Lusitania Memorials


Mar 28, 2002
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It is approaching the 89th anniversary of the Lusitania disaster, on 7th May 1915. Having just returned from a trip to County Cork, Ireland, I was very disappointed with the distinct lack of memorials to Lusitania in Kinsale, the nearest town to the scene of the sinking.

Despite the fact that rescue boats from Kinsale were amongst the first on the scene, we found just one - the circular memorial on the road leading to the Old Head of Kinsale, similar in shape to a millstone. Not very impressive. We particularly were not impressed with the fact that we could not even walk on the Old Head as it is now shut off to us pee-ons because the site is now occupied by a private golf course.

In Kinsale town itself there is no memorial at all. We did find two graves in the 12th century churchyard containing the bodies of three passengers - an unknown woman and two men named Craddock (?) and Chamberlain but there were not even headstones and there was no special marker at all.

The tourist office told us that there were memorials in Cobh (ex-Queenstown) including the mass grave of 150 victims. As time was running short we only had an hour or so in Cobh but it seems just from the little that we saw there that a return trip is definitely warranted.

Are there any other Lusitania memorials out there?

Cheers,

Boz
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Boz, considering the magnitude of the event, it's quite amazing that there are so few memorials in the area. The only really Lusitania related spot is the Old Church Cemetery, just outside Cobh, where most of the burials were performed.
I think that the Lusitania Bar is still in Cobh - although it's a couple of years since I was there last.
Kinsale is these days, geared up to the tourist (especially the prices!) it's a charming little town.
The woman buried in the grave at St. Multose Church in Kinsale, is Margaret McKenzie Shineman
who was returning to visit her family in Lochcarron, Scotland, having been married in New York on the 19th April. Her husband, James, was also a victim of the sinking and is buried at Carrigaholt, Co. Clare.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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So the poor woman has a name! We were so p***** off at the state of the graves that we wanted to mark them with something but we couldn't even nick any flowers off any other graves as they were all pretty much in the same condition. It's a crying shame really.

Thanks Geoff. I'm glad that this poor woman is at least remembered by some of us.

Cheers,

Boz
 
May 19, 2002
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Boz,

did you go inside the church? if remember correctly there is a memorial window to the peole interred in the cemetery. Also interred near Margaret Shineman are two stewards George Cranston & Richard Chamberlain who, unlike Margaret Shineman have their names engraved on the grave surround

Cliff
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Boz - I didn't get a chance to visit the graves in Kinsale (by the time we got to Kinsale the others in the party had about had their fill of liner history), although we did drive out to the Old Head and visited the memorial there. Did you see any of the 'Titanic Trail' in Cobh when you were there? It's a bit of a mixed bag - Titanic, Lusitania and general heritage sites marked by plaques. Presuming you saw the large and very moving Lusitania memorial when you were there - I rather like the somewhat more earthy, less etheral angel that surmounts it. Spent a lot of time up in the Old Church Cemetary looking at the mass graves and the individual graves - was terribly beautiful in the October twilight, with the light streaming between the yews around the mass graves.

My visit to Cobh last November was a flying one - am considering popping over there when I'm in the UK next April. Might be worth getting a gathering together.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Morning Inger,

A get-together in Cobh would be a very good idea, methinks. We got caught up in the Kinsale Sevens, then spent ages looking for a non-existent bridge and arrived in Cobh about 2 in the afternoon (the flight left at 6.45). Only had time to do a quick tour of the Queenstown Story in the old rail station and a drink in the Titanic Bar (the old White Star office). We saw the Lusitania memorial directly opposite and the Lusitania and Mauretania bars nearby but had precious little time to see anything else. We've already set a preliminary date to return to the area in September but I can't see the problem with going again in April. Direct flights are so cheap that it would be rude not to take advantage!

Hello Cliff,

No, we didn't go inside the church. There was a woman just locking the gates up when we got there but she let us in anyway. I assume the church was locked up too. Even she didn't know where the graves were. We were baffled by the lack of interest to be honest and that seemed to be the general feeling around Kinsale, one of complete apathy.

So, who's up for a couple of days in Queenstown then?

