A RARE souvenir from the Lusitania which was retrieved by a Kinsale fisherman in 1915 has gone on display in a museum in England.
As wreaths were laid at the Lusitania memorial on the Old Head of Kinsale in Cork yesterday to mark the 93rd anniversary of the disaster, the Merseyside Maritime Museum confirmed that it will give pride of place to a cork and canvas life buoy from the doomed vessel.
More than 1,200 people died when the liner was struck on May 7, 1915 by a torpedo fired by a German U-boat.
Museum curator Dr Alan Scarth said: “The lifebuoy holds great importance for the museum, it’s the only one I have come across. I have always wished for one.
“It’s a pretty rare souvenir as a symbol of the disaster. It is a quite powerful object, it really brings the disaster home to you.”
The buoy was obtained in 1915 by the skipper of a fishing boat from Kinsale who helped to rescue Lusitania survivors.
He gave it to fish merchant Arthur Miller, who happened to be in the town at the time.
Mr Miller displayed it for many years in his office in Passage East, Co Waterford.
The buoy was lent to the museum late last year by Mr Miller’s grandson, Dr A Neiland.
Dr Scarth said: “We were lucky to get the buoy because Dr Neiland was looking for the most suitable place to house the it.
“He was concerned about the condition of the buoy and wanted it preserved. Thankfully he came to us, because we are the most relevant place for this souvenir to be. I think he made the right choice.”
Although the buoy has only been released to the museum on loan, they hope to keep it for longer than originally planned.
On Wednesday, the museum will mark the moment the Lusitania sank with a minute’s silence.
“The ceremony is just a way of acknowledging the anniversary, we do it every year,” said Dr Scarth.
“Family members of the victims come and this year we will have Dr Neiland.
The disaster has lasting effects around the area.”
Audrey Lawson-Johnston, 93, is the last living survivor of the sinking. Her two sisters perished.
She visited the Old Head memorial in 2005.
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