LUSITANIA centenary commemorations will kick off in Courtmacsherry over the May bank holiday weekend with a number of events and re-enactments to remember those that lost their lives in the tragedy and the rescue efforts of the local RNLI crew.
The old British Royal Navy watchtower of the Seven Heads peninsula in Courtmacsherry Bay is the closest point of land to the Lusitania wreck. Courtmac is also home to one of the oldest RNLI lifeboat stations in Ireland, which was centrally involved in the aftermath of the disaster.
Minister Simon Coveney, TD, will officially open the centenary weekend on Friday, May 1st. Ryder and Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboats will be on display and visitors can watch a fly-over of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter.
The main event will be a pageant at Blind Strand in Courtmacsherry on Sunday, May 3rd, at 11am, which will recreate events on that tragic day, May 7th, 1915. Produced and directed locally by Angela Veldman-O’Donovan, the pageant will commence with narrations detailing the Lusitania’s passage from Liverpool to New York, the fatal torpedo launched by a German U-boat off the coast of Cork, the terror and chaos of the explosions, and the reactions of locals on the main land.
Following the narrations, the newly restored Ryder lifeboat from Polperro, UK, built in 1902, which is a similar RNLI pulling and sailing lifeboat to the Kezia Gwilt that was used in the original rescue, will be launched by a group of volunteers who will re-enact the lifeboat call to service and row out to the Lusitania wreck site.
At 8pm that evening, the Ryder lifeboat will return to Courtmacsherry Pier after the completion of the row to the Lusitania site (time dependent on weather conditions). Many of those performing in the pageant are direct descendants of the 1915 Courtmacsherry RNLI Lifeboat crew, including brothers Brian and Micheal O’Donovan who will share the coxswain duties for the row.
The O’Donovan’s are direct descendants of the 1915 coxswain, Tim Keohane, who was father of the famous Arctic explorer Patrick Keohane.
For more on Lusitania100 Cork and for a full schedule of events in Cobh, Kinsale, Old Head and Courtmacsherry visit www.visitcorkcounty.com/Lusitania100Cork, @LusitaniaCork on Twitter, or @Lusitania100Cork on Facebook.