Cheers,

Boz
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi Iain, Geoff, Cliff, & Inger,

I was pretty annoyed when I saw Iain's first message, and his second didn't improve my mood, but rather than act hastily, I have taken the time to formulate this reply on behalf of the people of Kinsale, Cobh, etc., which may explain some of the matters raised. I apologise if it is a bit long.

First of all, the distinct lack of memorials in the Kinsale area.
1. There is the Lusitania memorial erected on the Old Head of Kinsale. Designed by Stuart Williamson, this memorial was erected by a committee of local people at their own expense. Most people like the memorial, understanding the design and message contained in it, but obviously Iain has a negative view of it, which is his right. On the anniversary of the sinking, May 7th., these same local people gather for a ceremony on this site. I myself have attended on many occasions but will miss tomorrows event due to work commitments.

2. Kinsale Museum. This is the old Town Hall where the original Inquest was held. There are many artefacts from the Lusitania, including a deck chair, on display. This building has changed little from the time of the Inquest.

3. St Multose Church & Cemetery. This is the church mentioned in the above messages. As this is a very old and historical site, the people responsible for its upkeep do not wish to have it spoiled by any unnecessary or inappropriate memorials, etc. Despite the fact that crewman Cranston's name is incorrect, these people will not allow the grave to be interferred with to have the correct name recorded.

4. The numerous cemeteries in Cork City where many of the bodies of recovered victims are buried in marked and well maintained graves.

5. Cobh, formerly Queenstown, has many sites. Cobh Museum, Cobh Heritage Centre, the Old Cemetery, the memorial in the town centre, the various building used to accommodate the survivors, and those that housed the bodies prior to identification, burial, or shipment to their families, bars, etc.

6. Other locations along the western coast of Ireland where bodies were recovered and interred, some of which are marked, others not, or have since disappeared.

If Iain had done his homework properly, he would have discovered many of these. They are not State secrets.

In relation to not being allowed to walk on the Old Head of Kinsale. Yes, the area is now a golf course, which mindless morons entered on a number of occasions, causing damage to the facilities, thus the owners have had to restrict access. If he had asked the staff, and explained the purpose of his visit, they would have done their best to facilitate him as they have done for me and many others.

In relation to the indifference of the people and the lack of memorials in the general area.

Firstly, the people living along the coast were not wealthy and did not have the money to be erecting memorials all over the place at a whim. People did all they could to recover the bodies, and give whatever comfort and assistance they could to the survivors. Various religious communities made space in their cemeteries for victims, burying many of them at their own expense. Food and clothing was donated by people who were living on the poverty line themselves. A common memorial was erected in Cobh, representing the sentiments of all the Irish people, because this was the centre of activity in the aftermath, and therefore the most appropriate location.

I could go on, and probably will, depending on messages which may follow.

The point is that I feel the tone and nature of Iain's message is unfair because he is critical of not finding enough, when he did not come prepared. If he went to Kinsale for the Rugby, then he should have stuck with that and left the Lusitania and Titanic until he had sufficent time to devote to them. If any of you intend to come to Ireland and visit the sites relevant to the Lusitania or Titanic, prepare yourselves before travelling. There are many people in the general areas of Cobh and Kinsale who are willing to assist interested people in finding the sites and getting information.

If a group of you intend visiting, why not compile a proper itinerary?

Regards

Peter
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Peter, and many thanks for that detailed reply. I'm certain Boz - who is really a very gentle, kindly bloke - did not intend to cause you offense.

I love the entire area around Cobh and Kinsale, and regard my visit there in 1999 as one of the highlights of my years in Europe. I spent years on and off afterwards trying to organise something with friends to visit with Dubliner Senan Molony, who is always an advocate of the beauties of County Cork (he once attempted to get an international group of visitors to the area together, and has organised other gatherings there, I understand). I was only sorry that my last visit there was so brief.

I found the people of Cobh and Kinsale more than helpful when I asked questions - it's something universally Irish, but we passed a few great nights in the pubs and restaurants speaking to folks who were welcoming and friendly. At one point we had to leave my father, who was not in great health, in one of the pubs when we went looking for the Lusitania graves - he had a marvellous time and was well looked after.

