Lusitania artifacts wanted for exhibition

The lifeboat station which responded to the sinking of the Lusitania has appealed for artifacts to feature in a major exhibition to commemorate the centenary of her sinking off Cork in 1915.

Courtmacsherry RNLI Lusitania Centenary Committee has also called on family members of those lost or saved in the tragedy to contact them to share their stories.

These will be compiled with artifacts and memorabilia for inclusion in an exhibition to be held at the West Cork lifeboat station on the May bank holiday in 2015.

The Courtmacsherry RNLI crew will also re-enact the 1915 call-to-service by rowing out to the site of the disaster, where they will lay a wreath in honour of the almost 1,200 passengers who died in the tragedy.

The station’s operations manager, Brian O’Dwyer, said responding to the Lusitania’s sinking was one of the important events in the station’s history.

“The planned exhibition will be a special one for Courtmacsherry RNLI, as it is the sole remaining lifeboat station that responded to the sinking — Queenstown lifeboat crew also responded but the station was since closed,” he said.

“We are making this call early so that people can see if they have any Lusitania memorabilia or stories that they would like to be part of this exhibition.”

The Lusitania was a British ocean liner, launched in 1907 by the Cunard line, a holder of the Blue Riband and briefly the world’s biggest ship.

On May 7, 1915, while en route from New York, she was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat south of Courtmacsherry Bay. The sinking drew the US into the First World War.

The Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboat Ketzia Gwilt which was then stationed at Barry’s Point under the command of Coxswain Timothy Keohane — father of Antarctic explorer Patrick Keohane — and his crew of 14, was tasked to respond to reports of a large four-funnel steamer in distress south-west of the Seven Heads.

The lifeboat was launched, but in calm conditions the sails were of no use so the crew had to row over 12 nautical miles. The heroic lifeboat crew, together with several vessels in the area that responded, helped rescue 764 survivors.

Journalist Jeremy Paxman visited Courtmacsherry lifeboat station and crew earlier this year to feature them in a major BBC documentary which will commemorate the centenary of the First World War, due to be aired in spring 2014.

* Anyone with information or memorabilia should email lusitaniacentenary@gmail.com. All memorabilia loaned for the exhibition will be returned.

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