his emotions for a moment. With the main ceremony now over, it was time for meeting the press for interviews and chatting to the gathered crowd before being whisked away in his official car.


The Lusitania Memorial in Cobh, stands as a reminder to all those who lost their lives in this tragedy, and what was also a pivotal point of the First World War. With the loss of American lives, it was said to be the deciding factor for America to join the war.

As an aside to this whole event, I was contacted by my very first school friend, after having seen a couple of these images which I had posted on social media. She told me that her great grandfather, who came from North Wales, had been one of the fortunate ones to survive the sinking of the Lusitania. Story has it that he had tired of his merchant seaman role as a fireman at sea with Cunard, and went to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, only to die four months later at the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915.


  1. Lovely photos that have captured the solemnity of the occasion beautifully. Thanks for including my great grandfather in your blog. Can you blame him for deciding to give up his life at sea after surviving the Lusitania? I should point out he was most definitely from North Wales though - wouldn't want him turning in his grave, the North South divide applies in Wales too with fierce rivalry!

    1. My apologies Sharon and duly amended!
      Thank you for your kind comments. I felt honoured to be there to record such a landmark event, which was rather overlooked, sadly, due to the huge 'election' story at the same time.
      Thank you for sharing your family story, it makes the events so much more personal and touching.

  2. Nicely captured Celia and good to see such a high-level commemoration. I presume there was some sort of ceremony up at the Old Cemetery?

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, there have been a series of events over a number of days, including an unveiling of the glass headstones. I was unable to attend that part of the day but the main ceremony was quite incredible.


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