If I did not state it strongly enough above, I'll say so now - I think the Cobh memorial to the Lusitania is one of the best commemorative statues for a maritime tragedy I've seen anywhere. Rather than an ethereal creature that is too divine to have a touch of the human, even in mourning, she is earthy, real and poignant. The statues that flank her are extraordinarily expressive of the anguish and grief of the people who tried to rescue the survivors.

If we do get together - and I've been chatting to the folks who are doing the trip with me and they're keen on a return to Ireland - we will certainly compile a proper itinerary and take into account your suggestions.

Cheers -

Inger
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Hello Peter,

You are right - we didn't do our homework properly and I will take the flak for that full on the chin. It was a flying visit and our "itinerary" was based primarily on a previous visit by my mate.

I was very much looking forward to visiting the Old Head of Kinsale and was very disappointed to realise that it is now a private golf course. The woman at the gate wasn't very forthcoming at all - in fact she was shaking her head and slamming the gates shut as we stepped out of the car. Not very facilitating at all in my opinion. We got no joy from her and when we asked if we could just take a look if we kept out of the way we were met with a terse "No!" (which made me bristle straight away). Maybe I should have reassured her we were not mindless morons, as a few others apparently had been in the past. I suppose had we phoned ahead earlier we could have had access but as I said this was a flying visit and there was no golf course there on the earlier trip by my mate, who said that on that occasion you could have walked at least to the light house. We discovered later that the Irish government had apparently had the opportunity to buy the land as a potential memorial but had declined, saying that they didn't think there would be much interest.

As for the memorial near the entrance to the golf course - I did not expect Marble Arch or anything but I suppose it was nothing like I imagined. I guess I didn't "get" the simplicity of the design.
I also had no idea that this memorial was paid for by by local people. Fair play to them. By the way, what happens on the 7th May at the site? Is there a reading of names, hymns sung?

With regards to Kinsale Museum and St Multose Church and cemetery - we specifically asked at the Tourist Information for sites to visit relating to Lusitania in Kinsale and I'm sorry but they did not even mention the memorial at the Old Head, which we had visited the day before. It was a taxi driver who told us about the two graves in Kinsale itself and I'd read a single paragraph about the Town Hall in a leaflet, which made mention of the fact that it was where the Inquest was held but didn't even mention any of the artefacts, merely stated the Inquest connection.

As I have stated previously, we were in Cobh for only a very short time and I've re-read my previous posts and yours and I don't feel that you need to speak on behalf of the people of Cobh. Unless you mis-read precious little time as precious little to see. Having only ever seen black and white pictures of the town I was pleasantly surprised to see what a colourful place it was, as are many of the towns and villages in Ireland that we passed through. It is amazing what a lick of paint can do to a row of buildings and this inspires me to paint my house bright yellow! If there had been so little to see in Cobh why would we be bothering to return in September?

The sites that we saw or didn't see may not have been State secrets but they sure weren't promoted by the people of Kinsale. I'm sorry but that's the way we saw it. The majority of people we talked to either didn't know (nobody knows everything), didn't want to know (perhaps they want Kinsale just to be known for something other than a major maritime disaster - can't blame them) or didn't care. Our visit to Ireland was intended to be a break with a visit to some Titanic and Lusitania related sites and a drive around the Ring of Kerry and Healy Pass in between. We didn't know until the day before we arrived (I called ahead to confirm the B&B) that the Kinsale Sevens was in town. I don't even like rugby but the atmosphere over the weekend was fantastic. In terms of what we intended to do the trip was a success and we had an absolutely lovely time. The people we met were so genuinely friendly and helpful and chatty. That's why we're going back, Peter.

I'm sorry if I offended you Peter and anyone else who may come from the area. That was not my intention at all. I only wanted to share with others what I had seen and experienced. In Kinsale I saw very little. That's the way it happened. I'm sorry. We intend to go back later this year and I will obviously take all your points into consideration and look at everything in a new light.

If we do make the trip next April to Cobh and Kinsale maybe I can buy you a pint of Guiness?

Cheers,

Boz
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi Inger & Boz,

Many thanks for your kind comments.

