Monday 8 October 2018

RCB Library marks centenary of The Leinster tragedy

To mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Leinster, a Royal Mail steamer ship torpedoed and sunk just one month before the end of the First World War, the Representative Church Body (RCB) Library's October Archive of the Month features an online exhibition entitled The Leinster Tragedy: Human Interest Stories brought to life by the Church of Ireland Gazetteand Other Sources.

The Leinster had departed from Kingstown (DĂșn Laoghaire) on Thursday, 10 October 1918 to make the crossing from County Dublin to Holyhead in Wales. About an hour later, when still within sight of the shore, she was fatally struck twice. There were 803 persons on board – 75 crew and 728 passengers, the later made up of 22 postal sorters, 200 civilians and 506 military personnel. Some 564 persons perished, the greatest ever loss of life in the Irish Sea.

Eye-witnesses recalled the explosion following the second hit and, within a very short time, the ship went down. Some persons were killed by the blast, some later died from their injuries, some died from drowning, and some were rescued. Dublin's hospitals and morgue were soon full to bursting point with relatives frantically seeking to identify their loved ones.

The online exhibition focuses on the tragedy from a Church of Ireland perspective. Many casualties had strong connections with the Church of Ireland and the impact of the episode was felt in parishes the length and breadth of the country. However, the community voiced many different opinions about how to respond to the atrocity, as demonstrated in the Gazette's editorials and articles.

See “The Leinster Tragedy” exhibition here.