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Lusitania lifeboat support davit erected at Old Head

July 20th, 2018 5:50 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Local volunteers putting the final touches to the davit in the Lusitania Memorial Garden at the Old Head Signal Tower.

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A 25ft lifeboat support from the ill-fated Lusitania stands tall in its new home at the Lusitania Memorial Garden at the Old Head Signal Tower thanks to local volunteers.

The newly painted black davit points outwards in the direction of the wreck, where 1,201 passengers lost their lives when the ship was sunk by a German U-boat off the Old Head on May 7th 1915. The davit – which is made of steel and was used in its time to lower an emergency lifeboat – was donated by Newry, Mourne & Down District Council to the Old Head Signal Tower committee after Gerry Doyle who trawled it up in 1965 had requested that it be donated to Kinsale just before he died last year. The Annalong Marine Park in Co Down was home to the davit  since the 1980s, where little was known about its origins and councillors up there voted in March to donate it back to Kinsale.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Con Hayes, of the Old Head Signal Tower said that a contingent went to Newry last month for the formal handover.

‘The next issue was to transport it to Cork on a lorry, which was twice the length of the davit and we got that done in one day. Once we got it down here we repainted it and organised for the erection of it in the garden last Tuesday week,’ said Con.

Con was accompanied by his brother JJ Hayes, Vincent Downey, Padraig Begley and Finbarr Cole and local councillor Alan Coleman to help erect the davit and they made sure that the overhanging part of it was pointing towards the sea at the location when the wreck of the Lusitania remains.

‘It looks great in its new home and next to the wave sculpture that has all the names of the Lusitania passengers and crew.’

The official opening of the davit will take place later this summer with plans to invite a contingent  from Newry to this special event where a plaque will be unveiled.

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