First of all, in relation to the annual commemoration ceremony at the Old Head of Kinsale, usually the proceedings begin at 7.30pm and depending on commitments on the day, members of the Irish Navy, Irish Coastguard, the local lighthouse keeper, members of the original committee who erected the memorial, and local people, many of whom are descended from people who assisted in the recovery of survivors and victims, or people who witnessed the sinking from the headlands, gather to remember. Somebody reads a short account about the final voyage, interception and sinking by the U-boat, and the aftermath of the tragedy. Over the past number of years, Paddy O'Sullivan has recounted experiences of survivors and local witnesses from his files. A wreath is laid at the memorial, and anyone who wishes to speak is invited to do so. Afterwards, the party adjourn to the nearby Speckled Door pub for a few hot whiskeys and a chat. Occasionally a relative of somebody who had sailed on the Lusitania, at some point in time, turns up, which adds a new dimension to the conversation. The affair is very dignified and low key, and is just a gesture by ordinary people who want to pay their respects to all those who lost their lives or otherwise suffered as a result of the tragedy.

In relation to the problems with gaining access to the Old Head, when the previous owner of the land offered it for sale, a group of local people proposed purchasing it, but could not agree on what to do with it, so this plan fell through. It was suggested that the Government buy it, but again, nobody could offer any valid reason as to why, so this plan also fell.

Two brothers bought the land and developed a golf links which is described by golfers as one of the best in the world. The land was always in private ownership, but when the golf links began to prosper, "new age travellers, hippies", call them what you like, decided that they should have a claim on a right of way and laid siege to the area on a number of occasions. These people claimed that they had enjoyed walking along the Old Head for years, but on many of the occasions protests were organised, I, along with many other people living in the locality at the time, were being approached by these people, seeking directions to the Old Head. Most were from foreign european countries, who had never been in the area before, but were invited to attend the protest by their subversive friends. A number of break-ins to the golf links occurred, and much damage was caused. Prior to this people were being admitted to the area to walk freely along the road to the lighthouse, but obviously that changed when these events began.

The easiest way to gain access to the Old Head is to be introduced at the gate by a local person known to, and trusted by the staff.

Boz, if you stood at the memorial on the Old Head and looked out to the sea, due south, just short of the horizon is where the Lusitania went down. The only thing that has changed in the 89 years since then, as you look from that point, is the replacement of the old gates in the ancient fortress wall. No buildings have been erected along your line of sight, and the golf club building are all built in natural hollows and depressions making them invisible to see until you are within feet of them. Also, my own view on the memorial itself is that the more simple it was kept, the longer it would last. This is due primarily to the harsh gales and heavy rain that frequently occur in the area, and which would quickly erode and deface any elaborate statue. Also an elaborate work which could be seen for some distance, would only increase the risk of vandals visiting and leaving their ugly and mindless marks.

As usual, I am rambling on, so I will cut the massage short and just say that anyone who intends to visit the area would be best advised to contact somebody who lives in or knows the locality, to learn the location of the sights they wish to visit and clear directions on how to get to them.

I look forward to meeting any of you who come to visit and Boz, I will take you up on the offer of a pint.

Cheers

Peter
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi all,

I forgot to say that I was unable to attend the ceremony this evening, but it was due to be held as scheduled.

I tried to ring a friend who was attending, after the time I expected everything to have concluded, but failed.

I can only reason that a very serious discussion commenced in the pub, where many knowledgeably figures had gathered, and he got lost in the "conversation". I will try to contact him tomorrow when he has recovered from any ill-effects.

Peter
 
May 3, 2002
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Dear Peter,

My Family come from both Belfast and Galway and if the possibility of a trip arose The Old Head would be a must. It seems crazy that the coast can be held in private exclusive ownership barring public access.

Over here in New Zealand we are embroiled in vigorous debate about who owns the seabed and foreshore including much hostility to the state of affairs similar to the above.

Cobh and Kinsale are as important to me as Harland and Wolf, Falls road and Corumdulagh; Loch Corrib. It would be something to be a part of the memorial events there or at Liverpool.

with kind regards

Martin
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi Martin

The seabed and coastline of Ireland, with a few exceptions, are the property of the State, and most land owners do not mind people crossing their lands to access the coast. The mindless vandalism that occurred at the golf links caused the owners to put the present restrictions in place.

I personally know both the past and present owners, and they were always very accommodating to people visiting the area, especially Lusitania buffs. As I have previously stated, access can still be gained by genuine visitors, but a little planning and advance notice are required.

I have read about the Lusitania Memorial Events held in Liverpool, and hopefully I will be present at one of them, but Liverpool is a lot different to Cobh and Kinsale. Firstly, Cunard and all the other large shipping companies are long gone from this area, and to my knowledge have not had any contact with events concerning the Lusitania in Ireland for many years, whereas Cunard are represented, and involved, in the Liverpool events.

Basically, the Old Head event is a small affair, held by various local interested parties and individuals at their own expense. There is not much expense, the purchasing of a wreath, and a few Euro in your pocket to have a drink in the pub afterwards, is about all it amounts to. It is a nice, simple, and respectful memorial event, and anyone who happens to pass along at the time it is happening, is welcome to join in. Any of you who have occasion to be in Ireland on May 7 of any future year can put it in their diary.

Regards to all,

Peter
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Morning Peter,

Thanks for clearing a few things up. We had the photographs back from the trip on Friday, very good 'uns actually. On reflection the memorial doesn't look as plain as I remember and the coastline around there is spectacular.

I spent the anniversary of the Lusitania reading the Hoehling book on the train down to London. Did you find out if any serious discussion went on in the Speckled Door after the memorial service?

Cheers,

Boz
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi Iain

Sorry for the delay in replying, but I have been busy of late.

About 35 people attended the recent ceremony at the Old Head of Kinsale, the wreath being laid by a local WW2 veteran who served with the Royal Navy, and who survived the sinking of a number of vessels he served on as a result of being torpedoed. He spent a number of years in a POW camp in Italy as a result, I am informed.

Paddy O'Sullivan attended at the ceremony, and afterwards bravely led the charge to the Speckled Door for refreshments. I have no doubt that he entertained those in attendance, relating stories about the Lusitania and other shipwrecks in the area, as he does so often.

Start making your plans to make a visit folks!!

Peter
 

Terry Binns

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Jan 4, 2005
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If anyone is in Cobh (great place),looking for Lusitania memorabilia go to the museum,it is in the old Church of Scotland on the left at the top of the hill as you drop down into Cobh. there you can see the Log of the German Sub.and other interesting facts.
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi All,

I have just got word that plans are well advanced on this years commemoration ceremony to be held at the memorial at the Old Head of Kinsale.

Proceedings commence at 3pm on Saturday, May 7th, and any of you who wish to attend will be more than welcome.

Due to the fact that this is the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, a special effort is being made to make this an especially memorable occasion.

Any one who requires further details can contact me or post here.

Regards,

Peter
 

Peter Kelly

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Nov 19, 2003
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Hi Boz,

I hope all goes well on your trip to Cobh this weekend and that you have your itinerary planned out to maximise your time there.

Perhaps you might get a cheap flight in early May and we might see you at the Old Head of Kinsale after all???

Regards,

Peter
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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So, time is running out... anyone going to the 90th Anniversary commemorations? (unfortunately I will probably be pacing the corridor of a maternity ward at the time...)

Boz, did you go to Cobh?

Inger wrote earlier:

think the Cobh memorial to the Lusitania is one of the best commemorative statues for a maritime tragedy I've seen anywhere. Rather than an ethereal creature that is too divine to have a touch of the human, even in mourning, she is earthy, real and poignant. The statues that flank her are extraordinarily expressive of the anguish and grief of the people who tried to rescue the survivors.
This is very perspicacious of you, Ing.

The memorial has suffered many indignities, but it is regarded as an absolute masterpiece by many, including some of sculpture's most cultured cognoscenti.

Jerome Connor's work has been officially compared, by former curator Domhnall O'Murchada, to Michaelangelo's David.

That might be an exaggeration, if so, it is not an altogether wild one, as the realised vision is one of real pathos and empathy.

Perhaps it is ironically its very central location that leads people to throw it only a cursory glance - as if it were just another piece of civic furniture.

Connor, incidentally, would have preferred not to have had an Angel. The American funding committee insisted on it.
 

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